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No Nitpicking, Please! by Florian Schmidt

The station building's roof has exactly weather tiles, inside the Preiser family is waiting at the perfectly modeled ticket-offiice. While a customer is paying a newspaper at the newsagent's, the finely detailed railbus is already waiting on finescale tracks for departure.

Real railroad atmosphere in 1:87 scale - only the small scale shows that this is only a model and not a real station. However the most important thing is missing - the train will never depart, because it's only a diorama. The tracks end just behind the last turnout...

It's a real profession to model such exactly detailed scenes. A real art, not everybody is able to do this in such a perfect way. A great achievement to which has to be paid tribute. Nonetheless there's a group of model railroaders who would like to see this high level as a standard and who arrogantly despise all those who are not doing their hobby on such a high level and with such a perfectness.

Rivet counters and real professionals

To be fair, I want to differentiate between rivet counters and real professionals. It's not this article's aim to damn all model railroaders working on a high level. It's criticizing all those who are arrogantly looking down on others and who would like to introduce that high level as the absolute standard for model railroading. People who think they can do things better than everybody else...

Real "professionals", however, have collected a lot of experiences over the years. They have collected it by realizing their own ideas, running or building a layout, and are willing to share that experiences with other model railroaders, especially beginners. They help others to solve problems, and appreciate another's piece of handicraft work in the same way as their own ones.

A rivet counter, however was already born holding a vernier caliper in his hand; he has the same high requirements on his hobby like real professionals, however he isn't tolerant or helpful anyway. He tries to introduce his high level as a standard for all model railroaders. To control all those rules, the vernier caliper has become his devoted companion when he goes to his model railroad room in the basement. But don't expect him doing high-level railroading there. There's a long list of planned projects, for many of that projects there isn't at least a trace of a chance to be ever realized. In most cases rivet counters only believer they can do things better; many of those guys in fact don't have at all the talent to satisfy their own high level requirements.

Playing with trains forbidden!

Who is really playing with his model trains? Real model railroaders are doing professional railroad operation, the trains are announced to the next station using a telephone. All trains come from only one era, they are exactly composed, using old photos as proof that this composition has really existed.

But what happens, if a colleague brings a train set containing one not exactly fitting car...don't forget: only those trains are allowed to be run on the layout which are true to scale. No trains which are some millimeters to short, they would look like a toy.

Anyway, what to do with that old Roco and Piko open freight cars? They are too short, the walls are not true to scale, the puffers are not long enough, many details are only very rough...so saw the cars, and build one exact model with the parts which is really true to scale. Don't forget the RP 25 wheel sets, before the "new" car can start its first journey on the self-made finescale tracks (which has, in fact, real wooden ties!). Then there is still that much too short Fleischmann car. Simply take the saw, divide the car into two parts and add the one millimeter which is missing with filling pieces...

This are no fairy tales or so, it's simply the truth. Rivet counters proudly reported (and still report) such stories in railroad magazines or in online discussion groups!

And what about railroad operation....if rivet counters are really doing it, they are paying attention on an absolutely prototypical operation, on the other hand, the new electric loco, which has been criticized for being one millimeter too short, has to run far from any catanery wires....

In fact, on is asking himself what wretched people those guys must be who base a decision for buying - or not buying - a loco an one ore more missing millimeters; or who invest so much work to get a real true to scale model. Is there at all a profit in such a work?

The behavior towards other model railroaders

Rivet counters only feel hate and rejection towards all those railway enthusiasts who are also content with a not so finely detailed older loco, produced during the 1960ies, which they have purchased on a secondhand market for a cheap price.

Rivet counters try to make them clear that they aren't real model railroaders, but only people who are playing with their trains. If you don't use certain track system, it's a clear case for rivet counters. Even in online discussion groups, they try to arrest all attention, even if they have to swear at others. Not only beginners are affected by such insults: also people with a rich knowledge and lot of experience. If such a person frustratedly leaves a discussion group, this is a loss which can't be redeemed. Especially those people - the real professionals - have helped others with their experiences they shared with them. They helped others solving many problems - and liked to to do that, without being arrogant in any way. But, who would expect that help from a rivet counter?

