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What is a model railway?

Discussion in 'Model Railways' started by pete2hogs, Jun 10, 2009.

  1. pete2hogs

    pete2hogs Member

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    I have been to a number of model railway exhibitions recently, and they seem to be very poorly attended compared to when I were't lad.

    Since I've also recently dug out my models, bought a few new ones, and am contemplating a layout, I have read a few magazines and so on recently as well.

    I don't know if its me, but the hobby seems to have been entirely taken over by what we used to call 'rivet counters' obsessed with making an accurate 'model' of a particular stretch of line. Very few seem interested in just running trains, shunting etc., and indeed modern models seem to be so light and delicate and have such fiddly couplings that the latter activity seems next to impossible anyway.

    When I had a railway in my youth, we were much more interested in planning timetables, devising ways to make up goods trains, sending trains down the line to the other operator and seeing if he could untangle himself, that sort of thing. In short, where's the fun any more? If I wanted to make an accurate diorama of a piece of railway the last thing I'd try and do is make it work. (And I have made military model dioramas).

    While I accept that the possible accuracy of a working scale model has increased out of all recognition since, say, 1950, it seems to me the pendulum has swung far too far towards (alleged) accuracy and away from actually running the trains. Is it because people are scared of being accused of 'playing with trains' unless they take it all deadly seriously? I think I'd have a lot more fun with a four track main line round my room that a branch line on which nothing moves - or if it does it moves in a series of jerks because the track is insufficiently robust and nothing is properly run-in. And I expect the same is true of potential exhibition visitors, especially young ones.

    It's not as if any of the models you see are actually accurate, anyway. In real life curves tend to be check railed if they are less than say 15 chains radius - that'd be 12 feet or so radius in 1:76. Absolute minimum for turnouts would be something like 4ft radius. And that's not getting into signalling details of point work etc. Anyone not building their own track has the main element of their railway so far out of accuracy that they may as well run Tri-ang Princesses.

    Nor am I one of the 'collectible' fraternity - I want to _run_ models, not collect them untouched in their original boxes. - I'd just like to see a signal pull off or turn green and a train roll round the corner. To use a modern word, its the meme that matters, the sequence or pattern of events that surely is evocative, not the exact detail. Hornby Dublo used to advertise their system as the ultimate model railway, and in some ways it was - it had a sound and working details that evoked real railways, without in fact being terribly accurate - it didn't seem to matter too much in terms of enjoyment. Obviously more accuracy would now be possible, but at some point isn't the working side and the evocative side of things lost? All plastic models, for example, just seem to have something lacking.

    Now, I'm not wanting to discourage those trying to build exact models (and I can think of one station myself which would be practical in a long narrow site) but surely that's beyond the ability of most, and the hobby - magazines, exhibitions etc. - should cater for those of us (and the potential audience) who just want to see trains running on a huge layout with lots of tunnels and points and viaducts etc. (Like the one that used to be at New Romney, for example). But perhaps they aren't 'Model Railways'?

    Sorry for long randomish post. I'm not having a go at anyone, I just think there is a huge middle ground in the hobby that has fallen into disuse.
     
  2. richard_3672

    richard_3672 New Member

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    I can see where you are coming from, before me and my Dad took down the model railway in the garage I'd take in whatever models I wanted to run and just escape from reality with them hauling whatever was there (which tended to be Chocolate/Cream and also Crimson Mk1's.. Or whatever Mark they are, not up to scratch with carriages).

    I'd always be careful with them as they cost a considerable bit and I didn't want them breaking (the whistle cable on 35020 has come off at the whistle end however).

    The track had no ballast and was just, in essence, a baseboard painted black with track nailed to it. It worked though, still had a decent layout. The layout was just a layout really. Not set to any standards and not of any region (which some people aim for). I have looked at some images and layouts and thought.. 'I want this effect with ballast and what not having it look like the real thing', but when shopping round I'd have been paying in excess of around £30 just for some scenery which may not cover all of the layout.

    People would probably want to base layouts on the real things, say LMS region, as the real thing isn't available anymore and it'll be nostalgic.. Or even a preserved line, not necessarily based on an already existing one, as the control and the sight could be cheaper then going to a preserved line (I can see this line kicking off.. I DON'T MEAN THAT PEOPLE SHOULD STAY IN RATHER THAN SUPPORT THEIR RAILWAY, FAR FROM IT). Also creativity could play a key part in it, getting out of it what you put into it and the feel of 'I built that' coming into play.

