A Reawakening .... Of Sorts.

  • Today while sitting in the recliner I had an epiphany of sorts. I had went to the local library to kill some time and came across a book by Linn Westcott titled "Model Railroading with John Allen".





    Now for some of you, immediately thoughts and visions of his Gorre and Dapheated (pronounced Gory and Defeated) layout came to mind. For those too young to know or not into the history of model railroading, John was a pioneer and inspirationalist in the hobby. Anyway, as I sat here today reading this book the humaness (if there is such a word) and brilliance of John and his layout came to light. I digress as this blog isn't really about the book per se, but what it has done for my reawakening of interest in getting back to the hobby.


    Some of you know me from a couple of years ago when I joined this site and began my layout in what has become known now as "The Shack". For those of you that don't, a very brief history I will give as the full details are in my other blogs and photos. I became friends with a guy that I had known a few years but had not had any association with until the death of his brother. As we talked about his brother's death and my own loss of a "brother" in my best friend Chip we grew closer in kinship. He is the one who got me in this hobby, showing me a layout that his son and he had built together years ago. The realism in it with all the details caught my eye and interest and I began to envision my own layout. While I and the chief financial officer of my railroad (wife) couldn't agree on the use of the "family" room for it a thought came to mind to use a 10' X 12' "shack" that I had in the back yard.



    While not a large location I figured for my first layout it would suffice. Being an older "newbie" in this hobby I figured I would try to keep it simple and stay on an even plane and just do a simple point to point layout. As the sheetrock went in on the walls and ceiling, the new lights installed, the new flooring laid and the insulation and air conditioner set along with heat, I figured the layout was about to take flight. Then came Trainlife with it's many talented builders and people willing to answer questions and to show their achievements. All of a sudden, a point to point wasn't enough, A flat layout without mountains and tunnels wasn't enough. And so on........see where this was headed?  That is, until the decision to move come into play. I had injured my back with a couple of ruptured lower veterbrate and two knee replacements in a crash while roaming the world on taxpayer's dimes and Uncle Sam's planes. For the past ten years things seemed to have gotten better but as they say, as things age they tend to get a little wear into them. Now I am having a worsening of the back pain and the circulation in the legs and the ability to keep up the yard maintenance and the home maintenance is getting harder to do. Thus we we began to look at condos and found a nice one in a gated community and put a contract on it with the stipulation of the sell of our house. I won't bore you with the last three and a half months and the drudgery of trying to sell this one but suffice it to say we are still in it with no offer. A teaser at one time, but no offer. During this time all my train related materials have been put away into the shack as has all the "clutter" from the house we put in there to stage the house better. After all this time of no train related activity and becoming disillusioned about all that I was seeing being done on other's layouts, I had drifted away from here for a bit and was reconsidering whether I wanted to continue in the hobby. That is, until I picked up the book about John Allen.


    John was a planner. Someone who sat down with pencil and paper and drew out his plans from the first piece of lumber cut through to the end on the layout which was years in the making. There were tracks planned years in advanced that when it came time for those who helped him some to run the wiring for, it had already been run along with the original wiring from the start. This got me to thinking about my layout, of what I wanted and how to achieve it. John was big into mountains, tunnels, and especially bridges. At last count before he passed he had scratch built over 130 bridges on his layout. All of a sudden, I was envisioning mountains, tunnels, and even bridges on mine. Even to the point that, gasp, I was even considering trying my hand at laying track by hand. Of course, I am not the planner that Mr. Allen was but as I thought about it more I realized that while I might not be able to work on a layout right now, I have two options that I can work on for future undertakings. Should we not sell the house and stay here, I can have a plan in place of what I want to rip out and change to get the mountains and elevations I want. Plus, if we end up selling and moving I can have a plan of that one also with the thought of mountains and maybe even a double helix (thanks a lot Neal for opening that door). If nothing else, John's book has reawakened my interest in the hobby and has given me new ideas of what I want to strive for.


    Thank you John Allen for the inspiration that was your layout, the Gorre and Dapheated. While you built your layout for your enjoyment and to also share with others, you were also a teacher whose legacy is still inspiring decades after your death. I'm just sorry I never got to shake your hand and see your work firsthand. Still, your work is continuing on in the memories and thoughts of others. Now, where are my pencils and paper.........



    Rick Phipps

    March 2013

  • Graham Stokes
    Graham Stokes Well written and mused, Rick. I can tell when a man reads. Okay,okay, you told me, but I can tell anyway. Not sure of your discourse with Neal on Helixes (Helii?), but I have built a double track helix . They do take a lot of time and horizontal real e...  more
    April 2, 2013 - 1 likes this
  • Graham Stokes
    Graham Stokes "When Rick said double helix, I thought he meant two separate helixes, not 1 double track helix." FYI. This taken from a message responding to Neal's message inquiry.
    April 2, 2013
  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps Actually I was thinking of a helix on both ends, Graham. LOL No, I was picking at Neal as he mentioned building a helix on his which got me to thinking of one for my own.
    April 2, 2013
  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps Hmmmmm, a lot of staring going on here. No wonder my wife says I am in a daze after coming in from the shack. LOL
    June 15, 2013