A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

February 27, 2021

LDSIG Panel Discussion - What would you do differently?

 I was a panelist on a Layout Design Special Interest Group (LDSIG) on the subject of "What would you do differently." There were six of us on the panel. We each had a chance to do a short presentation on our layouts with respect to the above question. 

I structured my brief presentation as a summary of how I got where I am and what I would do differently.  The image at the left, with apologies to the Talking Heads, is a rough outline that I followed. 

I described the layout space I had available, the layouts I tried to build before the Aquia line, and how the Aquia Line evolved and grew. 

I presented a short list of things I would do differently if I was starting over, all from a layout design perspective. I post the list here without elaboration. 

  • Build an integrated design. The iterative/phased process resulted in sub-optimal design
  • 36” Minimum radius with 30” only in alcove
  • Longer sidings and longer trains
  • Prototype length bridge at Potomac Creek
  • Track elevation in accordance with prototype terrain
  • Master switch for the layout lighting
  • Buy a different house

Finally, I showed a quick sketch track plan of how I would redesign the Aquia Line RR if I were starting from scratch. This was the LDSIG after all. The main difference is that I flipped the railroad. Aquia Landing is in the crew lounge while Falmouth passes the current location of Burnside's Wharf and extends into the home office. Putting Aquia Landing in the crew lounge area allows the track to climb after it leaves the river, just as it does in the prototype. 

In this redesign, about 25% of the railroad would require only minor changes from the current plan, but the rest would have extensive rebuilding. This railroad satisfies all the items I listed above.  Will I do this? I highly doubt it. But it was a fun exercise.

The LDSIG will make the recorded talk available on line for viewing. I will update this blog with the link when it is available. 

Meanwhile, the spackle is drying on the new coved corner by Stares Tunnel. I should be able to start painting backdrops tomorrow.


  1. Any layout design clinic that features a Talking Heads theme sounds good to me! Also intriguing what the layout might look like if you were starting over from scratch.

  2. If given the chance, would you start over in another scale with a different theme? I know you have a "full" file of layout ideas you have worked on, or considered, over the years.

    1. When the Aquia Line is "done" I might be tempted to do something different. But for now I do not plan to build another major layout.

      If we moved, then I would probably build a new layout. It would have to be a relatively simple design as I am not getting any younger. Probably some kind of branch line with not so much track but lots of scenery.

  3. Same as it ever was.......; ^ )