Saturday essay: Punting on the railroad
Ah, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray. As do those of junior engineers working on model railroads.
The original plan for this year’s update to the eight-line N-scale train platform was expansive. Not only would a rubber-wheeled trolley bus (which takes its power from overhead lines) replace a light-rail vehicle that wends its way through a mountaintop village, a freight line cutting through those mountains would, instead of hugging the mountainside at one point, go peak to peak over a long and curved trestle bridge.
But getting the trolley bus to run with any consistency proved to be a daunting task; it will have to wait to be perfected in the “off-season.” And so much time was devoted to that project, too little time was left for the trestle build. That, however, does not mean there are no updates.
In the rush to complete the then-new platform in 2012, two tunnel faces were pushed forward and a shorter bridge was eliminated. Those faces have been pushed back and an exquisite Warren Truss bridge (circa 1957, found buried on a local hobby shop shelf in its original packaging) now spans the space just above the tunnel entrances.
Additionally, three new mountains were built, planted with scores of model trees.
And even though this year’s best-laid plans went awry, the updates that did make it from drawing board to platform will provide years of model railroading pleasure.
— Colin McNickle