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Prototype Railway Modelling - an article by Tony Wright

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Guest jim s-w
I've grudgingly accepted that main-line prototypical modelling isn't possible unless you have a good 20-25ft-long scenic section, so I've gone the branch-line route. :-(

 

Not sure that i agree. Yes my station is 22ft from tunnel mouth to tunnel mouth but its nigh on impossible to view a whole train as theres too much stuff in the way.

 

peak-in-the-dark.jpg

This is one of the few angles that will be available but even then its hard to see the full train.

 

Cheers

 

Jim

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I would think that there are a very small number of real main line locations that would make interesting layouts in a small space in 4mm scale. Many of the real locations that could be modelled, are, quite frankly, dull appearance wise or operationally. Maybe that is why so many smaller layouts are fictional, as that is the only way to get an operationally and visually interesting layout in the space available.

 

It might be worth asking anybody who knows of any operationally and visually interesting suitable locoation to perhaps mention them here, just to see if there are actually any at all! Let us say that we are talking about a garage sized layout, 16' x 8'. That is the size of my Tickhill & Wadworth, which was on the main line of the South Yorkshire Joint Railway. We managed to run 26 wagon coal trains although the passenger service in real life was sparse and made up of 5 carriage sets of 6 wheelers, so was hardly up to ECML standards! 

 

Of course "main line" means different things to different people and railway companies. They may be double or single track. Main line on the LD&ECR meant a tank engine and half a dozen six wheeled carriages (but admttedly longer coal trains). Modern main line may mean anything from a single car passenger to 30 plus bogie wagon freights.

 

Even in the 1960s a main line train on the GCR could be as short as 4-5 carriages plus a Black 5 or a Royal Scot.

 

So "main line" does not have to automatically mean pacifics (or 4-6-0s for those companies that didn't get around to building proper locos  ;) ) and 12 bogie carriages.

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Sorry Joseph, but you cannot sit on the fence. Pempoul is either a model of a real station, or it is fictional. It really doesn't matter either way, because the workmanship (and workladyship !!) is absolutely stunning. Black Country Blues is in a similar vein, in that it is pretty much what would have been built, had it been built, but it is actually ficticious and there is nothing at all wrong with that.

 

My project will be massively compressed in order to get over a linear mile of track into a 12x12 loft, but it is loosely based on a real location. Maybe when I older and inherit a huge great barn, I might come up with something more scale, but there is no stigma to ficticious at all.

 

There are different levels of "fiction". Gordon and Maggie could not find an RB station that met all of their requirements. So Pempoul is fictional but it uses so many elements of that part of the RB (particularly the distinctive buildings) that it is only slightly fictional - in the way that Garsdale Road was not Dent. They have the perfect compromise in that they don't have to exactly follow a prototype but nor do they have to do too much original thinking about what stock to run, what sort of signalling, etc.

 

At a more fictional level, a completely "new" main line such as the proposed London to South Wales poses more questions. Would it have been taken over by the GW or the LMS in 1923? Might it have been joint? And, if so, which company was in charge of the signalling?.........

 

And then there is true freelance, the highest level of fiction, such as the Isle of Sodor. That can be great fun but it takes a great knowledge of railways (which of course W V Awdry had) to make it convincing and enjoyable to look at for "serious enthusiasts".

 

All three approaches are perfectly valid and I don't see it as fencesitting to say that I have enjoyed, as a spectator or operator, examples of all three.

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A layout depicting a prototype station (mainline or otherwise) doesn't necessairly have to be large.  It could easily show just one section of the station. Even just a single siding.

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Not sure that i agree. Yes my station is 22ft from tunnel mouth to tunnel mouth but its nigh on impossible to view a whole train as theres too much stuff in the way. peak-in-the-dark.jpg This is one of the few angles that will be available but even then its hard to see the full train. Cheers Jim

 

 

.........am I alone in being able to 'smell' Jim's work?

 

Doug

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Since I've been modelling I've started far more layouts than I've finished but the ones I've got the most satisfaction from are of prototypical locations. Even if its not 100% accurate and the modeller takes bits from the real location to make a model that suits there needs is in my opinion a better option than a truly fictional approach.

There are a few on here like Leon's South Wales freight it's not a prototypical location but captures the atmosphere of South Wales in the early 90s and that's the time and place I did my spotting.

Nearly all of my favourite layouts are of real locations like Peterborough North, The simply superb Bristol Barrow road, Jims Birmingham New street brings back great memories of spotting there in the early 90s to see the 87s and 90 and the DVTS which still captivate me now.

When I started in O I tried to think of believable small space layouts for big locos and the best results where prototypical locations and I settled on Ranelagh Bridge.

