Let’s just get one thing out of the way really quickly. I can understand why you’re excited about model steam engines. I myself am highly excited about this hobby. I mean, can you imagine having this nice little landscape that you built in a corner of your home and it’s your own special world? You control everything and these amazing model steam engines just go around and around on the tracks and you are transported to a completely different time and different place. Believe me, I get where you’re coming from and it is very exciting to have your own model landscape that you can completely control at your own time and based on your particular agenda.
That’s all good. The issue is, is this hobby right for you? I know that sounds a little bit discouraging. I definitely don’t want to be a joy killer, but if you just buy model steam engines without thinking of the 6 questions that I’m going to pose below, you are probably going to end up disappointed. The experience probably would not turn out as you had originally hoped.
I know that sounds kind of a bit of a downer, but that’s the absolute truth. You have to do things in such a way that you end up making a truly informed decision. Worse comes to worst, you would not want to regret your decision. So here are just 6 questions that you need to ask before you jump with both feet into the amazing world of model steam engines.
Do I Have the Space?
This is a very tricky question because it is ultimately very subjective. Believe it or not, somebody who is living in a cramped apartment where the floor is all filled with clothes and other litter can basically talk themselves into thinking that they have the space. They may be thinking, well, I can always pack things up, I can always clean up, I can always make space. Well, it’s one thing to think about a situation or an alternative reality, it’s another to actually turn that alternative reality or vision into something that you can see, touch, hear, feel and taste. In other words, it’s one thing to think all these amazing ideas, hopes and wishes, it’s another to turn them into objective reality.
You have to be honest with yourself. Do you have the space for model steam engines? Because one of the most frustrating things about this hobby is that you can’t just stop at one. In fact, you can’t just stop at 2, 3, or even 1 dozen. If you really get into it, and it’s very easy to get into it, you can buy one model after the other and it just never really ends.
In the beginning, your hobby only took up a fraction of your floor space, but if you really get into it, it can easily take up a huge chunk of your home’s floor space. This is serious business. So you really need to be realistic regarding the kind of space you have available now and the space that you project you would need in the future.
Do I Have the Time?
Now, you may be thinking that this hobby is a great way to just get instant release. And it is. It’s a great way to relieve stress. It’s a great way to transport yourself to a different time and place. It definitely recharges your batteries.
With that said, if you’re like the typical American, there’s just so many other responsibilities and obligations competing for your time. You might think you have a lot of time now, but as you scale up your hobby, you might quickly find out that you don’t have the time. So when asking yourself this question, focus on not just the time that you have available now, but focus also on scaling up your hobbies in the future and then asking yourself about time availability at that point in the future.
Will I Regularly Pack Up My Layout?
If you don’t have the space, one obvious solution is to lay out the pieces, enjoy your model steam engines, and then pack them up. You then store them away. This solves the space issue.
Now, as I mentioned above, there are many things that are intellectually clean and easy to understand, but when it comes to actual practice and implementation, things are unnecessarily messier than you care to admit. You might think that this is a great solution, but the question that begs to be asked is, do you have the discipline to do this? Can you follow through?
It’s one thing to say that you will regularly pack up your layout, it’s another to actually do it. As mentioned above, there are so many things competing for your attention and you might simply run out of time.
Do I Have Time to Clean My Layout?
If you want to extend the life of your model steam engine layout, you have to clean the pieces. We’re not just talking about the specific trains, but you also have to clean out the landscape and other accessories. Do you have the time to do this? This might seem like a straightforward question now, but you’d be surprised as to how little time you have because there are so many things competing for whatever available time you have.
If you are like the typical American, there are so many obligations and responsibilities that you are currently aware of, as well as the incidental time commitment that can pop up from time to time. This all makes your time quite scarce indeed.
Do I Have the Cash For the Main Model Steam Engines?
If you’re looking to get into this hobby, you have to get main models and then scale out from there. The question is, do you have the money for that? Well, the answer might be yes, if we’re just talking about one or two pieces. But if you really want to scale up your hobby, can you afford to? That is a very important question that only you can answer.
Do I Have the Cash For Accessories
As you can probably already tell, this hobby doesn’t just involve the train pieces. You also have to have accessories. You also have to fill out the rest of the landscape. Now, as you probably already know, this requires cash. This requires an outlay of capital that you may or may not have.
Ask yourself if you have the cash for accessories now. If the answer is no, this might not be a deal killer because you might get cash later on. However, if the answer is that you cannot scale up your expenditures to cover accessories, then collecting and playing with model steam engines might not be for you.