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Return to an interest in UK modelling

11439 Views 32 Replies 20 Participants Last post by  hoonsou
Dear all,

Enthusiasms can take over every waking moment if you are not careful and a balance has to be struck between the real world, (requiring a job to make some money to pay my bills type of world) and the world in your head (that's the one where we construct the layout of our dreams or plan the purchase of the next super detailed model that has just been released).

The dynamics are slightly different for me as I work for a well known European Freight railway company and spend most of my waking hours grappling with the complexities of cross border train movements, the incompatibilities of locomotives in the fleet with the various signalling systems and the logistical problems of moving freight trains in 8 countries. As you can imagine this keeps me pretty busy and for many would be the realisation of a dream, the chance of merging your hobby with your work; but, and isn't there always a "but", to pursue my career I have to live in Germany. Not exactly a hardship you might say but after three years of living and working in "mainland Europe" I am starting to feel the odd pang of homesickness as the novelty starts to wear off.

The first thing to appear was an overwhelming desire for steak and kidney pudding and the whole gamut of meat pies that we enjoy in the UK (nothing comes close here) and the, I have to admit, continuous craving for a pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord bitter. I can drown out the latter problem by consuming copious amounts of the local lagers but the meat pie issue depends on friends back in the UK bringing with them a can of Fray Bentos S&K when they visit. My wife is reluctant to help out on the meat pie front as she worries about nonesenses such as high blood pressure and obesity! I am resisting the urge to paraphrase Professor Higgins here but those of you who are old enough will know to what I allude.

The second symptom of homesickness happened about 6 months ago, waking up one day to find that my interest for continental HO modelling was just not there any more. For the past 10 years this has been a constant companion. This started in the UK but I had a load of mates all interested in German, Austrian or Swiss railways and I was drawn more and more into that world. To be honest, the models are better though they do cost nigh on double the price (and that's before you include the huge price rise caused by the drop in the value of the pound). However, back to that morniing when I awoke to find I had lost that interest. For a day or two I did not know what to do. I was travelling between offices so my work days were long but I was dreading the weekend back at home. What was I going to do? I was facing the prospect of having no excuse for my wife when she asked me if I wanted to go with her for a walk in the woods. Pointing at a chaotic modelling table and claiming to be at a critical stage in the assembly of a Prussian Water Tower or the like never failed to get me off the hook. But what now? She would surely sense this change in me and, sensing a vacuum move in for the marital kill, the only choice being between a long walk or a short walk.

Thankfully, relief was not long in arriving. That first motiveless weekend saw me surfing the internet for want of anything better to do (trying to look busy so I would not be asked to join my wife in a shopping expedition). We lived just outside Berlin at that time and I did not mind in the least going into the city but a trip to a supermarket in the suburbs was something to be avoided. I was idly looking at "you tube" when a link came up for the prototype Deltic. I don't know how that link appeared because I was certainly not looking for UK railway material, probably just one of those coincidences that the weak minded claim as evidence of a sixth sense or, even worse, proof positive of divine intervention. Whatever. What I found myself looking at was a short clip of a sound fitted Deltic prototype model. I could see that this was a very good model and the sound was not too far off that I remember hearing from the lineside at Sandy as a nine year old being thrilled by a flash of blue that being tested on an A4 diagram. Within a week I had located one of these models for sale on ebay. A week later it was on display atop the bookcase.

What followed was a gradual rediscovery of the railways of my youth in East Anglia. Book purchases came thick and fast and then odd models started to trouble our postman. We moved house to southern Germany to be nearer my new office and the rate of purchases increased. Spurred on by the sound of the Deltic I switched to digital (something that I had avoided with my continental models) and so far have only burnt out one model ( the Hornby D5512 but no worries, I have 2 of them). I bought the 2 D5512'ves following reading the article on this forum. Sadly I did not read the "fitting a sound chip" section as closely as I should have done. No matter, a new circuit board will have it as good as new.

