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Photographer, scribbler, model maker, beer fancier, self confessed train nutter & general nerd.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

'OO' bullhead ready to lay track system

I think there would be enourmous demand for a ready made 16.5mm bullhead UK outline track - just look at how many club layouts use SMP with copperclad points. I may model 00, but I do consider myself a serious modeller, there is alot more to creating something that looks real than a couple of mm in the gauge - especially when viewing side on. Dare I say it, but there are alot of EM/P4 layouts out there that don't look that real, despite correct gauge (and there are alot of really stunning layouts too). What does matter though, is that flat-bottomed trackwork looks nothing like traditional british bullhead rail and chairs, this to me is far more important than the gauge. Bullhead rail isn't unique to the UK, I've seen versions of it in northern Europe too.

I have the feeling that Peco are rather stuck with their heads in the ground, proof there is that they only just discovered the internet a couple of years ago. The problem is, that unless they move on, somebody else is going to knock something up in China and push them out of any potential market before they even get there. With several European and US producers now producing superior flatbottomed trackwork, they're already slipping behind I magine. Remember, we're only taking about a bit of plastic moulding with rails in, not a new car.

If the cost is a little more, I'm sure that won't be a barrier to those that really want a good product, after all we don't think twice about paying good money for a quality RTR locomotive or stock? Whilst many modellers can't spend the money, there are many that can and will.

The P4 Track Company, SMP & C&L are almost there, it only takes one of them to make that final leap - I'm sure one of them will very soon. Peco, despite behaving much like the stork, will then have missed the boat unless they can then produce something better and cheaper. I think that might well happen, they'll then take the plunge after a third party has proven that there is a real demand.

I predict we'll have ready to lay 'OO' bullhead complete track system within three years.

Friday, 2 March 2007

And then there was light ....

I've been playing on and off with model railways since 1978, though like many people, I get bored from time to time and venture off into other hobbies like messing about with old cars etc (then get fed up because it all costs too much). Railways, whether model making or photographing the real thing, always come bouncing back! So with almost 30 years down the line (excuse pun there), I guess this crazy hobby is in the blood!

My model making 'skills', I seriously believe to be minimal, though if I can use a bodge to create the illusion of something better I will. I approach the subject in a very impressionistic (is that a word?) way, firmly believing that a balanced overall composition with correct colouring, does far more to create the effect of reality than correct bolts and spokes. I feel that many 'fine scale' modellers are far too obsessed with fine detail and neglect the over all feel of a layout, this then results in something, whilst supposedly 'correct' doesn't look real at all. Each to their own of course, if we all liked the same, we'd all be producing the same sort of thing - which would be very dull indeed!

What inspires me?

1/ Copenhagen Fields - well, never seen it for real, but the pictures of it look stunning.
2/ That big German riverside layout at Warley '06 - about 400 ft long....
3/ Much of the content of Voie Libre (French narrow gauge modelling mag) - Francois Fontana, the editor, just has that rare knack of spotting really inspiring work - then capturing it so beautifully as digits and then in turn to the printed page.
4/ More or less anything S&DJR - with Enginewood & Bleakhouse Road topping the list.
5/ Rye - an EM gauge 'what if' fictitious extension of the K&ESR. Last saw it once 5 years ago, I fear this layout has been retired.
6/ Everything at Pendon.
7/ Most of the output of Hull MRS! The guys show extraordinary vision for a club and they're always looking 'outside the box'.
8/ Barry Norman's layout in a recent BRM.

Dislikes (I'll probably get into trouble here):

1/ Big club layouts modelled with no vision (always going to problem with anything designed by a committee I imagine? There are exceptions of course - just look at Dewsbury Midland and Romsey for starters) just doing the same old same old....
2/ Big flat test tracks, often seen at shows with poor basic scenery, pretending to be layouts with stock flying around at break neck speed.
3/ Woodland Scenics (or any other similar brand) bits of bright green foam, pretending to be grass. Grass is fibrous, in real life, one foot square bright green bath sponges would never look like grass in my wildest deams - unless of course I'd been smoking the stuff?
4/ No back scenes (how can a beer belly be a more realistic backdrop to the punter at a show - cover it up, a backscene is ideal for that!).
5/ Grubby & tatty back scenes.
6/ Backscenes painted with a tar brush (with lots of bits in it, ideally dark emerald green gloss) using one's left foot.
7/ Square corners in backscenes (bad energy?).
8/ Scruffy unfinished baseboard edges & tatty bits of rag on the front of layouts at shows, so often held in place with drawing pins.
9/ No lighting - a simple spot on a pole is better than nothing?
10/ Cars, figures & bikes replicating something that should be obviously moving, but they're static. Cars & lorries should be parked or waiting at junctions (which if in London, means hours). Stationary poses for figures, sitting or standing still. Bikes mid flight, but stationary.. ahhhhhhhggg no....