Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign . . . on the layout, that is

Signs on the Manitoba & Minnesota Sub.

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign.” That’s what the Canadian group Five Man Electrical Band sang in their big hit in 1971.

There are also signs everywhere on the CP Rail Manitoba & Minnesota Subdivision. But, unlike in the song, my songs aren’t “blocking out the scenery” or “breaking my mind.” My signs do the opposite—they inform and, hopefully, enlighten visitors.

One thing I have found during layout tours is that a) I can’t keep an eye on the trains and answer everyone’s questions when there are so many people in the room and b) I have to answer the same questions over and over again. (How did you make your trees? What is the height of your levels? How did you make those rocks?”)

I like talking to people, but I just can’t keep up. That’s where the signs come in.

Prior to a layout tour, like the one happening May 30 during the NMRA Thousand Lakes Region convention here in Winnipeg, I tape signs to the fascia around the layout. The signs tell people about scenery techniques, how I made buildings, what's behind those windows, the length of the mainline run, the concept behind the layout, how to find a mirror, etc.

It’s a simple and easy way to help people get the information they need—and keep me from going crazy.

Like a work of art, a layout is supposed to speak for itself. With all my signs, the M & M Sub. really does!

Another sign on the layout.


  1. Nice job explaining a pretty insightful concept that should help many a layout owner improve the sight-comprehensibility of their own layouts when they're on display. Enjoyed the post

  2. I would like to see more about the mirror the sign was talking about....