% of Real v Fictional MRRs

MarkInLA May 25, 2013

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Any statistics available showing (1) the percentage of or ratio of those who model a portion of the real one versus those with fictional MRRs ? My gut feeling is there are more real or prototype layouts when considering the club layouts along with home layouts..Also (2) Do you think it's easier to model proto, as having little or less guess work of route and scenes to be had/power already painted/ lettered/numbered ? Or, is fictional easier as kind of an 'anything goes', nothing can be called wrong in modeler's eyes ? just curious . Also, I get the sense that a greater number of latest modelers (say, last 5-10 years) are portraying real or contemporary railroads (or, of course, parts of/divisions/regions of )...more than fictional types...Dibbs ?
     
  2. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    my problem is that I model a prototype railroad, but the track plan is freelanced, yet based on an area....so what does that make my layout?
     
  3. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think modeling a protptype is easier for the reasons you mentioned.

    Probably more prototype modelers in recent years. I consider the private road name (PRN) a fad from the 1960s.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I do not believe there is really any accurate way to track who is or has done what. It would be interesting to know an answer to your question.

    (1) There probably would be at least three categories: Freelance (fictional), proto-freelance (an example being such as bremner has noted), and prototype. The latter, per question (2) would seem to me most difficult, (yet rewarding), with all the fidelity to detail in both layout design, detailing of specific scenes and equipment. It seems to me these have all surged and waned a few times as the decades have passed.

    However, "nothing can be called wrong in modeler's eyes" is quite true. It is your empire, this hobby is all about having fun. If this is what pleases you, it cannot ever be wrong.
     
  5. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    My concept is quite clear, at least to me. I model northern New England scenes reminiscent of my youth: towns, woods, farms, factories, etc. Through them, I run B&M locomotives, both steam and first (and a few second) generation Minute Man diesels, though not necessarily true to numbering or type. For instance B&M never owned an RS-1, but I have two 20 year old Atlas products that run well and are painted Minute Man scheme. Besides it's MY railroad and I do as I darn well please...so there.;)
     
  6. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    I model an actual 8 mile branch of the Frisco 1915-1925 era. All scratchbuilt structures and resin kit rolling stock and loco kitbashing. Very rewarding.
     
  7. traintodd

    traintodd TrainBoard Member

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    I am modeling a specific portion of the Rio Grande, using the same types of locomotives used in that division and trying to capture some or the key geographic features, industries and towns on the route, but I have to compress 250 miles of railroad into a basement, so quite a bit of compression and license is required. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to each method. Trying to capture a prototype area and then compress into a model railroad gives you a framework and guideline in terms of theme, geographic location, key features, rolling stock and motive power, etc., but deciding what to "compress", what to not model and how to arrange it on a layout can be quite a challenge, I know it was for me. I think all model railroads that are based on specific prototype line or area are to a certain extent "proto-freelanced", the question is one of degree. I think that a freelanced railroad can be more optimized for the what the modeler wants to do and how they want to run their layout, but if it is not thought out well or based on some type of prototypical framework, it can be a bunch of trains running around through scenery. Nothing wrong with that, but I think its a different thing than modeling a specific prototype.
     
  8. Kisatchie

    Kisatchie TrainBoard Member

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    When I finally get around to building my dream layout, it'll be a combination of freelance RR plus interchanges w/prototype RRs with track plan liberties taken.
     
  9. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Does Miss Dee Rayle approve of this plan? :)
     
  10. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    I too was going this way; a reall RR is main line through the interchange with 'our' small branch line..Now I'm back in the teeter tottering vicious circle of 'What to do, what to do ?.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2013
  11. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    To address your questions let me start out by saying that in the past freelance model railroads comprised the great majority of layouts, perhaps by 75%. However, the very nature of the hobby has change - or should I say that of the participating hobbyists. Today the majority of so-called model railroaders seem to be far less modelers than than they are simply collectors of RTR equipment. Scratch and even kit building, along with painting and decaling ones models, are quite foreign to most of them. With the manufacturers offering excellent, fully detailed, prototype-only RTR models currently...and very little in the way of undec for the true hobbyist to work from...over the past dozen years interest has drastically shifted from freelancing to modeling the real railroads.

