Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Sunday, 14 April 2013

On Time Periods

How tight should a model's time period be fixed? Most modellers I suspect allow themselves a degree of flexibility when setting the date that they model, indeed most write-ups describe the scene in terms of a group of years, either by date or by some other known markers. For example a layout may be described as "pre-grouping", "transition era" or "the late 1950's". This information sets the scene, with the layout being the stage and the trains being the actors. As much as this can be helpful, it can also trip up the unsuspecting modeller, especially where another subject comes into play. A beautiful pre-war model catches the eye of a passing farm equipment fan who points out that "the 5 plow, 80 series John Deere was not built until 1955" and all of the good work comes tumbling down around your ears. When I built Balbeggie Sidings I used concrete track thinking that this would be a more contemporaneous layout. In fact I had already purchased a couple of class 66 models. However I was over taken by nostalgia and moved the time period farther back, leading to a situation when my current time period is just on the point at which the semaphore signals were replaced by CLS. This then is as far back as I can go and still happily accept the compromise.

When I operate I will include items from one end of a few years period, or from the other, but will generally try to avoid obvious extremes. However the advantage of being able to be more flexible outweighs - at least for me - the restrictions of an extremely disciplined approach. By this I mean that I will operate a Deltic on some of my services and class 47/7 in Scotrail on others, but will try to avoid them in the same session. The Deltics quite publicly made a high profile exit from the BR fleet on the 2nd January 1982, (I remember it well as I was at Haymarket then Calton Hill to watch the final Waverley departure). The 47/7's went into Scotrail livery beyond that in the mid-1980's. These two extremes would not be run in the same session, but there is enough common elements between the two to mean that I do not need two complete sets of stock. The class 26's would have been seen at both ends of this time period and would have hardly changed over the years between the two. This is a good way of building up a core stock that can be moved back or forwards in time by the inclusion of a some obvious fixed points, the Deltics or 47/7's in the example above.

I am currently building up a fleet for a steam era period that will be able to share the stage with my BR blue diesels. Quite clearly these two are mutually exclusive but within the two eras there is still much commonality, especially in the infrastructure. Trackwork, signalling, buildings and the landscape are all useable between the two. Within the steam period I will use a similar approach to that described above to allow me flexibility in terms of stock but will attempt to keep any extremes apart during a single running session. I am describing this new layout project (at least the steam part of it) at set in the first five years of the newly nationalised British Railways, 1948 to 53. On my workbench I have an apple green Peppercorn A1 which will set the period limit to early 1950, whilst I am also working on a brunswick green Gresley A3 which will set the period to beyond March 1952. The two would never have been seen in those conditions together. Now I will not be operating the kind of layout with multiple trains on scene at any one time so the chances of them being seen together are slim, I have of course covered the eventuality in the description by giving myself a 5 year time period, but even so I will want to have a degree of separation between them. 

On Balbeggie Sidings the fact that the class 26's changed little in appearance over the years allows them to link between an early and a later period. Whats on the next service, a pre 1982 Deltic or a post 1984 47/7?

I derive satisfaction from the research into things like liveries but as a result they take on a significance that I cannot ignore. Part of the fun for me is in making the scene look right, much more so than any technical aspect. Perhaps this is art rather than engineering. I am now working out what my common link will be between the more obvious examples from the two ends of the steam era. Possibly the BR black locos such as the V2's. As long as I avoid that John Deere tractor I should be ok.


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  2. It's belatedly occurred to me that I should add my thoughts here as well as on MU, so here they are :-) :

    "Pretty close to my approach John, a core of stuff that's reasonably constant to link the extremes at each end. When viewing a layout, if it reminds you of say your spotting days, you dont recall single days in detail, rather it's a general impression throughout a period"


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