Or the “Wish-I-Could-Know-I-Can’t” List
I have a number of design requirements and expectations for this project that I am expecting to meet, but along with those were several that I know I either cannot meet at all or would be too difficult given the project’s specific characteristics. I post them here both as a response to anyone who might suggest them as well as a an invitation to anyone who might be able to recommend some other way of accomplishing them.
Here they are:
- A multi-leveled or elevated train track. Clearly, the Harry Potter movies show the Hogwarts Express traveling numerous times on elevated tracks, such as the aqueduct near Hogwarts, and clearly shows that Hogsmeade is at a much lower incline than the Hogwarts Castle and grounds. While I’m going to represent the multi-leveled relationship between Hogsmeade and Hogwarts, the train itself will only ever travel at one level. Unfortunately, when dealing with an O Gauge train, the recommended grade of any incline is 2%. For there to be a multi-leveled track we’d need to have a substantial amount of incline to accomplish any true sense of being elevated. As an example, if I wanted to have a portion of track that was elevated, perhaps even crossed over one of the loops, it would need to be at least 8″ higher to accommodate for passage of the train and all cars. In order for the train to successfully rise to that elevation, it would require a 400″ or nearly a 34′ run. I’m not entirely sure that the entire length of track will be 34′. This is due to simple physics; unlike in real life, the model track does not weight several tons so the friction between rail and wheel is substantially less. Steep incline work in real life because the train has enough weight and friction to gain traction on the rails. Not see my 3-4 lb. Hogwarts Express engine. It would just slip from insufficient friction and potentially derail.
- A longer train. Literary canon concerning the Hogwarts Express is relatively non-specific and opinions often vary or conflict. The few scenes that exist in the movies which give a broad enough scene of the Express to properly count the cars usually show an engine and tender and six carriages, one of which would most likely be the luggage carrier. However, while this would suggest adding an additional two carriage to the existing four would be more true to the movies, so far I am planning to keep the train at it’s standard set size. Why? There are three considerations at play here: (1) Scale; While everyone loves long trains, they look and work best on longer runs. The Burnesyd Magical Muggle Railway is going to be far more compact and the train may feel ‘snake-y’ and get lost at times. (2) Safety; while the track will include one crossover section and the length of the curve on that area should be long enough to accommodate a slightly larger train, a longer train means it would need to move slower to avoid derailing. Given that much of the track will be behind and/or under a tree and that we plan to allow family members (who may not be as cautious as we), I want to limit as much hazard as possible, and (3) Availability; As I mentioned in my first Accio Prospectus and again later in my post about the Hogwarts Express Set, Lionel has a very limited catalog of Hogwarts Express products and that has been further exacerbated by Warner Bros. declining to renew its license in 2016. This has driven the price of all remaining items up significantly as well as introducing a certain speculation as to whether what is available is legitimate or not.
- Multi-seasonal. When I first pitched my idea to my wife this last Christmas morning, we enthusiastically (and optimistically) discussed potentially expanding the train set idea to include a Halloween display. After all, the Harry Potter series and Hogwarts are well disposed for Halloween, what with wizards, witches, Lord Voldemort, Death Eaters and Dementors in the mix. Lionel even produced a Dementor coach car that flickers with shadows of Dementors inside! However, there would a number of difficulties in implementing that. First (and by all means the worst), it would either limit what I could do to the original display in general, by making it non-seasonal. Part of my original concept was for there to be definite yuletide aspects to the display; after all, this is a display conceived to encircle a Christmas Tree! Limiting what I can add thematically to the display is a huge obstacle as to what can possibly be done or at the very least would require a revision to some of my ideas. Secondly, as with a longer train (see above), availability is a big obstacle. A Halloween display would not necessarily require the Lionel Dementor Coach but it seems that without being able to have that coach, the idea loses a lot of its reward, in relation to the cost. Speaking of cost, given how this train is now rapidly creeping into the territory of collector’s items, that cannot easily be ignored as the Dementor coach would not be a cheap purchase, Finally, (and perhaps most importantly) no matter how well I build this display, how modular or functional it is, it will never be a simple thing to set up. While I have a fondness for Halloween, my wife is somewhat less enthusiastic. She likes it, for sure, but not as a holiday that merits special treatment. Costumes and a big bowl of goodies for neighborhood children? She’s in. Christmas-level of home decoration slash renovation? Not so much. While this last idea is by far the one that would still be fundamentally possible, I’d want to make sure it was something my wife was actively lobbying for.
So there – at length – are three of the ideas that were cut from my initial plan of action for the Burnesyd Magical Muggle Railway. I would love it were they all still possible. Perhaps at some time in the future, they might be. However, part of what I have learned in my writing if that perfecting your craft and your works is as much knowing when to cut something as when to add something. While I will not say that none of these discarded ideas are definitely-for-sure off the table, they are – at this juncture – extremely unlikely to be implemented. That is fine because it allows me to focus on perfecting the other parts of the project. For now, I have a full list of features to implement, so it’s about time to get started.