The Blahs

Not much has been happening with the Wheeling Freight Terminal since the new lights were installed. A Labor Day weekend away was followed by a wicked head cold that kept me down for a few days. My wife and I have been looking at homes to purchase, which is very exciting but it doesn’t inspire work on the current layout. I’ve got the “hobby blahs” at the moment.

My hobby activity can ebb and flow through the year and sometimes I just need a small project to get me rolling down the right track again. I’ve started three of the new Accurail 36-foot box car kits, as seen in the lead image. I’m hoping these are the spark to pull me out of the “blahs”.

We all go through these ebbs and flows with our hobby activities. What do you do to fire up your interests again? How do you get that mojo workin’? Why not share your suggestions in the comment section below. Please follow the instructions so your comment can be posted. All comments are reviewed and approved before they appear.

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21 thoughts on “The Blahs”

  1. I hear you, burnout, even if only temporary, comes hand in hand with almost any form of creativity. I love railroading and railfanning, but these days there is nothing to see trackside which holds my interest, so I railfan in HO scale now.

    Sometimes that too becomes “tedious” and a break is needed. In the past I’ve gone so far as to sell everything off, or just taken a break for an indefinite period. Lately though, rather than the drastic moves of my youth, I just change tracks, or in this case lanes. I have taken to modeling trucks for the upcoming layout changes. All sorts of semi’s that would have operated in and around my railroads base of operations are getting built. Kits I’ve had for upwards of 40 years are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with some finishing touches. I’m even planning a truck stop, albeit a not too large one. Fuel pumps, no-tell motel, and a greasy spoon, all along a lonely stretch of sun bleached asphalt where there are no scales. Since I model southeast Arizona, right near the Mexican border, the variety is quite interesting back in the mid 1970’s.

    Variety? It really is the spice of life. One tends to take less “drastic” actions if one remains entertained. So in your case, build things for your next layout in your new home. That is my advice to you. Enjoy your trains…

  2. Those Accurail 36ft cars got my juices flowing too. Planning to do some serious upgrading, I did the artwork and had decals produced for the ones I intend to model

  3. I got my mojo back last January while lying in hospital following a repair to a heart valve – I realised then that, not only had I achieved very little to date, but I would also be right royally cheesed off if I kicked the bucket before getting some semblance of a working layout built. There’s nothing like getting acquainted with one’s mortality to light a fire under one’s behind!


  4. When I get the “hobby blahs” the best thing is to find a project and get it finished. That sense of accomplishment that comes from getting something done usually gets me headed in the right direction. Sometimes its harder than just that, and it takes something inspiring, like a visit to a layout to operate or a hobby event. Hopefully the three boxcars above are the catalysts to get you going again!

  5. We all get the “blahs.” That’s why I have several different hobbies. Right now I’m in the process of rebuilding the transmission of our 1930 Model A Ford cabriolet convertible/ (Actually, I’m rebuilding it because the 87-year-old roller bearings gave up the ghost.)

  6. Like Paul Woods said, “I would be royally Cheesed off if I kicked the bucket before getting some semblance of a working layout built.” However, I go a little bit further when I tell my wife, “I will really be pissed if I croak before I finish my model railroad.” It really got me moving when Jim Six spoke at one of his seminars in Indiana. He reminded all the attendees that they are not getting any younger and if they are going to build a model railroad NOW is the time. After that meet I pledged to average at least an hour a day on building my railroad and I have. Last night I was having a heck of a kidney stone attack; I took a hydrocodon and went to the basement and worked an hour. There are occasional days I do not work on it like when I am attending an RPM meet but I always make up that time. Once I get up the gumption and start I can keep going.

    1. Hydrocodone? Wow, that must be a doozy of a kidney stone. I think I know what it feels like; I got handfuls of oxycodones thrown at me when I was in hospital, but not for my chest so much as my back….you see, I got my back trashed in a car wreck many years ago which left me with chronic pain, and when I had my chest opened up for the heart surgery, it disturbed my spine and caused a major flare-up of my pain problems. I was a total mess when I got home, and it was over a month before I could even move around much. I thank God for my hobby. I was never bored during my recovery and when things were hurting really bad I found that the trains provided great relief just through distraction. So Jared, ‘good on ya mate’ for sticking at it, and thank you, because you’ve inspired me to up my game a bit too.

      1. Paul, I had back surgery a few years ago to fuse my lower three vertabrae. It fixed the sciatic pain in both legs but I ended up with neuropathy in my toes. In order to sleep at night I have to take 1/2-1 Hydrocodon every night. I was fortunate to have the Hydrocodon on hand when the kidney stones started moving. Although the surgery fixed the pinching of my sciatic nerves I continue to have constant lower back pain which walking really helps. I walk 2.3 miles every day for the pain and just for exercise.

