Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's All a Matter of Process...

Have you ever noticed that when you have it in your mind to something, usually something simple, that it quickly becomes apparent that there are a whole lot of complex, time consuming things you have to do before you can even start?

So it's been on the reconstruction of the Western Maryland Western Lines. The first phase of this project involves reconstructing the staging yard under the main part of the layout. I'm replacing a straight line thru staging yard with a 4 track "balloon" yard, which will allow trains to be turned back on themselves to return to the layout going back the same way they left.

Trouble is, this part of the layout is partially buried under a scenic section that is not being changed...

The other trouble is, the area where the balloon track will fold back hasn't been built yet, and in fact, until last night, the space was occupied by my work bench. So, before I could work on the yard area, I had to move the work bench.

So.... Before I could move the workbench, I had to clear it off. Which meant going through the rubble one piece... one tiny N scale coupler spring... at a time. You see, when you're a model railroader, you don't just sweep the debris into the trash can. There might be a cast-pewter air horn that's less than an 1/8th of an inch long, or a little slip of brass that you'll need for an electrical pick up in there with the sawdust and cat hair.

Well, after 4 hours of that kind of fun, I was finally ready. Andy came in, and we manhandled the 8' x 2' piece of old kitchen counter that serves as my workbench, into the next room. (This area of the attic had been Andy's bedroom, so we had another whole day of moving all his junk around to make room for the workbench! I tell ya, Everything is a process...!

The good news is that now I have the opportunity to go through my accumulation of modeling supplies and get it a little more organized, and once that's done, I've got a nice big empty space next to what's left of the layout to begin building the new bench for the new and improved track plan.

I've found the key to success is to boil down the project to the one piece where it's logical to start (there's usually only one of those) then peel everything else back until you can get that accomplished. Don't be afraid to tear down what will be in the way. If it's in the way in the beginning, it will slow you down the whole way. If there's track (which ain't cheap), take your time and carefully salvage it, but once that's gone, it's just a matter of backing out screws and piling up the materials. Don't worry about messing something up that you wanted to keep... you can always go back and touch up.

The other hint I can give you is find a way to make a little progress every day. Even if you just go in and move one piece of debris from where it is to where it belongs. Make a little progress.

Right now, I'm taking time to go through my parts boxes and getting them organized. My workbench is typically notoriously messy, so this is a good opportunity to catch up on some old goals. As such, time to push back from the keyboard, and get back to the process...

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