In last week’s post, I suggested that more modelers build PROTO layouts. Today, I want to explore two ways to build that layout.
Building a model train layout is a big task to begin with and something that’s never really finished – at least in my experience. There are always things to add, improve or change.
Building a PROTO layout is an even bigger task, because PROTO modelers love details and have to build many parts from scratch. Just converting and supering a car or engine can turn into a major undertaking. Thus, the building process takes much longer.
So how am I supposed to build an entire layout in PROTO:87?
Over the last few weeks, I have been following The Protocrastinator blog and love his musings about building a PROTO:87 micro layout. I think this is the perfect approach to fine scale modeling: Choose a scene that is manageable in size and tell a story.
When we first moved to Manhattan last year, I was thinking about building a micro layout, too. I did some research and found Carl Arendt’s Micro/Small Layouts for Model Railroads website, which contains over 1,500 ideas, track plans and photos on micro layouts. Whether you are looking for an Inglenook or Timesaver, single level or multi level, a track plan with or without switches – Carl’s got you covered.
Going micro is definitely a good plan, but for me it seems somewhat limiting and that’s not because of the size. What I am missing the most is context. Micro layouts are great for operating alone or with a buddy and are certainly terrific as exhibition layouts to show off your craft. But at the end of the day, you are confined to your scene on a two by four.
When you turn your micro layout into a module that connects to other modules with matching end plates, you are literally able to connect to the great wide world. Your scene is now one of many along a (model) railroad line with a new story to tell every time it is set up. Your short story suddenly turned into a novel – now here is the context I was looking for.
If PROTO modeling is supposed to gain more traction in the U.S. (which I hope it will), I firmly believe that starting a modular PROTO:87 group is the way to go.
This not only allows you to connect to other modules. More importantly, it connects you to like-minded modelers who pursue a common goal. Individuals can further develop their specialties and help out fellow modelers in areas where they may lack expertise and vice versa. It’s a win-win situation.
Leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.