I have been trying to squeeze in a good sized layout build while working full time and it never seemed as though  I would ever see a train run.  I even got a battery R/C unit just for a quick fix.

Then seemingly in a quick flurry of activities most of the branch lines were up and running and then it happened. it seems like all I do is run trains.  The display cabinets were emptied, hidden purchases were drawn out from obscure caverns. 

Lights, sounds, smoke, movement---this creation is ALIVE!  Containers of  Hydrocal, trees,  ground cover, tunnel portals etc. lie invisible in plain sight.  Now the interest is seeing how many trains can run while passing the baton at branch line dead ends and spinning locos on various TTs.

OK, a couple of confessions, there were a few derailments at closed points and almost two cornfield meets and a passenger train tried to over take a slow freight on a single track line W/O sidings.  Ouch!

One of these days or months I may return to actually working on covering the plywood but as my wife and I are in the middle of drawing up our wills and  making finial arrangements for whenever that day arrives I have no immediate plans for scenery.

Excuse me I have some trains to run.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

Original Post

Between building and running, I prefer building. Now that my latest layout is finished (see OGR Run 304), most of my train time is spent running. I think it is best to build a layout in sections. Complete one section - track, scenery, structures - so that it is operational. Then do the same with the next section until your room is filled.


I live in Oregon, and working on my layout is definitely a winter activity - so much to do outside in the summer keeping up two houses on 2 acres. As a friend once told me, "There is a reason train rhymes with rain" for us west coasters.

I too have come to the conclusion that, building the layout, dealing with the various challenges and design decisions, is more fulfilling for me than actually running trains around the loop.

In fact, I got more done when I was working than I have after retirement. Part of that is pure age - I retired at 56 or 57, and I'm 71 now, so the energy is not what it once was, therefore productivity has dropped off. But, part of it is that when you work 5 days a week, you had better get it done today on Sat and/or Sun, because come Monday it's back to the office.

Now - there's always Tomorrow to do it. Tomorrow, more and more, never comes. Or turns into next week. And, heck, it also gets to be a lot of been there, done that. I had no computer at home when I retired either* - or DirecTV - both are distractions. I'm sitting at a blasted computer right now, rather than doing something productive.

*Why? I was a computer programmer, and the last thing I wanted to see when I retired was another d**n keyboard.

I’m in this camp, I’m afraid.........I spend way too much time building locomotives rather than finishing my layout....I keep putting it off, infact, I’ve contacted certain layout builders to finish it for me, (to which I’d gladly pay) but they never got back to me....I’m going to get it done ....it’s on my list, I swear....but today’s not looking good for it..☺️..........Pat49CBC918-8D0F-42CA-A1DA-02E6B272B04D

The Water Level Route.......You Can Sleep


Photos (1)


You are not alone... I am in the process of tearing down the old Christmas themed layout ..(Dec.2010 CTT) and remodeling the basement. New carpet..paint..update the bathroom...track lights..etc..etc..   this also includes taking years and years and years of trains stuffed in every nook and spare spot not only in the basement but in the laundry room and in my shop to the spare room upstairs until the basement is finished.

I started this job about three or so years ago and the plan was to have the room  ready to go when I retired last January. Once retired I could jump right in and build my masterpiece in my freshly renovated basement with nothing else to bother me. I have a great track plan ready and following your advice had begun going to the local real lumber yard to meet and make new friends 😉!!!

Guess how far along I've gotten with this plan.?.?  

Well I have almost all the trains off the layout..... and most of the boxes have been moved upstairs .. but the new LC+ sets bought for the grandsons are really cool!

But now that I'm retired watch my smoke!!!!



Live the Dream,

Own the Best!


Life does have a habit of getting in the way......

We moved into our "forever home" in 87.....I started the layout in late 92.

This is how far I got and then our "forever home" changed in 2004.


Layout51Sept2002 004Layout51Sept2002 006Layout51Sept2002 007Layout51Sept2002 008Layout51Sept2002 009Layout51Sept2002 012Layout51Sept2002 015Layout51Sept2002 021Layout51Sept2002 028Layout51Sept2002 029Layout51Sept2002 034Layout51Sept2002 037Then kids activities and college tuitions kept me from starting a new layout in 2001. Now, the basement needs a "redo". I just need a few months to do scenery. But the layout comes down again, somewhere in mid to late 20 or early 21 ( after all the bathrooms get updated). Maybe, we'll finish off the attic....it goes on and on.....but I really do love layout building 

Here is where I am now, in a holding pattern......




Photos (18)

  I've had a so-called " temporary " layout up since I moved into my house 25 years ago !

Procrastination I guess,but time needed don't have,extra money when I have the time,haven't had either. But I have been purchasing trains,track,parts when money and time has existed  .

