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To exhibit or not? And a try-out of DCC Concepts Stay-Alive



I've had my house in Cheltenham since September, and Bad Horn has pride of place in the living room. It's running reasonably well, and survived the journey from New Zealand very nicely- the only damage was a wire that had come away. Now I'm fairly settled, aside from the question of the next project, I'm undecided on whether or not to exhibit or not. Bad Horn is very easy to transport, fitting in the boot of a family sized car and only needs three people to make a full day/weekend of running an easy experience. I'm uncomfortably aware of how high modelling standards have become though, and I'm not sure whether my little BLT would stand up to scrutiny amongst the discerning crowd here in the UK. There are many missing details and a few anachronisms. If I run with my ex-DR fleet, the signalling is plain wrong.


There's three questions really- firstly, whether exhibition managers would actually be interested in it or not. I know German doesn't pull a crowd the way a British outline layout does. Secondly, whether I am willing to spend to buy the couple of locomotives I need to ensure I can operate realistically and reliably over a weekend. And thirdly, whether I really want to get tied up in the "scene" again- I've found much greater satisfaction the few years I've been out of things. The first question is easily answered, I just have to ask around. The second- well, if someone wanted to have Bad Horn on display, I think I'd jump at the excuse to buy a couple of locos. The third is tricky. I really enjoy anonymity, and going to Warley without having anyone talking scene politics at me was great.


If I don't exhibit, Bad Horn doesn't really have a future with me. I'm itching to build something new to a higher standard, rather than the budget approach I took when building BH. I've learned rather more about work order, and about the finer details of German railway as well. I don't have the space for multiple layouts at the moment, and as Bad Horn was not expensive to build I'd lose little sleep over scrapping it. But I can't forget the fact that it's the first layout I've built for exhibition with no-one else's help, and for that I should be proud. And it would be quite a buzz to say that I've exhibited it in both hemispheres!


Anyway, I've recently attempted to address an issue with running Bad Horn. The trackwork is Piko A-Track, which has plastic frogs. The double slip is troublesome for my Roco BR 364, as it is possible for half the wheels to be on plastic at any one time while crossing. Stalls were frequent, and I'd pretty well given up on using it. This left me short for my Epoch IV fleet (that which Bad Horn was built for!), so I really did want to try and sort her out. At Warley I picked up a DCC Concepts decoder with a Stay-Alive module, and installed it in the 364. After a little head scratching, I realised there was space alongside the cardan shaft without risk of fouling, and so got it fitted.




Then came testing. I did film it before and after fitting, but I'm afraid the "before" film has terrible heavy breathing on it, so I won't share that. Anyway, I'm not totally sold. Although not as prone to stalling as before, there's still stuttering over the slip and it can stop entirely. I'm aware that I can add further Stay-Alive modules for enhanced performance, but the enhancement falls some way short of demonstrations that I've seen of Lenz USP with Power 1. That said, it's a lot cheaper. The video below is with Stay-Alive.



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I think you have a point regarding exhibition layouts and in general the increasing standards , this can only be a good thing , but , on the other side of the coin it can lead to self-doubt and dismissing of your own abilities and layout.


Regarding signalling , to be honest , unless you went to a very specialist exhibition , I can't see too many picking fault with the signals you have , and to cite an example, Dresden Neustadt did until recently have semaphore signals - whether the DR semaphores were notably different to DB ones I really couldn't say , they looked like the sort of thing that Viessmann make so that would be good enough for me. Now , if it was colour lights then that might be different with the ex DR Hl signals...


As for layout subject , I'd have thought something a bit different from a TMD or GWR BLT would be most welcome , if only for the visual differences.

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Mmm, know the issues.

I've found exhibiting gives modelling a purpose, rather than aimlessly fidgeting around with whatever hairbrain scheme pops into my mind at the workbench.

But on the flip side, it dictates what you need to do by a given date - in so doing sucking some enjoyment out of the workbench evenings, making things a chore occasionally.


As a non- or loosely- affiliated club member nowadays, I've found it much easier to avoid the politics. I'm just not interested, and the kind folk who regularly help me out don't seem to be either.


So yeah, on balance I'd go for it.

But only on your terms.

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What Jamie said, basically. Politics exists outside my little bubble, with which I'm quite content - you don't have to engage with the strongly-opinionated if you don't want to.


I find the motivation of deadlines vital, what I'm trying to learn at the moment to convert the rush of getting something done on time into motivation for steady progress *after* the show. Most difficult, since I keep getting distracted, currently by Russian warships of all things.

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Now , if it was colour lights then that might be different with the ex DR Hl signals...


Therein lies the problem... Bad Horn uses DB Hp light signals!


it dictates what you need to do by a given date - in so doing sucking some enjoyment out of the workbench evenings, making things a chore occasionally.

I find the motivation of deadlines vital


I can identify with both sides of the argument as far as deadlines go. I don't think Bad Horn would have been completed in anything like the timescale it was if I hadn't been invited to a show. On a small project such as this there wasn't too much tedium, but if I had a large layout that needed ballasting or all the track painting it would be a different story.


The next slot at my local exhibition is 2015(!), so that's a deadline to complete something really impressive by. I suppose if nothing else Bad Horn offers me a fallback should a follow-on project not be completed in time!


At this moment there are three contenders for the next project: trains running through a landscape in N, an H0 depot (I'm watching ebay for Fleischmann turntables at the moment!) and an O14 canal restoration scene. I may work on two (or all three) concurrently to give me an escape should I hit a wall on one.

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I think there's still a lot of potential with Bad Horn , it's more about setting the location - If it were somewhere on the former border between East and West , perhaps with a re-opened link towards the East after unification , then the Hp signals and theme become far more viable in terms of ex DR stock appearing.

Contrived - perhaps , but there was some mingling off ex DB and DR motive power , ie class 216s at Nordhausen.

As I said in my earlier post , unless you're at a specialised exhibition , I can't see too many picking fault , and especially as the locos and stock are well matched.

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