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Exhibition Layout (or not?)- Advice sought


PUASHP

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Currently I have a small 00 gauge shunting layout. It has been built to finescale standards, is DCC with some sound fitted locos, and features handbuilt track and sprat and winkle couplings. Currently the layout stays at home and I operate it for myself, friends and family only.

 

I am now looking to build a new layout based on a typical GWR branch station, probably in EM gauge and again DCC. The question is should I build it to stay at home (ie permanently fitting in the spare bedroom), or do I go for something that will be transportable that I could take to an exhibition. This would mean extra work on the presentation side, lighting, drapes etc and would mean I would probably have to set up in the dining area to run (as the spare room would mean an L shaped layout, not very exhibition friendly if you know what I mean).

 

 

Currently I have some stock already built, some buildings complete so it's baseboards and trackwork next.

 

I would welcome any advice from more experienced modellers.

 

Regards

 

Paul

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It really down to want you want. The are a lot of modellers who are really interested in the building side of things and their layouts only really get operated at shows. There are others who enjoy running trains whether at home or shows. Do bear in mind that going to shows can take up a lot of your weekends. Not always acceptable to wives or partners. That said its a great time at shows. Helping others is a good way to find out if shows are for you.

Don

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As mentioned it's personal preference. There is no harm in building the layout to be exhibited and if it turns out to be not what you want to do, you still have a layout for home. In some ways having the thought of exhibiting in the back of your mind sharpens your focus. On the other hand if you build it as a static home layout, you'll never know. After a lot of thought and absinthe I decided to make part of my layout exhibitable and have it detatch from the main layout.

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Currently I have a small 00 gauge shunting layout.  It has been built to finescale standards, is DCC with some sound fitted locos, and features handbuilt track and sprat and winkle couplings.  Currently the layout stays at home and I operate it for myself, friends and family only.

 

Sounds to me that some consideration could be given to making the current layout transportable. The biggest problem by far is getting your layout started on the exhibition circuit - especially if you are not a member of a club. Not impossible, just very difficult and made more so by not having a "track record". The first step is to show off what you have and the next is to show off what you are building. It is not that exhibition managers don't invite layouts from outside the club circuit, it is just difficult for them to take a risk on something unseen.

 

There is nothing wrong with 'L' shaped layouts, there are a few around. If it is good enough any respectable expo manager will find a way to fit them in. However, most 'L' shaped layouts I have seen do have the viewing side on the outside of the 'L' (when on the inside it "traps" the punters and makes it difficult to plan. It would be easier to operate from the inside. But I would agree with the above post that design it for a straight run and have a drop in corner unit for use at home.

 

Also remember that what the public wants from a layout can be quite different from what you want at home. Entertainment and movement as the public's attention span can be incredibly short as they move on to other offerings. You must also be good at interacting with the public.

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I think you need to have a thick skin to be an exhibitor. However meticulous your attention to detail, some Nebulous Prat will loudly comment to his friend about this or that detail which just "wasn't like that". I would certainly find that disheartening, although you may be made of sterner stuff.

 

The best form of exhibition is right here, on RMweb. You won't hear much from the NP above, you will get plenty of encouragement in fine-tuning things. If you reach a certain standard, you may find you get an approach from The Management, wanting to feature your layout here or there. That alone may bring you to the attention of the exhibition community at large, perhaps.

 

IMHO build to be portable - but make much of it on here, and the rest may just follow.

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In my experience, the positive comments at exhibitions heavily outweigh the negative - or maybe I've just been fortunate.

Mt first exhibition with my own layout was pretty nerve-racking, but well worth it in the end - I came away with a feeling of real achievement (and a couple of invites for more shows).

You'll invariably find that other RMWebbers will be able to help with operating if you're a bit short-staffed - just ask nicely.....

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Apart from the presentation side as you mentioned in the OP, consider the extra work involved in baseboard/track joints and wiring across said joints for a portable layout.

The number of joints will be determined by the overall size of the layout and the size of boards that you can move around.

If you're on your own (most of the time) for moving it, then the boards need to be made small/light, therefore more joints. The joints can also impact upon your preferred trackplan.

