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I recently came across the expression 'suspension of belief' in connection with modelling railways although apologies to the utterer I can not recall where, so can not give credit for it and certainly not claim credit for it. I just thought what a wonderful description of what we try do do in our own individual ways.

So I was thinking what are we all prepared to put up with? We all have our own pet hates I am sure. For instance new as I am to this lark I hate to see layouts and their loco's and stock un-weathered. I have been to exhibitions and seen P4 and EM layouts with beautiful prepared (handmade) track and everything and I do mean everything is imaculate. HELLO have you seen a railway lately? Have you ever seen a clean one?

I know the expresions:-

'It is my layout so I will run what I like' and 'If it looks right it is right'

and to some extent I believe in them but what are we trying to achieve? I don't hold with rivet counters but I suppose we all like to think that we are making something believable. So what is important to us, the fact that we like it or others look at it and believe what they see?

Did anyone see that cat amongst the pigeons?

Chris
 

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Chris,
I think each one of us has a slightly different view point as to what they wanted to achieve. My relatively recent return to railway modelling was basically to have fun playing trains - ie I am more interested in seeing trains on the move, controlling them, etc. They will run in scenery eventually, but my first priority has been to get trains to go. The models these days are remarkable for their quality in both detail and running quality compared to 40 years ago, and most of my problems have been with relearning track laying skills, so the running sessions have been erratic as various minor problems have resulted in the need to relay odd bits of track and pointwork.

I am not after a 'suspension of belief' - I know it's a model railway and will be nothing else to me. But it is designed to be a recall of many trips on preserved railway lines. None of these can quite capture the 'feel' of BR in the late 1950s and early 1960s when I was a spotty train-spotter, but they have done wonders and in some ways my layout is a tribute to them, albeit a private one.

I have nothing but admiration for those who do produce layouts where a close look shows it to be a very close reproduction of real life, but that is not quite what I'm after for my own relaxation. And I will not weather my locos or passenger rolling stock - I like the pristine look much more; I saw more than enought of grubby steam locos as they were done to death at such an outrageous pace in the early 1960s and certainly do not wish to reproduce that feeling!

Regards,
John Webb
 

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QUOTE (chriswright03 @ 16 May 2007, 19:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have been to exhibitions and seen P4 and EM layouts with beautiful prepared (handmade) track and everything and I do mean everything is imaculate. HELLO have you seen a railway lately? Have you ever seen a clean one?
Couldn't you just walk past those layouts and spend more time looking at something else? Or go to shows with less P4/EM presence? Some people may want to maximise the residual value of their rolling stock by not weathering it, some people may not feel confident spraying grime on to what can be quite expensive models and some people may be more interested in other aspects of the hobby and have a finescale fetish. Also layouts take a lot of time to finish to the highest standards and why not get the track sorted to ones satisfaction before moving on to catenary/plastic people/street lighting etc?

I have no interest in building my own track and I don't give a hoot about modelling a real location. I don't care if locomotive X never pulled Y type coaches on route Z as long as X,Y and Z existed at about the same period. UK outline does nothing for me in prototype or model form, but that doesn't mean I'm annoyed by its existence! I will just spend more time looking at European layouts at shows whilst still appreciating the effort and love that someone else has put into what interests them.

Calm down, it's just a commercial!

Goedel
 

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Hi Chris,

I´ve decided to model Ep. I after all, and back in the 1910s, most engines were indeed pristine and clean, as apparently there was enough personnel to polish the equipment really clean, so there´s not much blame to put on these modellers. I´ve looked at a lot of pictures from that time, railroad as well as everyday life, and it seems to be a rather "tidy" era, at least in Germany and Austria (I haven´t seen pics of/from the UK, so I can´t really comment on what it looked like there).

I wouldn´t want to weather my rolling stock anyway, as some of it is pretty pricey and I´m not ashamed to admit that I´m rather inexperienced at weathering, so chances are that if I tried to weather my engines and cars, I´d ruin some realy, really nice models..
 

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I came across a letter on this issue in April's RM which addresses this issue. The prototypical layouts at shows which have a branchline with maybe one loco occaisionally making an appearance atract no attention at shows, the ones that attract the viewers are the ones where there are several locos racing round at speed on a loop. I beleive they are referred to as tail chasers by the rivet counters. I tend to agree with this in that while the small terminus layout maybe prototypical, accurate and an identical model of a real life scene it provides entertainment value only to the creator and few else. I like to see trains moving which is why I buy motorised ones rather than plastic models. I also like to see more than one train on the go rather than one every ten minutes if I'm lucky. There is room for everything in this hobby between these extremes but I know which one is more popular with the masses. Boring shunting yard layouts will not get kids interested in this hobby.
 

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I agree with what's being said here. Rather than every blade of grass being present and correct fun layouts that are not always prototypical are what I enjoy at exhibitions and are what will make our hobby grow. There's a place for all I suppose and over this side of the world EM/P4 layouts are rare as compatibility with H0 is in many cases important.
I often wonder about what the phrase 'exhibition standard' means? Is there a standard written down? I some cases I think it's a disadvantage to the hobby. One thing I like about many Euro layouts is they put more emphasis often on a 'hansel and gretel' look which I really think is appealing. They also usually have many trains running to catch the eye. At least this is my impression.
 

