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Saturday essay: The ‘Trip Axiom’ |

Saturday essay: The ‘Trip Axiom’

| Friday, November 30, 2012 8:57 p.m

As the brand-new, eight-line, N-gauge model railroad is nearing completion, the “Trip Axiom of Train Platforms” has come into play: “If you don’t like something, change it.”

“Trip” is the nickname for eldest brother Scott, no stranger (or slouch) when it comes to model railroading. And last-minute changes abound.

Two old-fashioned American trolley lines have become two modern light-rail-vehicle lines coursing through what will be a heavily forested mountaintop village of decidedly foreign flavor. Perhaps the German-made LRVs are serving an Austrian community. Or, given the deepness of the greenery, maybe they’ve been imported to serve one Irish.

Two steep mountain cuts that two freight lines would have traversed still are freight lines — but the cuts have been replaced with two tunnels to give the village above more real estate. And it’s always fun to keep observers guessing where, once entered, the locomotives will exit and just how the “engineer” plans to keep 10 feet of “underground” trackage clean. (Hint — elves.)

At least one new scenery technique also is being employed this time around: Out is the quite heavy layered plaster over fiberglass screen for hills and dales, requiring finish sculpting skills of 10 minutes or less; in is far lighter insulating spray foam that, once set, can be sculpted at a more leisurely and thoughtful pace.

Tracks for two passenger lines are being laid this weekend. Then comes the wiring, the test runs and tree “planting.”

Yes, the new platform is slightly behind its scheduled “arrival” time. But, then again, it is a railroad.

— Colin McNickle

Categories: Editorials
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