Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Death and the Model Railroader I: Don't Wait For Tomorrow

Following the death of a beloved relative, Jason Shron, President and founder of Rapido Trains, wrote the following letter to subscribers to his Rapido Trains Telegraph.

It's a timely reminder to anyone who plans to build a layout—someday.

Death and the Model Railroader
If you are reading this, there is a very good chance that you are north of 50. And I don't mean you live in Saskatchewan. I mean that you are middle-aged or later.

There is also a very good chance (close to 100%, actually) that you have dozens of untouched model railroad kits or models in your basement/spare room/garage/shed/etc. I've been a model railroader since I was just out of diapers, so it's in my blood. I have boxes upon boxes of Rapido products that I have not even opened, not to mention TLT freight equipment, Walthers passenger cars, Atlas engines, undecorated brass steam generators, you name it.

Now, if you have a layout and you've been busy laying track or hosting operating sessions or making bottle-brush trees then you have a good excuse. But most of us haven't been doing any of those things. We've been reading magazines, surfing the web forums, hanging out at the hobby shop, building our collection. We haven't been model railroading.

The last week put things in perspective for me. My aunt lived a good life and died at a ripe old 87. But two days later, my friend's brother-in-law dropped dead at 40, leaving behind a wife and four young kids. Old or young, we can go at any time.

I've heard all the excuses: "I have no space!" - I built a switching layout along the walls of my living room when I lived in a tiny apartment in England. My wife and I compromised. She let me have the layout and I made it look like mahogany shelving so it matched the rest of the furniture.

"I have no time!" - If you have the time to read this email, you have the time to run some trains. How much time do you spend in front of your computer? I know I spend far too much time here. Why get dressed and go down to the basement when I can sit in my housecoat and check my emails instead?

I only released my first models in fall 2006, yet I have already seen Rapido products show up, unopened, at estate sales. Hopefully you see this email as a clarion call to get off your tush and actually do some model railroading. In fact, I'll end here. Go play with your trains.

Take care,


In summer, 2010, I wrote a series of posts called Lessons Learned. One of the lessons I learned from over 20 years of model railroading was Don't Wait Until Tomorrow. In it I suggested that, if you want to build a layout, "the right time to start . . . is now. You never know what tomorrow may bring."

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