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Dear RMWebbers,

 

An appeal to the Brains Trust. I've just had a minor challenge laid before me, to find and confirm "prior art" articles and documentation RE Proscenium Module design, specifically in multi-section layout uses. Now I'm seeing some references to some of Iain Rice's early show layouts (Treggarrick?) circa late 1970s,
but the challenge centres around the idea that

 

"...sure, 'exhibition layouts' and builders may know how to build sectional layout successfully,
but that's all un-written 'tribal knowledge'... where's the documentation/evidence for the rest of us?..."

 

I'm trowelling thru my personal library and archives as we speak, but if anyone can provide references
(Books, magazine articles, specific authors/modellers or layouts to look up),

That would be greatly appreciated...

 

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

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For my own edification I Googled “Proscenium Module Model Railway” to find out what this was all about and it appears to concern the construction of a theatrical “stage like” surround to “frame” the model railway layout that is on display.
 

Interesting use of the term “prior art”.  I have only come across that expression in terms of it preventing someone from patenting the concept in question.  
 

Is that the basis of your enquiry?

 

Cheers

 

Darius

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Hi there.  You may already have these, but Carl Arendt wrote an online article: “Build Peek’s Pike” dated 11th April 2005 which specifically mentions proscenium arches when describing the framing he used.  It’s still available online.
 

Another of Carl’s articles was called “Theatrical Layout Design” (cited as originally published in “Layout Design Journal LDJ35”).  I’m not sure of the date of this one, sorry, but the term proscenium is used.  The article ends with Carl’s idea for “The Midnight Flyer” - a theatrical layout with interchangeable backdrops - just like in a theatre.  Again, it’s still available.

 

I don’t think either of these articles specifically mention your own work, but I’ve only had a quick skim read through today.

 

Of course, these are ideas for micro-layouts rather than multi-section layouts, although there is clear referencing to exhibition layouts in the examples quoted.   As you’d expect with Carl, there was plenty of practical evidence to back up the theory, as well as having everything clearly written and well explained - making the concept accessible.
 

Hope it helps, Keith.

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Rice was talking about Proscenium arches in his Wild Swan book "Approach to Model Railway Layout Design: Finescale in Small Spaces" from 1990 - and he talked about a number of layouts which used that design technique.

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Dear RMWebbers,

 

My apologies, it appears my inquiry has been mis-understood on a number of levels.

 

In order of appearance:

 

Quote

For my own edification I Googled “Proscenium Module Model Railway” to find out what this was all about and it appears to concern the construction of a theatrical “stage like” surround to “frame” the model railway layout that is on display.

 

Yes, such benchwork form-factor has been publicised by many "name brand" modellers for some decades (Iain Rice, et al), and has been a staple on the UK and Aussie exhibition circuit for an equally long time.

 

Quote

Interesting use of the term “prior art”.  I have only come across that expression in terms of it preventing someone from patenting the concept in question.  
 

Is that the basis of your enquiry?

 

No, there is no legal or financial interest at-play.
The root of the issue is as follows:

 

1 - US modellers say
          - "Proscenium benchwork is hard"

          - "Cannot get the vertical endplates/profile boards to mate properly"

          - "Cannot achieve (module) alignment"

          - "Cannot achieve reproducible (rail-end accross module joint) alignment"

 

2 - Prof K says 
"...all such issues have been well-solved by UK and Aussie exhibition modellers for some time, decades even, and proscenium modules are commmonly used under much-harsher-than-US-home-layout conditions without issue..."

 

3 - US modeller responds
"...ah, but this is all heresay, spoken-in-hushed-tones,
passed from Master to Student 'tribal knowledge'...
...we know of no-such techniques here..."

 

4 - to which Prof K thinks 
"...what a load of parochial nonsense,
making layout sections with positive mechanical alignment systems,
building proscenium modules which just 'fall together correctly',
and bulletproof module<>module rail-joint alignment,
are common knowledge accross the worldwide model railway community..."

 

.....BUT

 

it started me thinking to myself 
"...OK, so where did YOU (That would be ME, Prof K) learn about such things?
WHERE and HOW LONG have such aleged 'common knowledge' techniques been published/promoted/communicated?"
(specifically relating to full-proscenium module formats, but any and all references appreciated).

 

Quote

Another of Carl’s articles was called “Theatrical Layout Design” (cited as originally published in “Layout Design Journal LDJ35”).  I’m not sure of the date of this one, sorry, but the term proscenium is used.  The article ends with Carl’s idea for “The Midnight Flyer” - a theatrical layout with interchangeable backdrops - just like in a theatre.  Again, it’s still available.

 

...

 

Of course, these are ideas for micro-layouts rather than multi-section layouts, although there is clear referencing to exhibition layouts in the examples quoted.   As you’d expect with Carl, there was plenty of practical evidence to back up the theory, as well as having everything clearly written and well explained - making the concept accessible.

 

Many Thanks, will chase up those references...
(agreed, Carl A covered a lot of the visual and aesthetic matters relating to Prosceniums, but the core of the inquiry specifically relates to multi-section and joining/alignment methods and techniques).

 

Quote

I don’t think either of these articles specifically mention your own work, but I’ve only had a quick skim read through today.

 

Thankfully, this mission is not related or centred around my own layouts, rather it's a (somewhat academic-style) chase for previously-documented, historical examples, to show that "what is unknown in one location may well be 'common knowledge' elsewhere, and has been since <insert earliest known reference HERE>".

 

FWIW, a similar chase occured in the last year-or-so, where the use of graphite as rail-treatment was heralded by some in the US as "an amazing just-this-minute-discovered breakthru". The "UK and Elsewhere" modelling contingent (understandably) blew mouthfuls of tea all over their computer screens laughing, and the resulting "prior art search" provided examples of the technique being known/published (Model Railway Constructor) as far back as the 1930s.... 

