Saturday 12 October 2019

Saturday Ramble - comfort zones

laying 009 track accross baseboards
Taking a short break from getting the track down on what may be called Pen-lan. I really need to get it all down by the end of the weekend, which shouldn't be too much of a push as...

It crossed my mind that the way I work now is within small sets of comfort zones. I can't imagine that other people are any different. The above shows some just laid pinned copper-clad at the edge of the board designed to minimise damage at the rail ends. Simple enough stuff and I've done this for years and years. Is there a better way though? Am I in a rut? The next job when I step away from the keyboard is wiring the first point (slide switch, wire in tube, three wires etc.) Again I've been doing this for almost thirty years without deviation. I've used solenoids once and never returned, but now there are newer versions of these, smartswitches, relays and so on. Should I invest more cash and move with the times? Or just stay with what I know works cheaply and well for me?

These comfort zone issues are all around me and mostly go back to income, or lack of it. I can turn out a pretty good layout, but it's all budget ideas a lot of which have stayed with me since my teens. Where some people will spend what I consider to be huge amounts on scenic stuff, I'll happily stick to card and things out of skips, simply because that's what I've always done and for no other reason. Should I invest in DDC, smartswitches, ready to plonk buildings, and so on? Will that make my layouts better?

Sometimes it's good to question what you do even if it leads nowhere.


  1. It's comfortable for a reason...why make life complicated when you know it works and you achieve good results?

  2. If it works, don't fix it. Having tried solenoids, I'm sticking to slide switches. Simple and effective. And frog juicers sound too much like animal sadism anyway. Scratch built structures avoid a rent-a-layout look. There is great satisfaction in actual model-making, and even though it's slow it's what most of us enjoy doing after all.

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  3. I think it's a useful idea to test one's assumptions every now and again. Technology and techniques move on and what was at one time difficult, expensive, and poor quality, can over the years become simple, cheap, and excellent. An example at the moment is the very rapid progress of 3D printing both for creating complete or near-complete items and for making awkward components. So comfort zones are useful but need regular updating.

    Never used solenoids for points but never liked them on exhibition layouts. The noise is akin to a gunshot and the action is far too rapid compared to the real thing.