Are model railways “fun”?

I’ve been thinking in recent weeks about ‘why’ I actually model railways.  What do I really enjoy about model railways?  And conversely, what frustrates me when I don’t seem to find the time to get anything done (as at present).  But as I was getting to put ‘keyboard to screen’ this week, I came across an post and a couple of responses to said post that put it all down better than I could.  (Not that I agreed with all of it, but it made me think).

So the next four posts will be re-blogs of the original article and two responses, plus my rather derivative thoughts.  I might sneak in a cheerful post somewhere along the line about a couple of recent train crashes, provided by Allan.

I’ll start with Mike Cougill’s OST Blog.  I know I’ve mentioned Mike before, as his small O-fine layout and modelling is inspirational, and his ideas often helpful and challenging (as characterised by the Missing Conversation series of e-books).  Here’s his article, reproduced in full I’m afraid, as it’s difficult just to quote from it.  (But slightly reformatted – sorry, the report writer in me took over).  For the full post and comments, go to here.

Premise: Model Railroading is not fun.


  1. Is model railroading frustrating?
  2. Why do people find aspects of it so frustrating?
  3. Why is fun a prerequisite for a hobby?
  4. What constitutes fun?
  5. When is model railroading fun?
  6. Is model railroading always fun (that is, people automatically have fun when doing it), or is it fun because people find meaningful ways to pursue it?
  7. Are there assumptions about fun and this hobby?
  8. What assumptions?
  9. What assumptions do we bring?
  10. Why do we bring any assumptions to it?
  11. Where or how do such assumptions begin?
  12. Are assumptions hurting the hobby?
  13. Why don’t we challenge assumptions about the hobby?
  14. Are people afraid to challenge their assumptions about model railroading?
  15. What would happen if more people did?
  16. Would people still be having fun?
  17. Would that result in a better hobby?

Boiling it down to three questions:

  1. Are decades old assumptions hurting or helping model railroading?
  2. Why are people adverse to talking about all this?
  3. What would happen if we did?

The answers dear reader, should you choose to pursue them, are entirely up to you.


If all that’s a bit heavy for you, just go and run a train or hack some plastic or brass about!  But it struck a few chords with me and next time I’ll genuinely repost a response from another blog.  Happy modelling – even if it’s not much fun!

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Jon's layout ramblings, Layout design and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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