Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Inspirational Layouts -- Introduction

Model Railroader magazine's year-long series on Landmark Layouts has been interesting. For the most part, I find the editors' selections hard to argue with. Most of these layouts and/or their builders changed the hobby for the better. In addition, most of these layouts are/were of very high quality (for their time) and advanced new ideas and concepts, from scenery to operations to replicating prototypes.

By the nature of the designation, the Landmark Layouts MR selected are something of a "best of" list. As I considered them, I found myself thinking about a handful of layouts that I have personally found uniquely inspirational. They are not the largest, most finished, or necessarily the most innovative — and some might not find their way onto anyone's list of top layouts for those reasons.

These are layouts (in some cases track plans only) that motivated me to build, that opened my thinking, and that helped me develop the vision and concepts for my current personal design. Note that these are not necessarily "perfect" designs. Many have elements (one might call them quirks or flaws) that would annoy me over time and I certainly wouldn’t choose some of those configurations for myself or a client design. But there is something about the overall approach that influenced me greatly when I first saw them and still does today.

There are many other fine layouts which I admire, an amazing number of which are within driving distance from me in the bay area (and one within walking distance!). They offer many lessons to be learned and operating experiences to enjoy. But the inspirational layouts gave me a creative whack on the side of the head and caused me to see the hobby, and my potential path within it, in a new way — even though many of these layouts and plans are much more modest.

I'll cover these inspirational layouts in blog entries over the coming weeks, sometimes with a track plan, and discuss the reasons they grabbed me and didn't let go. I'll try to communicate the positive and, well, inspiring elements of these designs, along with perhaps a few comments about their weaknesses. Watch for the first Inspirational Layout blog post later this week.