Saturday 5 December 2020

Saturday Ramble

 A while ago (July 2014) I wrote comment piece for RM praising the benefits of a large home layout. I touched on this briefly in another piece this year. Why is this important? Well it isn't particularly, except in yesterday's post I realised that I'd hit a turning point. Small though it maybe at 21" long the diving board (now with clamped leg)  is a significant shift. Aside from a couple of nailed down bits of track for testing things, I haven't built a baseboard with track on it that wasn't destined in some way no matter how minor for public display for decades - unless you count this page of course. This was built for me. 

Do railway modellers who build exhibition layouts run things at home other that for pre-show testing? In the main I would say no. Even our Mr. Hill with his developing slice of the SR in the back bedroom admits that it doesn't get a lot of running. The exhibition mindset is a deep-seated thing. I started showing things in about 1992-ish and haven't stopped since. The last thing that wasn't designed to wave in front of the public was a little 009 layout bolted to the wall in my first flat. That's more than 25 years ago.

I'm just embarking on another exhibition item (and  possibly another next year for the boss which would be headed for Warley) but I keep asking why? The answer is because I can, because it's what I do and even if it just gets set up in Mr. Hill's spacious lounge and operated for a while, it's ticked the box. 

Does the 21" of the diving board hint at something more significant with the return of exhibition possibly a year away? Does it count as extending around the room and more to the point... a home layout?


  1. Speaking as a confirmed exhibitionist (only at weekends) and the owner of a loft "empire" (more of a rambling New England narrow gauge twig), I must admit that I have plans for both a new exhibition layout, and a new mainly for the home one.
    Up until we were banned from each other's company, my loft layout saw operation once a month, when the crew descended on masse for the monthly operating session. In between little ran, except during the maintenance work needed to keep the thing in mostly running order. For the start of Lockdown litle moved at all, no monthly sessions.
    After a couple of days of track cleaning and wheel cleaning I had a quick "play". It was then I realised why I had done so little on/with it. No NEED to run trains/act as Dispatcher. A few days later, I came up with what was for myself a solution. A set of "community chest cards". On each of sixteen cards is a train for the line, goods/passenger, outlining what I as Dispatcher would ask the crew to drive. Now I can select a card from the pile and run through a couple of them in an evening/afternoon. Two cards has eveolved into four trains:- out and back. The result is that most weeks the line now has a track bashing around two or three times.
    The "exhibition" layouts have seen use with the aid of a set of Sitting Room legs. These allow the erection of a layout with minimal furnture redistribution. As a result some of the stock has actually come close to being run in fully, even though they have puttered around at exhibitions over a period of years.
    The stimulation gained from either exhibition punters/fellow operators or the quips and queries of the operating crew are much missed, but at least the railways are doing what they are really meant to do. To amuse. Thoughts?
    Andrew Knights Mertonford and Pine Tree Rail Road

  2. I have a little play with my under-construction proposed exhibition micro layout most days. Some gentle shunting, just to make sure everything's still working and coupling/uncoupling (Dinghams are brilliant but can go out of alignment when your back's turned). Or just for relaxation.

  3. As a serial builder of exhibition layouts I've had to have a radical rethink about what and why I build. Yes, I miss the thrill(?) of putting on a show for the paying public but don't miss the early mornings, freezing cold/baking hot exhibition halls. Not to mention that gnawing in the pit of your stomach when you're sure a vital piece of equipment had been left several dozen miles away at home and you realise it's too late to go back and get it.
    But, I can't just stop building things. Instead, I've found I'm perfectly happy to share what I'm constructing on forums and social media. For me, this is the way to go, for the foreseeable future.