Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Movement and Progress

It has been some considerable time since I updated this blog, partly due to not being able to make progress on the layout - given the low temperatures in the attic - and partly because I actually haven't done much. The last couple of weeks however have seen some progress and some key decisions being taken. I had managed to fit the point motors and the power wiring before the worst if the winter weather and so a quick clean up of the track was really all that was required to get some movement.

What an effect some movement has. It is quite encouraging to see even some basic running and be able to picture what it might look like when finished. Before the winter break I had cut the baseboard joints and wiring to separate the boards, at which point I had one of those moments. The question I found myself asking was "why am I doing this?" The splitting of boards seemed to be an almost automatic action and one that I now questioned at some length. The reason for making the layout sectional was in part to re-use some existing baseboard frames which had a new top surface added and in part to be able to exhibit the layout. It was this latter assumption that I had never really questioned.

The idea of having a layout that could be exhibited has a certain appeal but when the reality was considered and analysed, the expectation didn't actually seem to make as much sense as I had supposed. If an individual or a group is setting out to build an exhibition layout, then of course that is the determining factor, but I had set out to build a layout for me. One that I would build and use, to satisfy my requirements for accuracy and entertainment, one that would allow me to build and operate to such standards as I set myself.  I also very much believe that a layout should tell a story, usually in a historical sense, but at the very least it should reflect the reality that we see (or that was seen at some time in the past) and therefore should at a minimum "make sense." With care, fictitious locations are perfectly capable of reflecting the time, place and atmosphere of the chosen setting. The buildings, landscape, stock, signals and the services we run can all set the scene. Even our current chaotic network doesn't run random trains, so I need mine to be "from" somewhere and "going" somewhere. The layout is simply the stage on which the play is acted out.

Exhibiting my work and telling the story I wish to reprise has an attraction, but in Scotland we have very few exhibitions of any quality. Almost all of our exhibitions are aimed at the general public rather than modellers so a layout where the  track is hand-made to gauge may as well have been built with cheese for all it means to most of the guests. There are no specialist shows and the prospect of driving a van to Scalefour North or an EM show, or even one of the better general exhibitions was not a particularly attractive proposition. In conclusion I felt I was compromising on how I wanted my scenery to look for the sake  of a couple of model railway shows where very few people would even know what they were looking at. Decision - the layout would remain home based.

That decision was actually made a lot easier by the fact that it is now possible to share your work with friends and fellow enthusiasts through the web. I have developed a circle of friends (some I've met in person, other I've not) who share the trials and tribulations of building a scale model. I have had my previous layout published in two magazines, not through exhibition exposure, but through online forum. I have had positive feedback, constructive criticism, help and advice, all without the need to drag baseboards through a 4 x 3 hole in the ceiling. I am now started on some of my scenery and am not bound by fence lines every 4 feet or obvious disguises to try and hide joints. The layout can be moved, but as I'm not planning on re-locating any time soon, I consider this little more than an insurance policy. Am I against exhibitions? Absolutely not; but for me as a lone worker, with a layout of this size - its not especially large but with 6 baseboards, two fiddle yards and stock - it is a lot of work and is simply not the priority I once considered it to be. 

The basic structure of surrounding land is being added

I am therefore currently up to my elbows in bits of polystyrene, hot glue, PVA and a gunky goo of landform mix that will hopefully form the basic structure of the landscape. I find that when doing such scenic work, the measure of progress is directly proportional to the mess one gets into. That being the case it looks like this has been a good day.

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