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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
It's an open secret that my layout has now been to four shows and none have been as successful as I would have liked. The Saturday at Warley last November was the worst day we have ever had (due to DCC issues mainly) and I was seriously considering cancelling all future exhibitions and throwing in the towel.

However, on the Sunday morning before the show opened I got some help from a DCC expert and one quick (30 second) tweak to the DCC system meant that Sunday at Warley was our best ever day!

So having worked on the layout every day since Warley I am now confident that Aly Paly will be a great success - hopefully! So if you come to Aly Paly please come and say 'hello'.
 

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This is a very brief update after just over a year.

I have been mainly furloughed since my last post and I have been working on a variety of hobby related issues, but mainly my layout.

My team and I have been very seriously considering all options to make the layout more attractive to exhibition visitors and hence exhibition managers.

I am now genuinely embarrassed by the video which was shot at our last show - Warley 2019 - as I have made so many changes/improvements. I simply don't have the time to liust them all, but here is a photo taken today of three of the scenic boards set up in my shed. Note that we are building a pelmet to frame the layout and you can just about see the gantry frames in this photo. We are not committed to adding lighting to the pelmet - we might or might not. The layout is set in a heavily polluted Chinese city where the sun was rarely seen and so flooding the layout with light would be just wrong.

 

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Well I enjoyed seeing Beijiao when shown at the CMRA show, and would have gone back for a second longer viewing had I not been called away with some urgency to assist a member of the family stupendously rich in years, in many respects poor in health, nonetheless fiercely independent, thus frequently requiring attention in A&E, where all the nurses would cluck over the lovely old gentleman...

Good to read that the team have been developing the layout further. Now, pollution. I don't know how this would go over with exhibition managers, but theatrical 'smoke' effects based on water vaporisation are well developed now. I will never forget driving into such a localised dense fug while in eurocommieland before the wall came down. You might evaluate the practicality of generating a drift of such stuff over one end of the layout for the additional atmos?
 

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QUOTE (34C @ 5 Apr 2021, 13:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Well I enjoyed seeing Beijiao when shown at the CMRA show, and would have gone back for a second longer viewing had I not been called away with some urgency to assist a member of the family

Thank you for your kind comments. However, we have now been to four exhibitions and I have NEVER been happy with the layout.

So far we have been to .........

Bristol 2018, CMRA (Stevenage) 2019, Fareham 2019, Warley 2019

The Saturday at Warley was so bad that I was seriously thinking of scrapping the layout in the pub that night - luckily the Sunday was our best day so far. Now, some people have been nice enough to say that they saw the layout on the Saturday at Warley and they thought it was fine - well to a certain extent I can see that, BUT and it's a HUGE but that was only because my team of operators were nearly having heart failure trying to keep trains running - they/we were absolutely exhausted on Saturday night. So the reason that I was seriously thinking of scrapping the layout was that I felt that I couldn't keep putting my friends through this hell.

Rest assured that when you see it next time it will be 200% better - after Warley I pro-actively sought comments from people who didn't like the layout, those who had given it a glance and moved on. Why? What didn't you like? What put you off?

I want to make it clear that I welcomed these (negative) comments and I made a list of all them and we, as a team, have gone through them and thought up solutions to all of them - except one!

One visitor, who is an exhibition manager, said that he would never book the layout because he hated layouts with dead straight track. He said he liked layouts with sweeping curves and TBH there is nothing we can do to make him happy and so I'll have to accept that we'll never please everyone.
 

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QUOTE (34C @ 5 Apr 2021, 13:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Good to read that the team have been developing the layout further. Now, pollution. I don't know how this would go over with exhibition managers, but theatrical 'smoke' effects based on water vaporisation are well developed now. I will never forget driving into such a localised dense fug while in eurocommieland before the wall came down. You might evaluate the practicality of generating a drift of such stuff over one end of the layout for the additional atmos?

I'm not ruling that out, but I would say that is job #97 in a list of 97 jobs
 

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Like 34C I too saw this at Stevenage in 2019 and was impressed by both the choice of subject and the way it had been handled, although my interest lies in UK railways. Unlike 34C I was able to have several looks during breaks from managing the St Albans signal box stand at the same show. I look forward to seeing it at future shows.

