Wednesday, January 16, 2008

One Lost Weekend Redeemed

I wrote a while back about some of the "lost weekends" I have spent with different layout concepts, prototypes, scales, and gauges before returning to my Oakland Harbor Belt. Usually, there's not much to show for the effort except some increased knowledge, though that in itself is not a bad outcome.

One of the more feverish lost weekends was spent trying to coil a Hawaiian-themed HOn3 model railroad into my garage. This had been inspired by learning some history and seeing some remnants of Maui's Kahului Railroad while on a family vacation, followed hard on the heels by the publication of Jim Chiddix' and MacKinnon Simpson's Next Stop Honolulu! about the Oahu Railway and Land Company. (Great book, by the way.)

For the most part, this Island (Railroad) Fever passed quickly, although I have had a couple of brief relapses. But I wanted to do something with the background I had learned and the enthusiasm I felt about these Hawaiian prototypes. So I proposed an article to Model Railroad Planning magazine about the Oahu Railway. It's been a couple of years in the making, but that effort has finally borne fruit in MRP 2008.

As usual, the Kalmbach editors and artists did a great job with my material. I chose the roughly 12-foot-square "MRP bedroom" and employed non-connected staging- and ops-linked decks to get the most out of that space in HOn3.

Based on early feedback, some readers are still having trouble grasping the idea of decks that are not physically connected, but are related to one another through the movements of trains on each deck. The concept doesn't work for everyone, but I find it's often a neat way to employ multiple decks without losing valuable layout space and running time to a helix or 'round-the-room ramp. I wrote in detail about the idea in Layout Design Journal #28 (Spring 2003), published by the Layout Design SIG.

All in all, I'm pleased with the MRP article and especially happy that one of my formerly "lost weekends" has found some expression.