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Where has everyone gone?

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26 minutes ago, Ref44 said:

The three days quoted is the time between getting the ransom note and getting the parcel after paying. There can't have been too much of a holdup in the overall process; the bits were only ordered on the 18th of this month

I pay on-line and generally get the delivery the next working day (includes Saturday for Royal Mail, but not for Parcelfarce) but the delays before then can be horrendous.

I have seen USPS tracking reporting safe arrival in the U.K., but PF tracking has it recorded as still in the USA 4 days later.

Then we get the dispatch to Coventry, etc. I reckon the “handling fee” is more than offset by the extra journey time and storage costs.

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I found a couple of 2 rail Weaver O scale U25B's on ebay a couple of years ago. A 3 rail model shop in Los Angeles.

 

http://www.milepost38modeltrains.com/

 

They had a low buy it now price (one £100 & one £80) but the international shipping / customs added around £30 each - this goes up the more expensive the item). I bought them both. Tracked halfway across the states the dealer told me he had sent the wrong package and intercepted them via ebay to be returned, and sent the right ones straight away. Four more days to reach Cincinnati , then put on a Virgin airways flight I had them two days later. The ebay tracking etc worked well though I'll not buy again on ebay from the States - the international shipping / duty is now just too expensive.

 

Anyway the locos arrived on, 100% OK. I gave the dealer 100% positive feedback. One was a Santa Fe unit, the other was repainted as a US Army loco in drab green. I was intending to repaint it Rock Island maroon - but for now the Army livery stays - it's very well done & decalled - it's unusual also so I'll keep it as is.

 

I also found a Southern Pacific U25B on ebay in the UK for £80 - stated DCC fitted, bad running. When this arrived I junked the DCC chip & it's wiring - and it ran perfectly !!!!! Good buy.

 

Brit15

Edited by APOLLO
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5 hours ago, Philou said:

An idle question to those of you that model the US scene - given that 'man caves' are of a generous size (though seemingly their use is changing to things more domesticated) - is the scale more towards 0 or H0? I ask simply as despite the lack of room (generally) in the UK, 0 suddenly seems to be making a very strong comeback.

No. HO is still dominant in US outline. US O Scale is mostly 3-rail - how else is the average American mindset going to fit in such basement essentials as a helix & balloon tracks??

Scale 2-rail is very much a minority interest in the USA, never mind here. There isn't anywhere near the choice in O that there is in HO. Some 3-rail can be converted to 2-rail, with rolling stock it might be as simple as swapping trucks & couplers, but it's added expense all the same.

 

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11 hours ago, jamessolomon said:

The price of shipping from the States sometimes puts me off buying from there as an example I decided to look at fixing a noisy Bachmann USA loco but the postage on a simple motor was more than the price of the motor itself which begs the question why do some charge stupid shipping rates.

 

11 hours ago, AndrewC said:

Got this info from a friend who deals with a lot of exporting from the US. The USPS is using their parcel fees to try and subsidise the rest of the service, that loses money hand over fist. 

 

The USPS (United States Postal Service) used to be the best choice as their shipping costs were substantially lower than the private alternatives (UPS, FedEx).

 

But over 10 years ago Congress put an end that by burdening the USPS with a unique requirement that no other company has - the USPS must, by law, prefund retiree health benefits of its current employees, which means calculating and covering costs 50+ years into the future.  This put a significant additional yearly cost onto the USPS, and given letter-mail postage costs are regulated by Congress the only way to make up the money was with parcels.

 

 

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13 hours ago, Philou said:

An idle question to those of you that model the US scene - given that 'man caves' are of a generous size (though seemingly their use is changing to things more domesticated) - is the scale more towards 0 or H0? I ask simply as despite the lack of room (generally) in the UK, 0 suddenly seems to be making a very strong comeback.

 

Heljan had an advantage when they decided to do RTR O in as much as RTR O in the UK was essentially dead, which allowed them to create a market for accurate(ish) 2 rail O.

 

In the US, 3-rail toy like (sharp curves) O never disappeared, with Lionel still around (despite some struggles) and MTH moving into 3-rail in a big time.  This means there doesn't tend to be an accurate scale model market in RTR O in the US, which limits the interest.

