Saturday 27 March 2021

Saturday ramble: Modeller? Or Not?

 A few days ago I found myself falling slightly into an RMweb style rant about the P class; just slightly. I try to avoid this, but it tips you into a thought pattern of why? 

A couple of years back I had a conversation over a layout about generational attitudes to modelling. When you look at this through the reverse telescope of RMweb it doesn't quite work, however, the gist is that he and I were of an age where we were more than happy taking a 1970s item and performing various cut and shut operations to get something else. I note that looking back through that bastion of perfectness MRJ, a lot of the earlier issues feature the same sort of operations. Now there seems to be an attitude of 'why can't someone produce a RTR...?' This isn't wrong, no one would find it odd if this were applied to kitchen appliances, but that surely is not what we are about. 

The dictionary definition of modeller is:   a person who makes models of people or things.

Taken to it's logical hair-shirt conclusion, that means making your own motors and filing your own wheel spokes (and describes many S gaugers). And yet many of these 'waiting for the RTR loco' types casually describe themselves as modellers; a person who make models of people or things. Err... no. 
So now I've come over all finescaly again. See how easy it is.

There's a flip side: I'm dripping in admiration for Chris Nevard's work and have yet to find someone who doesn't agree. However if you strip it down to bare bones, much of it is RTR stock, RTP buildings and other easily obtainable commercial items all subtly altered and refined. Modeller... or artist? Then you take the track on Brewhouse Quay and realise that there are only 1 in 500 modellers who could get close or who would even consider doing something like that. Modeller, artist or craftsman? The key here is taking the best of what is available and using it to your best advantage for the particular situation that is requiring of it, and I think he would agree; it's a time thing as much as anything. Why spend hours making something when you can buy something as good or better for a fraction of any hourly rate. Then we are into the thorny question of pastimes and professionals.

What's my point here? Well there isn't one really, only that the word modeller means different things to different people and it is remarkably easy to fall into the trap of getting tribal about others who have a different concept to you. Here's where my line is: buying RTR and running it around Peco setrack is not railway modelling, it's collecting. Change the number, add some weathering, build a few kits, make a few extra parts, is. That's where I would put it, but I'll bet if I wrote that on RMweb I'd get hate mail.

Friday 26 March 2021

Adam Savage spaceship

 *rabbit hole warning*

I came upon this via the Phillip Reed video. Here's the rub: I didn't think that this was my thing; I'm not a sci-fi buff despite having been given tickets for a Star Wars premier. This though made me think of all the (endless) possibilities. In some ways this is the ultimate 'freelance is the easy option'.

It's engaging stuff and even if the root subject is not your thing there is some great modelmaking stuff in here.

Monday 22 March 2021

Hattons P Cass

In an effort to restore some of the missing mojo that I talked about on Saturday I thought a spot of stock upgrading for Dury's Gap was the way forward.
I'd painted a Wills P for the local model shop a few years back and had one on the purchase list, then the Hattons RTR item came out for the same money as the wheels, gears and motor. Quite honestly, it's pretty hard to beat, but was highly shiny and nothing like the finish of a late 50s P.  Once I started painting it I realised that there was even more detail than I'd first though with a layers of pipework all in place. The downside, as with all newer RTR, is that most of this is scale and will fall/knock off if you get within 500 yards. The lamp irons are a particular  problem and I may upgrade to a hole and a staple at some point. The lamp isn't so much a detail as a reinforcing tool.
I tried some photos with a tripod and lights, but for some reason this quick snap with just the room light captures the filth better.


Saturday 20 March 2021

Saturday Ramble: New layouts

 I think I've found the answer. 

I had one of those Facebook photo reminders: 'this is what you were doing a year ago'. This focused the mind slightly as it was a picture of two packages of White Rose baseboards. Wind back a couple of days and I could have replicated the same scene by the front door. This either proves that I'm stunningly accurate with timing or exceedingly tedious and un-bending... take your pick. Self mockery aside what it proves is reason. I've been kicking a couple of 4mm scale ideas around for months with some progress, but little enthusiasm. This can probably be put down to the current social climate - what or who am I building it for? 

These annual packages of plywood are different. Over the last 10-15 years I've built a number of layouts on my own or with Mr. Hill. These have covered most of the popular subjects and a couple of the unpopular ones as well; but they all have one thing in common - they were built for exhibitions. Contrast that to the last two years and now: two layouts built in quite short order... because I had to. The target point in both cases was the November RM and Warley (more of that in a mo) but I didn't have to go through all the head scratching and angst about would this work and what did I want. Both these two layouts were utterly useless to me on a personal level: one has been sold, the other is waiting for a buyer. The point is, they got built. I wasn't trying to prove anything or do something new, they just needed to be efficient in execution.

The above photo is baseboard 1 of 2 for the new Peco in-house N gauge project; it's been started. A small brace of buildings have already been pre-built to act as spacing tools. I have to get this done for a copy deadline of August and possibly Warley should it happen. I'm not staking my life on the later as yet another local show pulled the 2021 date yesterday and of course I'm only seeing the ones to which I had outstanding commitments. The August line is however hard and fast. My answer from the top of the page then is that if I want to build a layout I have to get someone to tell me to do it and give me a finish date.

