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Will price increase in new and second hand models make people scratch build?


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1 hour ago, HonestTom said:

 

I think this is why "modeller vs collector" debates are a little futile. Sixty years ago, if you wanted a really impressive layout, you had no choice but to make things yourself. These days, there's enough available that if you have the money, even a beginner could put an exhibition-standard layout together.

I hope that was said very much tongue in cheek, my idea of an exhibition-standard layout is one that obviously is not made from RTR, at least not without considerable weathering and detailing......not to mention the actual layout which cannot be RTR.

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I think it is probably possible to build an ‘acceptable’ exhibition layout using RTR locos and stock, setrack, and RTP.  But I very much doubt that a beginner could do it; a degree of experience and skill in baseboard construction and scenery is needed.  Such a layout would be let down by the setrack curvature more than by any other aspect. 
 

If you were modelling a situation in which such curvature is acceptable, such as sn industrial or dockside layout, it could probably be done to a very high standard, but, again, not by a beginner!

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As the rtr market develops into pre grouping designs, some potential kit builders will choose rtr, but dont forget that some of these locos are available in limited numbers and can sell out before release, so a kit of said loco may be the answer.

 

Many modellers are reluctant to tackle soldering. A shame given the many articles in magazines and on line to encourage and support. Start with a cheap wagon to practice.   Plastic model locos have been suggested and the ratio 240 and 440 have been mentioned. I was very happy with the 240 kit.  There is a modelshop offering Dapol kits with metal wheels and motor for some of the examples City of Truro, 76000, railbus and shunters.  

 

Why not give it a try? 

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I have managed to develop a very basic level of proficiency with soldering, and it's taken me over 50 years; soldering is not for everyone, not suitable for practice in a domestic situation, and a fire risk.  I have managed over the years to successfully built kits despite my miserable level of expertise with a soldering iron, but brass takes the heat away too quickly and whitemetal is a clearly unsuitable material to have anywhere near a heat source; it distorts and melts.  I am of the view that there are those who can solder well, and those who never will.  This is the elephant in the room as far as kit and scratch building goes, especially of steam locomotives and very especially of steam locomotives with outside Walchearts valve gear. 

 

The Ratio plastic loco kits were, IMHO, a step in the right direction; most of us are competent plastic kit builders, and a combination of plastic components with pre-built motion and screw togetther wheels, axles, and a combined motor/gearbox might re-ignite interest in kits, and open up the possibility of providing models of prototypes that RTR is unlikely to cater for, including multiple unit stock, at a price level much lower than RTR is capable of matching.  But we need a good quality motor and gearbox combination in small, medium, and large variants, to replace the existing kits based on the Portescap and Mashima can, neither of which is easily obtainable and neither of which are likely to ever be produced again.  I would like to see this idea taken up with good quality stub axles and wheels for split chassis current collection, which could be used with plastic chassis blocks or frames.  3D printing is probably the way to go if anyone wanted to develop this idea, and lends itself to the supply of parts that could be used for scratchbuilding aids.

 

Not gonna happen, is it? 

 

 

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On 17/03/2021 at 02:43, Jeff Smith said:

I hope that was said very much tongue in cheek, my idea of an exhibition-standard layout is one that obviously is not made from RTR, at least not without considerable weathering and detailing......not to mention the actual layout which cannot be RTR.

"Exhibition standard" is a bit of a move able feast. Clearly, anything hoping for a spot at one of the UK's finescale shows, or the more prominent general exhibitions, would need to be a bit special. OTOH, here in the Antipodean boonies, where the organisers of our one annual exhibition clearly struggle to get enough layouts together to fill a reasonable program, anything that can be physically moved to the venue, with almost enough operators to cover the 3 days seems to be regarded as good enough. 

 

I actually think that, depending on what it is intended to demonstrate, it is entirely possible to build an exhibition standard layout with rtr/rtp bits. Timetable operation, signalling, and automatic control, for example, can all be demonstrated to a high standard using RTR stock of pretty much any vintage, from pre-WW1 onwards. 

