Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Blank Canvas Part 2

The current edition of the Scalefour News (185) has, on the inside pages, two pieces of contrasting views. The first is by the society chairman John Chambers who shares his liking for utilising the latest full detail developments in the hobby. He expands on this more fully later in the magazine in what is actually a very good article on wagon building, but for now it is this summary in support of the super-detail finery that is of interest. I am highlighting it because directly opposite his piece, on page 3 is the President's Christmas message by Iain Rice, where he takes a differing view that suggests that whilst the super-ultimate is fine for a one-off vehicle, the key to a successful model is blending the artistic parts to the technical and that the emphasis should be on the artistic impression rather than the technical specification. This juxtaposition is for me an inspirational piece of editing and was one highlight of another excellent edition. I have actually come to regard S4N as my favourite magazine and have over 2013 stopped buying the commercial offerings, with their wall to wall meaningless sycophantic reviews of the same products. It has been a long time since a magazine has made me think about my modelling and what I am trying to achieve. I have often wondered "why the hell am I doing this", but what I mean is "what am I getting out of this?"

I hope that by defining this psychology helps keep me focused on the projects determined by it and helps prevent my wandering off (again). I really do hope that writing this rubbish down can also prevent further detours! Over the last couple of years I have bounced so many ideas around that I am now experiencing analysis paralysis and have absolutely nothing to show in the way of progress.

Here is a brief overview. I grew up on stories of Dundee in the 1950's but the prospect of replicating that in model form is just too big, with too many trains, costing too much and taking too much space. I have experience that a small station on a mainline is achievable, but still requires huge amounts of stock, especially if you avoid duplicating engines appearances. I had settled on a little mainline station to the south of Dundee, but found the cost of providing stock too much and I felt I was churning out work, rather than modelling. So something smaller is required.

In terms of era the BR period is best resourced by the trade. I really like thought of Apple Green A3's and Garter Blue A4's, but the supporting cast would require kit building, which to me it feels a bit pointless going to the trouble of building a kit to then make its wheels the wrong distance apart, yet the thought of re-wheeling multiple Pacifics is impractical. Going back further to pre-grouping introduces the possibilities of various liveries. Now I know you shouldn't mix politics with your hobby, but the thought of the name North British boils my bile, so the choice is Caledonian (very attractive) or the commercially unsupported Great North of Scotland. The GNSR is achievable in the later years and whilst it might not produce a Pacific, it can produce a rather attractive Apple Green B1. 

In the diesel era, there is a reasonable selection of RTR products that would fit the bill. My recent activity has been in the BR blue period and what I found - to close the circle - was that whilst I had a mainline to use, I spend more and more operating time with a train of wagons, shunting a small yard. What frustrated me then was looking at the hideous trackwork and knowing I could do better. My small P4 layout - Claterinbrigg - was built and has shown that a small scenic layout can still be fun to operate, even with only two sidings. Running this with my diesel fleet gives a solution to operation with better trackwork.

Fellow Grampian S4 Modellers set up Claterinbrigg, whilst yours truly does the hard work and takes the pretty picture!
Fellow Grampian S4 Modellers set up Claterinbrigg, whilst yours truly does the hard work and takes the pretty picture!

The basis for whatever comes along next will have to be the existing stock that I have running on track of the correct gauge. This is likely to mean something smaller than the mainline and using multiple time periods. So blue diesels and green diesels and early BR steam will form three separate operating eras. Choice of track plan and location are still to be finalised - there has been a lot of templates across the floor recently - but the likelihood is either a GNSR secondary or something set in my local area. I am trying to develop a rough sequence for each of the final options before settling on one. 

So whilst some details are still to be worked out the one conclusion that I have been able to come to is that it will be built to P4; but I have no intention of this being some sort of Scalefour mantra, there will be nothing evangelical in its construction and I will use whatever shortcuts I can. It means I will be coming down on the side of art rather than technology and I will be using whatever I can to achieve an overall atmosphere. This is my defining moment - the psychology of what I am doing. I may be regarded as predominantly a RTR modeller running on scale track. And that's fine by me.


  1. "I may be regarded as predominantly a RTR modeller running on scale track. And that's fine by me"

    I've kept coming back to this meaning to comment, but that really is the nub of it - there's nothing wrong in using RTR, it's a very different thing though to be RTR-dependent.

    The Chambers vs Rice debate sounds interesting; neither is 'wrong' of course, but I have to say thatfor most of us, with limited time to achieve our ambitions, Rice has the more realistic POV.

  2. I agree, neither is wrong, but one for me is readily achievable, the other is also but it would be rather dull having just the one wagon to play with.


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