Sunday 22 June 2014

Saturday Ramble

Busy, busy, busy. Work has really taken over this month - 20 days straight and another block just started -  and what with a few 'family' type things happening as well, my normal quite extensive modelling time has been squeezed. This is possibly no bad thing - at least two people (you can guess who) have suggested that I'm firing at too many targets at the moment and not concentrating on getting one thing finished... they're right. However in my defence when I only have a couple of hours in the dead of night then I can't really be sawing bits of rail and chopping up timber, I have to find alternative quiet things. Although my neighbours aren't always that considerate to me, I have no need to antagonise.
The list of possible things on the go is as follows:
1. finish Edge.
2. finish writing Edge up.
3. do the last bit of track wiring on Morton Stanley.
4. plan the garden railway.
5. put a 16mm loco together as a test piece.
And that's the immediate things. The piece in the Comment section of RM this month speaks of settling down and building a long-term project a la Buckingham and why we should resist all this serial small layout building. Of course this piece is written by me and I'm am naturally as always, shooting myself firmly in the foot. But to me that's the whole point of this bit of the mag.Not to say how clever you are, but to point out the thought patterns.

The above is something which caught my eye last Tuesday. The event was the passing out parade of Mrs Fs' youngest at RAF Halton. A 30 minute gap in the proceedings saw us wander around the Trenchard Museum. This is full of the usual military tat of past uniforms, medals and half a Hawk trainer. What caught my eye specifically was the modelling section. The students, at what was then the apprentice base, were encouraged to make models to further advance their understanding of aero design. The above being made from perspex from a German aircraft and the tools used. The complete lack of materials makes today's batch of modellers in any genre look ungrateful (which they are) and talentless (which many are).


  1. I read your RM piece yesterday in the time-honoured habit of standing in WH Smith and treating it as a library. Mags are expensive and my interests are so specialised that occasional copies of Continetal Modeller and Model Railroader are my only buys.

    I thought it a good piece. Your 'failure' to live up to its message actually emphasized, rather than reduced the message. Exhibition layouts, on the whole, just don't have the size and complexity and 'artistic vision' to satisfy. Off-hand, the exhibition layouts Pempoul, Crumley & Little Wickhill, East Lynn & Nunstanton, Marshwood Vale Railway, and 'Boot' all qualify, as does 'Dungeness Siding' and Troel Kirk's non-exhibition 'The Coast Line', but those are a small number out of the many exhibition layouts I've seen. Too many have been, well, a bit like the layouts you make! Produced to order, rather than crafted over many years.

    I don't know what the root cause is. Maybe the majority of us no longer have the patience to live for years with a project. Maybe we don't have the space at home for a big project. Maybe the quality of rtr stuff has tempted too many to give up the craft aspect of the hobby. Another possibility is our range of prototype interest has broadened and those who spent a lifetime modelling just one thing are the exception. I haven't been a modeller for some thirty years now (my creative urges are satisfied by writing prose fiction) but I have quite a list of prototypes I think should be modelled, none of which are remotely compatible with each other (the Ferrocarril Tocopilla al Toco, (a Chilean nitrate hauler) the Tal-y-llyn's initial proposal to build to Aberdovey, Eureka Mill Tramroad (Nevada) and a fictional version of the Cyprus Govt line, all appeal) so a big project on any one of those would rule out doing anything with the rest.
    I think the reasons are complicated, but too often at exhibitions where one might hope to see the best of railway modelling I just think 'ho-hum'.

  2. Totally agree with your points. Being a hypocrite was very much the direction of the piece; like many others, my desire is build a lifelong project, but for the reasons you give the exact opposite happens. The hand carved Spit above is yet another illustration of how impatient we have become in all aspects of life and not just modelling. The 'job for life' has gone along with the desire to work and develop a single idea into a magnificent achievement. This applies not to this subject, but to anything which is not job-related - a pastime. Maybe this is a good thing, but I for one think that we've lost something deeper and human as a result.

    1. I should add that I've spent 8 years writing a novel, so long-term achievers aren't quite an extinct breed! No idea how long it took to build Crumley, but I was told by either Gordon or Maggie Gravett that Pempoul is fifteen years work and they'd quite like the next project to be somewhat quicker!
      We have an acquaintance in common, the late Laurie Maunder. I recall his loft layout as having similar qualities to Craig and Mertonford in being a one man empire that developed over many years. I'm happy to see some of it lives on in your care.

      They're might also be a question of validity when it comes to modelling. Once one could painstakingly build a Wills kit into a good representation of a loco that was miles ahead of what Triang could offer. Nowadays £150 will buy you something rather better in terms of finish and performance from Hornby or Bachmann.

      OO9 was something of a safe-haven, but I have a bad feeling that Peco's new L&B offerings are a Trojan Horse, just in the way Bachmann's On30 stuff has popularised US narrow-gauge modelling but made it rather less interesting.


  3. Sorry not to add to the erudition of the above comments but I just wanted to know where the elegantly simple building in your photogragh is located.

  4. I don't think I should embarrass you by giving an answer. Wave you cursor over the photo and all will be revealed.

  5. Nope, doesn't work for me. Even got the SRN1 out so I could hover over the picture but still no joy. Lucky you sent me an email!