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A Time for Change

By Blayne Mayfield


Modeling is about change and growth. For example, a few years ago, I began building a “chainsaw” HO scale railroad layout.  (The adjective “chainsaw” was coined by Dave Clemens, and it refers to the fact that it is an experimental layout that likely will be taken out – perhaps with a chainsaw – to make room for the next one.)

With the help of online videos, model railroad publications, and discussions with fellow modelers (face-to-face and over teleconferencing apps), I was able to learn and try out new techniques and sharpen my skills. Over time, I found out what worked well and what could have worked better.  So now, with a greater sense of confidence, I have designed layout 2.0 and begun construction.  Modules of “my ol’ friend,” the chainsaw layout, now lean against the walls in my workshop.  (I’m hoping to recover some of its materials for reuse.)

An important discovery as I worked on the chainsaw layout was that my model railroad was not only about railroads.  As time went by, I learned the importance of including appropriate people, animals, structures, vehicles, and everyday objects to impart a sense of realism.  Of course, this meant that I had to learn how to build and weather structures, create roadways with cracks and potholes, make realistic grassy areas, modify cars and trucks, and much more.  In other words, my hobby became much broader than it had been when I first chose it. (Or, did it choose me? Anyway …)

Make Big Changes in Small STEPS...

I think that my evolution of thought and approach to modeling can be compared to that of the publication you are now reading.

When the YouTube Model Builders eMag (YTMB eMag) was first conceived, it was started with little knowledge and experience about publishing a magazine.  The Editor-in-Chief  (JD - Loggin’ Locos) gave the eMag a good, solid launch, and I am proud to have had the opportunity to join the YTMB eMag team – along with Harry Haythorn and Jack Hykaway – beginning with volume 1, issue 3 (May 2015).  It has been a great ride working with these folks!

As with my railroad layout, the all-volunteer staff of the YTMB eMag learned-as-we-went how to crank out a quality publication every couple of months.  We experimented with new ideas, columns, and such; we discovered what worked well and also what could have worked better.  As we were pushing forward (and again, comparing it to my train layout experience), technology was changing around us. When the YTMB eMag was first published, YouTube arguably was the major video-sharing site on the Internet; now, YouTube has a number of serious competitors.  And, of course, social media and other web-based information-sharing venues continue to evolve.

And – perhaps more importantly – the YTMB eMag staff quickly learned that our hobby is about more than just the model railroads.  It is about scenery and terrains; it is about structures and vehicles of all kinds; it is about people, animals, and everyday items.  In other words, it is about modeling, in general.  The techniques and skills that one needs to develop to be a great model railroader are the same techniques and skills needed in other areas of modeling, such as automobile, aircraft, and military modeling.

For all of these reasons, we realized it was time for the eMag to evolve, as well.  The much-loved YTMB eMag became the chainsaw layout, andThe Modeler’s Journal became its successor.  We hope that, with broader modeling and technological approaches, we can use what we’ve learned to create an even richer experience for all types of modelers.  We also hope you’ll share your ideas and consider writing content for upcoming issues of The Modeler’s Journal.

Come along with us on the next part of our journey.  We are sure it’s going to continue to be a great ride!



About the Author


Blayne Mayfield is a university professor by day and an HO engineer by night.  After a 20+ year absence from the hobby, he currently is working on a proto-freelance layout based on the Frisco Railroad in southern Missouri.  Blayne lives in Stillwater, OK, and volunteers as a content editor for The Modeler’s Journal.  You can follow him on his YouTube channel by clicking here.



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