Fail to plan and you plan to fail!

Sticks and stones...

Sticks and Stones...

Layout planning…  The mere words strike fear into the hearts of (some) model railroaders everywhere.  It’s one thing to negotiate room for a model railroad or build a show quality structure model, but it’s another thing altogether to get down and plan the actual model railroad.

It sure as hell has terrified me.  Terrified to the point that I have put it off and keep putting it off until I feel more comfortable.  I have all the tools I need, really.  I have 3rd Planit software to design it and I’m getting better at using it.  I have messed with the tutorial and I am getting comfortable with the concepts in it.

Having the tool and being able to use the tool are two different things however.  I have an idea in my head how I want the track plan to go, but actually putting it down on paper is kicking my butt!

Here is what I have done so far.

I have made a spreadsheet list of  all the industries I want on my layout.  I have also listed the commodities and the types of cars they require.  I also listed what commodities are going to come in by interchange (i.e. staging tracks and junctions).  So, I know what my layout will move and how it will be moved.

I have also made a slick database for all my equipment in Bento.  (Its a non-relational database program for Macs.)  I have catalogued everything from my rolling stock to locomotives to my DCC gear.  It’s a great tool and designing and populating has been a great way of procrastinating and delaying the actual track planning I need to do.  My problem is, it’s getting close to time to sh*t or get off the pot.  My benchwork is coming together nicely and soon I’ll have sub-roadbed laid.  At that point I’ll be staring at the Plywood Pacific railroad and I’ll really be hosed.  I did join the NMRA’s Layout Design SIG and I’m getting ideas from there.  I also re-read JohnArmstrong’s Layout design books, as well as Tony Koester’s books.

Here is the problem.  In my head, I want to do as good a job as my Model Railroad heroes (Alan McLelleland, Tony Koester, The Reid brothers etc.) but I don’t think I have the mind for making a great model track plan.  There are a ton of options and opinions out there and where does the neophyte turn?

My real plan now is to just say to heck with it, I’m going to make a plan, submit it online to the LDSIG and other forums and hear what people have to say.  I know I want my local switching and a good yard, and I think I have a good outline of a plan, but now I need to lay those virtual tracks and turnouts…

Wish me luck.  I want a good plan, and I hope it’s not a plan destined to fail!

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