Sunday, May 24, 2015

Not Entirely My Railroad

I consider myself very lucky to have a son who loves model trains and going railfanning as much as I do. While it can be no surprise that a father can influence his son's hobbies or activities, my son Brendan managed to change my direction of modeling the Nickel Plate Road.

I had originally planned to model a section of the NKP's Cleveland Division from either Bellevue to Lorain or the industrial freight yards of Cleveland. That all changed with Brendan's love of the old and new versions of the Wheeling & Lake Erie. His near constant questions about the histories of each lead me to research this "other" side of the NKP to answer his questions and increasing my own curiosity. Around this time, requests began for Wheeling inspired tunnels to be included in my NKP's flat farmlands of Ohio...  One thing lead to another and here I am modeling a coal hauling branchlines snaking through the valleys around a place called Adena. Of course it also has tunnels, lots of them too.

Recently I proposed an alteration to the way that the layout will operate when in "continuous run mode" for Brendan's and visiting guests enjoyment.

I needed to relocate a staging yard to solve an issue I had with an upper level that was way too deep, which interfered with being able to see the level below it. Doing this however severed the continuous run mode. To add it back in, the new plan now had a brief side trip over a part of the Adena Branch instead of staying on the mainline section to complete a loop.

To my surprise this was completely unacceptable to Brendan and earned me a loud and very emotional protest. His mainline trains would surely never take such a detour!

As told in the story at the beginning of this blog post, I chose the region to model because of him and made many design choices for him (continuous run option). I should have realized his level of investment in this project was really high. After all, he's helped me do field research measuring old bridges on cold dreary November days and gone looking at rusty rails with a bunch of old folks (no offense to certain readers!).
Brendan helping scout the Jug Run bridge of the Adena Branch.
After things cooled down, we hit the drawing table together and figured out a way for his mainline trains to stay on the mainline when running in circles. Hopefully this was a teaching moment for both of us, the art of compromise for him and for me, that this isn't entirely my layout anymore but our layout.

Recently Brendan showed a best friend from school what we were up to in our basement. It was pretty neat watching him explain the mockups I had built and where the trains would run, all in great detail. They ran trains together on a short temporary section built for testing and had a great time. It was a really cool moment watching Brendan share the excitement of what he and his Dad were doing together with someone else.

Brendan and his best friend making a monster hopper train together.

This layout is becoming more than a structure to build for running trains. It is also becoming a structure build our Father-Son relationship and other friendships on with experiences like this these.

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