Sound thoughts from the Model Railroader (many years ago)
Layouts, like full-size railroads, aren’t cast in concrete. They’re made of relatively easy-to-change wood and plaster or foam. Start small, test as you build, and make changes when needed to improve operation or appearance. Layout design and construction are both continuous learning processes. Most well-known model railroads in the hobby are the result of an ongoing series of changes and additions to the original design – even to the point of being completely rebuilt from the ground up to embrace a new theme.
Once a design is “frozen” and construction commences, be it for a model railroad, a full-size railroad, or even an airliner, rocket, or attack submarine, it embraces old technologies and design concepts. As Steve King, a former Baltimore & Ohio dispatcher and builder of the N scale Virginian Midland, has pointed out, a “perfect” model railroad wouldn’t be much fun to operate anyway, as all of the challenges would have been designed out.
So the goal is to make well-informed decisions, then build a layout that embraces that knowledge yet can still be adapted to changing conditions and additional input. Just as we continue to gain knowledge and skills, our model railroad designs should continue to reflect those ever-improving conditions and be readily able to accommodate them.