 

So for example, on being asked about scaling up some of their models to O, Rapido Trains have been clear in saying now because the size of market is just too small once you remove the 3-rail segment (which likely accounts for 90% of the O market).

 

Not to say there aren't any large 2-rail scale O scale layouts, but given the work required with the lack of RTR they are rare (though I am sure they are some rather large 3-rail layouts around, but the mainstream model media don't cover them typically).

 

So HO remains a very dominant scale with little competition from other scales for the "we want accurate models" segment of the market, with N a distant second.

 

If someone wanting to risk the money to attempt to do a Heljan and create a viable larger-than-HO-but-still-accurate-2-rail-models it would seem S scale might be a better choice - it is just as niche a scale as O for accurate modelers but 3-rail S is effectively dead from a manufacturing perspective so not offering 3-rail with its compromises would be less of an obstacle.

 

13 hours ago, Philou said:

Despite what may have come over above, I have always been impressed by the generous proportions - horizontally and vertically - of US model railways, something that is missing from our more humble offerings on the UK scene.

 

What you are seeing is in part a bias in the model railway media, particularly Model Railroader, who like to feature the basement empire.

 

The reality is likely quite different, given the number of people now living in high-rise condos and the significant parts of the US that don't have basements.

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Should also add, HO scale Free-mo has become quite popular, particularly among the modern modern modelers who need a way to run their long trains.

 

The norther part of the US / Canada have an advantage that outside of the winter period the ice hockey rinks can generally be rented quite cheap and offer a nice large space with no obstructions (and drive in access) - think a space 85' x 200'

 

Also frequently available even in winter are the fair grounds, as many/most places still seem to have their agricultural fairs that only operate for maybe 2 weeks of the year leaving the building(s) empty for most of the rest of the year - for example, the Springfield show takes place on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition that runs for only 17 days, and thus is available for rent for most of the rest of the year.

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I think we’ve established we’re all here physically ;) just that US modellers are interested in all railways so flit around other subjects at times too.  

The loss of UK retailers is sad but also there seemed to be a big delay in stuff getting over here. I tried ordering the Spike 150 set and eventually cancelled the order here as it was getting rare in the US and Bachmann would only say “it will come as and when”, it never has and still shows as on back order 12 months later at the shop!

 

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3 hours ago, mdvle said:

Should also add, HO scale Free-mo has become quite popular, particularly among the modern modern modelers who need a way to run their long trains.

While the UK Freemo meets have seen long block trains they aren’t the majority, to be honest I’d say slightly more setups have been typical of short line operation. It’s nice to be able to run them as through trains though just to enjoy a different aspect the US scene with trackage rights. 

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13 minutes ago, PaulRhB said:

While the UK Freemo meets have seen long block trains they aren’t the majority, to be honest I’d say slightly more setups have been typical of short line operation. It’s nice to be able to run them as through trains though just to enjoy a different aspect the US scene with trackage rights. 

 

You obviously get a mix of people at a Freemo meet, including some switching.

 

But not even most home layouts can offer the possibilities of a layout like the one in the video below for running long trains if that is what someone is into

 

 

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April 2020 Model Railroader in their reader submitted photos section (p67) has an image of a CN GP9 and covered hopper taken by a resident of the UK (and, somewhat ironic about the comment of someone attempting to run their UK stuff on a US club layout), with the image taken on is OO layout.

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11 hours ago, mdvle said:

Should also add, HO scale Free-mo has become quite popular, particularly among the modern modern modelers who need a way to run their long trains.

 

The norther part of the US / Canada have an advantage that outside of the winter period the ice hockey rinks can generally be rented quite cheap and offer a nice large space with no obstructions (and drive in access) - think a space 85' x 200'

 

Also frequently available even in winter are the fair grounds, as many/most places still seem to have their agricultural fairs that only operate for maybe 2 weeks of the year leaving the building(s) empty for most of the rest of the year - for example, the Springfield show takes place on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition that runs for only 17 days, and thus is available for rent for most of the rest of the year.

