Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Is this a U turn?

Without wishing to confuse you into thinking this is now a political blog, my previously public commitment to build a 1950's era mainline is facing what some describe as a U turn. This "policy realignment" will in fact be the same as the old policy but will take account of "new information" that is leading me to consider "the best direction of travel" etc, etc, etc. In other words I am now going to do the exact opposite of what I planned to do.

That said and all joking aside what has proven to be a useful tool has been a gap in activity. A bit like a cooling off period that has allowed an appraisal of what I was doing and how I was doing it. I suspect that having had Balbeggie Sidings operating for some time the attraction of long mainline trains exerted a greater gravitational pull than would have occurred if planning was done in isolation. One of the things I noticed recently whilst going through photographs of the layout, was the repetition of images. This is something that many modellers will find because we generally have a limited pool of locomotives. With blue diesels there is a certain anonymity that can reduce the impact of this and as local coaching stock sets tended to be similar that again eases the situation. We also - and this will probably be familiar in other locations - had some pretty regular performers, with loco's such as 40 062 and 064, 47 210 and the early 47/4's were never away from Dundee. On Balbeggie Sidings trains tended to simply run through the scene, once round, passing the observer. So with regular stock passing through the repletion might not initially seem like an issue but what it does do though is make the operation of the layout limited from the single person perspective.

What I mean by that is that for an exhibition layout, a full sequence may be repeated over the couple of days at an exhibition. The operators will probably have had breaks and the audience will have spend a few minutes (hopefully) then will move on. So if that particular engine comes past again, no-one will really be aware. When it is just you (or rather just me), it becomes quite noticeable that things are repeating. One answer is to turn a blind eye and the other is to build more stock. I was finding in harder to turn the blind eye and adding more stock highlighted the limited locations for taking the photographs. It was also starting to become repetitive adding yet another class 47 to the pool. I actually found that I was increasing using a tiny portion of the layout to shunt a few wagons and that this was becoming preferable to a full operating session.

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The repetition of stock is not a problem at exhibition but started to cause difficulty on a home layout. 


Moving to another era where stock was noticeably different was, I thought, one solution and of course all of the planning and what (limited) work was done was based around that. Experience has shown me that this exacerbates the problem as the motive power is more readily recognisable. To overcome this you need to provide even more stock, then when you also consider the coaching stock becomes more varied, the whole thing starts to spiral out of control. 

When I built Claterinbrigg I found I was able to spend more time on things like making trees and setting the scene and of course when the branch train does come past, the fact that it is the same loco is actually an accurate portrayal of the local operation. I have spend the last couple of months doing very little modelling (school holidays and work) but have managed to build a couple of wagon kits and have found that simple process very rewarding. In the planning work I did previously I concluded that the only difference between my proposed 00 layout and my P4 work was the construction of steam loco chassis. If I decide to run diesels, that doesn't really matter, but I would like to take on that challenge.

Its not quite completely back to the drawing board as I now know a lot more about what I want to achieve. I have successfully build an exhibition layout for my own home use and have found some pitfalls there as discussed above. I am now better prepared to avoid making those mistakes and am looking forward to getting started with a new project. My biggest problem now is bringing myself to dismantle the existing layout. My advice to anyone considering a new project is to really drill down into what you want to achieve not just when you start the project , but once complete, what will you being doing? Operating? Building stock to fill it? Or planning it's replacement? The more time spend now and the less time wasted later.

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