Re: 1.5 cents from "the old school" from ---where's the beef thread

D. Scott Chatfield
 

I doubt that any of us is truly "old school", although a former co-worker recently described me as such to his wife because I showed up a few minutes early for a meeting....

All of us, regardless of our modeling or historical interest in God's Own Railroad, uses modern technology.  

I am old school enough to remember this washing machine-sized thingie on our destroyer that BuPers used to send personnel paperwork to us.  They called it a "facsimile machine".  Took a while to print a page.  Then I went to the Southern and the facsimile machine (still not called a "fax machine" yet) was the size of a dorm fridge.  Still took a while to print a page and we tried to only use it when we needed a copy of a foreign road waybill.  By 1986 we couldn't live without our fax machine, and it wasn't much bigger than a couple Atlanta phone books.  Now when was the last time you used a fax machine?

The same is true in our avocation.  Things that were cutting edge 30 years ago are not only commonplace now but what you can buy off the shelf is often better than the best modelers could build then.  And now you can populate a layout with _correct_ Southern Railway equipment, at least for some eras, off the shelf.  So now the modelers' focus can pivot from just building Southern equipment to building a layout that represents a part of the Southern and then using that equipment and layout in a way the real Southern would have.  That is not info you can buy at the hobby shop, especially at an internet-only shop.

We must understand that the high-skill builders were always the small minority in this hobby.  Less than 5%.  RTR has always been the norm, just less so in HO.  After all, what is Lionel and almost all N-scale but RTR.  While Athearn sold lots of blue-box engines in the last century, those of us old enough to remember the '70s and '80s (if the drugs, hideous clothes, and disco didn't turn your memory to mush) should recall how the HO hobby went gaga for Atlas' RTR diesels.

The point of my rambling on is that yes, you can be a Southern modeler without being a stick-builder of everything.  Indeed, I ask you, what is a better representation of the railroad itself, a few hard fought battles with resin kits, satisfying as they are, or a layout stocked with reasonably accurate Southern RTR stuff being operated the way the Southern did?

The archives are useful for both approaches and everything in between.  It's getting word out to a world filling up with spoon-fed snowflakes that a) the info exists, and b) it doesn't sort itself.

Scott Chatfield

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