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Our hobby is so multi-faceted, with so many opportunities for stimulating creativity: layout design, benchwork, trackwork, electrical connections, scenery, painting/ making/selecting backdrops,  the hunt while collecting, negotiations while buying, selling and trading, operations, repairs and restorations, conraderie with fellow hobbyists, writing articles and posting photos, videos and comments on this Forum, etc.

What turns you on the most about model railroading?

I will start us off by sharing that I pretty much love it all, and I bet most of you Forum people feel the same way. However, for me, over the years, I have found that the scenery related arts and crafts aspects of our hobby brings me the most joy and satisfaction.

I will elaborate further on this after I give it some further thought, but before I do, I would love to know what some of you love the most about model railroading.

Arnold

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Yesterday and this morning I've had a great time painting figures and populating my layout.

I consider such activities to be part of the arts and crafts of model railroading.

I believe model railroading expands our horizons in multiple ways. For instance, In my case, I was a mediocre student in art class as a child, and consider myself to be devoid of artistic talent. And yet,  model railroading has motivated me to engage in arts and crafts related to our hobby.

Moreover, I have found that although I believe I will never be great at scenery, structures and figures and the various ways we decorate our layouts, I enjoy such arts and crafts, have steep learning curve when I take a stab at it, and end up with a relatively good result that is quite satisfying.

Later, I will post some photos of my recent creations.

Your observations are spot on Arnold. There is the psychological advantage, as we advance in age, of being able to create, restore, operate, and problem solve. Our interests evolve as does our layout. For now, my focus is on solidifying a track plan; while being cognizant of scenery and the placement of structures. Once the layout is established, thoughts would probably turn to considering enhancements; or extensive urban renewal. The fun is in the evolution of the process.

@Jay Francis posted:

Your observations are spot on Arnold. There is the psychological advantage, as we advance in age, of being able to create, restore, operate, and problem solve. Our interests evolve as does our layout. For now, my focus is on solidifying a track plan; while being cognizant of scenery and the placement of structures. Once the layout is established, thoughts would probably turn to considering enhancements; or extensive urban renewal. The fun is in the evolution of the process.

Well-stated, Jay. I totally agree with you.

Good observations. And don't forget problem solving, which is a necessary element of the hobby. I too enjoy many facets, including the basics of modeling and miniatures. There's something elemental about creating a small world, and it goes much deeper than "playing with trains." Lastly, I'm pleased to have some grandsons to share the hobby with.

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I am at the point that I am not sure what part I like besides running trains as aim still running wire and I am sick or running wire. Almost 500 feet of wire and still have a Turntable and 38 Whisker tracks with LED at each one left to wire. Then three more turnouts, two double crossovers and two more sidings. That does not count signals and structures.  Ask me my favorite part after I finish running wire.

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Last edited by RJT

My interest in photography is what brought me into model railroading as I needed some sort of diorama for a night school project.  Then as I became more involved I used the hobby to teach my children things like basic electricity, woodworking, and logical thinking.  I was mostly "N' scale at the time and my daughter loved the electronics part and built a lot of signal boards, controllers, lighting systems, etc.   When she started high school there was an electronics program where she was the only girl.  That worked into a college scholarship and she went on to a nice career.  My son was a creative modeler and also loved running operations.  There was an old guy at the local club who bragged about how nobody could beat his time in the timesaver switching puzzle,..    My son watched for a while until he had his opportunity to try,..  ten year old made fast work of the expert.    After that I did some redesign on my shelf layout and incorporated timesaver into my industrial areas, two of them were exactly the same so we could compete (he always won).  Having the layout in the house with no basement it wasn't something where we could stick a few boards together and it be ok with the lady of the house.   So everything was build as nice wood furniture, everything was nicely joined, front edges were trimmed, stained, and polished, same with the valance.  We made custom etched switch plates for the controls and snap bottom covers to hide all the wiring, etc.    Today my son builds specialty furniture. 

