Saturday 25 April 2020

Saturday Ramble

It's been a funny week, but then aren't they all now?
I got asked to leave a Facebook group. No names, no pack drill. As far as I could see it was because I questioned the wisdom of an exhibition manager picking layouts, or not, dependant on the coupling used: i.e. tension locks were not permitted. This seemed ridiculous to me and I pointed out that AJs and Sprat and Winkle were both basically tension locks so did it include those? I then got a short lecture on 'the finescale ethos' which I was fairly familiar with so didn't really need the patronising 'you're talking to the experts now sonny' tone, but there you have it. Draw your own conclusions.

I can't remember who, what or when, but there was a line in an RM article years ago which went something like 'once you get away from 3 links, it doesn't matter what you use'. I pretty much agree with this and tend to use what works the most efficiently for the particular project: I use Kadees for the American HO because it's set up for it, Svanda uses the standard Euro loops (which are essentially a reversed T/L) the 009 is usually the Greenwich/Bemo types and the British 4mm gets the smallest T/Ls usually a mix of Airfix type hooks and a Dapol wider loop.

To some extent this is all about exhibiting and showbusiness. I want reliable auto-coupling and a quick flip with a coupling hook to disengage and don't want to be faffing about yo-yo-ing over  a reluctant magnet which will doubtless be on the wrong place and nor do I want to fiddle with links. Neither of these are particularly visually attractive to punters, so I go for efficiency and speed over looks. Does this make me a lesser modeller? Well, no.

My argument, or rather my comment in this case, suggests that this is snobbery and nothing less. If you don't wear these clothes, go to this restaurant, use these couplings that you don't deserve to mix with us regardless of you modelling ability. I did think (hoped) that these sort of sentiments had died about a decade ago - obviously not.
All a bit of a shame.


  1. How sad that some people are still so intense about the hobby they lose the bigger picture and any sense of fun or perspective. The phrase "How many angels can balance on the point of a pin?" comes to mind. It's just as silly. To be truthful, about the last thing I notice when looking at any layout at an exhibition is the coupling system used. I replace the near-prototypical Kadees on my O scale American stock with Dinghams, because I like 'em and the way they work. Nobody has ever pointed this out, complained or shouted "Heresy". But perhaps I haven't run across that particular Exhibition Manager yet. Just as well...

  2. As a long time abuser of the humble paper clip I concur, use what suits YOU and fits with the project. I know of one trader who was incensed when a well know modelling magazine published, as part of a layout article, that I used couplers and point drives made from paper clips. His main question was what was wrong with enourmous lumps of plastic at several pounds per wagon? Well those two factors for a start!
    I admit to erring on the side of the magnetic/Kadee two step over hand operation, but that is mainly because I sit at the front of the layout, and not behind it. The hand of "God" is one thing the constant chorus of "excuse me excuse me!" could be tedious. Yes so can finding THAT magnet, especially when a video camera is on. But then did THEY ASK if they could video the model?
    Andrew Knights (In case of enforced anonimity!)

  3. Rule 1 applies. It's your railway and if it works and your happy use it :-)

  4. Use what works for you but don't knock anyone else's choice. Modelling is a broad church, we have our own reasons for adopting that coupling/gauge/scale/location etc. Personally I enjoy seeing the different ways folk tackle our hobby, its just one of the things that makes it so interesting.

  5. Hi Chris.

    This is a common issue across all sorts of hobbies and occupations, not just railway modelling.

    Some folk become heavily invested in a particular mindset (often because other parts of their lives are unsatisfactory) and as a consequence react in negative ways to other people's views.

    It is all about them and they experience any deviation from their own beliefs as a personal attack.

    Stuff them. I've been through the mill on this one and have concluded that for 4 mm / 00 with small tension locks are good enough. I'm of an age where pursuing some sort of mystical nirvana in terms of couplings and the exact gauge between rails is a waste of time.