Enough of this. I have rambled on enough this Sunday afternoon. My wife will soon be back from her walk and I must hide the empty beer bottles (sadly they had only contained lager but that was thankfully wet). As you can see I have survived the loss of a passion and replaced it with another. Now when I am travelling back from a meeting in some far flung city I relax by trying to decide wether I should model the Cambridge bay platforms 5 and 6 plus engine shed and a bit of the through platform, or should I be a bit more rural and go for a more pure Great Eastern experience by modelling my home town station, Bury St.Edmunds (obviously not all of it as if I kept scale distances I would have to tunnel through to the neighbours bedroom. Choices, choices. This is what the hobby is all about, giving a bloke (or blokess) the chance to dream about a world of our own making, plucked from memory or reflecting what we see today. My only concern now is that I don't know if the original Deltic had route clearance up to Cambridge. No way and no reason would it have ever been allowed into platforms 5 & 6 but it may have been eased onto the shed. If I model Bury St.Edmunds the Deltic would have to stay on the bookcase but, (yet another but) I could get my 4mm civil engineering gang to work on the route so that the Deltic is diagrammed for Kings Cross > Newmarket race specials and has to come forward to Bury to run round the stock. It's my world so I can do what I like. Obviously my homesickness is quite a factor as I was born in B.S.E over 58 years ago and moved on to live in Cambridge when I was 17. A lot has happened in the intermediate years but just now those formative years are much in my mind and are influencing my modelling choices. Thank goodness the hobby gives me that focus. Isn't that what it is all about?

Best regards to all .......... Greyvoices
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Hi & welcome to MRF.

Nice into' - look forward to updates on your plans.
Hello and welcome to the Forum.

I model SNCF and like you I found my enthusiasm was waning, in my case around 3 years ago. I changed tack completely and started modelling BR LM region in the 60s. However this interest soon waned as well due to inferior running quality, and I was drawn back to the superior, albeit more expensive SNCF models. However I've still kept the BR models so if I need to reinvent my enthusiasm I can do so without going on a spending spree.

I fully understand your waning enthusiasm, but would suggest you hang onto your Eurpoean models, you never know where your enthusiam will take you.

Like you I live on the Continent, in my case France, and I also have a hankering for good pies and beer (in my case Boddingtons which can be bought out here fortunately). Otherwise I can recommend who will post out English food, in my case Bisto, Paxo and Coleman's mustard, (yes they do steak and kidney pies as well).

Happy modelling and eating
Clive Hayward
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Hi, mate,
I'm a Brit [Brickwoods Best Bitter (70s), Courage Directors (70s/80s), Lakeland Gold (00s)] living in Oz, hankering after my time when I lived in Germany!!!
My advice,
1. stay where you are.
2. model East Anglia (BSE) in the mid-late 50s, and have some fun : B12/3, D16/3, B17 on the 'Continental', E4, J15, F6, Gresley/Thomson Blood and Custard sets - I don't really need to say more, do I?
3. next time you are in UK, buy at least 2 Muntons English Bitter kits, + 2 Kg of liquid malt and make your own beer too - the Germans find this very quaint.
4. Pick yourself a team e.g. Alemannia Aachen, support them through thick and thin and try to get them up to the Bundesliga.

Good luck

why not take a drastic break of pace?

build something small...a plank or somesuch......which can be fiddled with as a change from your main interest?

and can I suggest ignoring stuff like running qualities?

most of today's UK-outline is as good as anything from the continent, in my I do recall Jouef and its indifferent running as was....

however, what I DO suggest is, not just a change of prototype country...but a serious change of era?

when I was a lot younger [same ..more or less..generation as you], modellers mainly went for pre-grouping/ pre-nationalisation...BR era being seen as too recent and boring.......I miss not seeing pre-group GWR branchlines in the press...they're all dirty BR these days. seem to possess modelling skills over and above unpacking Fleischmann's latest from its box....and try a prototype less well served by teh makers...which means pre-group for definate....maybe even Broad Gauge GWR...which everybody KNOWS is what every railway ought to have ended up like.

running quality is down to your own skills then....and it aint difficult...apparently.

nice Taff VAle Rly item in January's BRM
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After 30+years of modelling German railways I finally returned to modelling the railway at the bottom of my hill in Dorset.

I cannot provide a single reason why I abandoned German railways, it was a series of occurrences culminating in Sterling's plunge with the contemporaneous release of Hornby's sublime T9.

The branchline has been replaced by ten bare baseboards awaiting a very minimalist rendition of a location on the South West mainline.

The past 30 years have been great but I look forward to the next opportunity with equal enthusiasm.

Hi Greyvoices, welcome to the forum. I tend to model both UK and German. I have a layout split into sections so I work on whatever takes my interest at the time. Best of both worlds.

cheers Neil
I always think that things do go in phases and sometimes a change is as good as a rest.

