With the announcement that Atlas Model Railroad Co. will be shutting down its widely popular internet forums, I can't help but reflect on what an impact that particular discussion group had on my participation in the hobby.
The first project I posted on the Atlas Forum at any length about was the Chaffee Branch, which was supposed to become a part of my final layout design. The forum challenged me to build better models, take better photos, and put a lot more thought into what I was doing.
As work on renovating the train room commenced, I switched my focus to the "Temporary Rig" layout, a simple 3' x 8' test bed that kept me entertained for a couple of years. Looking back at that work, I can see how much my work needed improving.
Concurrent with that, I began constructing the Maryland Junction section of what would become the current permanent layout out in the garage.
After boring you all to tears with the glacial progress, I finally had the train room done, and was ready to move the work upstairs...
Gradually, from this chunk of foam and lumber, the layout grew into a functional model railroad, although a lot of it was still temporary construction, due to the fact that my son shared the room with me for a few years...
Note the twin bed and the tasteful Ravens banner over the yard lead...
Still, it was fun to have a few guys over to run trains and drink beer, most of whom were encountered here on the Atlas board.
Ultimately, the boy moved into other quarters, allowing me to finally build out the footprint that I had designed almost 7 years earlier...a task which has kept me occupied for almost three years now.
Along the way, I got to share the experience with some truly gifted modelers, and some genuinely awesome people. Many of whom I'm proud to call friends...
|with Randy Gustafson (Randgust) and Brian Carhart (RockGP40).|
|with Dr. Dave Vollmer|
|with Bernie Kempinski|
|with David K. Smith, Dave Foxx, Phil Hoffman (KCSphil) and Tim Alder (sizemore).|
|with Dave Vollmer, Eric White (eric220), Ed Kapuscinski, Bob Bufkin, and Carl Tweedale...|
The friendships I've developed starting from the Atlas board and on to the other lists I hang around on, have been extremely valuable to me both as a model railroader, as well as personally.
There have been some mighty good seeds sewn in the fertile soil Atlas provided. I think we'll see the quality of work, both by the manufacturers and by us, continue to improve and increase thanks to the community that was fostered on the A-Board.
Atlas spawned most of the other on-line groups by being so open to the discussion of so many things. The very notion that we could critique any manufacturer's goods, including their own, with such abandon was astounding.
For a long time, before we all started to migrate to our own modeling strata, Atlas was the go-to place for straight talk about the hits and misses of pretty much every product imaginable.
Would Atlas be doing add on parts and lower ride heights without the forum? Would ESM, Fox Valley or Exactrail be hitting the markets they're now hitting without the threads on Atlas that pushed the envelope?
While it's true we had our Skip, Fran AND Fun on Atlas, we also had Max Magliaro and Randy Gustafson, both of whom are outstanding modelers and problem solvers. It will be interesting to see how the groupings work out as people look for other opportunities to share genuinely useful information and techniques.
I haven't spent much time on there in the last year or so, but there's no way I'd be doing the level of work I try to do now were it not for the Atlas Forum. Godspeed, and I hope to see some of you out there in the ether somewhere.