Owner Inspiration & Techniques on the V&O

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Planning began early for Allen McClelland for his Virginian and Ohio model railroad. From a young age he began to conceptualize the ideal model railroad. As he played with and observed model railroads he found that the element of a prototype was missing. At the time, the emphasis was not on the railroad but simply on having a place to run trains. The name and appalachian area were both chosen to follow prototypical ideals. A study of railroad names found that almost all are geographically inspired. The appalachian area lends itself well to scenes which divide up the layout and create the illusion of more distance between locations. When a viewer cannot instantly see the entire layout, it appears larger.

McClelland has been able to add on an addition to his basement so he can expand his model railroad. He goes on to explain his plans for the expansion on a detailed map. McClelland has been an inspiration for the hobby with innovations such as walkaround operation, being an early command control user, interchanging beyond the basement, miniature transportation systems, and the good enough philosophy. The good enough philosophy means that shortcuts can be taken that don’t affect the appearance and performance of the layout.

An example on his layout is leaving the back of some buildings unfinished where no one will ever see. However, he did not set out to be an innovator; he just wanted to find the right way of modeling. For him, his goal was to have fun with a hobby that has so many different facets of artistic, mechanical, and electrical skill. McClelland is a trailblazer for creating a prototypical model railroad which at the time was the opposite of the hobby’s philosophy.

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