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Talking of 'suspension of belief', people who operate their exhibition layouts to real time timetables are clearly fruitcakes if they think the average exhibition goer is going to wait fifteen minutes for the next movement of a tank engine and old coach two feet along a single track to the fiddle yard! People want inspiration for their attempts at home and also they want to be entertained - this requires action; after all a railway is all about moving stuff from A to B and every moment when something isn't happening is unproductive for the railway and boring for the onlooker.

I agree with OzWarrior that many European layouts emphasise the 'hansel and gretel' look which many exhibition attendees enjoy given the large crowds around such layouts at the last exhibition I went to (the N Gauge Show). It's an idealisation remarkably enjoyable to escape to for a few minutes, leaving the grime and graffiti behind for a moment. Needless to say the UK layouts running to real time were deserted...

Goedel
 

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its simply a case of different types of layouts for different types of people.

Some like to model things exactly as it was or is. some like to buil;d a mini utopia and have itas they would have liked it.

what supprises me is your aparent distaste for this.

I hate the timetable operating too. i dont care about bits of paper i just want to see the railway running. 3 minutes withought a train moving is too long in my opinion.

I too agree with ozwarrior about the european layouts but i dont like the look of them. I wish there was more half way house layouts. that still had the action withought having quite so much plastic on display.

I dont really know what suspension of belief means. it does sound a bit ike an excuse for people who are really not that good at modelling.
there are things that can be used very effectivly that trick the mind such as forced perspective.

Peter
 

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I've got to agree with Pedromorgan here... I don't know what 'suspension of belief' actually refers to. 'Suspension of reality' I understand... and isn't this what our hobby is all about... taking time out to enjoy model trains.

After a life time of making plastic models that moved under finger power, I took up this hobby of railway modelling farely recently (hence my beginner style questions on the forum) in order to see things move without being pushed. It's the action that appeals to me. And this is the key phrase... 'what appeals to me'.

I will still make plastic models... in fact I now make them out of card as well. I'm not too bad with an airbrush either so weathering planes and vehicles is not a problem... however... I like my pristine 'out of the box' trains. I like them to move.

A hobby is about relaxation and feeling pleased with what you've done. So the only suspending I want to do is of the stress of everything else I have to do!


Brian
 

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QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 17 May 2007, 05:48) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>its simply a case of different types of layouts for different types of people.
Peter

Could not agree more Peter !

It may just me me but when I look at P4/EM layouts they mostly seem to be pre-grouping & from an age when locomotives, rolling stock, stations & adjacent areas were kept in a prestine condition & the people who maintained things had a real pride.

Good points about weathering/value - some of my stock is weathered to varying degree's, some not. There is some stock that would in any case be immaculate (the Trix "Rheinegold" set for example) & some that I would not consider weathering at all. Some locomotives that have been bought secondhand & in tatty condition will be weathered & well rusted.

Not all layouts are to my personal taste - I'm not too keen in things GWR, but that did not stop me admiring a Dean Goods in P4 or EM (shame on me not knowning !) with working inside motion at Ashford last weekend. I look at all the other layouts - if not my taste I tend move on. I know other people do not like St.Laurent & move on too - it's what makes us all unique.
 

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QUOTE (dbclass50)It may just me me but when I look at P4/EM layouts they mostly seem to be pre-grouping & from an age when locomotives, rolling stock, stations & adjacent areas were kept in a prestine condition & the people who maintained things had a real pride.

I agree with you about pre grouping layouts showing the pride of the railway but not the pre grouping bit. i think P4 has a pretty broad spectrum of modellers. many modern image modellers are being brought in because of the ease of converting modern stock with replacement wheelsets from the likes of ultrascale. it was interesting to be at the scaleforum for the 1883 challenge was decided. the variety was huge. representing just about evry period from mid victorian right through to present day.

GWR is not my cup of tea either (he says in the middle of making a full 10 coach Cornish Riviera!) i dont think its so much of a problem now but there was a time about 10 years ago when evry other layout was a twee little GWR branchline. i got a bit bored of them.

Peter
 

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Interesting comments made by the contributors on this subject and I am sure we are going to get many more interesting comments.

In South Africa we do not have many exhibitions and must rely mainly on what we see on the internet and in magazines which obviously limit our ability to comment on exhibition layouts.

The question was raised what is meant by "exhibition standards" and as far as I know there are no hard and fast rules. Locally I have found that when layouts are displayed and entered into the Model Railways Convention or exhibition competitions there are no real guidelines aivailable to the
entrant(s) to prepare their exhibits for the competition. The judges decide before starting their judging what criteria they are going to use. So there is no continuity to the following competition and I think this situation sometimes confuse and even scare off would be exhibitors.