 I have a plan as long as I live long enough to be sure and make more time,and hopefully will have extra tangible  money since in time my larger bills will be gone,then the plans I've made will hopfully come to fruition ,let's pray and hope anyway   

Collin "The Eastern Kentucky & Ohio R.R."

You all are correct, it’s easy to get distracted from finishing a model railroad, it’s called house care, housework, the lawn, the garden, the wife’s to do list, and on and on, however, the fall and winter seasons are my best times to work on the layout. I agree, there’s not as much time to work on the layout even after retirement. The day will come, hopefully.   Happy Railroading 

D500 really articulated the notion of retirement well. For me, I have found the things that I was looking forward to in retirement turned out to be a life raft. The idea of now I can focus on my hobbies was the brass ring. The reality is that I am now able to focus on the escoteric. I am binge-living. I now get the magazines that I didn't have time for. I am watching TV programs that are astounding. YouTube is turning into the new Wiki. What I am saying is that any question that pops into my mind can be answered one way or the other. My mind has become a flight risk, leaving my body to fend for itself on occasion. Headphones are usually involved...

I am hoping that after a year of time trully off, I will get all that I have collected out of it's box and onto some track...   David


I prefer both building and operating and I just have to manage my time better to do this, I was in my own private business for 30 years and that taught me how to manage time I think when you have your own money invested in yourself you tend to watch things more closely  I also have another life away from trains and I walk everyday and workout at the gym three times a week, but yes as far as trains go I do both because I control my time and work fast, minor details in my modelling I leave out I'm not a rivet counter as long as things look right and work or operate to the highest level that I can achieve I'm happy I don't have to impress anyone. To do all this my nightlife is curtailed (unless it's a family affair) I rise every morning at 5-00 am and hit the road for an hour then the Gym and after that I do what I want to do for the rest of the day I'm in bed at 8-00 pm and maybe read a book for an hour of course not having television and lots of friends helps a lot. Roo.

The internet is hard to resist.  I spend a lot of time on You Tube, Wikipedia, and Google Maps.  I get deep into things like the Kilauea eruption in Leilani Estates that started May 3 2018.  Several people most notably ApauHawaiiTours documented the destruction day by day.  It was fascinating, impressive, horrifying, and very sad at the same time.

Whenever I read about an event I go to Google maps and find the location and do a virtual drive or walk or walk around.  Sometimes I have to remember if I was actually there or saw it on Google.  I do this a lot with train videos and live cams.  I wish there was a way to highlight the railroad lines on the map view.

One thing I followed was a live cam of the bridge replacement in Glenwood Springs, CO.  The road bridge goes over Interstate 70, the Colorado River, Amtrak and a city street.  During demolition of the old bridge there was a whoops moment where several large girders dropped onto the tracks.  Look at Portion of Grand Avenue Bridge Falls Onto Railroad Tracks on You Tube.


I'm glad I found this one.  If anyone is familiar with me from other threads, I can get a bit long winded when I'm not hitting the backspace key over and over correcting mistakes.

I had no idea how much time I was spending in my train room until one day my grandson asked his grandmother, "Nan, where's Poppy?"  In which he got a resounding, tell all, cat's out of the bag now, "PROBABLY DOWNSTAIRS IN THAT **** TRAIN ROOM!!"

So to all wives out there who pretend to be interested in your husbands hobby and shower him with praise and encouragement in his endeavors to further his interests, BUSSSSSSSSSSTED!!!!!!!!

My "ease of distraction" has diminished quite a bit since I finished building the train room and getting it up and running.  A bit of décor after the track was down and the trains were running, coupled with a long haul attempt to put in an elevated track for my grandson's train that I never thought would end.  But finally it too was done and I turned my attentions to building a covered bridge along one side of it.  Being elevated it lent itself to this venture.  My trains run on the floor.  I'm very old school.  No tables, no mountains, no uphill or downhill, just set it on the floor, tip-toe around and try not to step on something, then turn on the layout, sit in my bar chair, and run it remotely.  I'm not that old school.  I woke up in 1971 on Christmas morning to a DT&I Yardmaster set that was on as crude and oval as you can build, and promptly turned my attention to the cool hot wheels loopty loop set next to it.  It wasn't until I was 52 that my interest in trains began.  Still have the Yardmaster set, sits on a shelf.  But oh do I love running the trains I have now.  I have 57 rolling stock that make up 5 running trains with 11 to 12 cars a piece.  I also like to get creative and run all 57 behind one locomotive.  I barely have just enough track on the inner oval to park them when I'm finished.  One more car and I could hook the front coupler of the loco to the rear coupler of the last car.

I plan to start a trestle bridge soon.  I run the trains while I work.  Wife still pretends to be happy for me that I have a hobby, no idea baby boy busted her by telling me what she said.  I love that boy.  He's why I got into trains.  He can take or leave them but I love it.  I wish I had the money to rebuild the house and set up my grand plan layout.  But I don't so I just continue to try to figure out ways to make the one I have even better.  I think I'll get off her and go spend some time "IN MY **** TRAIN ROOM!!!"

