I have recently been gently reminded that it is now over a year and a half since I last updated my blog and that it is high time that I dusted it off. I think it needs more than dusted, to be honest, it is more likely needing CPR. I have during the time of stagnating words, actually managed to do a little bit of modelling though and there are some signs of progress on the layout front – albeit, not much. It is not as though I have been doing nothing, it’s just that what I have done seems barely worthy of writing about.
Ok, so what has been going on? Well, first of all, the last blog discussed the splitting of boards and concluded that I didn’t really need to do that. And in the time honoured tradition of my misadventures, I then decided that actually, it would be handy after all. The main boards have indeed been split and are down from the attic. Primarily though to allow work to be done without the need to be in the attic. A particular advantage at this time of year. I am not sure at this stage if this will be a permanent arrangement, or just through this construction phase. I suspect it will probably be the latter as I don’t see this as being an exhibition layout for all the reasons spelt out in the previous posting, but conversely, it is not the sort of layout that gives the operational potential of a large home-based project.
There is a bit of discussion online at the moment about the ‘fun’ of exhibiting and how much it can feel like hard work, with others making the point that they prefer building things to running things. Operating at an exhibition can be a hard day, but chatting to visitors can also be nice. I’m just not sure the effort of moving the layout about is actually worth it. Come to think of it, I’m not sure exactly where I stand on the operating V building spectrum even for a home based layout, as I get a great deal of satisfaction out of completing a piece of stock, or whatever, but do still quite enjoy the operation. More than anything I like to look over a layout and to see a nice scene. Having something looking pretty is, in a way, as appealing as it being interesting to run. I think the element of movement that is part of our work, sets it aside from the military or aero modellers (the plastic kit type rather than the radio control guys), but the layout must look right even without the movement.
There is almost a tension between the desire to operate and the desire to build. My story normally goes something like this.
I am working on a piece of stock, for a layout. Let’s say the layout is a small intermediate branch station with not much operational potential. The stock is in P4 and is added to the fleet. If I want to operate and create a reasonable scene I need some motive power, which means that I need to build a steam engine. In the meantime, I have a diesel that has been re-wheeled and operates extremely well. So far, so good. If of course, I were to operate this diesel time period, I could have more motive power available quickly and in fact, the stock would be easier to come by as coaches could be obtained ready to run and rewheeled. But what about the steam era? That is going to require some motive power, especially some B1’s or BR standards. I really like the B1’s in LNER green as well, so if I had multiple time periods, I could run a variety of stock. Ah, wait a minute. I now have the need for multiple sets of motive power, all of which requires time and money to buy, wheel and modify. Realistically this is unlikely to happen in P4. I could make a really nice 00 layout and that would be more operationally interesting and allow this stock to be used without conversion. There is some really nice work getting done at present in 00, by a few excellent modellers. If I were to work in 00, I could have a bigger layout, with more stock, bigger engines, more operational potential etc. So my design planning is now once again spinning out of control.
Given the current limits on my time, I cannot seriously contemplate any major build. Whatever I do will be a long term project and if it involves any serious time commitment, it really requires to be re-appraised. This is not a complaint, my free time is very well spent. I have one son playing football for a successful local youth team and another playing under 11’s pro-youth with an SPFL club. One or other is training or playing each day of the week and I generally take them and stay to watch. Most nights I get in at a point in the evening where the thought of starting anything is unattractive. I am however getting to watch my boys growing up and thriving, which I would not trade for the world. I have simply reorganised my priorities.
As part of the reorganisation, I am deliberately excluding certain known triggers. These are things that make me go off on tangents and are usually unhelpful. I have a group of friends who are encouraging and with whom I get a chance to do some modelling during monthly workshops. Sometimes it is the only work I get to do from one month to the next, but the disciple helps. It can also encourage me to get a little piece done in time for the next gathering, often just so I have something to say has been achieved.
|A selection of pre-group stock gathers at the station in Claterinbrigg|
I have recently found myself very deliberately focussing away from modelling time periods where R-T-R items are available. I have, up to the present time, mostly modelled the BR eras of mid-fifties steam or BR blue diesel. I have collections from both, that often tease from their storage boxes. I worked backwards to the 1948-51 period, which seemed the least popular until the main manufactures started to produce more for that time period. My desire to avoid the available is focussing me increasingly on the pre-grouping era, where the chances of R-T-R production is less likely. It is a balance, however, as the lack of availability of kits and bits can sometimes be an issue. There is though, I think, enough to allow me to produce my small country station, without my focus drifting. I am deliberately setting my goals to be smaller, finer, better quality and more unusual. From my planning continually spiralling out of control, I am now - very deliberately - concentrating on ever decreasing circles.