This coming Friday marks two years since trains started shuffling along the first baseboard of my model railway. Stage 1 of the build involved a 9m x 3m loop, plus a 25m branch line. It took an entire year to get that first stage up and running semi-satisfactorily.
There is always stuff in your head about how things will work once the track and electrics are down and dusted. As I will be operating the layout solo for 99% of the time I always figured on dispatching one train around the loop, then shunting up another ready for dispatch once the 'looped' train re-emerged. It sorted of worked in reality, but most of the time I found myself stopping the looped train so I could catch up.
Although the 'train shed' is really a 'farm shed' and needs to be used as such, I couldn't help noticing the lovely empty walls around the remainder of the shed. So Stage 2 of the build has taken almost another year but those lovely walls are now less bald. A shelf layout circles around the other two thirds of the shed (call it my Covid lock down project), and then into some storage yards.
It is a bit indulgent but now I have five to eight minutes of 'me time' after I dispatch a train onto the Big Loop. I can get coffee, make a call, text a friend and just, just remarshal the next train for dispatch. One day in the future, if I want to be real fancy, separate trains can go out on the Little Loop and the Big Loop. Not sure I am up for that just yet, though.
I still have a ton of work to complete Stage 2 - sidings, electrics and even some baseboard improvements. That is before the scenicing. But, a little before 3pm today, five days before the second anniversary of the layout, 4701 hauled a short passenger service around the Big Loop. It is seen here shortly thereafter, still looking a little dusty after being caught in the locus of the exhaust of my table saw several weeks back.
As I said nearly two years ago, this is no big matter in the scheme of things. But it is a hell of a big day in my next of the woods. The family may even get Chinese takeaway to celebrate this milestone.