    Now is this prototype modeling the easiest approach? Certainly it is for those lacking modeling talent, or even the desire to be independent modelers of unique railroads and equipment. Even scenery and structures are slowly shifting toward RTR as model railroading becomes less and less about the actual modeling aspect of the hobby among the newcomers. We are slowing moving toward a certain sameness in our layouts and the railroads we are modeling. As an old-timer, this takes much of my personal interest away from the layouts I see in the magazines, especially MR, where the layouts all begin to look alike. Back in the 70's and 80's this magazine was filled with articles about truly unique pikes and instructional scratchbuilding/kit-bashing articles for creative minds. Now its content is much more a catalog and about buy this, buy that.

    As for me, my layout is freelance in the sense of the railroad itself and largely its trackage are unique and with every piece of rollingstock and structure modified to some degree to match my concept of this fictional road. However, it is modeled as in the actual location I live and thus the scenery is prototypical

    NYW&B
     
  12. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

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    I wouldn't even call such layouts prototype. Prototype should mean both rolling stock and location. I think of generic layout with prototype stock as a freelance layout.

    I think prototype and proto-freelance are most interesting to read about when a lot of effort has gone into the background and design.....i feel mildly different about my personal layout which is part freelance part proto-freelance as I think of it.
     
  13. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    in the 1950's, the introduction of plastic kits started the same arguement....
     
  14. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    "in the 1950's, the introduction of plastic kits started the same arguement...." - Bremner

    Yes, you are quite correct. However, and this is the big difference, the hobby back then was for and totally dominated by craftsman hobbyists, while most of those individuals purchasing the new Varney and Athearn plastic kits were soon learning to at least modifying what they bought with detail parts, etc., as craftsmen had done for years with the older wooden kits.

    In contrast today we are seeing HO hobbyists following what back in the 1950's might well have been regarded as simply playing with a smaller version of Lionel/Flyer O/S-gauge...which incidentally was not regarded as part of the actual model railroading hobby, even by the magazines, who banished such from their pages for decades thereafter. Exclusively store bought RTR items were regarded as for kids who were not yet old enough to have developed any sophistication, or actual craftsman skills felt needed to be a modeler.

    This may sound harsh today, but it was definitely the prevailing view within the hobby at the time and was the reason for the arguments concerning plastic kits and their perceived diminishing of the hobby's status.

    NYW&B
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2013
  15. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Supporter

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    Think I'll take a slightly divergent view. I don't see that much difference between the craftsman and the neophyte that buys just about everything R-T-R. Ask either of them what they are and the very likely answer is "model railroader." To me that is the key.
    I definitely model at least two unique railroads. Love the fact that I can buy a very close replica of the real thing for (yeah, a lot of money) but there ain't no .15 cent loaves of bread for sale either.

    Who'd ever have believed that a first class paint job for the TA&G, A&R, Georgia RR could be bought right off the shelf. For a lot of people - who cares. For the guy who likes the "big ones" and lives along the A&R, well we may well have a new recruit. And that's important to the hobby. That, to me, is part ever increasing appeal of model railroading.

    So I'll continue to admire the Master Machinists in the hobby and if someone elses modeling ain't quite up to my "standards" I'll still find a compliment to pay.
     
  16. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

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    I am a rivet-counter (and proud of it) and I, like many of my kind, love this hobby and enjoy it just as much as those who are rivet-ignorers. I enjoy good, pleasing work whenever and wherever I see it at either end of the spectrum (prototype vs whimsy) or, as is most likely, somewhere in between, but my choice is to model a specific era and location.

    Truth be said, it's a hard lesson for us rivet-counters to admit that in most instances, it's simply impossible to model every aspect of any railroad to absolute prototypical "realness", but, once the lesson is learned, and the limitations accepted, we can get on about our business and create very realistic compromises in our enjoyment of this creative hobby.

