From the “Micro/Small Model RR Layouts” Facebook page, with permission. Attributed to Al Judy, On30 Railroading.
‘Some very wise words from a long time modeler. It is a very fair assessment of things by someone who has “been there and done that.”‘
I am often asked “how did you learn to do that” in reference to my modeling. I started to model seriously in the early 1970’s. Stripping, painting, lettering and weathering locos and rolling stock. Back then many of the products used today were not available or even thought of commercially so we had to improvise. Trial and error, creativity, repurposing and thinking outside of the box were everyday routines of the day. No internet to guide us or share techniques.
I started scratch building and kitbashing in the mid-80’s. I got my first airbrush for weathering and painting. As I got older and started traveling to train shows and hobby shop I began using more and more commercially produced products such as add on detail parts and specialty paints. But I still use, some of those early homegrown techniques that had proven to consistently produce good results. As my modeling skills developed, I continued to find and try new ways to advance my modeling. Using articles from model railroading magazines, tips from other modelers and so on but still No internet to guide us or share techniques.
It would still be another 20 years until internet sites like YouTube and Facebook would come into the modeling world as a source of information. Today, for many, especially younger modelers these are the go to sources for modeling how-to information. A useful tool but it has removed the hands on learning process which allows the modeler to develop skills and find what works best for them. To often modelers watch videos that profess “their way” to be the “best way” but in many cases this is just not true. It could be what works best for them, could be they are pushing a product for finical gain or could be they just think their opinion is the only opinion.
This is where the blessing of modern technology can also be a downfall for many modelers. Many that have not been exposed to the experience of hands on modeling in order to find their way and develop in the hobby end up abandoning model railroading. Why, you might ask? Well, for many reasons. The first being if the person making the video is advanced enough to be making a video then he more than likely has a skill set way beyond most of the modelers watching his video. Next they may be using materials and tools that are too advanced or too costly for their viewers to obtain. Finally, and this is my biggest pet peeve, some of the on line information being dispensed is just bad advice. Things that just don’t work well in a real world setting or really just don’t work at all. So a newbie modeler follows this advice, spends their money on tools or product, to imitate what they have watched or been told on the videos and when it does not come to fruition they become discouraged with the hobby and leave model railroading all together.
So I guess the point here is if you have all of the skills, materials, tools, money and time required, and you trust the source of the information then I say go for it. But if you want the hobby to be a lifetime of enjoyment, like it is for so many, then step back, take a breath and realistically consider what you have been told. One of the nice things about today’s internet is you can easily get a second or third opinion before making a choice. A choice that may not work, may drain your budget or possibly not even be necessary. Most discouragingly… it may not work at all.
Being a modeler for 50 years and currently the admin of modeling groups with over thirty thousand members I see this on a daily basis: Modelers disgusted with the results they are getting, modelers buying anything and everything under the sun with no direction or purpose in their modeling, modelers that have been told they are doing it wrong or not good enough.This is all misfortunate because everyone has to start somewhere and develop their skill from that starting point. Find what you love about the hobby and work towards a goal instead of hop-scotching all around the hobby. Be patient, much of what you see in posts and videos is the end result of years or decades of modeling experience. Someday you could be one of those people if you just take you time and enjoy the learning process that is model railroading