 

In the context of current trends, of making realistic 3D moving pictures, I would argue that it is still possible to produce a layout to a standard worthy of public display. The trick is to select era, locale and operating scenario with care, and then choose rtr/rtp products meticulously to suit and arrange them in a manner based upon prototype observation, rather than making a model of someone else's scenified train set and then run "one of everything from the Bachby catalogue", which is what seems to be more common. It can be done, but the fact that it's rare enough to be quite notable when it happens suggests that it's quite difficult. 

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It depends what floats your boat.  A layout built just to demonstrate correct signalling and timetable operation could easily be built using all RTR.  Maerklin had/have an extensive HO RTR layout that appeared at major shows.  

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Very high quality exhibition layouts can be presented using nobbut RTR locos and stock with tension lock couplers; NHY 581 Rob's Ovine series shows what can be achieved, but nothing is as it appeared when it first emerged from the box! 

 

I think that RTR/RTP based layouts have a role to fulfil in a general, as opposed to scale, exhibition.  If a range of standards and abilities is included in the show, there is an opportunity to show beginners what can be achieved out of the box, and other layouts can suggest how this can be developed into higher standards of detail and realism.  I approve of any exhibition layout that maintains it's own 'internal' standards and tries it's best to look realistic and to operate realistically; the best finescale attempts will not get any praise from me if tailchasing or poor operation are features.  Even a Hornby tinplate clockwork layout can feature plausible track formations and correcly marshalled trains.

 

The 'wild card' in all this is scenery, and skill in producing and presenting this is a different skillset to the actual railway modelling.  It may be regarded in some ways as always scratchbuilt, and is very much a subjective matter; any layout that employs it to any degree displays a level of scratchbuilding skill and artisitc presentation.  Not necessarily a high level, or consistent with the standard of railway modelling...

 

We have come a long way since I started reading model railway magazines in, when was it, 1965 I think.  4mm layouts were compromises, locos were crude whitemetal kits on RTR mechanisms, sometimes with Romford wheels, motors, and gears.  It was very unusual for them to feature any detail at all below running plate level.  Outside motion was stamped metal, and the magazine letters pages featured input from respected older modellers who were still a bit astonished that 2-rail worked.  '0 gauge or no gauge'; 7mm was still considered the smallest scale for serious detailed modelling (and I reckon it is still the smallest that my awkward sausage fingers can cope with for fine detail!).  RTR was crude and toylike, very few RTR items were to anything like scale in size, wheel and rail profiles were coarse, and not much improved until the arrival of the 'new wave' Airfix and Mainline ranges in the 70s. 

 

A dissatisfaction with the standard of RTR had built up during the 60s and early 70s.  Following the collapse of Hornby Dublo, the only game in RTR town was Triang Hornby, later to morph into what we know as Hornby, and Trix, which were expensive and to an odd scale.  Triang Hornby stuff from this period is frankly awful, and the work needed to work it up into something acceptable meant that you might as well build a kit (these were improving) or scratch build, but the ability to solder was a divider between those who could manage this and described themselves as 'serious' modellers, and the rest of us, who muddled along as best we could.

 

New wave RTR meant that anybody could buy a decently detailed, scale, well finished, and tolerably performing models, and as the ranges developed, failed, were adopted by new companies, and newer models to ever better standards appeared, we came to the current situation, when a kit or scratch builder has to be operating at a very finescale level indeed to produce stock superior to RTR.  This is probably why many such modellers go to EM or P4 standard layouts, as if you're going into that level of reproducion of the prototype it's almost daft not to do something about the 00 anomaly.  Even then those with larger layouts that need a lot of stock use modified RTR, which is nowadays good enough to cut their mustard. 