Kids have all grown and have their own families, the old house is gone and the layout with it.   Most of it found a good home with other modelers.  Today I'm a Lionel carpet runner, no space to build what I would like.  But the grandkids like the nice long trains that run loop to loop in the TV room and on occasions take a run down the hallway (temp) and into the master bedroom to another temporary loop and back.  I'm thinking of creating a timesaver style switching puzzle, probably have to build a cabinet which would need to be large to accommodate "O" scale, perhaps I might just it in HO.

What a rich diversity of interests and passions related to our beloved hobby. I found every one of the above replies to be very special.

Mike in NC, your post really moved me. How you have used the hobby to teach and inspire your students and your own children is another example, IMO, of highest and best use. Bravo!

Arnold

Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

I enjoy the building of it all the most, whether it's a structure or bench work or scenery. I've done HO, O And G, enjoyed all 3 and have had fun with all 3. Now the HO is too small for my eyes and my current residence is all hill so it’s O for now. I have also enjoyed the research into learning the history of my favorite railroad, the B & O. Who knew Deer Park water started with them. Now I have an original case of the bottles and the bottle holder for the diner cars. Neat stuff, such a shame that so much has been torn down through the years, but the hobby lets us recreate or simulate parts of the original railroads we have an interest in.

Regards, Scott

I enjoy teaching and mentoring youngsters.  Long, long before the acronym S.T.E.M. was coined our hobby supported it in droves, and continues to do so nicely to this day.  So good to see many people mention elements of it, like building and problem solving.

However, I also submit that we should extend it to include another oft-mentioned item here: arts and crafts.

With that in mind how about the following?:

          Science

          Technology

          Engineering

   The Arts

   and Mathematics

       S.T.E.A.M. -- How could there be a more perfect match?

Mike

I enjoy teaching and mentoring youngsters.  Long, long before the acronym S.T.E.M. was coined our hobby supported it in droves, and continues to do so nicely to this day.  So good to see many people mention elements of it, like building and problem solving.

However, I also submit that we should extend it to include another oft-mentioned item here: arts and crafts.

With that in mind how about the following?:

          Science

          Technology

          Engineering

   The Arts

   and Mathematics

       S.T.E.A.M. -- How could there be a more perfect match?

Mike

We know we are getting a little older than we would like to admit when in my case, the youngsters I teach are post-graduate college students.  I teach seminars for the Architectural Registration Seminar.  My other career in model trains on behalf of 3rd Rail, Sunset, & GGD specifically applies to the current architectural exam sections of:

Working in the model railroading industry is relevant to all of these exam sections in one form or another.

Props to anyone who takes time to mentor.  We do it because we believe in the future generations.

@BruceG posted:

Good observations. And don't forget problem solving, which is a necessary element of the hobby. I too enjoy many facets, including the basics of modeling and miniatures. There's something elemental about creating a small world, and it goes much deeper than "playing with trains." Lastly, I'm pleased to have some grandsons to share the hobby with.

20200616_110204

Nice-looking layout. I have to ask you. How is your bench work supported? I see what looks like shadows underneath but can't really make out any supports.

A lot of it is definitely history. My life long home state of New Jersey used to be quite the industrial powerhouse. Now it isn't, and we have problems, and I wonder about our future.

My small 1950's N.J. era industrial layouts take me back to what were happier, simpler times. Though, those times were kinda before me.

I have some in O scale, but it is easier for me to do actual industry in HO. I also have a collection of the Atlas O freight cars that had "New Jersey" actually painted on them as part of the company/industry name .... again illustrating what New Jersey used to be.

Happy Railroading

I like the history the most. The layout is a place for hours of research to precipitate into something tangible. Plus my layout is based on an alternate history. There was a real village here called Newport but it was bought and razed to make way for what would become the P&LE gateway yard. In this history, that didn't happen and the Mahoning Valley didn't run out of block coal that could be loaded into a blast furnace without being processed into coke. I've shared this with one or two friends and it spiraled into a LENGTHY conversation about the history of iron making here. Pretty cool!

I like the tinkering. I was notorious for stealing appliances from the trash as a kid to take them apart. Now I tinker with trains, Arduinos, and 3D printers.

I like the trains!

Last edited by BillYo414

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