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Changing scale (or track/wheel standards) mid-life is a big decision, but I would say that one's forties is a good time to do it: one can cut one's teeth and acquire the skills etc by then. But a half-hearted attempt is a bad idea - I think that the commitment needs to be fairly full-on for it tobe a success.

 

It also depends on what one wants. In his mid-thirties, Trevor was about to start building (from scratch) an 00 finescale Ivatt class 2 mogul - he had been heavily involved with the Bury St. Edmunds club and the Abbotsford layout, and was modelling the trains of his youth. He and a friend happened across the SGMRS (as we then were) stand at an MRC show circa 1973, they liked the size, he went home and built a wagon body, decided he liked it, and realised that this gave him an ideal opportunity to change era, which he had been considering in any case. A test-track/small layout evolved, and Wicken was born - the archetypal branch terminus, requiring two locos, two coaches and about a score of wagons. It was meant to last two years, but lasted about ten times as long. It didn't all appear all at once: I remember seeing it in the late 70s with rather a lot of MET goods stock (loaned by that late Alan Cruickshank), but by the early 80s it was self-sufficient. Just as well, as over the next decade there were a few scenic improvements (signal ladders, point rodding, hedgerows, etc) and a few items of rolling stock, including a loco which took 9 years to complete. This was all due to increased demands on his time from work and a growing family, etc.

 

East Lynn was started when Trevor was in his early fifties, and we went to quite a few shows with timber carcasses for buildings, and unpainted zinc coaches (although only once - "The Scale Show"). Stock was built up alongside the buildings, and there was about enough by the end of the 1990s. This was only really possible because Trevor had the option to take early retirement, alongside doing some contracting work for his ex-employers over a few more years. Other than opera and drama (listening and viewing) Trevor has few other hobby interests, so when in the mood, can model for several hours a day. He can also happily ignore it for weeks when he is not in the mood.

 

The nucleus of stock built for Wicken is quite small, and could be removed from East Lynn/Nunnstanton without significant impact. What this means is that something as big and large as East Lynn and Nunnstanton was effectively all built over little more than 15 years, which shows what can be done from scratch with a few bits and fewer kits, with the right amount of dedication - you have to be prepared to overcome and work around "obstacles", and it requires devotion to the cause.

 

To put it into perspective, the amount of model building time that was put into those fifteen years probably equates to 5 years of full-time employment. Not an issue if you have spare time, and are prepared to put about 1/3 of your time into it - round about a morning per weekday, if you think about it.

 

The interesting thing is that Trevor knows "Wicken" to have inspired quite a few to have a go at S: it was a very achievable size of layout. Lots of people admire East Lynn, but many of them find the prospect of such a commitment daunting. Trevor now worries about putting people off...

 

Personally, I think it simply shows what can be done with sufficient commitment, not what has to be done.

 

Simon, many thanks for the interesting insights into the story of Wicken and East Lynn.

 

I can see exactly what you mean and if my circumstances were anything like those of Trevor, my hobby would probably follow a similar path.

 

I am quite lucky that I have the best job in the world as a professional model maker so I don't really want to retire. I have some really good clients, several of whom have become more friend than business associate.

 

I tend to get a good deal of variety in scales and subject matter through the work. This has included everything from scratchbuilding locos through to going away from home for a few days at a time to work on layouts.

 

When I started earning a crust from such things some folk said that it would spoil my hobby but it has been quite the opposite.

 

As for layouts, I really feel that I have done that and worn the T shirt. Since the late 70s I have been involved with building and exhibiting layouts and I have trouble keeping count of how many I have been involved with over the years.

 

I have around 9 or 10 now, including several that would be in the same "small and achievable" category as Wicken.

 

The "game changer" for me has been Buckingham. I have never been able to set any but the smallest layouts up at home. None of these ever satisfied my desire to have something that was interesting enough to want to operate at home. But having a comprehensive layout like Buckingham, which is far more fun to operate than any I have built, permanently set up in a purpose built shed has totally changed my perception of how I enjoy my own modelling.

 

The urge to build yet another fairly simple layout for exhibitions has almost gone and what I look forward to most now is having a friend or two round for a session on what I firmly believe is the best layout ever built. Apart from that, most of my friends are a good deal older than me and if I was to embark on a long term layout project in any scale, it would have to be for exhibition use and I may have nobody still fit enough and willing to lug baseboards around in 10 years time.

 

So if the RTR manufacturers were to flood the market with Great Central stuff, my response wouldn't be to change scales but to change period. One or more of the present smaller layouts would be backdated, requiring a repaint of stock, perhaps some new chimneys and fittings and a whole new look for the minimum effort.

