A Sense of Scale

[Author's note. This post was originally drafted back in 2021 and not published until 2024.]

Progress on the layout has been slow - I'm not sure if it is despite Covid or perhaps because of it. Life's demands have kept me away from the layout for the most part. Fortunately, I'm building the benchwork in the same workshop I use for income right now, so I have had the chance to keep plugging away here and there at the four portable sections that will make up the layout. 

The three main sections are now complete, primed and painted white inside and out. As soon as the third module was nearing completion, I couldn't help but set them up together and break out some rolling stock to see what we had. 

Immediately I realised: O scale is BIG!

Mocking up the layout like this really made me step back and appreciate the mass of the scale - and there aren't even any structures on it yet. The printed #5 turnout templates from Fast Track's website are enormous compared to the HO stuff I am so used to, for example.

Noted modeller Bernie Kempinski recently spoke about this phenomenon during a panel interview hosted by the Layout Design Special Interest Group. Bernie was describing the design challenges he faced trying to change his mindset from working in smaller scales when he began building his Aquia Line layout. 

16 feet of benchwork disappears pretty fast when your smallest turnouts and average freight cars take up 12". 

Bernie's observations really resonated with me as I looked over my future empire. 

To start, do I have to rethink layout height? I want a closer to eye-level viewing angle to give the feeling that you are there at street level. But the five storey high Simmons building could easily reach to the ceiling in that case. The same goes for the water tower atop the Otis Elevator building. 

Time to mock up some structures?