 

I'm considering a scratch build coach project in the nearish future, a twin set of gangwayed Taff Vale auto trailers.  How successful it will be remains to be seen, and it may well defeat me, but if I pull it off to a tolerable standard I will be immensely proud of myself; builder satisfaction is a major driver of modelling at this level, but the core or my stuff will still be RTR, weathered, detailed, altered, kitbashed, repainted, renumberd, and 'improved', or plastic wagon and etched brass coach kits.  Out of the box modelling should, IMV, never feature stuff that looks the same as it did when it first came out of the box and this is not tolerated at Cwmdimbath; I have no objection to it on other peoples' layouts, though!

 

 

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How many people these days truly scratch build?  By that I mean building motors, turning and piercing spoked wheels, cutting gears, etc.  These are the expensive bits you require for a cheap body made from sheet brass or styrene.  Yes, you could use a doner chassis but this would probably be a compromise.

 

3D printing will probably eventually dominate over white metal and resin casting.  Whether whole body prints or separate parts to be assembled, could be a combination with parts to assist scratch builds.  But wheels, axles, bearings, gearboxes and motors will still be required.

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1 hour ago, Jeff Smith said:

How many people these days truly scratch build?  By that I mean building motors, turning and piercing spoked wheels, cutting gears, etc.  These are the expensive bits you require for a cheap body made from sheet brass or styrene.  Yes, you could use a doner chassis but this would probably be a compromise.

 

I've seen a few reports recently of modellers using turned tyres on printed wheel-centres. It's experimental, but as the art matures it could become more popular as a way of getting an exactly-correct pattern of wheel for a particular vehicle.

 

People generally don't build their own motors as industry provides a wide range of suitable ones. Can't see that changing soon. But if it did, then custom-wound stuff would quickly become popular.

 

Gears are an interesting case. Some clock-doctoring videos that I've been watching recently suggest that gear cutting is easy, but only if you have the right machine tools. If I were rich enough to spend a few thousands on those tools I'd do so, as I think it would be interesting and allows fine-tuning of a gear train for small models. But I could probably buy all the locos I'll ever need from from professional builders for the price of those tools.

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The average scratch builder does not normally have a lathe....hard to justify unless you use it a lot, it's bad enough to justify a £50 tool that is essential but gets used twice a year!

 

Motors are an interesting topic.  We are happy(!) to pay £20 to £30 for a Mashima or similar but I'm sure the motors in RTR locos cost a fraction but in theory have to perform just as well.  How often is a motor upgrade recommended in a RTR review?  Can these motors not be offered for sale as separate items.  Likewise there are to my knowledge no gearboxes as such in RTR steam outline locos, just a worm wheel on the axle and a rigidly mounted motor with worm gear; K's kits featured a similar arrangement.  Yes, the world of scratch and kit built locos certainly has added costs. 

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9 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

How many people these days truly scratch build?  By that I mean building motors, turning and piercing spoked wheels, cutting gears, etc.  These are the expensive bits you require for a cheap body made from sheet brass or styrene.  Yes, you could use a doner chassis but this would probably be a compromise.

 

3D printing will probably eventually dominate over white metal and resin casting.  Whether whole body prints or separate parts to be assembled, could be a combination with parts to assist scratch builds.  But wheels, axles, bearings, gearboxes and motors will still be required.

A lot of the issues that seem to arise in 3D printing, IMHO arise from the (strong and understandable) temptation to try to print a complete model in one go, when, often, a more appropriate approach would be to print something more akin to the sprues of an injection moulded kit and then assembling the individual bits. 

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21 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

How many people these days truly scratch build?  By that I mean building motors, turning and piercing spoked wheels, cutting gears, etc.  These are the expensive bits you require for a cheap body made from sheet brass or styrene.  Yes, you could use a doner chassis but this would probably be a compromise.

 

3D printing will probably eventually dominate over white metal and resin casting.  Whether whole body prints or separate parts to be assembled, could be a combination with parts to assist scratch builds.  But wheels, axles, bearings, gearboxes and motors will still be required.

