Don't be an armchair hobbyist,
but rather build a little set-up right next to that armchair,
and have fun now!

     Are you an armchair hobbyist, reading the magazines, buying a few items now and then, and dreaming of that perfect layout? If you follow the hobby, you will be influenced by many things. Manufacturers are always going to try to make a new sale. They must in order to survive. Magazines will showcase big train layouts. And it is a lot of fun to get something new or a long-awaited item. But do we really need a big layout or an expensive set-up to have fun? No!!! I found over the years that so many people delay building even a small layout until they have the right circumstances. Well, the truth is, the right circumstances many never come! And there is a new wrinkle on the horizon. The price of energy has increased dramatically and will continue to increase. And our hobby is a wintertime activity for the most part. So can we afford to heat our train rooms to comfortable temperatures all the time? Consider small layouts in your regular living spaces -- living rooms, family rooms, home offices, spare bedrooms, etc., instead of a dedicated basement or attic area. Not only will your heating bills be lower when you aren't heating an extra space, you can have fun more often right where you are most of the time. Now this requires the cooperation of the other people you live with-- your spouse and children -- so it isn't right for everyone. But if you find yourself, like me, avoiding the basement because you don't want to go to the trouble and expense of warming the area first, then you aren't having fun. I started the smaller set-ups shown on this site because of family members who couldn't manage a walk down the basement steps. Years ago, I wish I had thought of the simple set-up instead of waiting for a big basement. Perhaps just a folding board for a temporary layout on a dining or family room table would be wonderful. No, it won't be an expansive layout, but better do it now than to wait. And please consider using O27 curves to optimize the space you have. Yes, it means you can't run the "big boys," but you can run smaller stuff and still have a great time. Simple pleasures are the best! Give the small layout a shot! (The above illustration demonstrates the concept of a little layout used in a formal setting. Expand the coffee table idea to a surface area of about 30" by 56" and you've got a winner!)

     The virtues of a small layout have been espoused many times on this site; I don't want to promote the larger, elaborate basement layout as the only option. So don't be an armchair hobbyist when space is limited, build something now! The key to happiness is in being content with what you've got! Do it now in the space you have! What are you waiting for?

Here are some links to a few great resources:

Thor Trains -- A great site for small, interesting track plans.

The Chippendale leg I used in my coffee table project.

My coffee table project suitable for O27, On30, or HO small layouts (see bottom of that page for my woodworking tips).

The GarGraves O23.75 Experiment!

The Small Layout Scrapbook (check out the whole site!)

A great idea! (on the bottom of this page)

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