    I'd imagine these at model shows are built for beauty and come from a company/group that have put together a considerable amount of money and effort to create such masterpieces to show what could be possible and what is possible.
     
  3. SpudUk

    SpudUk Member

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    My father and I have built many many model railways in our time, O, OO, 0-16.5 narrow gauge, G, now working on another 16mm/32mm in the garden and a 0-16.5 Lynton and Barnstaple-esc layout, but the main priority for us is always operating. There is nothing worse then standing in front of a model railway for 10 minutes and seeing nothing moving at all! Don't get me wrong, I looove scenic, our new L&B-esc is going to be scenic, a canal and everything (just wanted a rive and an exchange siding...it kind of developed into a canal) but the whole point is that, while we are being narrow gauge prototypical and wont have track eeeeeeeeeeeverywhere, what we will have will be running a lot, otherwise what is the point of having it all wired up!? Model railways is about playing trains!
     
  4. sigsnguard

    sigsnguard New Member

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    Interesting thoughts here. Personally, a model railway to me requires train movements. Ohterwise its a diorama. The many man-hours spent in getting exhibition layouts together amazes me. It doesn't stop me thinking that I, single handedly, can get the time and somehow have the expertise to do it all myself on my own baseboards. Unfortunately reality kicks from time to time and my baseboards currently remain predominantly brown and flat.

    I think that a model railway needs a bit more than what I have at the moment, to at least suggest the surroundings that the trains will run around in. An oval of track on a track-mat could be a model railway once you've added some buildings, people, infrastructure (signals and the like) and, of course, run some trains.
     
  5. shredder1

    shredder1 New Member

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    I have an N guage, steam and green and a collection of 00 in cabinates, I used to attend quite a few exhibitions a few years ago until some exhibitors started crying about taking photographs of their layouts, how sad, so I no longer bother with these events
     
  6. Shoddy127

    Shoddy127 Member

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    Isnt that the whole idea of showing off your layout and to allow others to see whats been created, dear oh dear, why did they bother in the first place then if they didnt want photos taken! ](*,)
     
  7. Small Prairie

    Small Prairie New Member

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    Blimey , if i had a layout that people wantted to take pictures of , id be over the moon that they thought it was worth while to try and remeber it .
     
  8. shredder1

    shredder1 New Member

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    Apparently there appears to be some unwritten rule amonst some model anoracks, that says you are suppose to ask before taking pictures of layouts at exhibitions, I thought it was just part of the entry change, since everyone appears to walk around with cameras arounf their necks?, most exhibitors don`t appear to bother, but a few saddos apparently are frightened of you publishing pictures of their models and sending them to the model railway mags, and start crying, nothing appears to be written in any of the exhibition brochures about this, and I suppose it is a courtesey to ask first, (if you are aware that soe exhibitors are of a sensitive nature), but it does seem a little sad that some exhibitors should react in this way when people are going to see them and paying a door charge. I would have thought if you are genuinely concerned that someone might make a few quid photographig your layout, then dont exibit them. [-X
     
  9. southyorkshireman

    southyorkshireman New Member

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    All I would say is that it is polite to ask first, and the the operators are the usually more than helpful in sorting out scene's you want as regards rolling stock.

    Don't forget that lighting is very poor at most show venues and flash can be quite intrusive.....
     
  10. shredder1

    shredder1 New Member

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    maybe we should have Enthusiasts Guidelines for model railway exhibitions :-k, how long before we have to ask to take photographs on preserved lines ](*,)
     
  11. Romsey

    Romsey Well-Known Member

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    The obsession with detail isn't new.

    About 25 years ago I attended quite a few exhibitions with my local model railway club or on a railway society sales stand.

    Some layouts were a good mix of scenery and operation, but some were very accurate. One layout had researched what colour the houses were painted in the year the layout of the prototype station was set. They looked wonderful and yet there was an element missing. On another layout the signals worked and were used correctly, the locos and rolling stock were correct for the period, on another the train formations looked accurate. One or two layouts combined some or all of these elements to a large degree but.....

