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An exit strategy




Progress of my entire ‘Shelf Island’ system and indeed my British 1:87 scale effort has faltered this Autumn as I completed ‘Shelf Marshes’ as far as a basic railway with all of its tracks and electrics in place but no landscape. For some reason, I don’t want to do the scenery, even though this is always one the most enjoyable parts of building a layout. I like the ‘bare but engineered’ look, above as well as below the baseboard. I suspect, my stumbling block is working up the track to look realistic in its industrial setting. This needs a lot of experimentation on scrap track.


At the same time, I feel we are living in a golden age of railway modelling and I am missing out on some incredibly good RTR models because I am devoting my efforts to a niche application of 1:87 scale, where all commercial support is accidental (like Continental ferry wagons) or archaic. Added to this, my near-distance eyesight is not as good as it was. I only really see my models clearly in photographs, which is probably why I take so many photographs.


Almost all of "Shelf Island" has no scenery and this is because I need to bring individual baseboards out into the middle of the room to work on them. When I do this, I need to put up a folding table; it works well enough but it dominates the room and I have to slide it backwards and forwards to move around the room and get to cupboards.


Back in the summer I tidied this table, but instead of doing the sensible thing and extracting ‘Shelf Marshes’ from its alcove and starting the ballasting, I treated myself to two yards of of Peco 0 gauge track instead. This being somewhere to run the Minerva Manning Wardle I  bought during the summer. So I wasn't missing out on this golden age. The K class is a rather beautiful thing and shorter than most of my H0 locos to boot. A way to build a light railway, and a prototype which looks good in 7mm scale. The model ran perfectly from the box but then it looked a bit lonely so I bought it two Dapol wagons to keep it company and give it a bit of purpose, and then I added a Setrack point and a third yard of track to this arrangement. Then I built a simple baseboard to keep this on. And now I am finishing off my third kit-built wagon.


The good thing now is I can see my way out of British H0: an 0 gauge micro, and the option to build a small 0 gauge set up in another room or possibly the garden. This will satisfy me, because I know 00 gauge will not, and I can feel myself running out of steam with H0. I have not been happy with 00 since my teens (I am now in my late 50s) and successive attempts at N, EM, 00 and even S have not satisfied or not worked out or both.


There are two design faults in my original ‘Shelf Island’ module, a too-abrupt change in a gradient and a mistake in my wiring for DCC. It would be sensible to choose this baseboard to extract first to put these right, and to pick up the scenics here. The practice/revision gained would help me to make ‘Shelf Marshes’ better, and this last module is the most promising one for exhibitions. I can also add a Magnorail installation to 'Wellwood' and I think ‘Shelf Island’ would then reach its completion. I will have a model railway where short trains can go from one destination to a variety of others, and hopefully this will be more interesting for a home layout than a simple terminus to fiddle yard.


I will neatly side-step returning to 4mm scale, and still end up with model trains I can run on my friends' 16.5 and 32 mm gauge layouts.

Edited by 47137

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  • RMweb Gold

I think that's fair enough. The sunk costs fallacy is always worth bearing in mind even though calling it a day on a project is a difficult step to take.

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  • RMweb Gold
3 hours ago, Corbs said:

I think that's fair enough. The sunk costs fallacy is always worth bearing in mind even though calling it a day on a project is a difficult step to take.


Right now, I want to pay someone to ballast the layout. I just hate the task and I am rarely if ever satisfied with my efforts. But I am so finicky I wouldn't wish anyone to take on the job.


I think most of us on the RMweb enjoy building things and running trains, but most of us prefer one or the other. For me it is making things. Arguably I have met an end stop because I cannot build any more layout (I have filled the space available) and I am struggling to make much fresh rolling stock.