 

Cheers,

Mick

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Ease of changing your mind regarding layout

Permanent > Demountable > Transportable > Portable

 

Technical and design challenges

Permanent < Demountable < Transportable = Portable

 

Ease of exhibiting

Permanent Demountable < Transportable < Portable

 

Ease of transport

Permanent Demountable < Transportable < Portable

 

Ease of getting to the back when something goes wrong

Permanent > Demountable > Transportable > Portable

 

Ease of moving house

Permanent Demountable = Transportable = Portable

 

Size of module and awkwardness of moving it

Permanent > Demountable > Transportable > Portable

 

Need for frames or protection while moving it

Permanent Demountable = Transportable = Portable

 

Need for protection from dust and muck while it's up

Permanent = Demountable = Transportable = Portable

 

Number of baseboard joins

Permanent < Demountable < Transportable < Portable

 

My definitions

  • Permanent = nailed to the wall and floor
  • Demountable = takeable down, but need a friend or three to do the job
  • Transportable = Takeable down, maybe possible to do it on your own but easier with a friend to avoid damage to layout or house
  • Portable = one person operation possible avoiding damage to layout or house

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It's easier to build with exhibitions/transportation/moving the layout when you move in mind right from day 1 of the planning, than to try and convert a layout three years after it's been completed.

 

Not to say it can't be done - but it's easier to have baseboards joined together with bolts and cuts at track joints than trying to do it all later.

 

One additional benefit of "exhibtion standard" with framing, drapes etc is it's much easier to persuade the domestic authorities to allow it in the house "on show" (ie playable with) than something that looks little more than a workbench with a few buildings blu-tacked down (which we've all done at some point...)

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I think you need to have a thick skin to be an exhibitor. However meticulous your attention to detail, some Nebulous Prat will loudly comment to his friend about this or that detail which just "wasn't like that". I would certainly find that disheartening, although you may be made of sterner stuff.

 

Agreed. I guess one answer is to model something (like Switzerland) that few can criticise; however it is strange that 'Continental layouts' - as they are still called after 28 years of exhibitions - usually attract either a fleeting glance or else the story of someone's holiday. :sungum:

 

Personally, as an ex-bank employee, I got used to the abuse and I enjoy the banter even if it means answering the same question a hundred times. :yes:

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.......however it is strange that 'Continental layouts' - as they are still called after 28 years of exhibitions - usually attract either a fleeting glance or else the story of someone's holiday. :sungum:

 

 

Yes, exactly! However I also find that the bright colours of the stock provide a strong attraction to the very youngest visitors (unless they are asleep in their pushchairs); and the unusual nature of my layout attracts the interest of the otherwise-bored 'rest of family' allowing their enthusiatic accompanists to do battle for viewing space with the NPs at the more usual exhibits.

 

I agree with the views above regarding making the layout transportable or portable. That gives you the maximum flexibility regarding an unknowable future. Whether you intend in the short-medium term to keep the layout at home or to exhibit, the flexibility allows you to cope with (at the worst end of the scale) an unexpected enforced house move, or (at the best end of the scale) an unanticipated call to exhibit as a 'work-in-progress'.

 

Cheers,

 

Dave

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Dear All,

 

Thank you for you advice. I will now consider making the layout portable with a detachable backscene and control panel so I can operate/view from either side as I cannot really get away from the L shape.

 

It may take time as I am a slow builder but I will keep you posted on the progress and perhaps see you at an exhibition in the future. I already know a few show organisers to hopefully get a show at a smaller event first if/when I decide to go down that route, and will also consider joining a local club as well.

 

Many thanks

 

Paul

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Hello Paul, recognised you from the loco in the avatar! Certainly worth making it portable and you can always volunteer it for a show at the MVR ;) Making a layout suitable for shows doesn't require much more work just a bit of though about how it will be transported to the show so it all fits in the car. Remember you'll need stock boxes, lighting and stands to fit as well as the layout and probably at least one other person all in with you.

Making the front presentable is easy, you can have thin 2mm MDF ut to follow the contours and paint it a nice neutral colour and even fix it on with velcro to prevent damage against the wall at home. Mount the backscene with bolts and large (repair) washers before you take it out of the house and box the layout up between end plates or even build a box to slot the boards into that fits in the car. Remember to consider protecting the tracks at the board joints by soldering them to brass screws or copperclad sleepers and some sort of alignment dowel for reliable first time perfect assembly. (talk to Mike Banks or Tim C at the Moors ;) ).

Good luck and look forward to seeing it Paul S from the box.

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I would certainly consider making the layout portable or transportable, and speaking as one who has two exhibition layouts in EM, i would think you're more likely to attract exhibition invites if it's in this scale and DCC.

 

I would also look at slightly different GWR lines, possible constituent companies, as there are plenty of lines which have never had the exposure they deserve-Mid Wales, Cambrian, B&M, M&SWJR etc come readily to mind

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We have various scales, UK , Continental and other further afield layouts that we take to shows. Each has its following with quite a few interested in all of them and we have a good chat at shows with many viewers. it's a great social thing despite that you will always find a few that will criticise vocally.

 

Don't be put off.

 

There are always more that appreciate what you do.

 

And once you have finished doing shows you can either leave it set up at home, box it up for another day and build another one!

 

ian

 

 

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