It all started last year at a model RR show. I was showing Bruce Nickerson of Sea Port Model Works a little diorama I'd built. He asked how I made the water. I told him and explained that I had a DVD which showed all my water-building techniques. He needed to know because he was contemplating building several display bases for his ship models.
During our discussion we talked about building one large display to show-off his whole product line. This would be a waterfront display in HO scale and he asked me if I could build it for him. We settled on dimensions of 30" wide by 6' long and not over 1' high, a size that would fit in the back of a van or station wagon.
I went home pulled out all my waterfront pictures, studied them for a while, and created a ½" scale model of what I envisioned the display to look like.
The research part is important to me because it gets the juices flowing and gets me thinking about the "scenes" in the display. It also gives me a clue into the scope and number of structures that need to be built. I did end up using several modified kits but most of the building were scratch built using many uncommon materials. But I'm getting ahead of myself…