20 Model Railroad Resolutions for 2020

January 6, 2020


New decade, new post…

Three years ago in January 2017 (what the hell!!!) I presented my (clearly) overly optimistic list of ‘to-dos’. Since a bunch of time has passed, it seemed to be time (ya think?) to check back in and re-evaluate where I am now and where I hope to go with the world’s best hobby in 2020.

Here are my 20 Model Railroad New Year’s Resolutions for 2020:

1. Get downstairs to the layout (see pic below) more often. The goal is 15 mins. per day or approx. 2 hrs per week minimum. I think I may have turned on the layout 3-4 times last year. This year WILL be different (I hope).


2. STOP going to Train Shows and stop buying NEW stuff. That means NO more new locomotives or plastic kits for me! I have a lifetime’s worth already. Driving time to shows + gas spent = time and money not spent on the layout.

3. START working with ALL the stuff I have. See the comment above. And sell what I don’t need/want.

4. Go Railfanning more often and incorporate my new hobby – DRONES! Look for some posts from above and if you’re in the Toronto area and want to go and foam at the tracks – let me know when and where.

5. Create a realistic TO DO list of projects and stick to it. Or try to. Prioritize said TO DO list, and start on Project #1. Now. Today. Here.

6. Project #1: Post at least a blog post per week. That’s 52 per year. I’m already ahead of last year, given that 2019 had a total of ZERO posts. 🙁

7. Do more with friends. Could be visits, operations, group work sessions. I’ve been more of a lone wolf modeller but there are so many excellent people in this hobby and the social aspect is the main reason why this hobby is so much fun.

8. Attend a convention. I’ve never been to one of the really big train shows/conventions and while this might contradict Resolution #2, Springfield just looks like too much fun. Realistically, it may be closer to home at the CARM Toronto Convention.

9. Go and photograph my prototype. It’s been six years since I last visited the QGRY (this is me in Quebec City in 2014) and I’d love to do a rail fanning trip this Fall to Trois-Rivieres and Quebec City to see what’s new and do some photography… and bring the drone!!!!!


10. Finish something. Yup. A pip dream, but it sure would be nice to actually complete a project. Could be a building or a scene (see #16 below) or really anything. Just to complete a project…ahhh.

11. Get the kids involved. Up til now, the kids (boys aged 14 and 11) have shown no interest in the layout. May have had something to do with me telling them in the past not to touch anything. LOL. But it would be nice to have a little help/company running some trains. Maybe this year?

12. Launch the WERR Toronto Ops Club. I’ve always wanted to start a small group of local West End Toronto Modellers and create a rotating monthly operating session. I know of two possible layouts close to mine – so if you live in west-end Toronto and have a layout that you want to operate with a group of like-minded guys – let me know!


13. Build up my collection of old railroad signs. I have a few wee bits of cool collectables but I’m always on the look out for nice original pieces for the walls of the layout room.

14. Learn more about how the real QGRY works and the timetables, trains and industries that I am trying to model. Research is one of the really cool aspects of this hobby and there is no shortage of information on the interweb. I’m always reading about new things that hopefully will make me a better modeller.

15. Build a custom locomotive.  I have a number of locomotive projects planned; from simple weathering and modifications right up to complete strip and repaint jobs. These include:

    • CFL 114 – MLW S13u BELL-GAZ switcher
    • QGRY 6908 – a SD40-3 originally built as CN 5198 (SD40)
    • a couple of fictional additions to the G&W family including the B&B (named for Bernard & Ben)

16. Complete a Scene. Time to start working on and complete a single scene. As previously discussed, I have hobby ADD and like to jump around working on little bits here and there. For 2020, I plan to pick a scene a build it.

17. Build PQTX. I have one ‘fun’ and fictional industry on the layout. Poutine Quebec (PQ) will be a poutine factory located outside of Montreal and will have a number of company owned cars. Inbound will be cheese curds in PQTX reefers, potatoes in PQTX boxcars and light brown gravy powder in PQTX hopper cars along with packaging and other assorted supplies. Once a week there would be a PQTX tank car shipment called the ‘gravy train’ that would bring in a heavier grade of gravy for storage in onsite tanks. Outbound would be the finished Poutine Quebec product to market.

18. Weathering, couplers and weight. Early on I made a promise to myself that I would only run cars on the layout that had at least a minimal level of weathering. Well, reality hits and who can resist putting a shiny new car on the tracks. However, this year I plan to give each car a basic weather and a little detail work on the trucks and wheels. In addition, I plan to swap out all plastic couplers for Kadees and check their height. At the same time at cars will be weighed and extra weights will be added, if necessary.

19. Speed Match all my locos. The plan for 2020 is to start speed-matching pairs of locos so that I can have consists that actually run well together. It’s the precursor to getting trains ready for Resolution #20.

20. OPERATIONS!!! Following on from #12 above. This is why I built a layout. Since I began years ago, I’ve known that the goal is to get a group of friends together and operate the layout. BUT, I will fully admit that I am afraid of the work involved with operations. I’m not sure where and how to start. My feeing is that I want to use JMRI for operations but the learning curve is pretty brutal. This is a tough one, but hopefully 2020 will be the year it happens!

Phew. That is certainly a good start for now. I’m hopeful that each of these resolutions/ideas will morph into it’s own blog post… so please stay tuned for many more posts coming soon.

As always, comments, ideas and your thoughts are very welcome!


  1. Stephen

    I think you have a great list of things to keep you motivated especially getting your sons involved and 15 minutes a day. Looking forward to seeing you progress for 2020.

  2. Trevor

    These are great ideas and I look forward to helping in any way I can.
    We want the finest trains available to humanity. We want them here, and we want them now!

  3. Derek

    A comprehensive list! I especially like the sound of the West Toronto ops club, but I must petition for an exemption to allow visitors from North York!



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