 

Exhibitions and Fre-mo running in hockey rinks. Been there, done that, froze or boiled my assets off. For those that don't know, I used to live in Calgary and modelled UK prototype as well as some Canadian. I've had the anti-British crap at exhibitions there as well as the anti-not British at exhibitions here. Does my head in. Did a one day show in Golden BC in the late 80s. The ice was still in and we were on wooden boards. Bloody cold. I've also done the GBTS in Brampton twice with my old layout UK "Kingsmarkham".  (Model Railway Enthusiast 07/99) Its first exhibition was in a curling rink and its last in a hockey rink. The most unusual "hall" was exhibiting in the round house at Heritage Park in Calgary. The first few times there was no infill of the tracks and we had to improvise. Some of the layouts were literally running on real rails. 

 

Anyhoo, getting back on topic-ish. Looking for more Freemo (UK version) venues is something that has just this week started to happen. Size is the biggest factor. Most church or similar halls all seem to be roughly 50' by 30'. At the moment there are 3 or 4 monthly Freemo meets and a few annual events. Bournemouth and Plymouth  groups for example. With the number of modules and owners out there, it is likely we'll see 1 or 2 more monthly group events start up in the near future. 

 

 

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Having grown up in a 1970s UK household where the highlight of each month was the arrival in the post of Model Railroader magazine, with its impressive heavyweight thud onto the mat, and where Linn H. Westcott was assumed to be as famous as the President of the USA (with A C Kalmbach like a Founding Father?) I've read through this thread with much interest.

My guess is that there are a number of factors at work here, which - when combined - are having the effects being observed. Certainly, whenever I ponder buying into American outline modelling for myself I run into three barriers:

1. The much lower exchange rate and higher shipping costs have removed a price advantage of ordering from the US. I think product costs have risen (as with UK outline), or is it just that there are fewer cheap and cheerful entry level products being offered now?

2.  The lower availability of product from UK modelshops is also something that's been commented on. An example I know: when I used to visit Hatton's (2nd) shop in Liverpool, there was quite a bit of US stuff on offer - far less now appears on their website.

3.  Model Railroader (just for another example I'm familiar with), now seems a shadow of its former self - BRM seems vastly superior to me, which means the inspiration isn't there in the same way. I could probably still draw most of the track plans from Kalmbach's 101 Track Plans book that captured my imagination as a kid, but what will inspire the next generation?

 

As for posting on Forums, I know I think carefully before writing anything - and am much more cautious, even with email - we're all different, and some people enjoy a bit of debate and even controversy, but for others it's just become a turn off, so I suspect more people may hang back, even if only to avoid being misunderstood.  For some, the novelty of engaging with social media has passed, while others have moved to video based sharing, as highlighted earlier in the thread I think (again, multiple factors are at work).

 

(I note that one comment on postings is the tendency towards repetition - and I've not really added anything new above: my main point is that I think it is a combination of factors that is driving change, and my experiences / examples also back this up).

 

That said, there are some fantastic models (and modellers) out there, and - another example - a number of excellent small US outline models can be found fully integrated into the RMWEB Micro-Layout Forum (Naples Street TT is one example quoted earlier in this thread).  Maybe this is partly due to the late, great Carl Arendt, who had a global span (he could email me from Washington State with details of operations at Ashburton GWR terminus), but in the micro-layout world there is no real distinction between US and other prototypes that I can see.

 

So, don't give up!  There are those of us who still dream of a basement empires, mile-long freight trains and quiet, short-line backwaters. 

Maybe I just still need find a way to actually build one...certainly, reading this thread has awoken something in me again.

 

Keith.

Edited by Keith Addenbrooke
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Well I was going to try and blather on about the great satisfaction of modelling Nth Am stuff, but all I need to say is Delaware & Hudson in the 70s plus a bit.  Who said 'Why?'  Well Alco/EMD/GE/Baldwin/run-thru power, 4-car passenger trains with a dome car/smooth-side/clerestory roof/ business car, freight block trains of paper/hvy-duty flats from GE's transformenr factory, etc, etc....

 

Mind you I might have to get a Dapol 66 end of next year for the mantelpiece UK scene (real thing MADE IN CANADA though).

All made easier by starting American O-scale in 1969, visiting family in NYC and Montreal (D&H Adirondack), having Bernie Victor near by.  House move happening right now to Westbury, Wilts and garden crying out for PA 5-chime horn sounds.

