Crew Handbook

Welcome to the crew of South Pacific Lines. We want to share the SPL, hence the invitation to join the crew. We will also encourage visitors, especially kids (but not on crew nights – see below). School tours are a good idea. I envision an annual open day to show the neighbours what we are up to, and to raise a little bit of money for a charity too.

As we embark on this project, we will try to keep things in perspective. Model railroading is all about playing with trains, for the fun of it. Nevertheless SPL is a serious undertaking, into which I am investing more than ten thousand dollars and years of my spare time. I hope you will take it seriously too.

SPL is planned as an operating railroad. We will run trains to timetable and train order, with a dispatcher. There will be some automation of staging, maybe CTC. Sometimes we may just run trains.

To get there, first we have to build it. We are aiming for high standards: not craftsman level, but high enough. There is not a lot of room for scenery but what there is will be scenicked well. There will be a high level of detail, but limited by the “good enough” principle – we won’t go overboard. The aim is the highest levels of realism we can achieve, using such things as weathering, story-boarding, automation and sound effects to get there. Realism means believability rather than prototypical authenticity: it is an imaginary place.

It is my learning layout. There will be a SPL 2 later. So we are all learning. But we try to do our learning somewhere else and then apply our skills on the SPL when we feel reasonably proficient. The SPL is not a club layout where we try things out for the first time, except where we designate stuff as specifically an experiment or training example.

The crew is built on trust. If I write down stuff here it is so that there are no misunderstandings. If I write down records of what we do, it is a reflection on nobody but me and my appalling memory.

Being part of the crew is what you make it. You have your own interests and expertise. We’ll try and build a team to complement you so we can all do what we want to. So you give me some of your time and effort, and I’ll give you camaraderie, fun, and the opportunity to work and play on a serious model railroad.

Welcome aboard

Rob England
24 Raroa Place
Pukerua Bay