 

Having said all that, can anybody explain why there is a part built GCR Atlantic in 7mm on my workbench? Or why I keep looking at what route a garden railway in O gauge would take?

 

Where are the good folk in the white coats when I really need them?

 

Cheers,

 

Tony

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Really pleased to read Simon's description of Trevor Nunn's "East Lynn' as I had the privilege to help operate this a few years ago at the Macclesfield exhibition. It really is a beautiful and inspirational model and is one of the very few near 100% scratch-built model railways that I've ever seen. I think this takes us back to Beal's book as there was the presumption back then that an 'old-time' layout would be wholly scratch-built (bar the odd cut'n'shut conversion of the Essar tank engine body) and this association between pre-group and scratch-building certainly still held when I started out in the hobby back in the mid-1970s. Which brings me back to my original musings on pre-group inspiration as I always was and still am more taken with scratch-built layouts (I really don't like the word but can't think of anything better) even if they aren't of such a high standard as ones composed of today's amazing quality r-t-r models. Thinking about it then, my interest in the pre-grouping era might be largely due  to my interest in model-making and scratch-building  with the choice of pre-group railway coming from being born and bred in West Cumberland (as was). 

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Ah, but do you, in fact, have a white coat?

 

I think we might want to be a bit careful here.

 

Unless in the next few years we want 2 out of every 3 exhibition or magazine-featured layouts to be blue diesel era, we might want to help break the generational nostalgia cycle (I model what was around when I was a boy) by promoting diversity of period.   It strikes me that we won't do that if we take the attitude that it's good that the hoi polloi don't have the skills, or the time, to model a given railway/period combination we might cherish.

 

I think we need to balance the good that is the promotion of modelling and the acquisition of skills with the need to make ever more diverse subjects reasonably accessible so that people can feel they can at least have a go.

 

Hence, I think, we come round to the OP; the need for a book that give much needed guidance regarding the older periods and prototype practice, but, I suggest, combined with something on how to model it from the start.  If you read Iain Rice's seminal tome, he surveys what is available, and gently guides the reader (a potential beginner), in the direction of greater, yet reasonably realisable, realism. 

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I model what was around when I was a boy

I seem to be modelling what was around when I was 3 for my "modern image" layout, and what was around when my Dad was 3 for the more interesting stuff. I'll have to check when my Grandad was 3, to see if that's a suitable date for the even earlier models!

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Having said all that, can anybody explain why there is a part built GCR Atlantic in 7mm on my workbench? Or why I keep looking at what route a garden railway in O gauge would take?

 

Tony

 

 

Beware of 7mm, Tony! It is an infectious disease for which there is no known cure, Except death. It will empty your bank account, and you will discover that the small parts are just as small as the small parts in 4mm. It's just that there's more of them. I started with a single wagon, for the mantelpiece. And that was it!

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There are plenty of companies which are never likely to have commercial support - Just looking at South Wales, the Rhymney has had three locos in 4mm, and as far as I know only two wagons, and the only passenger stock was from Trevor Charlton. Much of that is no longer available. The Taff Vale has a little more but the Barry very little and the Neath & Brecon nothing that I know of and the Brecon & Merthyr not much more. That's without looking at the Llanelly area companjies - a standard gauge Fairlie anyone? And it you want to be sure you have to build your own locos and don't want to build passenger stock there are outfits such as Powesland & Mason - but you would want a garage full of coal wagons to go with the locos. Now I come to think of it a model of Swansea docks would be very interesting with lots of scope (I have seen an SHT wagon modelled) but it would be the size of Retford.

 

I'll stick with the Rhymney.

 

Jonathan

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Many thanks for the offers of help with the sanity issues. I will keep them on file just in case!

 

I have been led astray by seeing some stunning 7mm models built by various people, including "Dibateg" of this forum.

 

Originally I bought the kit with a few to building it to sell and I was going to do that until "proper" commission jobs came in but as that started almost on day one and it has been sitting there asking me to build it for around 6 years, I am now doing it for myself.

 

It may well just end up a display model and I may never have a layout to run it on but I know some good folk with O gauge layouts where it can be a visitor. I am really enjoying it, working with big chunks of metal for a change.

 

At least it is still GCR and a 7mm Atlantic in full GCR livery should be a thing of great beauty if I can manage to paint it. It would be a good one to send of to somebody like Mr Rathbone but my personal modelling budget just won't let it go there!

 

I will never give up my beloved Buckingham or my other EM involvements but I do have a friend who works quite happily in 4 and 7mm and it does make a nice change.

 

Tony

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