John Webb
 

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(TDMRC-MOD @ 5 Apr 2021, 16:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...The Saturday at Warley was so bad that I was seriously thinking of scrapping the layout in the pub that night - luckily the Sunday was our best day so far. Now, some people have been nice enough to say that they saw the layout on the Saturday at Warley and they thought it was fine - well to a certain extent I can see that, BUT and it's a HUGE but that was only because my team of operators were nearly having heart failure trying to keep trains running - they/we were absolutely exhausted on Saturday night. So the reason that I was seriously thinking of scrapping the layout was that I felt that I couldn't keep putting my friends through this hell...
I am a long time past model railway ex-exhibitor, and every layout worth viewing is done so with understanding of the challenge. And furthermore I can compare with my more recent experiences on teams at trade show stands where commercial equipment is demonstrated: for model railway shows the set up and strike down time allowed is inadequate, and much of the kit was never really designed to operate intensively in a crowded, probably dusty and high humidity, possibly with some floor gradient or instability and power fluctuation, environment. In an ideal world there would be some practical way of stress testing exhibition layouts for this sort of worst case...

So I have a virtual reality running in my head, which is engaged to smooth out the operational glitches, and simply enjoy what is there.

(TDMRC-MOD @ 5 Apr 2021, 16:24) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...One visitor, who is an exhibition manager, said that he would never book the layout because he hated layouts with dead straight track. He said he liked layouts with sweeping curves and TBH there is nothing we can do to make him happy and so I'll have to accept that we'll never please everyone...
And especially your exhibit A with no imagination. I can count on one finger the fairly contemporary Chinese operations layout I have seen! Couldn't tell you how many repetitive 'Ashbustleighs' I have ignored, sweeping curves and all... (I'll say this for the CMRA show, it's always been 'broad church' in offering an adventurous range of subjects and much else.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
QUOTE (34C @ 6 Apr 2021, 09:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I am a long time past model railway ex-exhibitor, and every layout worth viewing is done so with understanding of the challenge.

One of my/our biggest challenges is that the layout is a personal one and too big to set up at home. Consequently, the team never have the time to practice, practice, practice and iron out the operational issues and tweak the operation like a club with large premises would be able to do. We only get to run the layout at shows in front of a paying audience!

That's where the POOLE exhibition OCTOBER 17th is a life saver. We have accepted an invitation to this show - note that it is on a SUNDAY. We normally refuse all one day shows, but ...............................

The Poole show has access to the hall all day Saturday! So we are going to go down Friday night, pay our own hotel bill and use the Saturday (from 10am) as an extended practice session. PERFECT!!!!

Issues like -

Which operator likes which (of 4) operating positions best?
Which steam loco double-heads best with which other?
Does any given brass loco run better clockwise or ant-clockwise?
Which loco is best to haul which train?
Etc, Etc

I have never heard of another show that is a one-dayer on a Sunday with all day access on the Saturday - could not be better for us.
 

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(TDMRC-MOD @ 7 Apr 2021, 09:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>...That's where the POOLE exhibition OCTOBER 17th is a life saver. We have accepted an invitation to this show - note that it is on a SUNDAY. We normally refuse all one day shows, but ...............................

The Poole show has access to the hall all day Saturday! So we are going to go down Friday night, pay our own hotel bill and use the Saturday (from 10am) as an extended practice session. PERFECT!...
That's a good start, a day to set up, debug, practice and assess the running capability.

I would want to keep a record of the achieved performance over the last couple of hours on the Saturday with no further adjustments. That would be the baseline against which to compare achieved performance under show conditions. So many extra uncontrolled variables when operating with the public present. My favourite from long ago, a suspended floor which deflected significantly under the load. And then there was a gradient on the layout which hadn't been present on the Friday evening.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
Well, the Poole show got cancelled, but we are going to the Tolworth show in November. I continue to add new features and the biggest new addition is a Faller roadway. I originally added it in September 2017, but it has never been reliable enough to be used at a show. Here is a photo from January 2018, but the routes have been simplified since then to improve reliability and authenticity.