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.........am I alone in being able to 'smell' Jim's work?

 

Doug

 In the notorious New Street four-foot?

 

Eugh! :O

Edited by 'CHARD
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Guest Phil

.........am I alone in being able to 'smell' Jim's work?

 

Doug

 In the notorious New Street four-foot?

 

Eugh! :O

Half eaten Casey Jones burgers or Robirch pies ?

 

Or do you mean that sweet Sulzer clag out of the peak ?

 

 

Or. "please do not flush the toilet while ......................" too late

 

 

BTW Jim, you need to get some filth around the radiator grilles at No 1 end. That bodyside is waaaaay to clean for a hard workin 45 !!!!

Edited by Phil

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I note there are references to Pempoul and Maindee East. Though very different from each other, and neither based on an 'actual' prototype, both are very much (and brilliant) examples of modelling prototype practice, and both are the product of an immense amount of research. So, are they as good as an 'actual' prototype built to the same standard? An interesting question, but please judge by the pictures. 

 

Maindee 02 breakdown crane.jpg

 

Maindee 04 coaling stage.jpg

 

Maindee 07 shed front detail.jpg

 

Maindee 11 shed front.jpg

 

Maindee 14 coaling plant.jpg

 

Maindee 15 view down shed yard.jpg

 

 

Pempoul 07 B&W.jpg

 

Pempoul 12 B&W.jpg

 

Pempoul 20 B&W square format.jpg

 

Pempoul 21.jpg

 

Pempoul 23 B&W.jpg

 

Pempoul 25.jpg

 

 

Also included are some pictures of Moretonhamstead, another one of Wolverhampton MRC's prototype-based layouts. Built many years ago now, but still going, its standards are rather below what one might expect today. It's only OO for a start and is showing its age. In a way then, it's not as good an example of the 'highest' modelling standards as are Pempoul or Maindee East, though it is a model of an actual place. And, though this is slightly off the topic, everything was 'made' or modified out of necessity. Even if locos had a proprietary body, they had a scratch-built or kit-built chassis. 

 

Moretonhampstead 04.jpg

 

Moretonhampstead 06.jpg

 

Moretonhampstead 07.jpg

 

Moretonhampstead 08.jpg

 

It appears TMDs get a bit of a bad press. If done well, they shouldn't - as, I hope, these pictures of Oulton TMD show...

 

Oulton 01.jpg

 

Oulton 03.jpg

 

Oulton 04.jpg

 

Oulton 06B.jpg

 

Oulton 12.jpg

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Though very different from each other, and neither based on an 'actual' prototype, both are very much (and brilliant) examples of modelling prototype practice, and both are the product of an immense amount of research. So, are they as good as an 'actual' prototype built to the same standard?

 

Yes of course, because 'prototype' can refer to an actual place or to a synthesis of elements drawn from prototype location/practice.  There's a sliding scale between total prototype fidelity at one end and complete fictitious freelance at the other.  In between, nearer the prototype end, you have layouts of real places but with necessary compromises due to space, means of presentation and so on.  I suspect very few layouts can justifiably be right at the prototype extreme.  Then you have layouts which authentically recreate the atmosphere and operation of a given place - this could be a might-have-been or just a 'typical' concoction.  Pempoul and Maindee East fit this 'category', as do Garsdale Road, the S&D creations of Chris Nevard and Tim Maddocks, Bradfield Gloucester Square and many others.  An acid test might be the ability to look at such a layout and be able to identify its general location and time period from the scenery, architecture and trains.  You could then have layouts which operate faithfully (including TMDs) but which are more 'flexible' in what stock they have, for instance because that is what the builder wants to do, and may not be of an especially easily identifiable location.  And you can have fictitious layouts like Madder Valley which nevertheless are just as valid in their own terms.

 

You pays your money and takes your choice.

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A very interesting thread, and some enjoyable and sometimes heated discussion. Because of which I specifically downloaded BRM, to read for myself what this was all about in the first place. And I think it's a good article. Yes, Tony makes a firm stand, but he clearly states in the beginning that this is his personal opinion. Yes, he is somewhat elitist, which he also admits to in his review about the Thomson coaches. And as to his opinion carrying considerable weight, so, why shouldn't it, with his track record...

I thought the article thought provoking. But does that mean you have to agree with him, of course not! I think there is enough room in our hobby for everybody's way of seeing or doing things. My layout will stay fictional, but I will study my favorite region better, to incorporate as much prototypical elements as possible within my own ideas of a possible alternative universe. Which, incidentally, will be a lot easier now I've been granted the full use of the basement, a space of about 16.5 x 11.5 feet. Back to the drawing board!

