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!