When we moved to the Midlands from Scotland in 1985 I discovered that the loft of our house there would be ideal for a model railway and over the next few years I created a 26'x8' OO layout based on Scotland in the 1950-60 period but I also ran 1980s stock as well.

Due to work commitments (I ran my own publishing business producing specialist books, mainly Agricultural Machinery History) and part-time Ministry in the C of E, the layout was never finished and after a time I spent very little of my spare energies on it. I moved more into road transport for book titles too.

When we decided to return to Scotland in 2004 I dismantled the layout and salvaged the track. I had kept the best of the locos and rolling stock and sold the rest. I had not thought about a layout in our present abode, and I continued to publish books, mainly on buses and trams now.

An opportunity arose to work for Stagecoach in 2004 and I have now become very involved in running their vintage bus fleet in east Scotland. My interest in buses from a historical viewpoint has taken a knock as they are now my work, and I have returned to railways as a hobby, the result being a new layout in my present loft and much more reading on the subject.

I think the important thing is - do what you enjoy - life's too short for anything else.
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I love anything that's electric traction, probably because when I grew up the nearest railway was the London Underground. This translated itself into the Triang OHL locos as there was no such thing as LT models in the 1960s unless you built them yourself, the Ever Ready model isn't anywhere good enough. Naturally that overran into a love of continental OHL locos, particularly the Krokodils. I've bought some Roco and Lima NS, DB, and SBB locos even though my layout will be London Transport when it's finished and I'm motorising and DCCing EFE tube stock for the layout.

However my local club has OHL layouts and i can run some of my OHL locos there.

You could join a local club, then you'd be able to use your existing continental stock on the club's layout and still pursue your GE/ER theme at home. Double the fun or twice the frustration?

Gentlemen (I presume it's just gentlemen),

Thanks for all your comments. I now have ideas on purchasing meat pies, advice from down under to dabble in home brew (this I will avoid because I am still trying to forget the taste of the beer a mate made in a zinc bath - I was cross eyed for a week) and much more.

I think that "a change is as good as a rest" neatly sums it up. To model continental in the evening but also to work on continental in the day is a bit too much. Today at work I have been grappling with the organisation of maintenance in Italy of 3 x DC 3000 volt electric locos, arguing with a manufacturer about the suitability (un-suitability) of 7 multi-system AC/DC locos, arranging for the sale of an unwanted Mak G1000 diesel. Tomorrow it's a discussion about our Class 66 fleet deployed in Benelux/Germany and reviewing driver resources for the new year.

After that little lot all I want to do is get back home and sink back into the green diesel era in the east of England. Digital sound is opening up new opportunities as I think back to those days and I am wondering if I can buy a model of Hereward the Wake that sounds like the one in my memories. In 1959 (when I was 9) I daily witnessed the last fling of steam in Bury St.Edmunds, and what a last fling. Each evening, somewhere around 18:00, a Britannia would arrive with a commuter train from Liverpool Street that had run via Cambridge. After all passengers had alighted it would then set back into the loop avoiding line that snaked around the loco shed (31E). Once this train was safely stowed a southbound boat train for Harwich would arrive from the north powered by yet another Britannia. As this engine was taking water the northbound boat train ran in from the Ipswich direction behind yet another Britannia. So, six evenings a week this fantastic scene would be payed out, three Britannia's in a small cross country station at the same time. Once the two boat trains had departed the train ex Liverpool Street that had been lanquishing in the sidings, crept forward into the station, sometimes taking a last chance for some water before it departed ECS for Ipswich. Happy days. Is there anyone on this forum who can remember this? Within a year it was all over, the through train from Liverpool Street became a boring interconnecting Cravens from Cambridge to Ipswich. The boat trains were hauled by EE Type 4's (though it was still interesting to see if the loco was a much prized Gateshead allocation) and somehow the magic was gone. Yes I can just about remember the B17's on the boat trains but for me the Britannias are the ones that matter. Mind you, I would willingly sacrifice a limb for the chance to get my hands (or would that by then be a singular hand) on a model of a D16/3 fitted with accurate sound.

There we are, we all have our memories which fuel our present interests, be they electrics, underground, Scotland, the Midlands, SNCF or whatever. Whatever and whereever it fills an obvious need. Thank you all very much for replying to my post, it is much appreciated.

Now, where can I buy a zinc bath in Basel?

