Why would anyone wish to open their layout for visitation?

Participating in a layout tour is a great way to share your work and meet your fellow model railroaders.  You’ve probably worked hard on your layout so you might as well get some recognition from people who will appreciate your efforts.”   Bob Chaparro, Moderator, Model Railroads of Southern California, June 5, 2015

Bob Chaparro knows of what he speaks.  Since 2006, he has organized 43 layout tours in his region.  Maine modelers in 2015 undertook a new initiative in this means of sharing the model railroad hobby.  To entice you or an acquaintance of yours to open a layout for people to visit, let’s address this issue of “why host?”

Sharing is key!!          Let other people experience the results of your efforts and enjoyment of a creative hobby.  Why?  There are many reasons:

    • Encourage others to enter or go further into the hobby. The more in the hobby, the better for everyone. More and better suppliers, manufacturers, and train shows, and more people to share ideas and creativity with.

    • Self-satisfaction.         A layout host often serves as a “teacher” to some of their visitors who learn how you have accomplished certain modeling tasks. You can get a lot of pleasure out of seeing these recipients of your “lessons” make their own advances in the hobby. Putting a sparkle in a visitor’s eye, or inspiring a new project for them, can be a very satisfying experience. Your knowledge has great value to others and you will feel great satisfaction for hosting.

    • Build confidence. Hearing good comments from visitors reinforces your good choices that you have made and helps motivate you to pursue more accomplishments.

    • Learn. Not every layout owner has solved all of their layout development issues yet. Perhaps you want to know more about a long-gone prototype structure that you wish to model accurately and realistically someday. Or, you want operations to flow like a fallen flag railroad, but cannot find how it controlled freight traffic in the territory you are modeling. One of your visitors someday may be able to direct you on finding answers to your questions.

    • Have fun!        Model railroaders have passion and can be serious about their hobby, but they also can have fun doing it. Meeting new people, or reconnecting with folks you previously met, are opportunities for socializing and having fun. Frank Knight has fun identifying children who are true rail fans and then coaching them to use his Lenz DCC controls. “It is very encouraging to see a future model railroader running trains around my layout.”

    • Recruit.           Many layout owners benefit from recruiting others to assist them from time to time in further development of their own layouts. A common phenomenon: The layout owner becomes disciplined in involving themselves more routinely on their layout because they need to prepare for scheduled work sessions attended by recruited modelers. Also, layout owners who wish to have realistic operating sessions on their layouts often lament that not enough operators show up. Expand your roster of operators by recruiting more during layout tours.

    • Current motivation.   Have you been enjoying your layout as much as you want to lately? Is it covered with dust or need some tender loving care? One of the tangible impacts of agreeing to open your layout to a tour on a specific date is that you feel inclined to revisit the layout in order to spruce it up for the anticipated visitors. This can rekindle your enthusiasm for working and “playing” on the layout!Knowing there is a date and a deadline makes me get to the layout to finish or change a number of things I have been planning to do.” Tom Oxnard, June 6, 2015

No doubt about it, hosts sharing their layouts with others benefit both the visitors and themselves in many ways.  Offer your layout for a future tour, and encourage your friends who have layouts to join in the fun, too!!