About Me

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Welcome to the Journal of Model Railroad Design, a website that offers a creative outlet for one of my favourite past times. As you may know, I have spent most of my lifetime fascinated with model railroading and trains. Along the way I have met some incredible people, and made many new friends who have added much breadth and depth to my life.

I always found that through sharing this hobby with others, I have gained so much great insight into planning and designing a model railroad. I have also learned many new methods and techniques for building and wiring layouts, and I was exposed to many different operating practices to get the most enjoyment out of a layout. With that in mind, I would like to take a few minutes to share with you some insight into my life-long journey.

Like most people involved in the model railroading hobby, I was very young when I received my first train set for Christmas in the early 1970s. Before then, I had been reading my grandfather's Model Railroader magazines, and my parents took notice that I was spending countless hours captivated with the photos of model railroads shown in those pages.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, my brother and I started building a few HO-scale layouts. Back then, we lived close to a small corner store that ordered in Atlas products through mail-order. Over the coming years we would built several HO-scale layouts of various shapes and sizes, as our model empire grew bigger and bigger. Eventually, it filled half the basement of my family home, then we moved to a larger space in an unused garage.

In the 1990s, I became an avid rail-fan and started taking a serious interest in preserving the history of Nova Scotia's railways. I also built a small switching layout which survived until the mid-1990s. This was my last layout, and it proved to be the most enjoyable one that I built once I discovered the joys of adding prototypical operations to my modeling.

After I dismantled that layout and sold off all my HO equipment in 1996, my involvement in the model railroading hobby took a much different direction. At that time, I was getting more involved in the online model railroad communities, and my model railroading efforts started drifting to "arm chair" mode. I was spending my hobby time planning my next layout, and also expanding my knowledge of layout design and operation.

This was when I began offering layout design help to a variety of model railroaders on several railway related forums, and also through more intense private emails sessions. At first, I was hand drawing layouts, but a year or two later I purchased my first copy of 3rd PlanIt by El Dorado Software, and never looked back.

The layouts I helped designed have ranged from small micro and switching layouts, to big basement-sized railway empires. They included a mix of very simple single level layouts, to more complex multiple level layouts, and everything in between.

Over the years, I have worked with a few model railroaders that only wanted a small and simple display layout to showcase their craftsmen structures and scratch-built rolling stock. I have also worked with other more advanced modelers that wished to include very realistic and intense operations on their finished layouts. After moving into an apartment in 2002, my interests had shifted to much smaller layouts, and I began to concentrate on designing small switching layouts for myself since the space I could devoted to a layout was very limited.

Not only did the countless hours I spent designing model railroad layouts for others give me immense satisfaction, it also enabled me to hone my skills with every new layout that I had the pleasure to design. As a side line to this, I also spent many hours researching prototype railways, and designing layouts based on those lines I found interesting.

Of course, all through those years I kept myself apprised and up-to-date on the direction model railroading was taking as a hobby. I started stocking my library in 1986 with a variety of hobby magazines available, and with the latest books from some of the hobby's most prolific authors. Although a lot of my attention was focused on layout planning and design, I also acquired books on more general topics, such as how to introduce prototypical operations to a finished layout.

Now, after more than 30 years of gathering information, I want to share the experience and knowledge gained, in the hopes that other modelers may find some inspiration within these pages. Also, within these pages you will find drawings for model railroad structures and rolling stock; some layout design tips and suggestions you may find helpful; and my personal views on many aspects of the hobby.

I feel that this blog not only meets my need for creativity, it also fulfills my dream of leaving a legacy that contributes to the education, understanding and intellectual growth of others. So this is my portal to share all this acquired knowledge with you, and I welcome you on board. I hope you will stick around for what I know will be a very interesting and fascinating journey, and it is my sincerest hope that within these pages you will find something that piques your interest as well.

Robert Chant,
Glace Bay, Nova Scotia