Outsourcing a project

Outsourcing! In a hobby? What are you talking about, thought you had a hobby because you liked model trains. Well I do like model trains, for a most of my life I have been a model railroader. So why outsource?

Outsource. My computer’s dictionary has the following definition

outsource |ˈoutˌsôrs|
verb [ trans. ]
obtain (goods or a service) from an outside or foreign supplier, esp. in place of an internal source : outsourcing components from other countries | [as n. ] ( outsourcing) outsourcing can dramatically lower total costs.
• contract (work) out or abroad : you may choose to outsource this function to another company or do it yourself.

I designed and drew the blueprints for our house. Candyce and I were were the general contractors for our house, and even did a fair amount of the work myself. However, knew  that I would have to outsource ( sub-contract )some of the many projects involved, if anything due to the time constraints. Yes, yes, I know a model railroad is not a 12″=1ft project. However, for some folks that one “sub-project” can be intimidating enough to not do the whole project. Not much fun. Been an armchair modeler for long enough, would rather be an active modeler.

So back to why would a modeler outsource? Chances are it would not be cheaper..or would it? Let’s look at a case example.

Recently, I have been working on a Maine two foot imagineering, the Wiscasset and Quebec Railway. All of the Maine two footers serve as inspiration to some degree in this project, but it is the WW&F, Monson, and B&SR that contribute the most to my Emerson Maine branch with its associate Northern Maine Slate Co quarry to switch.  The W&Q’s newest engine is second #8, an it happens to also be one of my favorite 2-4-4 outside frame Forneys. Bridgton and Saco River #8, built in the early 1920s by Baldwin Locomotive Works, is a twin sister to the W&Q’s second #8, they even share the same number. My engine is a fantastic raw brass color at the moment with a little tarnish, very realistic. Would really be nice to have this engine in a not so shiny brass look.

While making a list of projects for the Emerson branch I realized that the time I have to work on this list of projects is very limited. There are many aspects of our hobby that I really enjoy, painting is indeed one of them. Painting structures and track is the part of painting I really enjoy. I own an airbrush, but have not used it in quite some time. I  have an air-compressor for my house building project, but have never used it with my airbrush, which is probably why it is hiding from me at the moment. I love to brush paint my structures, but that will not due for a brass piece. Last but not least, I have never painted a brass piece. Wonder how much it would cost to fix a messed up paint job on a brass piece? Hmm, would rather not find out. There are other projects that am a good at, enjoy doing and can actually still do in a somewhat reasonable amount of time. The brass engine project is certainly not on that list of projects.

To stop the several small projects at this time to sit down and work on painting a brass piece is going to bog down the whole Emerson branch project, just know it will. After all, I do know the person in question on this topic. So I decided to outsource the painting of my favorite Forney. What did it save, peace of mind for one, have a nicely done engine number two, and I get to keep working on the project at hand.

How to find a good person for your outsourced project. To be honest, this one was easy for me. I belong to several Yahoo groups and have had the opportunity to see the work of those modelers who paint brass pieces. Late last year, I looked at Matt Forsyth’s site how has done some exceptional work in O scale. His latest project was  N&W K1 #107. After looking at the level of work and the end results, I contacted Matt to see if he would have time to paint my Wiscasset and Quebec #8 . Matt has time in February for my project so I asked him to put me on his calendar.

So while #8 is off at the paint shop, I can spend time building Emerson and the Northern Maine Slate Co.s tracks. I can also finish up several smaller projects on my desk.

Back to how do you find a good person to outsource your project. One way, ask others. You can go to model train shows. Howard Zane’s quarterly local show has several people who paint, build kits, even build your entire model railroad. Check out a train show local to you and see what you can find. You can check in any model railroad magazine. I see several advertisements in magazines when I visit my local hobby stores. You can even ask someone who works at your local hobby store, they would most likely know of someone as well. You can go and join a Yahoo group and ask the members if they know of someone as well.

So if you are stuck, or just do not think you have the tools, time, room, or do not feel your skills are up to the project consider outsourcing.

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