2016 Highlights, 2017 Goals

With the changing of the calendar comes the best opportunity to reflect, assess, and plan. This year is no exception, though with the so-called low hanging fruit of layout construction (mostly) done, future projects on the Valley Line promise to be a bit more involved, complicated, and slow-moving. But it's a hobby, not a job - thankfully - and that's all part of the fun. I actually look forward to these annual posts since it gives me an often-much-needed reminder of how far I've come (even while reminding me how far I still have yet to go). So, without any further ado, here's a look back and a look forward....

Here's where I started as 2016 dawned:

Goals for 2016
  • By June 1 (in time for the NE Proto Meet (formerly Collinsville)):
    • Finish the rest of the trackwork, including new "west end" staging yard as well as Essex/Deep River/East Haddam
    • Install the rest of the backdrops & fascia
    • Install the rest of the lighting
    • Have either Old Saybrook or Wethersfield "done" - backdrop, buildings, signals, scenery.
  • By December 31:
    • Have either Old Saybrook or Wethersfield "done" (whichever isn't done already)
    • At least start on Dividend and Cromwell, including the huge Hartford Rayon complex in Dividend.
    • Have at least 4 operating sessions over the course of the year.

So, how'd I do?
Some highlights
Some failures things to work on:
  • Still didn't get to many any of my large pile of freight car kits - though I DID do a "shake and take" boxcar that I started at Collinsville, oops, "Enfield."
  • Related to the above, I didn't spend much time at the bench. My J-1 2-8-2 project has languished on the back burner for at least over 3 years now (a search for a post on it came up empty, so I realized that that project predates this blog!)
Overall and all things considered, I'd call 2016 a resounding success for the Valley Line. Sure, I didn't get to a few things I'd set as goals for the year - but OTOH that was mostly, if not entirely, due to the fact that I ended up accomplishing different things that I hadn't planned on.

So, what's all this mean for 2017? Without going into the many punch list items there are to do, here's a list of the more major things I'd like to accomplish in the coming year:
  • Finish the Saybrook Scene
    • Rt 1 overpass
    • Ford dealership & background/backdrop buildings
    • Signal bridges (ugh - signaling?!)
  • Complete Berlin Branch for operations
    • Install bridge & finish trackwork/sidings
    • Buildings & scenery later
  • Truly and finally, finish layout construction
    • Masonite behind the Airline & above the west end loop
    • Extend Saybrook scene "east" past doorway
      • Install masonite backdrop & false wall/viewblock
  • Start/Finish the Wethersfield side of the peninsula
    • Finish Ballantine's and Wethersfield Lumber (been in medias res for about 2 yrs now)
    • Hartford skyline backdrop
    • John Wallace's house
    • Various minor buildings
  • Finish class J-1 2-8-2 #3022
    • Tender mods
    • Detailing, painting, weathering
    • Decoder install
This time next year, if I can report most/all of these things done I'll be very happy (and, frankly, not a little surprised). But as they say - "shoot for the stars and you'll at least hit the moon" or some such thing. Far too often, my reach exceeds my grasp - but with the help of my very generous and hard-working friends, I think we can get a lot of these items crossed off the list. So stay tuned!

Whether I get all - or even none of these things done though, at the end of the day this whole project is about spending time with those friends and sharing a hobby that drives - and sometimes consumes us. And as long as we have our health and some spare time to get down to the basement, 2017 can't help but be successful.