A couple years back, I started something of a minor tradition over here at the-column-nobody-reads. I’ve been occasionally cataloging my foray into one of my ultra-nerdy hobbies: model railroading. My status updates tend to come and go with the seasons, but now that it’s getting colder and darker at night, I feel the itch coming on again. When we last left this fascinating subject, I’d constructed a 4-foot-by-10-foot base for a layout in the middle of a seldom-used room in my house. I whipped together a simple loop just so I could watch some trains run, started work on my mountain of un-built models, and promptly abandoned everything the moment the weather started turning nicer.
For this year’s installment in the train endeavor, I’d really like to get a more attractive and expansive layout built. After all, I spent good time and money cobbling together the enormous space-sucking setup; the least I could do would be to make it more pleasing to the eye (right now it’s just some track and a few scattered models pinned directly to a huge piece of green foam insulation). I’ve also got a huge stack of model buildings to put together, which is the most time consuming task on the plate right now.
To be honest, I’m looking forward to pulling out the model glue, knives, paints, and assorted tools I use for this stuff. There’s something soothing about manipulating tiny plastic pieces and watching a whole structure emerge from what was once a bunch of random parts attached to a plastic frame. And yes, while I’m not exactly huffing the stuff, the acrid whiffs of model glue and acrylic paints bring back a comforting nostalgia. I’m not exactly looking forward to the inevitable band-aids I’ll be placing on sliced-up fingertips, but it’s a hazard that comes with the hobby.
Another thing that attracts me to the model railroad scene is the relatively stable technology. While there are new locomotives, cars, and accessories hitting every year, the base supplies remain the same.
It’s a refreshing break from the super fast-paced world of technology where I’m usually immersed.
Now when I start getting stressed trying to figure out whether I want to upgrade my phone in a few months or wait a little longer for "the next big thing," I can step back, take a deep breath, and start working on a model that’s been relatively unchanged since they started selling it 20 years ago.
So, yeah, my little model railroading hobby is a quintessentially nerdy thing to undertake, but I’m damn proud of my tiny little trains and painstakingly created models. Every time I jump back into the hobby, I feel like I’ve advanced just a little bit more, and hopefully this year I’ll see my biggest progress yet. I’m sure once the spring rolls back around again I’ll look back and wish I’d had time to get more done, but such is life with hobbies. Stay tuned for more gripping, compelling updates on this adventure.