- My fellow Zeds --
Well, one year ago today I climbed the hill up to my flat with a
Märklin Z starter set (Santa Fe F7) under my arm. The hill I was
climbing was only slightly steeper than the retail price of my
investment, but the January air helped relieve the lightheadedness
caused by such a massive outlay of funds.
Winter 2000 was spent saving up for more track and turnouts,
searching for Z websites, experimenting with the Märklin 1:5
layout-planning template, and dreaming.
April, May, and early June were occupied by non-railroad endeavors,
and it looked like my train might spend a long time on the shelf.
By July, however, I was bidding in Z auctions on the Internet, and
began to acquire locomotives and rolling stock. My track plan was
complete and perfect in every way.
In August, I discovered the Z-Scale mailing list, and was quickly
convinced that my planned layout called for grades far too steep to
be practical. My perfect track plan went in the wastebasket.
September saw me fiddling with test tracks and grades. A completely
different layout took shape, but still more track and turnouts were
needed. The layout dimensions kept growing to contain all the
features I couldn't bear to do without.
In October, I wasted a lot of time and wood on a "portable" layout
base that was far too heavy but still not rigid enough. A much
lighter and stiffer base was completed in half the time.
In November, my empire was a jigsaw-puzzle of inch-thick foam
sections. Grades were cut and re-cut in an attempt to get the longest
trains possible up to the summit. I tried Relco and Micro-Trains
products for the first time, and was impressed with both.
In December, I solved a tricky two-level tunnel problem. My foam
chunks were all glued into place on their risers, and I tested and
tweaked the steepest grades one last time. I leveled uneven spots in
the sub-roadbed and shaped easements with foam shims, white glue, and
a flat file. Flex-track sections were cut and tested, and the track
was re-assembled to mark the location of the cork roadbed.
That is my complete career as a Model-Railroad Baron. On behalf of
the primary stockholders (Me, Myself, and I), a heartfelt Thank You
goes to you, the members of the Z_Scale mailing list, for the wealth
of information and suggestions.
In the coming year I hope to travel to the Shenandoah Valley and the
B&O Museum in Baltimore, to view and photograph my prototype (as well
as visit some Civil War landmarks). I'd love to go to the train show
in St. Louis if I can, to possibly meet some of you in person. Back
at home, I'm almost ready to put down my cork roadbed, and have
endless topics to learn about: brass kits, scratch-building, scenery,
ballasting, weathering, and much more. Thanks for tolerating my
ramblings. This group has been indispensable to me. I'll have tons of
new questions to ask soon!
All the best to you,
-- Andy Hunting