15 Minutes of Railway Modeling


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So life can be quite demanding, from work to family life to transporting kids from one activity to another, finding the time for something as time intensive as railway modeling can be quite difficult. Over the years, I've managed to squeeze time out of holidays, skipping valuable hours of sleep and insane levels of multitasking, such as building card kits while entertaining young kids.

Like most people in western civilization, I've been taught to carve out time for large projects and try to cram as much as I can into an unrealistic amount of time, then feel bad that projects are half completed and still stuck in some until I find another five hours kind of limbo. So finding time for modeling projects always meant trying to find several hours, which usually meant staying up really late into the early hours of the morning.

For almost the past two years I have been pushing the envelope of 3D printing for Railway Modeling. This past summer I decided to expand the Trackside3D project and built a full scale 3D printing lab next to the oorail layout. The lab currently has about sixteen FDM printers and one MSLA printer from AnyCubic. One of the interesting things about managing a 3D printing lab like this is that each print job takes hours, so you spend small amounts of time queuing printers up. That maybe 20 minutes here loading new files up and starting a new print, 15 minutes there loading new filament and maybe 30 minutes occasionally performing maintenance. The 3D printers are constantly working and it is a great feeling to see so much progress on tons of projects over a short period of time. Productivity on the layout was at an all time high with my army of 3D printers doing a lot of the mundane modeling work for me.

That got me thinking about how I tackle modeling projects on the layout, faced with yet another weekend of not having the large blocks of time usually needed for projects, I started thinking about how efficient the 3D printing lab is and that is what reminded me of the Japanese practice of Kaizen. I have heard of the principal numerous times, sometimes even using it in the workplace for Software Development. I quickly Google Searched the details and refreshed my memory about the technique. The more I read about Kaizen, the more I felt the principal was perfect for Model Railways. Rather than sitting around thinking wow I don't have the time for these projects and seeing month after month roll by with little to no progress on the layout. I decided that I would try to adapt Kaizen to the Model Railway. My thinking was that if I could make small changes at different parts of the layout, instead of maybe watching TV for 30 minutes or going to bed a little later, that over time, the sum of all those small changes would yield much bigger results. Which in essence is exactly what Kaizen is.

With that, the 15 Minutes of Modeling segment was born. So far it has been a really good success. Projects such as fixing the mainline curves around Castle Hill, fixing bad solder joints on the mainline and working on scenic projects that have sat there for years, are now suddenly complete. The layout seems more interesting now and I feel like I'm making progress and considerably more productive.

So with that, here is the playlist for 15 Minutes of Model. What can you get done?