    A good example of compromise is my inner desire to model my LDE's in their full length. However, after considering that several small scenes I really like in my 65 mile stretch of mainline I model would be in excess of 90 feet long (each!) if I modeled them to strict scale, I limited my maximum train lengths to 9' 7.5", and my maximum LDE length to a scale mile (33'). I found out over the years that my scenic LDE's (without buildings or lots of switches/sidings) have ended up being between 6 and 12 feet long. On the other hand, my junctions, large industrial areas and small stations stops are between 18 and 24 feet long. My one city/major yard will be a scale mile long.

    Yup, I don't have to design my trackwork much because I copy the prototype I'm modeling. I started doing this before I knew any operational rules and while finishing the scenes, to my surprise, some of my fellow model railroading friends who were deep into operations, were able to operate appropriately on my finished trackwork because I'd simply built it like the prototype.

    This speeds up my trackwork, because I don't have to figure it out, invent industries, establish a logical reason for my scene or spend time shopping for what structures I want to buy to put alongside the tracks.

    On the other side of the coin, I spend a lot more time scratchbuilding, as nearly all of my structures are built to company standards and from old photos and valuation map references. Luckily, I've developed the skill of hand-laying turnouts and trackwork, so I also can easily choose whatever switches are most appropriate 'cause I just make 'em on the bench.

    I derive a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that my scenes, when they're done, represent an historic slice of the area and era I'm modeling. I imagine myself alongside the mainline, watching trains run in the early 50's, and what it would have been like to have been old enough to appreciate them.

    Since my layout is sectional/modular, my youngest son and I take portions of it to shows (3 or 4) every year, and it is particularly gratifying to have people show up with photos and references to give to me concerning the scenes I'm building. I also love to hear a show attendee saying something like "I've stood on that knoll right there many times taking pictures of trains!", or "My dad and I used to fly fish right there when I was a kid and watch the trains go by!"

    One of the really interesting aspects of modeling a specific time and era in the neighborhood of where I live, is that I've learned stories about the people who lived alongside the UP mainline in my era, what their names were, where they worked, what their eccentricities were, and I've been given photos of many of them. For my Echo LDE, I'm planning on modifying several N-scale figures to appear like the characters who inhabited the area, such as the station master, with his big hat and rotund build, his wife wearing a floral apron, hanging clothes out on the clothes-line, and the coaling tower foreman, who was married to the station master's daughter, who lived in one of the section houses on the south side of the Park City Branch Yard...and the 16 year old apprentice (Frank) who worked the last "trick" at the coaling tower in March of 1954 the day it shut down and Big Boys abandoned the Wahsatch Grade and headed east. Frank is now retired and still lives in Echo, and is a font of historical knowledge and reference material for the junction and is the unofficial Echo City historian.

    One of the things I love about model railroading is there are few "rules" as to how it should be done, and each one of us can find our niche to do it as pleases us and is most fun for our differing personalities and proclivities.

    But, for me...it's as prototype as I can do it!

    Cheerio!
    Bob Gilmore
     
  17. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    Well put, Bob. You echo my modeling sentiments exactly. My 8 mile branch has every siding and the junction at the main line is per prototype but shorter. Definitely requires all scratchbuilding. Love it.
     
  18. ken G Price

    ken G Price TrainBoard Member

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    Dave, my thoughts on the hobby also.
     
  19. NYW&B

    NYW&B Guest

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    If there actually were to be little difference between craftsman hobbyists and neophytes then one would anticipate seeing the efforts of both presented equally in the hobby's publications. However, the magazines are 100% populated by the works of the craftsman to the total exclusion of anything by the neophyte RTR enthusiasts.

    Simply claiming to be something in a pursuit traditionally based on creative talent and superior craftsmanship does not necessarily make you one in truth if you lack these attributes, although it seems definitely believed to be otherwised in the popular attitude these days. Thus, I would maintain it is not unreasonable to contend that there is a marked difference between those who are indeed model railroaders and those who simply own model trains.

    NYW&B
     
  20. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    I think I'm more of a railroad modeler than a model railroader. Operations are second fiddle to the models I scratchbuild or kitbash and the scenery. Thanks to DCC and sound I'm just getting my feet wet in operations after 35 years of dabbling in the hobby. Sticking to a prototype track plan certainly makes this more enjoyable and realistic for me.
     

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