Ideas and Applications
The concept and ideas are intended to bridge the gap between wooden toy and hobby - accessible and tangible and age-appropriate. The medium lends itself to projects where parents and children can work together, using familiar materials and tools. Projects are a springboard to develop new skills and explore ideas. And it is forgiving - dents, dings, damage, and stray marks are all part of the railroad landscape.
This goal is also intended to remove the barriers of scale. HO, N, S, and O clubs could create and combine modular wooden railway segments at shows. Since different clubs attend different events, layouts would change dynamically. Families could participate too. And wooden train sets have always been forgiving when it comes to scale. 'Close' is 'Good enough' for most things and there is unlimited room for creativity. Following are a number of project layout ideas to consider...
There are many reasons to establish a modular standard. And the ways that the tables could be used are also varied. It is a mixed media project that stretches the imagination - bringing together knowledge of woodworking, graphics, photography, art, steel, fabric, carpet and more. Expertise is great, but this is a project for learning, experimenting, and developing new skills too.
Children's Hospital / Children's Museum
- Photography (building textures, train car images)
Modules could be built by one or more local schools as a special project. A number of classes or clubs could partner in developing a well-integrated and varied railway. A teacher or parent - even a local organization - is needed to provide direction and oversight.
- Woodshop (modular tables, track, buildings)
- Drafting (layout plans, dimensions, parts list)
- Math (scale images, optimize material usage, estimate cost)
- Art (manipulate textures and photos, affix images, integrated theme, brochures)
- English (railway stories, sponsorship appeal wording)
- Industrial Arts (fabric trees, metal bridges)
- DECA (fundraising, sponsorship, promotion)
Railroad Club Layout
Modular wooden railway tables can be overseen by even the youngest members of the club and present an opportunity to introduce model railroading to a new generation. They are a bridge from toy to hobby and allow creative license too.
Finally, they could be an opening to share model railroading with school and community groups. Modules could be loaned or displayed locally. And they are a great activity to engage young children at local railroad meets.
- Local Z, N, HO, S, O, and G scale clubs
An opportunity for different clubs and scales to collaborate in a new way. Each club could construct a few tables to combine with other clubs at shows. Constructing rugged buildings and structures may be a new experience for all... Certainly there would be some competition, but new relationships could emerge.
- Railway Museum
- Children’s Museums
- Local hobbyists and parents
Pre-K / Kindergarten / Church / Community Center
Parents and Friends of a school or community center can work together to create a shelf railway, similar to a school or community playground project. Cooperative play is reinforced and there are great opportunities to integrate the railway into stories and pictures. Students could even create their own buildings or decorate train cars in a personal way. The railway could travel to share with others on special occasions.
House or Apartment
This could be a parent/child/grandparent project. Concept, Design, and execution could be accomplished together. Sewing, sawing, sanding, planning, painting, photography, testing... There is something for everyone!
Any room could accommodate a floor, table, or shelf railway of modest size. Modules could be stored under a bed or in a closet and set-up in the hall. A shelf railway could attached to a wall in a bedroom or playroom - even with more than one level and a climbing loop at the ends to travel between tiers.