Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Modelling Railways is fun.

The past few years, especially the time from April last year have not bee great times for me owing to health. When in Sydney I battled with pain owing to my back problems, it really pulled me down. About 18months before back surgery in 2008 I was going through a real tough time & I was looking to modelling as a means of dealing with the pain & associated problems, I was reading in so many places that model railways is fun, yet try as I might that did not come to me.

In fact, I would go down the train room with great intentions of what I was going to do, & of course have fun, I would be enthused to no end, but when I got into the room, I looked around, & after a short while I walked out as I could bring that enthusiasm into reality, in fact it was utterly frustrating.

Following the back surgery, which meant a birthday in hospital, I got over that, but a year later I was in hospital again for shoulder reconstruction over my next birthday, I tore the rotor cuff & ligaments on my shoulder when I tried to start the lawn mower, my GP was a wonderful encouragement though, he said get an electric lawnmower & press a button to go, That same year 2009 my wife lost her mother to cancer & we decided a move was in order.

2010 arrived & we moved to our present location, & then in March over my birthday I had neck surgery, 3 years of birthdays in a row, & nothing done on the layout except rip the old one up, & pack everything I could. Thinking back I actually enjoyed that.

As I recovered, I was able to start on the current project Essence, & I was looking to Fun again. However, my old faithful back was going backwards, & following a fall in the train room last May, I was in a race going downhill.  Surgery for a fusion was carried out around a month ago, & for the first time in I do not know how long, I can get around without the crippling pain I have endured, I still have a large upper body brace that makes me look like a star wars storm trooper or something like Hannibal Jones but it should be off in a few weeks, thankfully I only need it on when not lying down,

Since the fall, my fun modelling has been very much of a sedentary nature, thankfully I had pushed the boundaries in getting the baseboard, track & the heavy work all but completed prior to the fall. Yet, today I still have restrictions, although things have changed whereby I enjoy going to the layout, even the last year of frustrations are disappearing, & I am enjoying what I am doing, & have done over this last 14odd months.

I look at the small & slightly larger areas of what I have accomplished, & as I am tackling more & more things that I would have not thought of doing in the past, that topic of model railways is fun, started to cross my mind.  It was sitting there for a while but came to the fore when talking to another modeller this week. In the conversation, I found that we shared a heck of a lot in common, I have never met him face to face but have spoken to him on the phone several times over the past.

Interestingly his modelling world is changing, & I think it was as a result of frustration of not getting things done, & too much on the plate, the hobby was no longer fun, since his change he said that he is now starting to enjoy doing stuff again, modelling was no longer a chore, & he now looked forward to going to his model room & wanting to do things, whereas previously it had become a sort of burden & like myself those years ago, would walk away from it. He also indicated other things as well, that has his whole perspective on things changed, & changed for the better.

Model Railways is Fun!? It has been mulling around in my mind, so what does fun mean?  I used an online thesaurus to look up the word Fun, & see what it would come up with --- Joyful, exuberant activity.  I have to say that I was a bit taken back with those two interlinked words, & really wonder if that really does describe model railways.

I would really have to say that, I would not consider the hobby as being much like those two descriptions, as I could not see either being part of what really is a hobby that does not really create such atmospheres as those. I would associate them more with a large party when you have a lot of people around you sharing in a type of festive manner.

It does not mean that Model Railways is at the other end of the scale such as mundane, in fact when I look at the hobby, even taking the times of frustration into account, it is a hobby that one wants to come back to in some form or another. One other word I think applies much better to the hobby in good & even bad/not so good times, & maybe its a play on the word fun, but I would suggest that the theme would better be described in the following way.  Model Railways gives enjoyment.

In general terms, no matter what aspect of the hobby each person likes the most, more than it being fun, it is enjoyable, it creates satisfaction, provides for friendship & interaction between people of all ages, no matter the circumstances they are in.  The best part really is that as a hobby it embraces so much, as its not just one thing that makes it enjoyable, its not just the running of trains, making scenery, building kits or scratchbuilding, & any other item that comes to mind, it really is all of those things & many more.

But, the best part is that despite when as individuals we have our own preferences, & even prejudices, in general there is a heck of a lot of help out there, & its the people who make the hobby what it is, & that is enjoyable in good & not so good times.


  1. Colin

    Very well put, it is the multiple aspects of the hobby that is its appeal to me.

    I hope that your health continues to improve along with your enjoyment of the hobby.

    Ray P

  2. Thanks Ray. Believe me its a huge relief to be so free of pain compared to how I was.

    As I indicated its a great time to be able to reflect on what one is doing & more so what the hobby means to us. I was even pondering further about it today as I struggled with getting the angles for the Roundhouse right, it took a few hours to get them right, which was a great relief, when it was done, I can say it was no fun, but I got a lot of satisfaction out of it, years past I would have acted a lot differently.

    So, I really think that fun is not really the true aspect of model railways, its more the enjoyment, as already said as well as the satisfaction from little steps of taking on new challenges & the satisfaction of achievement from finishing them.

  3. Col,

    I feel my ears are burning!!!....I think you have nailed it with this post. Our phone calls have always had a positive effect on me and my hobby values and priorities.

    I sometimes think that there are the internal expectations of ourselves to get it right and there are the external pressures put upon us....Balancing the two and ending up in a position that still brings pleasure from any pursuit is the key!

    I also think that contact between modellers where the egos are left at the door is something that is important as well...

    Regards, Best Wishes and we will talk soon

    Rod Kelly

  4. Col,

    I agree that there are some elements of the hobby that are very enjoyable but there are others that may not be. It varies between individuals but for example, I do not enjoy electrical work particularly when it involves crawling under the layout as I had to recently. However, it had to be done and what I did experience was a strong sense of satisfaction when the job was completed and everything worked.

    At the end of the day, I suggest that it is the strong sense of satisfaction when we create or achieve something that motivates us in this hobby.

    cheers Phil

  5. Phil

    That is really the whole point of it. When I was crook & couldn't face the layout, nor do anything when I got there, even though I was totally enthused but walked out, I can look back at that time & realise that it too was part of the hobby but as I went forward & learnt heaps as a result.

    There are a lot of things that have to be done including the wiring, & things like derailments etc are not the best especially when you have laboured over getting them just right, but when its fixed a different perspective comes

    So, at least to me, & a reason I posted my thoughts was that I am not sure about the fun part of what model railways are about, as its much more than that. Its the sharing together thoughts just like we are doing, sharing about our layouts & the tips we get from this & when applied to our layouts it makes a difference, sometimes small, sometimes big. Which as you & I have said is achieving, getting satisfaction, & even rewarding.