Building Wood Road surface Asphalt Floor


It's taken 4 years but the Faller roadway is ready to be run at our next show. The biggest feature is the level crossing, this has taken years to get to work as I want it, but now it does. Here is a video - it's only a demo so that's why it's a light loco move - imagine that the approaching loco has already triggered the barriers going down - everything you see is triggered automatically with no operator input.

 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Here's another video. I have spent some time testing the double-banked coal train - yes, three 2-8-2's on just 11 coal hoppers and it's 100% authentic, based on the Chengde steelworks branch.


I know the picture quality isn't great, but I think the sound of three steam locos makes up for that. I only have the 4 scenic boards up in my shed and so the video has to stop just before the lead loco falls onto the floor!

Would anyone reading this like to join my exhibition operating team? I have a problem - I live in Watford and I don't drive and my usual driver lives in Croydon!! I am looking for someone who lives a lot closer, likes exhibitions and a pint or two on the Friday and Saturday nights of a show. Could that be you? Please send me a PM.

Thanks for looking

Paul
 

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Hello Paul,
I’ve been meaning to have a catch up with you and this layout for some time!
As you can see, I am no longer “Allegheny” as I lost my log in details but I now use my real name. I dreaded trying to catch up in another place as there’s usually so much irrelevant chatter, it’s just too difficult, sorry.
Anyway I saw this layout on the infamous Saturday at Warley and it may not have been perfect but it did work, which is more than I could say for some of the more vaunted layouts!
My own much smaller layout has done just two shows in the UK so I do feel for you when it comes to the stress levels one encounters exhibiting. I too have felt like throwing in the towel as, for the effort expended, the resulting interest is less than could be reasonably expected.
But, that’s what we get for showing something “not British”. Harumph!

While I cannot make any serious suggestions as to how to broaden your general appeal, what I can do is to say “enjoy your layout”. You have a team who can assist you, keep on with that, maybe even reward them (!) and definitely keep a thick skin. Oh and when you get adverse comments from the ignorant, just ignore them.
Cheers,
John E.

PS Sorry! I couldn’t take up your offer, as above, if I were still living near Manchester but I now live in Greece.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Hello Paul,
I’ve been meaning to have a catch up with you and this layout for some time! I saw this layout on the infamous Saturday at Warley and it may not have been perfect but it did work, which is more than I could say for some of the more vaunted layouts!
My own much smaller layout has done just two shows in the UK so I do feel for you when it comes to the stress levels one encounters exhibiting. I too have felt like throwing in the towel as, for the effort expended, the resulting interest is less than could be reasonably expected.But, that’s what we get for showing something “not British”. Harumph!

While I cannot make any serious suggestions as to how to broaden your general appeal, what I can do is to say “enjoy your layout”. You have a team who can assist you, keep on with that, maybe even reward them (!)
I did reward them. Who wouldn't want a BEIJIAO souvenir mug?

Smile Outerwear Table Arm Tableware


As regards making the layout more accessible to a wider audience, I have concentrated on that aspect for the last two years - since Warley 2019, our last show.

I have moved the layout back from 2004 to 2001 and have ditched the JI-TONG concept on the bi-directional route. By going back to 2001 I can make both the main line and the bi-directional part of the China Rail network - an easier concept to explain to viewers - and we can now justify steam operations on all three China Rail lines. This then means that we can run more steam trains and they can make more complex movements like this tanker train which enters the scene on the bi-directional crosses over onto the clockwise track and then crosses over again onto the anti-clockwise.

Train Vehicle Building Transport hub Rolling stock
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Hello everyone.

I am pleased to announce that BEIJIAO has been invited to go to Scot-Rail in February next year. The show is open 25th/26th/27th and whilst I have a team to run the layout there is a vacancy for a guest operator who lives close to the venue - sorry all our hotel allowance is taken and so it would need to be someone who lives close enough to commute.

Could this be YOU?

Please send me a PM if you are interested.
 
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