Clean your layout
He’s not the tidiest person in the world, but Chris Leigh has resolved to turn over a new leaf and start by organising his railway room and his layout.
Chris Leigh decides it’s time for a fresh start by spring-cleaning and organising his railway room and layout.
I’m not a tidy or organised person. My colleagues, George, Chris and Richard are. But I lurch from one project to the next, often without pause for breath, never mind stopping to tidy up. But there’s no denying that a project goes more smoothly when you’re organised, your workbench is clear and you know exactly where all your tools and materials are. Of course, the particular requirements of working for Model Rail produce pressures which other modellers don’t have. I currently have no fewer than seven Model Rail projects in progress, plus a number of other projects which are not for the magazine and mostly concern my Canadian layout. I suspect most modellers fit into one of two categories, either the ‘neat and tidy’ like my colleagues, or the ‘untidy and disorganised’, like me. One of the problems with being untidy and disorganised is that the amount of modelling ‘kit’ that one has grows exponentially. I noticed this as I built ‘Polwyddelan’, my ‘OO’ gauge Cornish harbour layout. As the need arose to find certain materials, accessories and scenic items, my experience varied. For instance, I have a storage drawer for boats and harbour-related items. This includes lots of Harburn Hamlet detail items, plus small details such as anchors, fairleads and bollards and lengths of chain and thread in varying sizes and colours to represent rope. As a consequence, the harbour construction and detailing was an easy and enjoyable job.
On the other hand, my much larger collection of station parts, details and accessories is spread all over the place – some in my modelling room, some on the workbench, some outdoors in the shed. I knew that I had such things as Ratio GWR spear fencing but when I came to need it I couldn’t find it, so I bought more. A week later, guess what I found? Multiply this across the vast range of ‘OO’ accessories and it is no wonder I have boxes and drawers full of the stuff, none of it organised. Well, I exaggerate slightly. I have organised my stocks of styrene sheet, Evergreen and Plastruct styrene strip, decal sheets and brick paper so that I know what I’ve got and where it is. I only did this after years of frustration at not being able to find things when I needed them. I have items for ‘OO’ British, ‘HO’ Canadian, and ‘O’ gauge British, and as readers of MR246 will know, I’m now venturing into ‘N’ gauge too. I try to keep all the items in their own scale-specific storage ‘bins’. I have organised my tools in a similar fashion as I have three toolboxes – one for cutting tools, files and drills, another for painting and finishing tools, and a third which is kept upstairs beside the layout so that I don’t need to keep going up and down the stairs to fetch tools for routine maintenance, tracklaying, and for hanging up my latest railwayana purchase. I do a lot of model making, but I suspect my output is nowhere near that of George Dent or Dave Lowery. I’ve seen their tidy workbenches. Mine is so cluttered that I can’t use it, and I do most of my modelling on the dining room table. I eat meals on a tray, on my lap!
Even in a fairly dust-free environment, a layout needs going over with the vacuum a couple of times a year. A soft brush attachment and a lot of care are necessary for delicate features, such as Chris Leigh’s timber trestle bridge.