What most of that habitual naggers forget: once, they have also started only with a simply oval of Trix Express or Märklin M-tracks on a cheap pressboard, around a village of old Faller one-family-houses.

Readiness for compromises

This article doesn't want to proclaim low-level railroading at all. Looking into old layout reports, you will soon realize that also in former time the standard wasn't low at all. Every model railroader is striving for a certain perfectness - only the details bring "live" on a layout. The problem is simply the question about that mad "trueness to scale". In fact, nobody sees with his eyes if a Märklin or a Roco engine is more "true to scale" or if the floors of a old Faller or Kibri house are not high enough.

Even with old M-tracks, one can build a beautiful layout. Märklin came to the right decision by taking this track system out program - it simply was no longer state of the art! But is there any reason accuse model railroader who have, nonetheless decided still to use these tracks on their layout or even build a new layout with it?

Full scale HO coaches certainly look quite good, but not everybody has enough room. Of course 1:100 coaches are about 3 centimeters to short, but I don't at all understand those who criticize everybody who is running 1:100 coaches. No rivet counter is forced to buy these models, or run them on his own layout.

At least, in many aspects model railways are a compromise! Every model railroader knows the old discussion: should the motor of a steam loco better be placed in the loco itself or in the tender? However, isn't an electric motor for a steam loco model in fact already a compromise?

A good overall impression is much more important than the last little full-scaled detail! Certainly a 150% batch produced locomotive has every detail, every fittings, the prototype had on 15/06/1953. However, the older models mentioned above, pulling a consist of old tin-plate cars over the layout, are brining much more atmosphere on the tracks.

The specialist publications

Also model railroad magazines still are to lamed for supporting the 150%-fraction. Luckily some things have changed meanwhile, but the problem still exists.

A well-known magazine started a layout competition some time before. However, only people who installed turnout actuators below the board and weathered all there tracks on visible layout sections were allowed to take part. Of course, those who had laid Trix Express or Märklin M-tracks were bared from that competition. In my eyes, such conditions and rules are very questionable. Certainly, a uniform standard is simply necessary! But what about two different competitions, one for very professional layouts, another one for all other model railway enthusiasts who have not weathered their tracks or use M-tracks? Why on only one competition for high-standart layouts?

The results: frustration

Everybody who is wondering about too less youngsters interested in model railways, shouldn't see the high prices of many manufacturers as the one and only reason. Some manufacturers have realized the necessarity of models for good price which can also be paid by students and are now offering a HO Hobby assortment for both systems (DC and AC) - consisting of modern trains - young people aren't interested in old steam trains so much, they want to model era V!

A beginners who just has started with a simple oval on a press board, is not interested if the tank loco from his starter set is one millimeter too short or in an 1:85 instead in an exact 1:87 scale. He doesn't need contact with rivet counters - even reading certain magazines which only propagate high-level railroading and which are calling everything which is not justicing to that high level as a "toy", can be enough. Already there, he's infected with rivet counters' slogans, which damn the nice trainset his starter set contained; compared to the high-level railroading presented there he has to feel like a leper with his simple layout...

If this is not enough, and the editors arrogantly look down on all those who aren't able yet to present such perfect results, it's already to late, one more beginner will thro the towel...

In fact, some rivet counters complain about youngster who waste their time with self-defeating video games. Instead of occupying with a many-sided hobby like model trains. But how do they want to inspire potential junior railroaders to evolve own creativity if they suppress this creativity with a lot of rules and prohibitions? Nobody has ever been inspired by crab! Do you know anybody who really wants to occupy with a hobby where he is steady exhorted with an arisen forefinger and a vernier caliper? "Don't do that, don't buy this, because it's not full-scaled!" Every fun has been lost, if someone is racked by remorses for buying a not-full scaled building...

To affect children and youngsters with model trains, other conditions are necessary than all those rules and prohibitions of the "150 % fraction". Every kind of nitpicking is poison for the young model railroader generation! It's time to put these people in their place! Our hobby is so many-sided that it simply requires at least a little bit of tolerance! Everyone who only wants to damn another's model train world, should look for other leisure-time activities!

Every potential beginner who throws the towel, is too much! Model trains are such a many-sided hobby! Model railroading is fun, also whiteout any vernier caliper!

Florian Schmidt (Florian's Railway Page)


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