 

Sierd Jan

 

P.S. sorry Tony, I will worry about headcodes later...

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It would be nice to have the space to build a model of a prototype location, bearing in mind that the said prototype would need to give me the features I want to have. And space costs money - lots of it. So in principle I agree with the esteemed Mr Wright, and if he would be kind enough to send me a suitable cheque so that I can buy the necessary premises + the extra cost of a much larger layout, I shall be delighted to follow his excellent example.

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Earlier in this thread Alex O'Donnell alluded to the fact that commercially available locomotive/rolling stock lamps are overscale. I know that TW is almost fanatical in insisting that model trains should have lamps and the correct lamps at that yet his fleet has these obviously large lamps in brilliant white which to my eyes stand out like a sore thumb.. ..

 

Are there any lamps available that look correct or is my eyesight so bad that they only appear to be overscale or is it the bright whiteness of them that makes them appear so?

 

Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

 

Edward

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Earlier in this thread Alex O'Donnell alluded to the fact that commercially available locomotive/rolling stock lamps are overscale. I know that TW is almost fanatical in insisting that model trains should have lamps and the correct lamps at that yet his fleet has these obviously large lamps in brilliant white which to my eyes stand out like a sore thumb.. ..

 

Are there any lamps available that look correct or is my eyesight so bad that they only appear to be overscale or is it the bright whiteness of them that makes them appear so?

 

Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

 

Edward

Not off-topic to my mind. I think there have been suggestions elsewhere on RMweb that lopping the oversize handles off and weathering the things can reduce their visual impact. Certainly any piece of kit that is handled so often, exposed to the wind at mainline speeds, and forever being filled with oil, is unlikely to retain its pristine appearance for long!

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Earlier in this thread Alex O'Donnell alluded to the fact that commercially available locomotive/rolling stock lamps are overscale. I know that TW is almost fanatical in insisting that model trains should have lamps and the correct lamps at that yet his fleet has these obviously large lamps in brilliant white which to my eyes stand out like a sore thumb.. ..

 

Are there any lamps available that look correct or is my eyesight so bad that they only appear to be overscale or is it the bright whiteness of them that makes them appear so?

 

Sorry if this is a bit off topic.

 

Edward

Has anybody actually measured them to see if they really are overscale?  The handles - as castings - invariably will be but what about the lamp bodies; the ones on Maindee (above) don't look too far off and as Ian notes above lamps did get dirty.

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I don't have any lamps handy to measure them but I agree, the handles do look big. I think they would look better with finer ones, maybe wire crushed out of round would work. They certainly would benefit from dirtying in any case.

 

Edward

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On the subject of painting things white.

 

Something I read somewhere else many moons ago about colours

 

In 4 mm scale white is too white, and a very,very, light grey looks far more realsitic.

 

Gloss is only gloss very close up and goes matt very quickly the further you move away from it.

 

From a distance you only know something is gloss by the amount of light that is reflected back.

 

Regards

 

Richard

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I have an LNER loco headlamp lamp I could measure, if I wasn't laid up after hip surgery - it's in the garage loft!  However, it certainly has a round bar handle, not flat.

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Not sure that i agree. Yes my station is 22ft from tunnel mouth to tunnel mouth but its nigh on impossible to view a whole train as theres too much stuff in the way. peak-in-the-dark.jpg This is one of the few angles that will be available but even then its hard to see the full train. Cheers Jim

Please, Jim, can you point me towards where I can view your layout, if that's possible. Hearing all the comments has me entranced!

 

Regards,

 

Tony.

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Tony,

 

Jim used to have a thread on RMWeb, a search will find it, but now posts on his own blog;

 

http://www.p4newstreet.com/

 

Arthur

Edited by Arthur
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Try 8' x 2' in 7mm...  Even small prototypes such as Hemyock would not fit in.  Possibly Wenford Bridge with some compression, but one freight train per weekday with Beattie Well Tanks, then 1366s, 04s and finally 08s will not hold imagination for long.  It is not a challenging track layout operationally.

 

As AngryMeerkat points out, it is a hobby and it is NOT for Mr AW to tell us what to do in the privacy of our own home.... :nono:   If imaginary was / is good enough for renowned modellers such as Peter Denny, David Jenkinson, Gordon Gravitt, Tom Harland, then it is good enough for me!!  These chaps were / are gentlemen and thought it wise to offer ideas and suggestions, but not diktats.

I love the American term Proto-Freelancing 

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I love the American term Proto-Freelancing 

 

Right up there with "fine scale". :jester:

 

Andy

 

I've yet to see a "modern era" US layout that has its yards full of "as per almost every proto" self guarded frogs. Or even a layout with a token one.

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