Making things yourself, the great quest of our time
On the back of the last post I pondered for a moment and fell into the doom and gloom trap of thinking that we aren't modellers anymore. Or that there aren't modellers anymore. This is a little glass-half-empty, but here is the growing evidence. Firstly I'm not talking about the old hands with a full workshop and a lathe, but the generation of newcomers of any age who are turning up online and asking logical but at the same time dumb questions. They are not dumb to them, but some older hands bite and then it becomes a them and us situation. I'm not complaining about the questions per se, more about the reasons why those questions are being asked.
With reference to the last post which is here : if for instance there is a kit in your possession and the chassis is now not available, why run around asking for that chassis, which is rare, and if you can get one is probably worn out anyway? The answer is make a new footplate part or adapt the existing one to fit an alternative readily available chassis. I'm talking mainly of 009 here but it applies to other situations as well. My worry is that in previous times there would have been no need to ask the question in the first place. People would have been trained to make and adapt by the previous generation. Now they are not. Skip two throw -away generations and we have people who do not consider fixing things.
What about the older newcomer though? That argument doesn't fit - it's a confidence issue.
Can we change this?
Here's a left field idea. Instead of inviting say ten layouts to a show (usual billing in RM etc) invite seven and invite the other three layout builders as 'tutors'. Not the standard demo stand, but as fully expense paid exhibitors. Maybe this already goes on and I'm just not aware of it, but a major shift would be to let punters sit next to, and not across from, the demonstrator. It would pull people in and pass on some basic skills. I'm not talking 'how to EM a RTR loco' but something more base-line. Marking out plasticard or card, tool selection, building card kits, fitting fishplates, really low end stuff. Why? Because that's the level where the questions are, not the slightly higher conversions and super-weathering-with-an-airbrush. We need to give people the confidence not just to buy RTR stuff and build a train set, but how to mark-out, cut, file, solder, and bodge around a problem as well.