Oil Stains

Courtesy of a grim health issue, there's so, so much I'd wanted to model that I no longer can. I used to sometimes joke that I wanted to "model everything." Every time I'm in the car running an errand, I'll see things I'd want to model, from cracks in the sidewalks to interesting buildings and everything else in between. If it's railroad-related, so much the better, but it doesn't always need to be; I've contended for a long time that I'm a modeler who likes railroads, not a model railroader.

Today I was returning home from grocery shopping, and I saw a familiar sight: oil stains on the road near a bump, dip or other sudden change in the surface. I've noticed this detail practically since forever, and the reason for it is that many vehicles leak a little oil, and the bump or dip causes a drip that's forming to release and stain the road. I'd found a couple of places on the White River & Northern IV to include this detail, even though it's likely that no one else would ever notice it, much less understand what it is. But I wanted to have a new opportunity—namely the Black River & Western—to include this detail again.

This is what I'm talking about. The bump is the ridge to the right. In fact, this is the very stain I saw this morning, on Lakewood Road near Pinehurst Road, that inspired this tale.

Anymore, though, I must avoid looking at the BR&W web pages, for it drags me down into a melancholy state every time. It also explains why I've been madly adding animation and special effects to the White River & Northern VIII. Granted, I'd made the layout's temporal setting the 1950s, so a great many things I'd like to model aren't appropriate; nor do I have the real estate for something such as a drive-In Theater (which I'd started to build). Yes, I have the prerogative to change anything, but I've already shifted the era from the 1930s so I could do more; anyway, I've never modeled the 50s, so I've taken it on as a challenge.

Yet it's a good sign that I'm modeling at all. When I learned of my prognosis, I almost called it quits on the hobby altogether. But that would have been a big mistake, because I'm a modeler through and through, and I'm not happy unless I'm creating something. Besides, I've elected to halt work on my home, more or less, which confuses the hell out of some people. What they don't understand is that, as much as I enjoy building the house, there are things I enjoy more. Indeed, I've predicted that I'll probably die with an X-Acto knife in my hand.

And so I press on, modeling what I can under the circumstances. The BR&W was out of the question: I figured I'd be dead before all of the track was laid, preventing me from doing what I love most: modeling lots of interesting stuff. I'm doing that now, albeit in a highly condensed, abbreviated fashion, but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye. I can at least fulfill a few of my dreams, even if it doesn't include oil stains on the road...

—DKS, 16 May 2020


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