Each of us goes through changes in what interests us. Indeed, people move completely out of hobbies into other leisure pursuits. But within model railroading, I’ve watched many people tear down entire layouts and sell off a collection models in order to change scales, or change eras within the same scale, change from free-lance to prototype, and change prototypes.
I’ve written previously about my twenty-year long interregnum from model railroading. During that time, I had very brief periods where my interest in the hobby was re-ignited, but my crazy career left absolutely no room for leisure activities that are as involved as model railroading. I’m pleased that I’m back into the hobby because it’s a great thing for me obsess about that isn’t related to earning a living.
Twenty-five years ago, I was deeply interested in modelling the Norfolk & Western in and around Bluefield. I collected some models but never had the time to build a layout. I had amassed a very large number of coal hoppers, and I started putting together the locomotives I would need to power those coal drags.
Despite the fact that I spent most of my time watching trains on the CN, CP, and TH&B, the decision to model a railway so far from home was at least partly informed by the reality that existed in model railroading at the time. There was simply far more rolling stock based on American prototypes on the market. Brass and plastic models of American prototypes were more plentiful and more affordable than models of Canadian prototypes. Even decals of Canadian prototypes were less abundant. And finally, I simply wasn’t up to the challenge of undertaking that much modifying, kit bashing, and scratch building. For a young modeller, there were many pragmatic reasons informing my decisions, despite my interests.
Fast forward to today and a number of things have contributed to my change in interests. Firstly, there are so many more models available, and converting them into something that is either a precise or reasonable rendition of a Canadian prototype is far less daunting. My skills were probably already up to the challenge twenty-five years ago, but I couldn’t afford the tools that are necessary to do the fine work that needed to be done to the models.
Twenty-five years ago, there was no club of prototype modellers anywhere near me. In fact, the clubs near me were very exclusive in selecting members, and for some reason I wasn’t permitted membership in the biggest club around here when I asked to join. Membership in a club that is populated by people who are knowledgeable in the prototype, curious to learn more, and always willing to share and learn together can serve to make the challenges less imposing and more enjoyable. This alembic did not exist for me back then.
I think it’s a good time to be in this hobby. The internet has caused an explosion in the sharing of information and skills, and the range and quality of models is astounding. As a result, I feel much more confident modelling railroad equipment that was relatively close to home when I was a kid.
Now I need to dig through those boxes and continue thinning out my old collection.