Best regards ........... Greyvoices
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QUOTE Now, where can I buy a zinc bath in Basel?

I don't know about zinc baths, but I did come across a well stocked model railway shop during a day trip to Basel during the summer. Just as well you've given up Continental for the moment it could have been expensive, especially since the Swiss Franc has proved even stronger than the Euro.

Welcome to the forum Greyvoices, probably the most interesting introduction thread yet!

I think you seem to know your own mind very well. Have you bought you're three Britannia's yet? (one of the newest and best Hornby locos). I look forward to hearing about your new layout "Bury St.Edmunds" or Cambridge.

Good luck,

QUOTE (dwb @ 15 Dec 2008, 19:56) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I don't know about zinc baths, but I did come across a well stocked model railway shop during a day trip to Basel during the summer. Just as well you've given up Continental for the moment it could have been expensive, especially since the Swiss Franc has proved even stronger than the Euro.

The shop is Bercher & Sternlicht, in Spalenberg. A truly excellent shop if you're into Continental modelling. I was there a year ago when we had a long weekend in Basel to visit the christmas market - excellent mulled wine.

Despite their excellent range, you can stand and drool for hours at the OHL locos and narrow gauge stock, B&S had nothing in OO or in british prototype outline. It puts the UK scene in perspective when you see that. They do have Hornby International though, and Peco HOm track.

Bought a Roco NS1100 loco, no reason, but it looks good next to my Triang EM2 in true NS dutch livery as 1505. OK so one's OO and the other's HO, but the hobby's supposed to be fun.

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Welcome to the Forum Greyvoices and thank you for one of the most interesting introductions for many a day. On the modelling front I seem to have been dragged into the European scene, and have recently joined the Benelux society here in the UK. Apart from that there's the British HO project and the BR(SR) super plank. But whatever you do enjoy your visits and hobby.

Fast forward 4 years ...........

Yes it's been a while since I joined MRF. A lot has happened since then and now I am once again living in my adopted Derbyshire. My work became ever more complicated, at first successfully combating the negative effect on railfrieght caused by the credit crunch but the double dip and resultant Euro problems gradually took their toll. We moved back home but I carried on working in trans-european freight but this time commuting to Belgium on a Sunday evening and returning late Friday night. I never thought that I would say it but I have become rather bored with the Eurostar. It could not last and finally I ground to a halt, deciding to stop work and swap the Berne gauge for 4mm 00. I have therefore been taking it easy these past few months, coming to terms with life without work and asking myself the question, "is this all there is"? Those of you who immediately think of Lottie Lenya will know how she responds to that, "then break out the booze," which does it for a while but endlessly staring into the bottom of a pint pot is hardly the best way to lift the spirits. It slowly dawned on me that now I had the opportunity to realise the model railway of my dreams and I started getting the house in order to enable this to happen. This meant converting the garage into a proper room, replacing the garage door with a window, thinking that this would give me all the space that I needed. Of course, being a husband there has to be a bit of a trade off so I had to sacrifice 3 feet at the back of the garage to be part of the kitchen extension thus heading off any complaints from my better half. We each got something out of the build. So here I am, with time on my hands, 18 feet by 9 feet of room that is exclusively mine and a head full of plans.

I've had a bit of a false start because I could not decide on my ideal track plan. I met up with a dear chap in Bushey who delights in manufacturing track and he made me a very nice facing crossover utilising C&L components. We were discussing him doing more for me but this coincided with my post work indecisive slump. There was also the problem of dabbling in Templot. I have come to the conclusion that my brain is wired in a non Templot way as I just could not get the hang of it. This surprises me because my formative railway career involved interpreting track diagrams, constructing 4'8 and a half inch (sorry I have forgotten what the Alt + combination is for a half) gauge track formations. I have fond memories of supervising the construction of prefabricated lengths for the Royal Border Bridge, Berwick on Tweed, trimming back the inner rails to effect the required sweeping curve and ensuring that the sleepers that would have fouled the inner brick wall buttresses were suitably shortened to match. An absolute doddle compared with Templot. I know that many swear by it but my brain architecture must be more Numbsot than Templot.

