Mock Up Testing

Latest iteration of the Brooklyn Terminal track plan. Layout dimensions are now 5’6″ by 7′ 0″.


One of the things you pick up after decades of modeling is a storied and lengthy list of mistakes that fall into the category of, “Wow, didn’t expect that”!  Although the lessons weren’t fun at the time, having them in your arsenal is an enormous advantage.

One of the major lessons I’ve learned is that, when you go down a new modeling path, things aren’t going to play out exactly as you envision them.  You don’t know what’s going to pop up, but you know something will.  They aren’t always bad things either, sometimes things we worry about turn out to be non-issues.  Knowing this going into a new layout, the last thing I want to do is dive right in, spend dozens of hours on a super-detail project, and then find out there was a conceptual problem going in.

To get around this, I like to start with what I call operational mock-ups.  Once the bench work is done I get temporary track tacked down as soon and quickly as possible and start running trains.  I’ll also add mock ups of the structures.  With this approach you can uncover needed changes and make adjustments before you’ve invested a lot of time.  Once your testing is done you can go back and replace the temporary track and structure mock ups at your leisure but you have an operational layout as you do so.

After spending an enjoyable weekend running the mocked up layout hard it became apparent that I needed a better flow of track coming off of the car float and a longer run around.  Doing so required adding an additional foot to the long leg of the layout, something I didn’t want to do but was necessary.  My plan is to have the sun room be a layout gallery of sorts and as the layout grew in size it took more room than I would have liked.  To compensate I’ve decided to round the two outside edges.

Central to the theme was street running using the Kato Unitram pieces as a foundation.  Brilliantly engineered, they do have the downside of excessively tight curve radii keeping in line with it’s trolley theme.  Some gentle passes with a file to open up the flange ways in a few spots resulted in an enormous improvement.

If there has been one pleasant surprise it’s the superb running quality of the recently release Model Power Mogul.  It’s an absolute jewel, and features all wheel and tender pick ups, which is particularly helpful when you have slow speed running through complex track work.

I’m now confident enough in the plan and composition to start fastening things down permanently.  Once that’s done I’ll gradually start the detailing process.