 

The big issue with 3D printing at present is the lines it perpetrates on curved elements (eg boilers) and the difficulty of smoothing the finished product.

 

As and when that can be resolved properly, I agree 3D is likely to displace both whitemetal and resin. I gather that it's now getting difficult to find pattern makers for whitemetal, and the process demands relatively high volumes of product to be economically viable. There is also a not entirely predictable shrinkage of the castings on coolinng. Resin is nasty (but easy) stuff to work, and produces relatively crisp detail, so may have a future for the smaller more intricate pieces - which is how the aero modellers and military modellers use it, for aftermarket parts. Resin and 3D are both viable for small runs - 3D arguably more so

 

None of this really touches etched brass/nickel silver. That has advantages in thinness, crispness and robustness that still stand. IF you can solder, it becomes relatively easy to work with and the health hazards are slight and obvious (you know if you've singed your fingers).

 

Loco kits have already largely migrated from whitemetal to etched brass, wagon kits have largely migrated to plastic, and almost no attempts at whitemetal coaches were ever made. Whitemetal looks like a dying technology, and 3D could well become the major replacement. Certainly 3D printing is visibly  targetting the niche where whitemetal emerged in the late 50s/ early 60s - the inexperienced builder looking to move beyond RTR into building stuff , but not (yet) skilled enough to handle the "high-end" stuff

 

In the 1950s and 60s the "high-end" stuff was scratchbuilding in metal. Today it's etched brass kits

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Agreed regarding print lines/ridges on 3D printed boilers but the NLR 4-4-0 detailed below from a few years ago would have been relatively simple to build in OO, as it was designed, complete with chassis.

It just would need axle bearings, axles and wheels, motor and gearbox.  I must admit to being a little put off by having a complete body as a short cut.....but made up for that by complicating the chassis by adding compensation for P4!

 

Harrow Model Shop, now Radley, had a range of white metal LT and Met Dreadnought coaches and I think Nu-Cast Partners have revived an autocoach.

 

I think there is an argument for mixed media kits, using the most appropriate materials for different parts, ie boiler from brass or styrene tube, footplate etched nickle or brass, printed cab sides or complete cab, cast chimney, dome and smokebox door, etc.

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3 hours ago, Jeff Smith said:

I think there is an argument for mixed media kits, using the most appropriate materials for different parts, ie boiler from brass or styrene tube, footplate etched nickle or brass, printed cab sides or complete cab, cast chimney, dome and smokebox door, etc.

Absolutely!  I wish more of the 3D printing model railway designers thought like this, especially in N gauge, instead of printing complete bodies with far-too fragile buffers or under-gear, and ridged boilers.

 

RT

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On 20/03/2021 at 00:44, The Johnster said:

I have managed to develop a very basic level of proficiency with soldering, and it's taken me over 50 years; soldering is not for everyone, not suitable for practice in a domestic situation, and a fire risk.  I have managed over the years to successfully built kits despite my miserable level of expertise with a soldering iron, but brass takes the heat away too quickly and whitemetal is a clearly unsuitable material to have anywhere near a heat source; it distorts and melts.  I am of the view that there are those who can solder well, and those who never will.  This is the elephant in the room as far as kit and scratch building goes, especially of steam locomotives and very especially of steam locomotives with outside Walchearts valve gear. 

 

The Ratio plastic loco kits were, IMHO, a step in the right direction; most of us are competent plastic kit builders, and a combination of plastic components with pre-built motion and screw togetther wheels, axles, and a combined motor/gearbox might re-ignite interest in kits, and open up the possibility of providing models of prototypes that RTR is unlikely to cater for, including multiple unit stock, at a price level much lower than RTR is capable of matching.  But we need a good quality motor and gearbox combination in small, medium, and large variants, to replace the existing kits based on the Portescap and Mashima can, neither of which is easily obtainable and neither of which are likely to ever be produced again.  I would like to see this idea taken up with good quality stub axles and wheels for split chassis current collection, which could be used with plastic chassis blocks or frames.  3D printing is probably the way to go if anyone wanted to develop this idea, and lends itself to the supply of parts that could be used for scratchbuilding aids.