So what am I planning? First off I am going to reclaim the East German Epoch 4 layout that I used to exhibit. It has been languishing in the back of a hut, in need of a bit of overhead wire refurbishment. But, (I was taught never to start a sentence with a but ........ ), those of you who have taken the trouble to look back over the earlier posts in this thread will no doubt be wondering if I have reverted back to continental H0. It's a bit presumptuous of me to think that anyone would bother revisiting those posts but those of you who are more sensible, with better things to do with your time I will summarise the dilemma I was faced with. (If you think that "dilemma" should be spelt "dilemna" then check this out, ). My interest in continental models had deserted me owing to a combination of working for hours each day with the real things and homesickness following years living in Berne, Berlin and then on the German side of the border near Basel. My sense of loss was alleviated by a reawakening of my interest in the railways in the East Anglia of my boyhood and the improved models available in 00 gauge. I can assure you that I fully intend recreating, as best I can, a Suffolk idyll set in 1950 (the year of my birth). The H0 layout is an end to end and will nestle at waist height below the main, 00 shoulder height layout that will encircle the room. In an earlier post someone mentioned having both H0 and 00 and I now too seem to be blessed with a dual interest.

I think that I have taken up enough of your time so I'll end this waffle. I will post again in a few days with "THE PLAN" and perhaps a photo or two. In the meantime I think it's time for a beer. How wonderful it is to look in the fridge and gaze upon serried ranks of Spitfire, Cumberland Ales, Pedigree and Timothy Taylor instead of a kuehlschrank mit Ganter und Rothaus.

Best regards to all .......... Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hello John and welcome back to the forum.

I'll repeat what others have said; a very interesting intro'.

I didn't realise that the thread started back in '08 until your latest post. It seems you've had an interesting life compared to some peoples boring jobs, but that it's taken it's toll.

When I was a nipper, we lived in two railway carriages at Bury St Edmunds. I don't (unfortunately) remember this, but have been told by relatives about some of the things I got up to as a two or three year old. Personally, I think I was an angel

My good lady ('er indoors) and myself have lived in Oz since 1974 and I still long for steak and kidney puddings, jam roll and custard, etc. We'll be back in blighty in May '13 so there's just a chance I might indulge.

My railway modelling, even after playing since the eighties hasn't really progressed past the train set stage, but I'm happy. I admire quite a lot of other peoples efforts and think yours will be something to look forward to.

Happy modelling and enjoy Engerland.
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That's a very good layout subject area to go after. Despite the help offered recently by the RTR manufacturers, you are in for some serious kit building to model 1950s Suffolk. But you will be able to have the bones of a local passenger service running quickly thanks to the original Derby lightweights, also the B1 and B17 with Gresley and Thompson non-gangwayed if the route chosen is sufficiently main line. And the trend toward 0-6-0s noticeable in Bachmann's output may well deliver an ex-GER J; the J15 in particular has been consistently lobbied for.

Ignore the fads of grammarians. Their working principle has been to apply Latin grammar to a language which really bears little relation to it. That would be akin to a GP attempting to apply modern medicine in a manner consonant with the theory of the four humours...
Aha a fellow lunatic. I have just aquired a pair of J15s from Colin who now runs Alan Gibson's essential for any East Anglian adventure. Great to have you back on the modelling as it were and great work on the beers, I'll have a Timmy Taylors with a whisky to chase.

QUOTE (hoonsou @ 3 Jan 2013, 21:25) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hello John and welcome back to the forum.

When I was a nipper, we lived in two railway carriages at Bury St Edmunds.

You have intrigued me Hoonsu, I realise that you have no memory of the carriages you lived in but I hope that your relatives can help out with more specific details such as where they were located etc.

Your more general points about my supposed "interesting life" makes me smile because the one thing that I have learnt is that a drab office is a drab office wherever it might be located. I have met the odd chums from my school-days who never left my home town but have had very happy and successful lives. My problem was that I spent so much of my formative years at the local railway station that I started to wonder where the trains were going to. Surely, a move to Australia is far more adventurous.

I liked the points made by cvr1865 (alias Simon) and 34C and in due course I would like to amplify the points they raise but before I do that I thought it best that I should master the techniques involved in posting to this forum. I want to add photographs and track diagrams so have been reading through the various threads where people blessed with the patience of saints (surely there must have been some impatient saints) try to lead the witless such as myself through the various steps needed to be successful contributors. My next post may well be a complete cod's ear!

Best regards ............ Greyvoices (alias John)
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Hi Greyvoices,

Look forward to the "cod's ear" !!!!!! Seems as though we may have had similar experiences, but for different reasons.

gresley (in Germany)
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