This site is dedicated to my model railroad, the HO scale Virginia Midland Railroad. This layout comprises a 10X9 room with two levels. The upper level is about 95% complete and the lower level scenery has just begun.

I do a handful of train shows in the Virginia/Maryland region and go by the name of Virginia Midland Shops.
I also can help you find that freight car/locomotive or other hard to find item.

Email: stctigers@gmail.com
You tube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/Virginiamidlandrr/

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Time spent on building the layout: You'll be surprised!

Read an article the other day on the time it takes to build a layout.  I cannot remember just where I read it but it was probably on a blog somewhere.  It talked about the time it takes to build a layout. It had a lot of great points but I wanted to put my touch on it so here it is!  Now of course we know that layouts come in all shapes and sizes.  A basement empire is going to take longer than say my small room sized layout.  I have broken down the different stages into percents of time spent on each.  So lets go through a build and see where most of your time is spent.  Let's start from the beginning:

Planning:  Most of us are always planning and if you are like me, your even planning after you think all your track work is done.  Starting on a new layout, most know what railroad they want to model and finding that space is always the hardest part.  Once you find that room or basement, the planning is in full gear.  The internet provides more info on specifics than we could ever imagine.

Benchwork:  This is usually a quick weekend or two.  Once you know your space and what you want to do, it's time to hit your Home Depot or Lowe's.  Lumber is not cheap these days but is a necessary thing to support our empire.  You will be making several trips here over the years so get used to it.  I love to go to my local Home Depot!

Track work and Electrical:  This is the most important step in the whole process.  Good track work and electrical wiring will save you lots of time in the end.  Try to only wire the track and maybe signals. Electrical turnouts can be hand thrown so this could save you time especially if you have a bunch of turnouts.  Labeling/color coding your wires will definitely help if you have problems later on.

This is the point where a lot of layouts stop.  Because of the simple fact that you can run your trains and that was most of what we wanted to accomplish.  Scenery and build structures are difficult and most have never attempted them.  Maybe the structures.  We tend to keep adding locos and freight cars instead of the obvious.  So the first three categories are complete and we are up to only 35%!

Structures:  These are the life blood of our railroads yet a lot of time can be spent on these.  A lot of modelers even have someone else build them for them because so much time can be spent on them. Mike Confalone is one of these and we see how great his railroad is.  Walther's kits can save time but your layout should not look like the Walther's catalog.  I'm even guilty to a certain degree. I think 80% of us modelers have the Walther's grain elevator. I plan on one day going back and changing that elevator a bit.  It's a good stand in now.   Slight changes to these types of kits or scratch building is a great way to make your railroad look unique.

Scenery: This is the one everyone likes to avoid.  We are all scared we will mess it up.  That's part of life!  When I first started doing scenery, I thought of it as making a pizza. Start at the dough (base) add glue (sauce) and add toppings!  I've noticed my scenery gets better the more I do it.  Scenery Express items are recommended over Woodland Scenics.  I have used both, but SE just looks better!

Weathering:  This category is a lot like scenery, people are terrified of it.  We don't want to mess up a $30 freight car or a $200 locomotive.  This is a must for any realistic layout.  For me, nothing is worse than seeing a beautiful layout complete with shiny freight cars and locomotives   Even a quick shot of Dullcote is better than nothing.  Don't forget to weather the structures too!

In closing, we can see that most of your time will be taken up on scenery and building the structures. I'm at that point now on my layout.  I have several structures to build on my layout including a new grain elevator (Walthers no less!), a depot, country store and farmhouse.  I could have been done on my layout a couple of years ago but I decided to add my lower level.  So this whole process started over.  Hope I helped you put your time into perspective and remember every minute counts and I didn't even count distractions!  That's another topic for another day!  Happy Modeling!

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