    Then one day it struck me, there was no sense of correct railway operations. In about 15 minutes on two layouts I saw - tail lamps in the middle of trains, mixed trains with the first vehicle being an unbraked mineral wagon, no headlights on a leading loco etc. All regarded as minor iissues on a model railway at the time, but hardly prototypical! I know modellers often say there is a prototype for everything, but surely the real railway for the period depicted should be the guide.

    If in doubt on how it should be done, visit Pendon Museum. They do run trains, scale length trains. They do have accurate scenery, signalling, locos and rolling stock. The train formations are based on actual traffic notices. The detail of some of the buildings is breathtaking and based on real buildings.

    I soon had other more pressing matters than model railway exhibitions and drifted away from that aspect of railways.

    Cheers, Neil
     
  12. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    More detail the better is good in my opinion but it shoulden't be at the expense of the action, too many layouts i've seen over the years where the only thing happening was some gibbering twit playing about with the scale 3 link coupling between two wagons, if you want to run what was a realistic timetable then wait till your back at home or in the clubhouse, there's a good reason lots of the amatuerish layouts tends to be double track with a small good yards, plenty of potential for action there.
     
  13. John Elliot Jnr

    John Elliot Jnr New Member

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    At Eastleigh 100 there was a vast layout with huge numbers of tinplate O gauge trains rushing round it. I thought it was all restored Hornby stuff, but it turned out to be mostly new material. I had no idea such things still existed, but apparently there is a growing market for these 'retro' style trains. These toy trains (and that's not meant to sound pejorative) are naive in style but have a 'weight' to them that's very satisfying. The guys with the layout were clearly having a great time, and were happy to tell anyone who asked what it was all about, above the din of all those trains clattering round! All in all, whilst more 'train set' than 'model railway', it was the most fun thing I've seen in a long time!

    Look at this lot:

    http://www.acetrains.co.uk/index.html
     
  14. Stu in Torbay

    Stu in Torbay New Member

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    My preference is running the trains. At the moment we have a 00 railway that runs round the dining room on a 6 inch wide 'plate rack' (never seen a plate in its existence!) 2 tracks with a couple of long sidings. No scenery, but a Hall and Grange double-header on 12 choc n cream MK1s looks great - even though its 7 ft off the ground.
    Have to be careful with derailments as the stock would fall a scale 1000 feet to its death!

    Having said that. I admire those who painstakingly do detailed scenery. Although there was this one bloke running a magnificently detailed and no doubt 100% accurate model of the Hemyock branch in Devon at an exhibition in Truro once, only there were no trains. When I asked why he said "I'm running a real timetable, and there are no trains due for another 2 hours"!! ](*,) ](*,)
     
  15. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    Running the trains you want on a layout and creating the scene you want! Need I say more!!
     
  16. sleepermonster

    sleepermonster Member

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    I came across two nice definitions several years ago. First, a model railway, as opposed to a toy train or a diorama, is set up to handle traffic. Second, do you get the impression that a proper little engine is setting off on business of its own? I am building a more or less circular layout so I'm not sure I pass (1), nor do I care. I reckon my engines pass (2), and the fundamental object is to have fun.

    Tim
     
  17. sturdon

    sturdon New Member

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    A model railway is what ever you want it to be. As long as you get pleasure out of it all that matters. I like to do wrong way running every so often, (due to track maintenance) this makes shunting my coaching/freight sets more interesting
     
  18. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    Fair enough in your own place but don't expect the masses to be lining up to see it out and about.

    Me personally i'd rather rearrange a 25 wagon freight in 3 sidings that takes no less than 50 shunt moves to arrange properly while a crack express and local stopper wind their way around the loft.
     
  19. 34007

    34007 New Member

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    Okay so Southern Steam and creating that on a layout at an exhibition or in the home? Or whatever the kind of layout? Creating a station and exact track setup etc and having locos with same kinds of rolling stock and locos with shunting movements in the yard isnt going to wet you're appetite?
     
  20. david1984

    david1984 Well-Known Member

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    Not quite sure what point your trying to make there, my point being in thinking of track layout and such like, the potential for movements is the primary concern, if your modelling a real location then obviously you have your hands tied, but you can still use the availible trackplan to it's maximum potential.
     

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