Jason

 

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I'm still here - the video was interesting - not a small layout by any means (and all modular)! I did like the return loops - beats our club's puny effort at 1.2m (4ft) diameter circle and one track. About halfway through I was commenting to myself that there was a lot of freight but no passenger stock, despite the stations being populated and then up popped a loco and stock.

 

Comment was made above regarding the UK module scene. Over here, in France, it's become the next 'big thing'. Our club is preparing a number of modules to re-enact the line from the North Sea coast in Belgium to the Med. that will include clubs situated more or less along the alignment (at least 4 countries). It won't be scale length for obvious reasons!!!!

 

I am impressed by the sheer scale of things over in N. America!

 

Cheers,

 

Philip

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4 minutes ago, Philou said:

About halfway through I was commenting to myself that there was a lot of freight but no passenger stock, despite the stations being populated and then up popped a loco and stock.

 

Not an uncommon thing for someone from Europe to think.

 

For 90+ or more of North American modelers if a passenger train is even featured on the layout it is as an obstacle to get in the way of the freight trains - which is how most post 1980 freight railroads seem to view Amtrak/VIA.

 

Part of that is ignorance of the possibilities that older passenger operations can offer for switching (if the layout is designed properly), partly it is the length of passenger cars (85'), partly a reflection is is often difficult to get accurate passenger models.  Of course modern Amtrak/VIA/commuter railroads have the same issues as modern European passenger operations - no switching so it is simply running back and forth.

 

If anyone wants to see a North American layout designed for passenger operations set in 1979/1980 check out Jason Shron's Kingston Sub on Facebook - he created Rapido Trains to make the models needed for his recreation of CN's Kingston Sub - the layout fills his basement and is 3(?) levels and far from complete.

 

He also, in this episode of a video podcast, talks about his layout and how it was designed for making passenger interesting while being very cold sitting on the deck of a house next to the tracks of the Kingston sub in the middle of winter - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exiRet58fTk

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4 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

Certainly, whenever I ponder buying into American outline modelling for myself I run into three barriers:

1. The much lower exchange rate and higher shipping costs have removed a price advantage of ordering from the US. I think product costs have risen (as with UK outline), or is it just that there are fewer cheap and cheerful entry level products being offered now?

 

Like the UK stuff, the higher price detailed items dominate the market.  But there are still lower priced items, whether it be Athearn's Roundhouse line, some of the Bachmann stuff, Accurail kits.

 

But there is also an argument (in part supported by Hornby's continued losses) that UK stuff is underpriced.  Take the new Hornby Class 91, list price £170, with the most recently announced Athearn item (SD80MAC) at $250 - or £193 + VAT for £231.  And you certainly don't want to look at the price of North American steam models...

 

4 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

2.  The lower availability of product from UK modelshops is also something that's been commented on. An example I know: when I used to visit Hatton's (2nd) shop in Liverpool, there was quite a bit of US stuff on offer - far less now appears on their website.

 

My 3 years living in the UK in the late 80s even the tiny little modelshop in Torquay had a reasonable amount of US stuff, so yes things appear to have changed (and not just in the loss of all those little shops).

 

But times have also changed in other ways.  The owner of that little shop wouldn't allow me to buy a book on GWR track layouts, instead telling me to simply borrow it and photocopy the towns of interest - despite the fact all he new about me was that I was a late teenager who periodically showed up in his shop.

 

4 hours ago, Keith Addenbrooke said:

3.  Model Railroader (just for another example I'm familiar with), now seems a shadow of its former self - BRM seems vastly superior to me, which means the inspiration isn't there in the same way. I could probably still draw most of the track plans from Kalmbach's 101 Track Plans book that captured my imagination as a kid, but what will inspire the next generation?

 

YouTube.  Google Maps satellite views. Plus whatever comes next.

 

There are lots of sites offering free track plans around once you start googling, and similar to the area here on RMweb there are US oriented forums that offer track plan help.

 

As I commented in another thread where a user posted a video of Amtrak's first new Acela being moved for testing, and that there were 2 young guys out in the cold taking pictures and video.  The next generation is out there, it's just they frequently aren't where we older people can see them.