Also, I am finding it vastly easier to make a model wagon in 7mm scale rather than 3.5mm. A cynic might say this is because I can buy kits for 0 but not H0, but as I begin my fourth 7mm wagon kit I can see some scratch building becoming possible. In comparison most of my H0 efforts are cut and shuts and heavy modifications of 00 and H0 RTR, because this is the only approach I have the ability to get to work. The scale is too small for me to build much from scratch, and I have run out of ideas for new conversions.


Some friends I have met through the RMweb have sent me 3D prints and detail parts and I certainly owe it to them to use these parts. So I can see a few items of rolling stock to finish the project off.

Edited by 47137
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  • RMweb Gold
22 hours ago, Corbs said:

I think that's fair enough. The sunk costs fallacy is always worth bearing in mind even though calling it a day on a project is a difficult step to take.


To try to give a more focussed reply. To be honest I don't really understand the idea of "sunk costs". I cannot recover the time I have spent on the project but I wouldn't want to. I have enjoyed building all of it except some of the woodwork. I intend to enjoy building the scenery too but taking a break before doing this won't do me any harm.


What I might do, is remove the original baseboard (the one with "intertwined micros") and work it up as a separate 00 layout, as a playground for my collection of 00 shunters. This is what I built it for in the first place but I got sidetracked when I saw a Roco 350hp shunter (the English Electric one like a class 11). Move this baseboard to another room. Build a new fiddle yard for the combination of Wellwood and Shelf Marshes, and a lengthy branch from this fiddle yard to Fairport. Use the space in front of this branch (where the original baseboard sits at the moment) for a compact 0 gauge scheme. So I don't think I will "lose" much of what I have built so far, but maybe reconfigure it.


The biggest mistake I made was to build a layout (the first baseboard) first and then try to write the back story. The 0 gauge project is getting its history first (I have lots already), and then the layout built to suit. Quite possibly a year compiling the history and only then making the might-have-been layout.

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Hi Richard,

A change is as good as a rest, so they say.

Good for you, take plenty of time off from the H0, enjoy some lovely 0 scale modelling then maybe run a few H0 trains up and down and I suspect the mojo may return.

If not, no matter - just continue to enjoy the 0 scale and as time passes, then decide what to do with the H0.

I’ll certainly stay in touch and follow what you do because we have made friends and what we individually model doesn’t matter. Not to mention that you’re a good modeller!

I’ve contemplated taking up military modelling or even giving up modelling and starting refurbishing old tractors or plant equipment but frankly, I can’t really see that happening. When I need a change, I just look at American or European stuff instead.



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  • RMweb Gold

There are several H0 models I want to build. In no particular order these might be

- another class 33 or even a 27 on the Life-Like chassis, but analogue not DCC

- a courier van (BR Mk1 conversion)

- a Wickham railbus

- a timber flat based on the Roco Habfis chassis

- a better VGA van

- a USA tank (S100 derivative)

- a BR Mk1 corridor composite

- a freelance railbus

- some mineral wagons (Playcraft hacks)

- a traditional ventilated van

- some Mk2b coaches (Lima modified)


I have most of the parts for all of these and of course more. Supposing I build four or five more 7mm wagons between now and the Spring then I will have enough for my light railway. I will still have a need to make things, and if I stay with model trains (this seems likely!) this can be something from this list or theH0 scenics, or a 7mm goods shed. I am not abandoning H0 but I do think "Shelf Island" has to come to an end as a project somewhen. I have had a previous go at 7mm scale amd also the USA 1:48 equivalent, both ended in failure (though I sold most of the bits on) but somehow this time things are working out a lot better. Quite possibly, skills evolved in H0 are helping.


The path to satisfaction is founded in making a model of a railway (real or not) and not a model of other people's models. My 7mm project will be a lot more focussed than my list of H0 models here.

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  • RMweb Gold

This is my test track for 0 gauge:



So it isn't really taking up much space.


I am allowing myself this board (c. 7 square feet) plus one cube in a Kallax for all my items 0 gauge, until I eventually settle on a design for a layout. Then the test track can go.

Edited by 47137
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