My most recent book, 8 Track Plans For Modern Era Switching Layouts, is now available through Amazon. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, this effort is directed towards my blog followers, friends, and Facebook folks. It’s written in the same conversational style I’d use if we were having coffee face to face at an RPM meet. To that end there is a fair amount of advice, philosophy, and editorializing inside.
In no particular order, here are some thoughts to go along with the book:
Designs are not meant to be wall art. They aren’t meant to be analyzed endlessly. They are guides and their only purpose is to provide a launch to a 3D railroad. This is a hobby of participation. It’s a hobby that is far more enjoyable if your time is spent building models, not spending months handwringing and debating design philosophy on the forums.
A strong emphasis was put into making sure the plans are buildable. There are no curved number 3 turnouts! The geometry of commercially available track components was used and all of the offsets and transitions have been carefully planned out for you. As I put each design together, I did a bit of mental walk through and tried to visualize what it would be like to actually build the layouts, especially from the viewpoint of somebody new to the hobby.
If you are a young person, student, or otherwise new to the hobby I recommend either the BNSF team track on page 67 or CIS Light on page 87.
We all like operating and the plans are designed for that. However, modeler’s spend most of their time “building stuff”. That being the case, a design needs to have elements that you enjoy modeling. I envision a construction sequence where you get the mechanical portion up and trains running fairly quickly. At that point, take your foot off of the gas, slow down, and enjoy building the scenery and structures.
All of the plans essentially “steal” prototype designs and are copies of how the real railroads lay things out. Sorry, there are no double switchbacks, unnecessary “just for fun” runarounds, or bowls of spaghetti.
Some of the plans (Malabar, CIS light, etc.) need staging track extensions. These would be single track affairs and can be straight or curved, permanent or removable. The size and shape of your room will dictate what can be done.
As simple as the track arrangments are, I’m confident that as a whole, the plans will keep you quite occupied in terms of modeling projects.
I hope everybody gets an idea or two out of this. Have fun!