Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sometimes it's bugging you for a reason …

Before I started designing layouts for others, I thought the process of layout design was inevitably fraught with roadblocks. But in the last few years, I've noticed that designing layouts for others is sometimes challenging, but there's always a way forward. I'm much more likely to be stymied working on my own design, however.

I think this is because there is always a process of concession and compromise in layout design. When working with someone else's "givens and 'druthers", it's relatively easy to prioritize between conflicting elements. But deciding which of my own precious desires to toss overboard is still challenging. And sometimes I make a decision on my own design that nags at me.

One of these was my plan for ATSF's Alice Street Yard*. This "pocket" prototype served a clutch of customers along Oakland's Inner Harbor with tracks that were otherwise unconnected to the Santa Fe except via a car float from Richmond. The Alice Street trackage, quite compact in real life, was spread out over an area about half-again the scale size of the real thing in twisting and turning things around in the garage. Holy selective expansion, Batman!

And it has bugged me.

So it's back to the drawing board for Alice Street. I'm not sure exactly where it's going to end up, maybe as a "Sklylobe"† over the car, but I feel more comfortable now that I will be exploring the essential cramped nature of the prototype.

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*Alice Street was covered extensively in W. W. Childers' article in the Third Quarter 2001 issue of The Warbonnet, the Santa Fe Railway Historical and Modeling Society's excellent magazine.

†I wrote about the Skylobe concept in the
LD SIG's Layout Design Journal, issues #28 and #35.