Rome Was Not Built In A Day

 By Nick Kalis

         Remember that old phrase, Rome was not built in a day? And so go most model railroads. Just keep it moving. Try to make some progress every day. And I mean every day. Progress does not just mean finishing a prize-winning model. Nor does progress even require you to be at your layout or workbench building something. Progress can be measured in many smaller ways:


        Contacting fellow modelers or railfans by email, etc. for answers to vexing questions that have kept you from moving forward;

        Cleaning up your workbench,

        Break down each project into sub-projects, then do a sub-project like applying ďmortarĒ to a structure when time and energy donít permit a bigger project;

        Visit The Container Store to buy things to help sort out and store your power tools, modeling tools, landscaping supplies, and trains;

        Tidy up your layout room (get things off the floor, put away power tools in their place)

        Gathering up all the supplies and tools that find their way to our layout surface and never seem to get put away at our workbench or shelving areas;

        Telephone your order for mail order supplies;

        Better yet, an email sent when the phone lines have closed for the night or the supplierís day off lets you put the order in now so you donít forget later;

        Tearing out something on your layout not up to your current standards;

        Visiting your local hardware store to pickup/order some items.


Some general tips to save time and keep projects in motion:


Ł      When designing your layout, remember to leave room for a workbench and storage;

Ł      When your hobby shop seems to far out-of-the-way recall local hardware stores can be a great source of spray paint, adhesives, wooden dowels, sheet acrylic, and hobby-sized metal shapes;

Ł      Similarly, your local art or office supply shop can be a great source for foam core, adhesives, spray paints, tube acrylics, paint brushes, adhesive letters, and chart tape for masking the median line on model roads;

Ł      Have a place for everything and label it. Stackable AkroBins, which come in many different colors (including clear plastic) and sizes, are great for this. These cubbies are sold at The Container Store and Staples.

Ł      Keep a recent copy of the Waltherís Catalog handy. Granddadís sells the actual catalog at a steep discount so donít be put off by its steep cover price. With this you can email an order to your hobby shop or discount mail order supplier without any hassle.

Ł      Build some lead time in ordering your supplies. Donít let a temporary shortage of funds slow you down, recall items ordered now may not arrive for weeks, at that time you hopefully will have the funds.

Ł      Also remember that though you may not need the item now, if ordered now, it should arrive when you are ready for it. Even if your ordered item never arrives, you will have some heads up that there is a problem in supply and perhaps you can order or make a substitute for the missing item.

Ł      Always keep in mind a modelerís worse enemy is running out of an item.


Donít be discouraged by stories in the hobby literature of layouts that took 10-15 years to build. Rather, let such news put you on notice that you will need to keep up a healthy construction pace if your layout is to be finished before retirement or a job transfer causes you to take your current layout down.