Under Pressure

I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
-Douglas Adams-

With the publication and shipping of Kalmbach Media’s latest book, Building What’s In A Photo, I can now share some additional photos from the my submission “Building an offline customer”. It also gives me the opportunity to tell the story of how the book chapter came to be… and why deadlines are the ultimate motivator.

Way back in October 2019, Kalmbach staff reached out to a group of past contributors to see if they would be interested in submitting content for a compilation book they were developing. The concept was based on the Classic Trains feature “What’s In A Photo”. In essence, we would take a prototype photo and recreate each element in said photo in model form.

Considering the who’s who list of known experts in this hobby that were asked to participate (Dolkos, Sassi, Kempinski, et. al.), I was honored to be included.

I proposed that I could recreate the Hills Grain and Feed complex in miniature for my submission and include details on how I used readily-available commercial products to complete the scene. Since the prototype business is not served by the railroad but is both bisected and surrounded by the industrial spur, I thought it would provide a good contrast from the more online and lineside scenes that I assumed would make up the bulk of the book.

That December I get word that the book concept had been approved and I was formally asked to contribute with a delivery deadline of June 2021. Having that much time to prepare the piece, I spent the next few weeks planning how I was going to build this scene and what I needed to purchase to make it happen. But I was in no rush. After all, I had 18 months to deliver.

Then two things happened.

The Hills Line with James McNab, Ep. 3

First, I was contacted by Model Railroad Video Plus about producing a monthly video series detailing the design, construction, and operation of The Hills Line. That offer ultimately turned into The Hills Line with James McNab online series and subsequent DVD. It also came with a much more pressing and reoccurring deadline, since I was now delivering content each month. I still had the book deadline, and was slowly acquiring the parts needed to build the thing. But again… 18 months.

Then the world changed.

Honestly, having the ongoing MRVP deadline was one of the things that helped keep me focused during the pandemic, especially in the beginning weeks of uncertainty that turned into months of frustration. But I totally ignored to the point of forgetting about the book deadline since there were considerably more pressing needs throughout 2020 and into 2021.

It wasn’t until May 2021 that I was reminded that, oh by the way, you have this project due next month that you haven’t even started on. The result was a week-long basement blitz in which I completely built, wrote, and photographed the entire project from scratch.

I don’t recommend doing that.

However, it ultimately provided three positives from that experience. One, I was able to finish up a good chunk of the Hills, Iowa portion of the layout in near record time. Two, I got compensated for doing it. And three, it allowed me to share this story with you, both online and in print.

Not that you asked, but copies of Building What’s in a Photo are available for purchase in fine bookstores and hobby shops everywhere, as well as online at the Kalmbach Hobby Store.

3 thoughts on “Under Pressure

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