 

Quote

Ian Rice is a supporter of the proscenium arch type presentation on small layouts. See his book produced by Wild swan Creating Cameo Layouts...


...Rice was talking about Proscenium arches in his Wild Swan book "Approach to Model Railway Layout Design: Finescale in Small Spaces" from 1990 - and he talked about a number of layouts which used that design technique.

 

Agreed, and I'm going back thru my personal library as we speak to confirm the specific titles/published-years/chapter/segment references. :-)

 

However, the basics of sectional/modular alignment systems (which have been adapted to suit the evolution from "domino" to "full proscenium" module form-factors),
predate "Approach to Model Railway Layout Design" by some decades....
...any and all clues as to "how far back" and "where such techniques were publicised/published" is the continuing mission...

 

Many Many Thanks, and pls do keep the hints and references coming! 

 

Happy Modelling,
Aiming to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

Edited by Prof Klyzlr
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Hi Prof,

 

That is quite interesting.  I suppose that I have seen quite a few articles in the model railway press (and here on RMWeb) on how to make removable baseboard joints, lift up bridges etc., however not so much on prosceniums (proscenia?).  Certainly nothing on combining them.

 

It strikes me that the combination would require good carpentry skills above all else.

 

Cheers 

 

Darius

 

PS - apologies for my earlier interrogatory reply.

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Hi Prof,

 

The ability to produce square baseboards to a good consistent standard is a must if your layout has more than one.

The biggest leap forward in the UK is businesses producing laser or cnc cut base boards which makes the building of such a table top job.

The firms I have spoken to appear to be quite happy to produce bespoke designed base boards.

Gordon

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On 24/07/2021 at 22:03, JohnR said:

Rice was talking about Proscenium arches in his Wild Swan book "Approach to Model Railway Layout Design: Finescale in Small Spaces" from 1990 - and he talked about a number of layouts which used that design technique.

In "Creating Cameo Layouts", Iain Rice refers to Matin Goodall's Critchel Down as one of the first proscenium arch layouts, the earliest article I've been able to find is the January 1986 edition of Model Railway Constructor 

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What about Jack(?) Nelson's diorama-style modules? Wasn't he producing them in the 1950s, possibly earlier, and aren't some conserved at the museum at Betwsycoed?

 

They possibly didn't mate directly, end-to-end*, maybe he used bridging pieces between them, but the basic concept of the proscenium, stage-setting etc was all there, and I'd be surprised if Mr Rice wasn't aware of them - he might even acknowledge them in one of his books.

 

Dioramas have a very long history, especially in museum display, and they in turn draw from stage design (did they actually start as stage design tools?), with the tightly-controlled viewing angle being vital. Wikipedia tells all https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diorama (whether it tells it correctly, I dont know!).

 

*At least some of them have forced perspective track, so trains can't run on them, let alone between them, but others I think did form a linked set with moving trains, but I'm not certain.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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On 24/07/2021 at 17:58, Prof Klyzlr said:

Treggarrick

 

I dont think that had arches. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I recall it being an "ordinary" (actually not at all) layout, viewable from all sides, not even a backscene. Anyone have clearer memory?

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9 hours ago, Nearholmer said:

 

I dont think that had arches. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I recall it being an "ordinary" (actually not at all) layout, viewable from all sides, not even a backscene. Anyone have clearer memory?

 

Exactly as you say!

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On 25/07/2021 at 05:47, Prof Klyzlr said:

 

 

it started me thinking to myself 
"...OK, so where did YOU (That would be ME, Prof K) learn about such things?
WHERE and HOW LONG have such aleged 'common knowledge' techniques been published/promoted/communicated?"
(specifically relating to full-proscenium module formats, but any and all references appreciated).

 

 

The various Freemo standards obviously exist and I believe originated in the US, the UK one being adapted about 15 years ago for "Local market forces" ie a reduced width for smaller cars and houses. I don't believe any are too concerned with proscenium arches, although my own Blue Heron has one and was first operated as part of a Freemo setup.

 

As a reference I would point out the range of Tim Horn baseboard kits that take all of the hard work out of construction, but we've been waiting 18 months for the proposed new website and I'm not even going to bother to check now to see if it is live. Bit of a shame really as they are fantastic products that are franchisable worldwide (even with the local price of sheet plywood) and ought to be the impetus that gives our US brethren the step up to building small exhibitable layouts instead of focusing on modular, RPM and trainset-type shows.

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1 minute ago, 298 said:

 

The various Freemo standards obviously exist and I believe originated in the US, the UK one being adapted about 15 years ago for "Local market forces" ie a reduced width for smaller cars and houses. I don't believe any are too concerned with proscenium arches, although my own Blue Heron has one and was first operated as part of a Freemo setup.

 

As a reference I would point out the range of Tim Horn baseboard kits that take all of the hard work out of construction, but we've been waiting 18 months for the proposed new website and I'm not even going to bother to check now to see if it is live. Bit of a shame really as they are fantastic products that are franchisable worldwide (even with the local price of sheet plywood) and ought to be the impetus that gives our US brethren the step up to building small exhibitable layouts instead of focusing on modular, RPM and trainset-type shows.

With a bit of planning they could be joined side to side to give what Iain Rice calls a “ganged cameo” layout 

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In terms of reproduceable rail alignment, UK modellers have been using pattern makers' dowels like this for decades, especially for exhibition layouts. The dowels, let into the baseboard ends, give the alignment and the boards are then fastened with fairly loose bolts to make a firm joint. 

 

 

image.png.704bbb566720e045146649905207370b.png

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