Maggie is NINE

Well, it is a big day ending a tough week. Maggie is 9 today. So Happy birthday to our “Slow Train Down South” painter and many more. In case you did not read about it, Maggie came up with the idea to not stain the ties for “STDS” but to paint them with acrylics. I added to her success by applying chalks to represent the dark stain between the rails commonly seen as well some hints of green here and there among the ties.

Maggie at the 2013 Brownie Dance
Maggie at the 2013 Brownie Dance
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The “Lifetime” Layout vs the “Sustainable layout”

Have you read the term “lifetime” layout in some of the model railroad magazines. I have seen this quite often. The idea of a lifetime layout came to my mind recently. It has been several weeks since I have had a chance to work on “Slow Train Down South”. Why you ask. Well other things going on in life such as children’s baseball and softball games, cub scout and brownie events, etc. I am certain that I am not the only person who has limited modeling time at times. So how does this tie in with a “lifetime layout”? Well, yes I know, at this rate it could take a lifetime to build “Slow Train Down South”. But no, this is not what I mean by a lifetime layout. My understanding of a lifetime layout is the one that is the “capstone” of model railroads in one’s life. The one that someone has always wanted, but never had the time, resources, or space to build. “Slow Train” is a learning experience layout, more like a sustainable model railroad than a lifetime model railroad.

The crew of "Slow Train Down South" showing off their work
The crew of “Slow Train Down South” showing off their work

Sustainable, a word one thinks of more along the lines of  agriculture, is really the type of model railroad we are building. A quick Goggle search leads one to the fact that Sustainable is an adjective and means, among several definitions,  “Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level.” I would like to propose the sustainable model railroad. A sustainable layout is a project that can experience some downtime and some time of progress. It can be more than a physical model railroad, it is the armchair part of learning about a prototype or developing a freelance railroad. It is doing field work and collecting information about a location, a freight car, locomotive etc. It is about developing friendships. It is about learning new skills and improving “old ones.” It is about operating a model in the fashion that you the operator chose. It is a layout that sustains your involvement in a hobby.

Ours is not an O scale monster completely filling a 30 ft by 60 ft area, the “lifetime layout”. Instead, our current model railroad is a multi-module plus staging yard railroad. It can serve as a teaching tool for a third grader to learn how to measure her fractions. It can be used as an art project to learn how to use chalks and acrylic paints. It can be used by a first grader to make railroad ties like the ones he sees on walks along the old railroads. It can be used by me to practice new methods for tracklaying, scenery, and prototype operations for a fictional narrow gauge railroad. It can sustain our interests for years.

Graham along the "York", a 4-4-0 that belongs to "Steam into History" in New Freedom, PA
Graham along the “York”, a 4-4-0 that belongs to “Steam into History” in New Freedom, PA