Why I Model Railroad as a Hobby
Well, I guess the easiest and most direct answer to the question of why I Model Railroad as a hobby comes down to the fact that I am a geek and love fantasy. I especially love Disney. Walt Disney is a bit of an idol to me. He took fantasy and made a life for himself out of that and was able to make others happy in the process. He got to share his passion and expertise with the world. While I am not looking to try and make a career out of model railroading, it is fun to see peoples faces light up when they see a cool train layout. Maybe that is why I do it; to make people happy and watch their face light up when they see something I have built from scratch. I will be honest, that is rewarding. I think the other reason is that it makes me happy and gives me a creative outlet that I honestly thought I would never have. For the longest time, I did not think that I had a creative bone in my body. I can not draw, paint, play music (trust me, I have tried), work with wood, or work on cars. I was always watching everyone else be creative, and thought to myself “geeze, I wish I could do that.” Don’t get me wrong, I tried all of those things and either I could not do it, or it just would not hold my attention because I did not enjoy it.
I tried wood working. That was an absolute fiasco. Everything I built was either crooked, had cracks in it or actually fell apart. I tried fixing up old cars. That ended up being a money pit. I found that I was really, really good at taking things apart. Putting them back together was the biggest problem. I tried drawing. Nope, still not it. I could not draw a stick figure cat if someone offered to pay me a million dollars. Remember Bob Ross? Yeah, I tried painting, too. There was not happy little tree for me. Then there was the instrument attempt or better yet, I should say instruments attempts as I tried the guitar first and then the banjo. My stubby freaking fingers did not work well at producing what anyone would ever call music. I really wanted to sit out front a play the banjo. But then…
How I Got into Model Railroading
One day, my son and I walked into a hobby shop, and there stood, in the corner a huge train layout. I was mesmerized. I really was. This layout looked so realistic. It was just unbelievable. This layout had fake mountains, fake streams, fake trees, fake grass, fake people, fake cars, the list just goes on and on of all the fake, but realistic detail in model railroad layout. I thought to myself, “yup,” I am going to build one of those. Over the next few weeks, I would come back to the hobby shop over the weekends and study it. Then given my previous track record of failed creative hobby attempts, I was like “nope” probably not going to happen, but I was going to try anyways. The young man who built the layout worked for the hobby shop. I would talk to him and he would walk me through how he built it, give me ideas on what I should do, show me different products and tell me about different resources for learning how to build a model layout. He really was helpful. Since then, that hobby shop has gone out of business, but the experience I got from there is still going strong.
So, I did not actually build a layout at first. I started building fake mountains and other fake terrain for our Holiday Village Display and Halloween display that we put up in our garage every year. I am actually going to do another post on that, at a later time. I wanted to back in to the process of model railroading by first learning how to build the fake terrain by building dioramas for our holiday displays and also see if this is something that I could actually do. I was honestly skeptical of the fact that I could do this. I kept thinking if I can’t do any of the other creative and crafty stuff, how am I going to be able to do this. To my surprise, and to the surprise of my family, this was something I actually could do. For some reason, I can’t draw, paint or work with wood, but I can carve and build model terrain. Odd I know, but it is the truth indeed. This is a lesson for everyone, if you think that you will never be able to do something creative or have a hobby, just keep looking. You will eventually find it. Knowing that I could actually do this I took a few years learn all the different ways to build certain things adding them to our holiday displays. I figured out the best ways to build mountains, and streams, and lakes, and oceans, and learned how to make molds, and a whole bunch of other neat model stuff. The game changer came when I purchased my 3d printer. I am actually able to print out some pretty cool model terrain things.
Now that I finally had a grasp, I was now ready to build a model train layout, but I had a problem. I now have no room because originally I was going to build the layout in my garage, but thanks to covid19 and all the closures, I have my workout equipment in there, plus, we decorate the inside of the garage every year with our huge holiday displays, so my original idea to use the garage is out. Well, I decided that I would or will build my model train layout outside in my side yard. I have a go big or go home attitude, so it will probably eventually end up in the front yard, too.
So, long, long story short. I got into model railroading because of a train layout that I saw in a hobby store. I do it because it makes me happy, other people happy, and it is a creative outlet for me.