Tuesday, August 7, 2012

End of the Line

It's been several months since I last posted progress on the Western Maryland Western Lines layout, and simply put, there hasn't been much to post.

Sadly, I've reached a point in my life where I have to put the toys away, and re-think my overall approach to life.  In the last few months, my marriage of 27+ years has unraveled, mostly by my own efforts, but the details of that aren't important.

What is important is the realization that all of the time and effort that went into building the layout was spent at the expense of my family.  I had always prided myself that since I was a kid, I've always had something to run a train on.  I bought our house with an eye specifically on that grand attic room that held so many possibilities.  Mostly, it turns out, it became a place for me to hide from the grim reality that there were some major holes in my personal life.

I'm still very proud of the work that went into it, and all the recognition I've gained through my years of posting progress on the various internet forums, and my writings here and in print in N Scale Magazine.  In recent months, though, I was becoming more and more aware of the down side of having such a complex design.  Time spent on maintenance began to outstrip time spent enjoying the layout, parts of it that I really enjoyed building had become a bit dusty and tired, and it got to be harder to find the energy to commit to renewing things and putting right the things I knew were wrong.  Quite frankly, I was thinking seriously about giving up on it for some time, and seeking out something a little simpler and more satisfying.

There's a life metaphor in there somewhere.

As of this writing, the layout still stands, fully populated with numerous trains.  Thousands of dollars of rolling stock, locomotives, structures and details, all sitting dormant in a dark room in a house I no longer live in.  My son doesn't want me to remove it, at least not yet.  He doesn't show much interest in operating it anymore, but I suppose it gives him a reminder of the time he and I spent in there.  He's now 16, so he'll only be around for a short time longer.

Maybe there will be an opportunity to have the guys over one more time to run a few trains, but I have a feeling the next time the crew comes down to Cambridge, they will be wielding sawsalls and wire nippers; storage tubs and bubble wrap.

I don't know if I'll ever attempt to undertake such a fully operational model railroad again.  Sharing a small house with a roommate means it certainly won't be happening in the near future, and a desire to get out and live life more fully means that time for such an effort will be limited.  Fortunately I have several good friends who have been able to balance life with their layouts, so I'm sure I can always find time to grab a throttle and a handful of car cards.  I'll also be glad to lend a hand to install a few switch machines or some scenery.

But I need to streamline my own life, scale it back, and make sure that I'm working as hard at making my life, and the lives of those I love, as satisfying as my experience with the layout was.

So if anyone wants to own a chunk of the Western Maryland, let me know.  I could probably use the money.


  1. I have enjoyed reading about the trains and your humor made it an enjoyable break from daily life.

    Sorry to read of your personal struggles. I wish you the best in streamlining. You and the family will be in our family's prayers.


  2. Lee,

    I was at Eric's a few weeks ago and saw the 84 Lumber section from the old Ohiopyle part of the layout. It made me think about the future of your layout. I hope there's a way to save it, if it must ultimately be dismantled.

    So, when it comes time to deal with the layout, please call me. Even if it's just to come down and help box up the rolling stock, I'll make myself available. I will miss that layout, but I will always cherish the time that I was able to work on it or operate it. It was a real honor. Thankfully, it will live on in photos and memories. If there does come the opportunity for one more ops session, please don't exclude me.

    As far as scaling down, perhaps now you understand why I never seem to go much beyond the HCD layout. Anything bigger is too much for me to build and maintain. Especially now, with an eight-month-old, I can go weeks without being able to put any work time into the layout.

    Hang in there,

  3. Lee,
    I am sorry to read that your personal life is a struggle at the moment. Life doesn't always go as planned. I have been checking your site (still love it) and reading this blog for sometime. I know we have exchanged a few emails in the past including an inquiry about adding sound to my 2-8-0. If you do decide to sell some of your stock let me know, I would be honored to have a few of your pieces rolling around my layout.


    1. Thanks, David. I've been selling off a few things to raise some cash. You can find listings in the Trading Post section of the Railwire Forum www.therailwire.net (you have to be an active member to view that section) and also on ebay at http://www.ebay.com/sch/nodlew64/m.html?item=140868631564&ssPageName=STRK%3AMESOX%3AIT&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2562

      Check back periodically to see what's on the block next. Thanks for all your kind words.