 

The A Modelers Life podcast has a younger regular on the podcast, and there is at least one younger person on Ken Patterson's What's Neat This Week YouTube show (and from what is said a lot of younger people watch and comment about this YouTube show).

 

And we are also seeing (at least in a more public way) more females participating in the hobby, with Kaylee Zhang now a regular on a podcast, and that podcast just interviewing a flight attendant who has O scale at her home and was buying N scale for her crash pad.

 

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In US O gauge model supply is a big problem especially if starting new now. The retailers I used in the 80's have nearly all gone. ebay is my saviour these days - though a few new Atlas freight cars can be had from Cuttyblacks in York (ebay shop).

 

http://www.ebaystores.co.uk/cuttyblacks/

 

Prices are around £55 per car. Not really expensive when you compare what you get with the equivalent OO Hornby / Bachmann. Their site is always worth a look. (They have some Atlas HO also).

 

I'm lucky to have nearly 40 years of buying the necessary here there and everywhere, and have little need for future purchases.

 

Yes I used to subscribe to Model Railroader & MRC - not since around 1998 though. I occasionally buy a copy in WH Smiths, but I agree there's very little content these days. I have some full years of Model Railroader from the 60's & 70's which I find fascinating - I can read those over & over !!

 

It's a rapidly changing world - the models are getting better - but both cost and availability is becoming more a problem. Perhaps this is the main reason small shops no longer stock American outline models. And Continental European stuff seems the same also.

 

Brit15

 

 

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4 hours ago, z4driver said:

@mdvle Do you have any links to the podcasts?

 

Not sure what exactly you are looking for, but as with any podcast best searching via whatever source you are using to get your podcasts whether that be iTunes, Google, Spotify, etc.

 

The model train oriented podcasts I am aware of (all free / free level) are:

  1. A Modelers Life - has free podcast each week, then also additional ones available via Patreon for a fee (have only listened to the free ones) - https://www.amodelerslife.com/
  2. Model Rail Radio - live call in show that gets edited and released later as a podcast - currently running a layout design contest - averages about every 3 weeks or so, less in summer - http://www.modelrailradio.com/
  3. Crew Call with Mike Rose - transition from the Mike & Scotty Live, which itself was a transition from the Scotty Mason show - aims for monthly - http://themodelrailroadpodcast.com/ - (note if searching podcast software might be listed under the previous name of Mike & Scotty Live)
  4. What's Neat This Week in Model Railroading (YouTube) - hosted by Ken Patterson, a very accomplished photographer of model trains - linked with/part of Model Railroad Hobbyist magazine - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5KLIroVUK2KkJ87JZSCSfA

Either more real train oriented, or a mix of things:

  1. The Roundhouse - https://theroundhousepodcast.com/
  2. The Platforum (a YouTube podcast) - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZyLXvb4Hy2-ehsmrWdvvhw
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My own US modelling goes in waves but it has been on a bit of a slump lately, I must admit. Last year I reworked a few bits of track, and weathered a few locos, built a building or two, but none of it was really worth an update on the layout thread. Perhaps I need to kickstart some enthusiasm by posting more updates, which (when they get a response) can end up spurring me onto more progress. It does sometimes feel as if it's always the same relatively few kind people who read and respond to the thread, although I'm probably guilty of not reading and responding to other people's threads as often as I should.

 

Looking at my interest longer term, I feel that having scratched an itch with the American layout, I'm not quite sure where to go with it now.  I haven't bought any new rolling stock, locomotives or structure kits in a long while, although I've had some Intermountain F units "on order" for five years - fat chance of them ever happening. I also haven't been to the States very often recently compared with a period of about 15 - 20 years when I had regular trips, which helped stoke the interest.

 

I also find that one of the big kicks I get from the hobby is building locos and rolling stock, and that's not particularly a thing in American N, so if I get itchy fingers, I'm more likely to start a 4mm building project than weather another tiny box car.

 

It's certainly something I've been thinking about a lot in the last 12 months, eyeing the space taken up by the American layout and wondering if I'm really getting as much out of it as I wanted.

 

 

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36 minutes ago, Barry Ten said:

I also find that one of the big kicks I get from the hobby is building locos and rolling stock, and that's not particularly a thing in American N, so if I get itchy fingers, I'm more likely to start a 4mm building project than weather another tiny box car.