 

Not gonna happen, is it? 

 

 

 Quick answer: Yes it will. If there is a market, and there's money to be made, then someone will offer it.  It might not be the absolute model or genre/era, but it might be close enough . I'd agree that 3D printing is the way to go. There are some exquisite possible models out there for some long-gone prototypes. A tad pricey, perhaps, but you will get niche with a capital N. 

 

After all, who would have thought that a Kerr Stuart locomotive  would appear in RTR?  I would have put serious money on it. A fairly unknown locomotive type from a fairly unknown Railway Company from a fairly unknown steam locomotive depot. 

 

The rise in technology availability will allow the appearance of long-lost locomotives, albeit, in minor scales. Thankfully for 3D, it seems that things like niche-market rolling stock isn't far behind.

 

Cheers,

Ian.

 

 

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On 20/03/2021 at 08:47, PatB said:

 

In the context of current trends, of making realistic 3D moving pictures, I would argue that it is still possible to produce a layout to a standard worthy of public display. The trick is to select era, locale and operating scenario with care, and then choose rtr/rtp products meticulously to suit and arrange them in a manner based upon prototype observation, rather than making a model of someone else's scenified train set and then run "one of everything from the Bachby catalogue", which is what seems to be more common. It can be done, but the fact that it's rare enough to be quite notable when it happens suggests that it's quite difficult. 

Yes, not to derail the thread too much, but perhaps I should clarify what I meant - not to disparage proper exhibition layouts, but to point out that these days, so much is available ready-to-run or ready-to-plant that just about everything you could possibly want for a basic layout can be purchased, from baseboards through to remarkable scenic details. You can even pay people to do the legwork with things like assembly and weathering. You can have a complete layout with very little actual model-making. It won't be a substitute for an exhibition layout, but it's no longer the case that a beginner has to make do with crude, chunky locomotives and plastic-box buildings.

 

In other words, to actually get to the on-topic point I totally failed to make, people might feel that they'd rather go without and save up than make things.

 

That being said, I think a lot of people could be persuaded into scratchbuilding things like scenery and buildings if they knew how easy it was to get started. Once you actually take the plunge, it's very easy to scratchbuild something like a cottage or a basic industrial building out of card and paper, very satisfying and of course, very cheap. Once you've got your tools, glue and paints, you can make buildings for literally pennies. I guess the problem is that it can be quite intimidating to take the plunge.

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1 hour ago, HonestTom said:

You can have a complete layout with very little actual model-making.

Possibly the intimidating part of making a layout is appling the materials that come in packets, ie flock, ballast, etc, closely followed by paint.  Without applying any of these, particularly to the track and surrounds, it is just a train set, even with the most expensive RTR and RTL items.

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12 hours ago, RichardT said:

Absolutely!  I wish more of the 3D printing model railway designers thought like this, especially in N gauge, instead of printing complete bodies with far-too fragile buffers or under-gear, and ridged boilers.

 

RT

Break them off, drill and insert buffers of your choice? Much easier that way than the other.

 

I don't print locos, but I do try and keep everything to one piece bodies, because for me it's the advantage of 3D printing. 

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We as railway modellers (and train set operators like me) do have choices.

 

Our desire might be for a XYZ class loco in the best livery they ever were painted in.

 

1, can I buy one?

If "Yes"

1a, can I afford it?

 

If "No" to 1 and 1a

2, is there a kit?

If "Yes"

2a Can I build it?

If "No" to 2a

2b, can I afford to have it made?

 

If "No" to 1, 1a, 2, 2a and 2b

3 can I make my own?

If "No" to 3

3a can I afford to have it made?

 

If "No" to 1, 2 and 3

4 do I really need one?

 

 

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