I find it to be a complicated cycle. 

Depending on whats going on, I get stuff done on the layout in fits and starts, often getting massive amounts done in a relatively short time, then nothing at all for long periods,

and then there are the more complicated layout situations which leave me sitting and staring at the layout for hours, contemplating consciously and seemingly unconsciously as well. 

I believe the latter is a prelude to the massive amounts in short periods; storing ideas and impressions in my head that ultimately influence what happens during the physical doing.   

Then there are some kind of benchmark periods of weeks or months, where its like, good enough for now, lets run trains and enjoy what's been built.

I would say

1.work with a layout plan that does what you want it to do.

2 Adjust it to take out unnecessary features

3. Get some benchwrk up and a loop of track down so you can run a train. 

4. You can add in the rest now , focusing on details but remember simplicity. You will like it better. 

5. Go after problem areas as they occur. Use simple solutions.

6. Do the things you are good at. Better to buy a ready to run assembled building than a kit if you are not so good at building kits or don't want to invest time and frustration. 

7 Lucky seven.. When you are distracted or lose interest, run a train!

LIRR Steamer

I have plywood and 2 x 4's sitting in what will eventually be the train room for two years now. The track plan is probably 4 years old by now. As stated a few times above, life gets in the way. Wife, young family, full time job, a home to take care of, no time for anything else.

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow? Is that how the saying goes? 

Last night, while the wife watched yet another science channel show on how mercury and venus collided violently destroying 90 other universes and creating a baby star that ate the sun then vomited the earth out so all of us could have life and become model train enthusiasts...….she was watching how the universe works and I really don't care.  I am more interested in how my layout works so I can understand why it isn't when it isn't.

I proceeded downstairs to my train room/former cistern and tried to think of yet another way I could run my trains that would be different.  Sometimes I run all 57 cars behind one engine.  The process by which I hook the trains together can be fun and interesting and when I mess up require hospitalization.  I think the person who started this thread mentioned some unfortunate events involving two trains trying to occupy the same spot.  This happens more often than I would like on my layout because...….I get cocky and try to run two trains at once rather than allowing two trains to run at once and concentrating on one of them, then concentrating on the other one.

The title of this mentions being easily distracted but from what I've read up to this point, this thread has morphed into more than that.  But to keep with the theme, life does happen and trains have to take a back seat.  Here's a sub question of the one posed to begin with.  When you don't run your trains for say a week, does your significant other needle and gouge you about being over your train fetish?  Right after I finished the construction of the room and ran the trains to test all sorts of issues or non issues, I went three days.  Next thing I know the wife is asking, "I guess the train thing is over?"

When I mow the yard, I finish mowing.  I go a week without mowing.  She never asks, I guess the mowing thing is over.  When a contractor builds a house, the house gets finished the people buying it move in.  A dry period with no jobs comes to pass.  Does his wife or her husband say, "well I guess the carpentry thing is over."

Trust me, if you love the hobby, you will find reasons to migrate to your train room. Even when your 4 year old, beautiful, thank you god for giving him to me, grandson wants you to play with him every second of the day.  It's like anything else you do, you start, you work, you never think it's going to be done, then one day, it's done and now you have to switch from creation to imagination.  Sorry but trains are not video games, they do one thing.  Go round and round on a track.  It's up to us to find ways to make that cool and interesting enough to want to go back to it.  That's why we have the layout.  There's always another building or vehicle or bridge or culvert or remodel just waiting in the wings for our imaginations to conjure up.

It's like my motorcycle.  I have one.  I ride.  It sits in the basement collecting dust.  At one time in my life I rode every day.  I washed it all the time.  Life changed, priorities changed, interests changed, but I still have the bike.  It still starts.  If I want to ride it, I can.  If I sell it, I can't.  It's up to me figure out if it's worth keeping.  As Doug N said, I'm in no hurry.

I still remember the first time I heard the well-known phrase “…your layout is never finished.”

Was in my LHS (long gone) and was picking up some scenery items and other supplies. I remarked that “…this will just about finish it off.”

That’s when I was informed otherwise.


Since returning to O gauge model railroading, I have completed two layouts, both subjects of articles in OGR (Run 214, Run 304) and both still operational in my basement. Each layout took me five years to complete. I assembled the tables, made all the scenery, built all the structures. I was still employed when the first one was built and retired during the second. I tend to be very focused on whatever I do. That's why both layouts are finished to the extent that I think there's nothing more that needs to be done on either. The trouble is that I now have no layout construction on which to focus. I do go downstairs to look at the layouts every day and run trains a few times a week - much more often than when I was building the layouts.

Photos by:





Photos (2)

Add Reply

Likes (3)
MELGARPutnam DivisionKen-Oscale
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653