Layout design – different voices – the missing conversation

I have recently discovered a series of digital (PDF) books that have provided new inspiration in modelling.  Mike Cougill models in P:48 (American O gauge 1:48, but with prototype gauge and standards).  He writes on the O Scale Trains magazine blog at  His ‘Missing Conversation’ digital books can be purchased there give a fresh look at scale modelling including layout design.  Recommended even for N gauge modellers.

Some quotes that I particularly liked were:

If you don’t have enough space for a layout, stop adding track.

When it comes to a layout, what’s most important to you?

Exploring the questions of “why” in the planning of a layout takes us to a different place. A place where we might just discover what really matters to us about prototype railroading and the ways we represent that with this hobby.

Starting with the question of why instead of how begins to clarify the deeper meaning the hobby carries for each of us and once we’re clear in our understanding of that, choosing how to express that meaning becomes much simpler.

The reasons given for tearing out an existing layout center on issues of boredom. The challenge has gone or it was never there in the first place. The question acknowledges there are turning points in this hobby.

His latest publication, ‘Composing a scene’ describes how he removed sidings from an already small and sparsely tracked layout to improve its visual composition and its realistic operation.  It got me thinking about my modules – more in another post.

There are so many resources available at present to inspire realistic modelling.  And less track doesn’t necessarily mean less operational potential – again, that’s another post!

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
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