 

More generally for anyone, there is nothing that says to participate in this hobby you have to have a layout.

 

If building kits (or scratchbuilding) of locos and rolling stock is what is fun/pleasurable/exciting then simply building kits to put on a shelf or sell is a valid part of the hobby.

 

While it is possible the costs of shipping will make it difficult for those outside of the US, particularly if one needs to source some parts separately, there is a thriving group of resin kit makers and smaller support for plastic kits that could keep one busy for quite a while it that is what is interesting.

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I’ve been a lurker on this forum for some considerable time but only a very occasional contributor. I’ve had an interest in American railways since I was a teenager (I’m 52 now – Eeeek!) and I first saw photos of a K37 and a Shay. Until recently I had not done any modelling since I was about 16 but I have finally started again. I have actually started on a micro layout with an inglenook track plan but it’s early days yet; so far I have some track on a board and some scratchbuilt structures in various degrees of completion / success. As soon as I feel that I have a little more to show I intend to start a thread.

 

So this leads me to a small quandary. I was going to start my thread in the Boxfiles, Micro layouts & Dioramas forum because it’s a micro layout but as it’s US-themed and this forum has been a bit quiet recently, should I start it here? If I start it in the Boxfiles, Micro layouts & Dioramas forum then I may suffer from the perceived “it’s American so I’m not interested” thing (although it’s generally quite a broad church in there) but If I start it here I should probably warn you all in advance that prototypical, historical and geographical liberties will be taken and I don’t want to upset anyone :lol:.

 

Let me know what you think and I should be ready to start the thread within a week or so.

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You start it where you want to start it, depending on your viewpoint?

 

Is it an American outline micro-layout (emphasis on the micro and not the American), or a micro American outline layout (size is a product of the constraints you are working under, but primarily you are interested in US outline modelling)?

I would suggest that the noun, and not the adjective, determines where you put it.

 

 

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I'd say it was the latter. It is definitely lack of space that is the constraint and all my stock is American outline. The liberties I refer to are for a number of reasons:

 

My primary focus is making a scene rather than operation. Operation, for me, is a means of adding another dimension to the scene in the form of movement. I want the scene to "look right" to me even if it's actually full of inaccuracies or anachronisms etc. to someone else.

 

Originally I intended to set the layout in Louisiana in the 1940s as a number of photographs that I found online were my inspiration for wanting to attempt making something again. However I have decided to set it "somewhere in the USA" and keep it a little vague (as is the case with the town of Springfield in The Simpsons)  as I doubt my ability to create something that is scenically accurate to Louisiana.

 

The time period will also be a little vague due to the rather motley collection of stock that I have. I have a Shay built from an MDC Roundhouse kit when I was about 15 (I'm very proud of it), a Consolidation built from another MDC Roundhouse kit, another mongrel of a Consolidation being built from an assortment of old MDC, Bowser, Manuta and scratchbuilt parts plus a GP9 that my father gave me. The GP9 is in Union Pacific livery which also stretches reality a bit in terms of location. I additionally have an odd assortment of 40 foot box cars and a hopper lettered for various railroads.

 

Track is Peco code 100 because that's what I have and because I need to be able to run my ancient locos on it comfortably (and I'm erring on the side of caution in regards to flanges etc.). I won't be superdetailing the stock because it needs to stand up to being handled by me and my children and I can't leave it on the layout, which will live in the top section of a built in wardrobe when not in use.

 

I'm spending as little as I can and scratchbuilding as much as possible, not only because of limited funds but it's because it's what I enjoy. Personally I would rather have a poorly built model that I have made myself than a perfect one that came pre-built.

 

I think I may just take the plunge and start the thread here.

Edited by SonOfMike
Got my boxcar length wrong
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As a taster, here are a couple of phone camera snaps of buildings that are my attempts to capture the flavour of the photos I found online that inspired me. They are predominantly cardboard, cut down coffee stirrers, masking tape and a few commercial parts from my bits box. One thing I have noticed since I started all this again is that although I have far more patience than I did when I was 16, my eyes and fingers just don;t work like they used to :(

20200216_101506.jpg

J_n.jpg

20120916_120848.jpg

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