1. It Is What It Is
It was a layout I'd never intended to build—at least, not like this. After madly throwing crap against the wall hoping something would stick, I was on the verge of just giving up and moving on to some other hobby. But as I was putting my four previous layouts into storage—to join four others, no less—I gave one of my earlier projects a second look.
Maybe instead of trying to find a new modeling direction, I should instead return to my original course, and treat this project like a "prequel" to my final home layout. The result almost stuck. At least it kept my mind off of my troubles for a few months...
What I'd yanked back out of storage was a two by four foot adaptation I'd begun back in 2014 of the Apalachicola Northern, a nifty little layout built by the late Gregg Mahlkov, known online as 3rdrail. It's a layout that's never been published or documented until now, which I'd started just before the bottom dropped out of my life.
What captured my attention was how much Gregg packed into such a small space: the double-folded dogbone created a beefy mainline feel—unusual for such a small layout—and it kept the grades gentle. Plus, there was an industry in every nook and cranny. Well! A heavy mainline in an overstuffed urban industrial landscape perfectly defined my forever layout. Best of all, it was basically RTR; I just needed to hang some flesh on the bones.
First, however, I had to fully accept the layout as it was, simply because I couldn't spend any money on it; about all I could afford was glue. This limitation did occasionally give rise to some frustration; but then, it would be unusual if it hadn't.
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