I've started this thread to open up a discussion on narrow gauge modelling in 014 as I feel now is the time and this is the place. I'm aware that there is a dedicated narrow gauge forum, which I also contribute to, but there are some very experienced narrow gauge modellers in the scale/gauge combo on this forum.
Personally, most of my modelling is in standard gauge 7mm Gauge 0, light and industrial railways. However I wanted to start a narrow gauge project, and having done both 012 and 09 layouts [Groudle Glen and Irton Road respectively] in past
years decades, it wasn't going to be either of those. 016.5 does not appeal to me, as while it is suitable for representing 2'3"-2'6" prototypes, too many of the layouts I see are rather formulaic, and it is not accurate for 2ft/60cm gauge unless you go to 8mm/foot scale. I'm not going to a smaller scale, having sold off most of the 009 stock, nor upscale to Gn15, 1/35 or whatever. So 014 was the choice.
The history of 014 seems to be that the modeller/designer to whom we owe a great deal, Roy Link, started it off in the 1980's with a set of fine scale track standards based on the Robert Hudson portable railways catalogue, and a little range of track parts, gauges, Rugga skips and chassis for other wagon types, and some locos including a Lister RailTruck and Ruston LAT and then LBT. All beautifully designed and engineered. Other designer-makers entered the scene and for a while it was pretty healthy. Wrightlines made a lot of kits which could run on either 014 or 016.5, and the gauge started to be more widely adopted. Some very fine layouts have been built, including 'Rhyd' [Ffestiniog Railway], 'Brookford' and 'The End of the Line' [picture below] at opposite ends of the size bands, but all highly influential. As is 'Denton Brook' today.
The problem for new entrants to 014 is that not a lot is now available. Roy Link sold his range to KB Scale, who developed it for some years with additional loco kits, but none are now available, partly due to the Mashima motors no longer being produced, and the 'core' wagon kits and essential track gauges and point crossing jigs are not available either. The business appears to be in hibernation. There are probably good reasons for this, but without this range it is harder and much less attractive for new modellers of average confidence and ability [ie, like me] to start in 014.
Add to this that Wrightlines was acquired by ABS and is totally unavailable; the resin mine wagons and items from Black Dog are only patchily available at a few shows; Nonneminstre don't respond to enquiries for their loco kits; and a number of the other producers on the list of 014 manufacturers are no longer producing:
It's not all bad news, and locos are not so much of a problem, if you can assemble a kit. Mark Clark [Locos'n'stuff] produces well designed loco kits and a very handy motor bogie; Mark Hesketh produces a O&K MD2 complete kit which is again very well designed; and EDM have a chassis under development for Hunslet quarry locos and other kits, parts and goodies are available or promised.
If you look at recent and forthcoming shows, 014 layouts are very thin on the ground; nothing at the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association AGM or EXPONG this year - no bias by the organisers, simply a shortage of new layouts to fly the flag. I do have a little project under way, and have been relearning to build points for the past three months, so my humble efforts can wait until a future post.
The question for now is, does 014 have a future? If so, what is it? Will it become a tiny niche scale/gauge combination, in which case we're going to need a bit more mutual help between modellers? Will it attract more trade support and especially an intervention to replace or re-introduce the KB Scale jigs, gauges, and wagon kits? Or is it just going to fade away?