Saturday, 14 March 2020

Saturday Ramble - Oh

There's been a small amount of email response following my comment a couple of days back about 7mm being the future. This was aimed specifically at one or two writers based in Lincolnshire, but nevertheless it is a truth to behold. To some extent it is where we are all going.

There are several reasons for this; some personal, some commercial. The commercial reasons are that 1) the makers of toy trains have now well and truly breached the hundred quid barrier and unbelievably in 009 (!) have breached the £200 mark  - and for a model that largely fails. I had two more conversations about this particular item  on Saturday. Don't tell me about it; send it back!
My current RM states that a 4mm Bachmann Cl 37 with chug-chug noises will set me back £220.95. Sorry, but this is nuts. It's the same model as I paid £44 for (for Rhiw) a few years back with ten quid's worth of chip and speakers. That in itself is not my point, but flipping on a couple of pages I can buy an 08 for five quid less.... in 7mm scale; four times the mass/presence/weight; and that's not the cheapest RTR item available. Therein lies issue one. We now have rough parity in price in a similar physical space. The same applies to wagons, but less so with coaching stock.
2) The 4mm market is largely flooded There are a hundred possible steam locos to produce that have still not been done, but that ain't where the money is... look at the RRPs. The profit is in diesels. Where can your friendly manufacturer go? 7mm. CAD production makes the upscale easy and in the main the motors and gearing are much the same. The plastic and metal increase is negligible and for the short term (but who knows at the moment) we still have jolly cheap Chinese labour.

The personal reasons are predictable. It has been said that 009 is my natural default home, but this is no longer true. 1) Interests have changed slightly and 2) I'm now in my mid 50s and into varifocals. On Saturday I found myself pondering about new layouts as you do. I've stuck with some sort of 009 layout for years, almost because of social reasons - do these exist now? It used to be a cheap game and although I've got a mountain of suitable bits that would last me a few years I've pretty much exhausted the logical layout ideas. Orne is easy to carry and pack, but not much of an operating animal (it wasn't designed as such) and I drift into railcar operation fairly quickly.

Yes dear movers and shakers, 7mm may well be the future.


  1. 7mm scale is cheap. As you know, I've just finished my 4th 0 scale exhibition and home-use micro. You can get very satisfying operation in much less than 8ft if you like shunting because, as you say, the length of a 7mm 08 equates to that of a 4mm Class 37 et al so there's plenty of space, and don't they look good and run beautifully. I've never paid more than 40 quid for an Atlas switcher online and it can be easily adapted to make a multitude of British outline locos. Goods stock is similarly inexpensive second-hand, and even new items aren't dear these days. Definitely the future.

  2. Hmm...if we have to self-isolate, I suspect we'll have the time to get Gilly's Hornby tinplate out and play...though I guess that's not quite what you meant.
    I reckon that the current influx of ready to run 0 gauge is more likely to put me off having a go at it than encourage me, but then I'm a contrary so-and-so.
    Probably sticking with 009 for now, but in the medium term there's enough stuff in the boxes to see me out in EM, US H0/H0n3 and British N.
    Slightly more left-field there's probably enough bits for a reasonable go at Sn31/2...
    Currently whizzing up the ECML to Leeds for Narrow Gauge North...91 and Mk4 rather than a shiny new Azuma but hopefully I'll get to sample one on the way home.
    Have a good weekend at East Grinstead,

  3. I suspect it's more needing a change for you. 009 is fine BUT you've been doing it for years and need something refreshing and new. I love working in 7mm scale but those tiny details that can be blobs in 4mm, need to be modelled in 7 - so I don't buy the eyesight argument.

    Can't argue with the cost part, except that the reason that 37 is the price it is is that someone finally worked out how much money the firm weren't making a few years ago. Selling models at a loss isn't a good business plan so prices rose. The 08, I just hope their bean counters didn't come from British Leyland where they used to sell cars at a loss too. If it were me, I'd stick £25 on each loco and give myself a little more working capital as it would still be cheap.

  4. Simon, Be careful what you wish for, I've not been impressed commuting by Azuma. Which is odd because I like the GWR ones.

    1. Hi James,
      my train from Leeds back to Kings Cross was a 5-car Azuma, all pretty much as I expected really, it was clean, comfortable and reasonably quiet, especially compared to the ride back to Ashford on the HS1 Javelin!
      I suppose any train will have its niggles if you're on it regularly, my beloved's pet one being the narrow hard 3+2 seating on some varieties of South Eastern 375 which she takes to Cannon Street when not working from home.
      It'll be interesting what people travelling on the East Kent Railway make of the Pacers they've just acquired...a new experience in this corner of England!
      All the best,