Model Railroading as a Hobby
An Introduction, Invitation, and Editorial
The hobby of Model Railroading has a number of different facets.  Each of those facets has other facets.  I'm not sure how far this can be carried, but I suspect it's pretty far.

One person prefers to admire models on the mantle, while another enjoys watching their trains run.  Still another might be interested not only in running, but in running like a real railroad, stopping at stations, picking up and dropping off cars along the way, and so on.  Some carry this to great detail, with signaling, operating rules, schedules, and perhaps even paperwork. 

Some like the most up-to-date equipment, others prefer the kind that were around during their childhood.  Then there're those who wouldn't even look at an engine unless it burned coal (or wood!) and yet another crowd that prefers trolley, interurban, or mainline electric railroading.

After a time, many Modelers begin to concentrate on one part of the country, or even one railroad, over another.  The type of railroad can vary from rusty crooked logging railroads to spit and polish "Class One" railroads.

Some build scenery, ranging from rugged mountains, to rolling green hills, to flat prairie.  Some are content for now with unpainted plywood.  Most have at least a building or two around, to lend some atmosphere.  Some build major cities.

It is my belief that any two Model Railroaders selected at random are quite likely to have no common interests whatever.  So don't worry if what you do doesn't impress someone else.  Relax.  Enjoy!  There's room for them in this hobby too.

Benefits of Model Railroading

Ideally, a hobby should have benefits beyond those of providing relaxation and an escape from the cares of the day.  One of the most commonly cited (by model railroad widows) benefits is: "At least I know where he is, nights.  In the basement."  But there is a solution to the "Model Railroad Widow" problem.

When building my first layout, I let a couple friends have "lots" on the railroad to do with as they pleased.  It turns out they had ideas I'd never thought of before.  I mentioned it to my mother, and she said "Why can't I have a lot too."  So I let her have a lot and access to my supply of unbuild kits and spare building parts.  She transformed a set of garages into tourist cabins behind a large house with flowerboxes. . So that might be a way to share your hobby with another person who isn't interested in trains.

My wife has built a Ma's Place kit, and painted it blue.  Like the narrowminded idiot I am, I explained to her that "Nobody would ever paint a house that color."  It wasn't long before we saw that there were quite a few blue houses out there in the real world.  So, if you do let someone else have their way with a part of your layout, be prepared to bite your tounge if what they come up with isn't at all what you would have thought of.

One benefit model building has for both me and my family is making available tools and supplies for repairing things around the house, from jewelry to furniture.  Personally, I think every home ought to have jewelers' screwdrivers, fine pointed pliers, at least one razor saw (not as fearsome a tool as it sounds) and a multitude of small clamping devices.  (Did you know wooden spring clothes pins are available in three sizes?)  In addition to the tools, different sizes of brass tubing, piano wire, sheet styrene, and various kinds of glue have all been pressed into service on the home front at one time or other.  Not to mention the time I sawed a model house in half for a child's school diorama project.

Admittedly, the model cars and locomotives are a bit harder to "justify," but without them, it wouldn't be a hobby.  Now if I can just figure a way to tie physical fitness in with Model Railroading, I could make my Doctor happy too.

For more benefits, and a good source of information on how to begin, click here.

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