Friday 19 March 2021

N gauge oil tanks

It's not exactly a struggle, just that my eyes go after a while. I used to read articles where hairy arsed old men said that they'd moved to 7mm scale because they couldn't see the bits anymore. I used to think this was odd as in the larger scale you still get small bits. Whizzing down from 7 to 2 I think I know what they mean. It's not that the bits are small, it's that the bit that they attach to are small as well.

I am now officially a hairy arsed old man.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Airfix railway workers


I was given these. They were sitting at the back of the bench looking at me, so in a moment of wild abandon on Sunday night I painted them.

There's something vaguely organic about painting Airfix figures (yes I know these are the Dapol re-hashes) something which reaches back to pre-teen years trying to get khaki paint to stick to unwashed 8th Army soldiers with too much flesh on show. Yes there are alternatives now. The Monty's and Modleu items are crisper, but to my eye are a little on the big side, not to mention a lot more expensive. The Airfix figures which are now 50+ years old do still stand up to scrutiny and for their day are beautifully cut. The only thing that jars is their ubiquity. This is outweighed by the adaptability: The pinch bar chap bottom right is a shoe -in for a signal man, the two with the lift bars are likewise easily put to sweeping or hoeing.

While the Modleu cab figures are tempting, I can't see rejecting these for general background duties anytime soon.

Saturday 13 March 2021

Saturday Ramble - to bin or not to bin?

I'm having another sort out and reorganisation of stuff. There's a box marked GWR EX and another without the suffix in the cupboard. These contain the stock and associated bits from the Art of Compromise build and things that I did for the GWR book. I worked my way though the boxes last night to ascertain the running qualities and all was well. I'm unlikely to build the AotC again; at least not in its standard form anyway. So what to do with it all?  Here are the options:

  1. Put it all in a bag, hold my nose and put it out for the bin man.
  2. Flog it (I'm never very good at this).
  3. Use it for something else.
Don't think that number one is not a consideration - I've done similar before much to the horror of some people. I really can't be doing with hanging on to £2k worth of modelling stuff for the sake of it like a few I know. If it's got no further use for the medium term, then I'll dump it. There are exceptions of course. I have a small stash of American stuff; enough for a small switching layout, which would be hard to replace especially at anything like the prices that I paid for it even allowing for inflation. But pannier tanks? There will always be pannier tanks. I even found myself drooling over the new Model Rail 16XX this week and making quiet enquires to its quality.

The third way is worth pondering. In total we are talking a possible half a dozen locos and about 20 wagons. Could this form a small sub-project. Most are lettered for a late 1930s period and most (but not all) could have survived in some form into the 1950s at least. Would it be worth a small undertaking of a repaint/renumber/redetail? In other words draw them into the transition period BR stock used for Dury's Gap?

 Or should I just put them out in a black bag?

Friday 12 March 2021

April Railway Modeller

 RM is out now. I'm doing Wills sheet things but apart from that there's a nice plan of the month based around Skye with photos from Tom Dauben's now defunct Isle of Skye 009 layout. Callum's working up a couple of BR road vehicles.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Pub toilets


After the interest of the may-have-been-a-smithy, I offer this taken shortly afterwards. The rear of a small pub. Points to note are the mixed materials on the upper level, the cupola on the gents and the fact that we always skimp on the sheer amount of pipework on buildings. There must be getting on for thirty feet of it in the this tight view. I never know why people always photograph the fronts of buildings when the backs are always more inspiring. There's not more than 20' square of footprint here, but weeks of modelling.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Product of the week?

 Trip to get a new coffee pot from the metropolis of Burgess Hill at the crack of dawn this morning. No coffee pots, but did spot these: fence paint testers at a quid each; the sort of base colours we need for scenics . Not sure what they do yet, but it says that brushes wash out in water, so must be a some sort of acrylic. Worth a punt at that price.

Friday 5 March 2021

Brick smithy

 I've been passing this building for my whole life and yet I've only really noticed it recently. There were seven racing stables in the vicinity, so it's a fair bet that it was a smithy. Hemmed in by Victorian bow windowed terraced houses on one side an a faceless 90s house on the other it looks out of place pre-dating both.

This is a quick phone shot from a week ago, but looking at again now it's a study in brick colour. We tend to hit this from the same point every time (and I'm notoriously crap at it) but this shot has 4-5 basic brick colours and then variations within those. It's a simple scene, but there are probably only a few modellers that could get the subtlety in the finish of this 40' of street front.

Thursday 4 March 2021

O gauge layout for sale

 After much head scratching I've decided to move the O gauge layout Oake on to a new home. Principally because I can't really develop it with out lashing out a load of cash for stock and because it's simply taking up space. Contact me via the profile panel top right to get ahead of the ads in magazines. Price will be very reasonable, but reflect the materials and scale. Ideal for someone who couldn't resist purchasing the lovely RTR 0-4-0s and 0-6-0s like the above.