  7. A deadline helps. I don’t like to establish too many deadlines because it is a hobby, not a profession. However, promising something to someone else adds a nice social aspect and requires action. Part of the problem is just getting to the workbench or layout. Once there, success breeds energy and builds upon itself. But getting there, when distracted by familial duties, even a minor illness, or by the start of college football season, can be more than half the battle. At least the darkness and weather of winter will be here soon, and I’ll be pushed that much closer to my workbench. Your move northward should help you a little in the coming months!

    1. Getting up the gumption to just go the basement is a big part of getting something done. Once I get there and get started I get a lot done.

  8. I clean the workbench. Even if I’m midway through a project, clearing off the detritus that accumulates around a model, including the tools, paints, glues, etc. goes a long way to reigniting the pilot light, so to speak.

  9. Use the same method as Alan, I go to one of my other hobbies for a break. Sometimes you just get over saturated with one hobby and just have to get away from it for a while.

  10. Great topic. I get the blahs from time to time too. Usually I can get inspiration from an article in one of the model railroad magazines, or from a friend’s suggestion for a project and that will relight the fire.

  11. I like Galen’s approach and wish I had his discipline. Here are some things that keep me motivated and fresh.

    1.) Pushing the limits—for example I have recently started replacing styrene ladder rungs with 0.010 styrene rod.
    2.) In addition to freight cars I have several 1st Gen. diesels in process and at various stages so always something to do. Next challenge here will be DCC, sound and lighting installs myself or hiring someone or combination.
    3.) I am about midway in making patterns for a new resin kit. I have done 4 or 5 of these and given the problem solving and research needed, starting and stopping is the norm.
    4.) I also usually have freight car kits at various stages so it is easy to stop working on something and shift to painting and decaling something for a change of pace.
    5.) Weather something or experiment with a weathering technique.

    1. Bill, a change of pace can help. I am building a stock pen which has been pretty tedious. I need seven of them for my railroad. When I get tired of working on any project I need to switch to something else. Yesterday I worked 4 1/2 hours on the railroad Most of that time I worked on the stock pen, but when I got tired I changed over and worked on some scenery. Sometimes if a project is too daunting hire someone to do it as you suggested you might do with DCC. Building models is not something I enjoy and at 73 I don’t know how may modeling days I have left. I have hired out DCC installs, and I am having someone build all my car kits. (I just got an e-mail from my builder that seven cars are ready.) Apparently counter to current thought I WANT to finish my model railroad before I croak.

    2. Bill – Don’t mistake my intention for action. Good tips, though.

      Eric – The other thing I do is just run a train, or sometimes just stare at the layout or model I’ve been working on. I think sometimes we need to step back and admire the three dimensional art we’ve created. Other artists do the same from time to time, yet within our hobby there’s this perception or misconception that we must always be working on something.

  12. I thank everyone for their comments and suggestions on kicking The Blahs. These are very good tips for anyone who has stalled on their hobby enthusiasm. I’m on the road out of the Blahs now as a few kits are underway and preparations are made to attend the upcoming RPM Chicagoland event. – Eric

  13. Glad the Blahs are going away. If I have a project that has me not feeling interested right now, I move on to something else. I have so many things to do that there is always something else for me to do. One of the easiest things is to go to an easy freight car kit like an accurail as it can be completed in a short time. By completed I mean assembled, weighted to my standards, metal wheels tuned to roll freely, kadees at the proper height and functioning properly etc.

    That takes a bit more than just putting the kit together, but it runs very well on the club layout. A long train looks very good for an open house.

  14. I reposted this, including the comments to date, on my Yahoo group, Model Railroads of Southern California.

    I hope to both motivate some of the Yahoo group members to re-engage with the hobby and to generate additional ideas which I will share here.

  15. Generally . . . I don’t get the blahs, but sometimes I do get very tired of working on the same dam**d model for months. Part of that is I am a slow modeler, a picky modeler and I have undertaken too many complicated projects. What I do to break out of that is to take on an extremely simple project, a shake-the-box (but a quality shake the box, of course) and add a few details, upgrade trucks and/or wheels, add texture to the roof walk (or replace if it should be steel), add air hoses or upgrade the brake wheel or something that just generally improves the model. Then weather it, and get a little more with Pan Pastels or something. Essentially a project I can FINISH in a few evenings or a week. Having that sense of completion lets me go back and have at it again with that complex project.

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