I believe that a modeller who is prepared to enter his masterpiece into an exhibit/competition has reached a certain level of modelling skills and selfconfidence and that he would like to compare his work against those of the other entrants.

We must also remember that we can not all reach those high levels of modelling simply because we do not all have the same talents. The fact that one does not want to weather your locomotives and rolling stock and even the structures on your layout has justification as well as the other way around.

I for one do not like to weather my locos and rolling stock. I do however paint all my structures before assembly which may allow for some very light weathering especially on the brick and stone work. Just by painting the structures can be regarded as a light form of weathering as it eliminates that shiny plastic toylike look. Painting and ballasting track can also be regarded as a form of weathering. Doing landscapes, rockfaces, rivers and streams can also be regarded as a form of weathering.

I have seen layouts where the weathering idea has gone totally overboard and I hate to think what effort it is going to take to make it at least presentable again. Then again I have seen layouts with very subtle weathering that really looks nice and presentable as well as layouts with no weathering at all. From my experience the last two kinds of exhibition layouts have drawn much more interest from the visitors and spectators.

The "Hansel and Gretel" look was mentioned and I think when you speak to the ordinary spectator at exhibitions you will find that it is this look that "drew" them to the exhibition and also that an interest in the hobby was created by this "Hansel and Gretel" look. I think what we as model train fanatics are trying to do is to create a perfect little world to relax in and to escape every now and then from the real and cruel world we have to navigate every day. Someone on another topic on this forum has even gone a bit further and said he wants to create his own Utopia. Isn't that exactly what our model train layouts are to us - our own little Utopia where we are the station masters, bosses, managers etc?

I agree with Goedel. At the end of the day you have created your layout so why will you not create something you can enjoy? And I am sure that when you enjoy your layout others will enjoy it with you.

I have said it before and I will say it again. Every layout irrespective of its size must tell a story. This story is made up of one or more smaller stories within the bigger story. Some examples of smaller stories: a scene at the station, bus stop or taxi rank, people playing in a park, workers repairing the road or track workers working on the railroad, children on their way to school, a soccer match in progress, people at a local flea market, a construction site, an accident scene, a village scene, people working on a farm. Put all those unique little stories together and you will get the bigger picture. But the big secret about this is that the layout must tell the story without its creator speaking a word. We as modellers must not forget to take that spoonfull of healthy imagination every now and then and share that imagination with the visitors to our layout.

Kids as well as the adult kids just stand amazed when they see our layouts and it makes one feel good to see their appreciation. When one challenge some of the onlookers to try and find a certain scene telling a story on the layout it is sometimes quite funny to see them trying to find that scene and hearing their comments. And at the end of the day I believe that we as modellers have created an interest in our hobby that is so important for the survival of our hobby.

Weathering or no weathering, prototypical or modellers licence, as long as you create a layout you are happy with and can enjoy and others with you, you have achieved what you have set out to do.

Appreciate the work of your fellow modellers even if you do not agree with what they have done and be very diplomatic when you deem it necessary to critisize. One is never to old to learn.

Keep on enjoying this lifetime fascinating and rewarding hobby


Kind regards.


Johan
 

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I admit to knowing little of exhibitionism......so am not qualified to pass comment.

However, way back in the last century....early 1990's or thereabouts...I joined, and participated in the British Region, NMRA.

At that time, various 'groups'..ie areas...decided to make a start on the up-and-coming 'modular' system, for 'creating' an operating layout.

Each member was actively 'encouraged' to build a module(s?)....with the only commonality being, the running track centres, dimensions, joint electrics and method of connection to the next person's efforts.

The results were amazing.
We were able to meet quite regularly and frequently, locally, or in various areas, joining kindred spirits.....with the common denominator being, the erection of a modular layout to either 'run', or 'display' our stuff/latest creation.

All that was needed, was a fairly centrally located church hall,or similar...with power, a kitchen, etc.

Someone brought pies/peas/beanz....usually on a rota basis.....someone hopefully ensured enough corner modules arrived for a continuous run..but if not, what the heck?

Power supplies were easy to arrange...but the association had its own supplies too.

Public weren't actually 'admitted'......insurance precluded that sort of thing.......and a module could be either 'complete', to 'bare bones'...it didn't matter ...the trains ran regardless.

However, the pieces of resistance came at the annual conventions......where entire hotel ballrooms (I particularly recall the Fleetwood convention) got absolutely FILLED, end to end, with a huge modular layout........

100 car freights were the norm.....someone was placed in charge of 'order of play'.....there were quite a few classification yard modules to make a 'make and break 'yard.....
anybody could run stock.......especially useful if one didn't have enough 'period' stock of one's own...someone else usually had some too....My boxcab electric conversion of a Roundhouse GEC boxcab diesel took over 30 minutes to arrive back at my module...at 12 volts!
shays even longer....

new purchases were tried out......handbuilt creations got some mileage too.....members even flew in from the US, and brought stuff....amazing atmosphere.
someone even got together 100's of yards of material for a frontage.....

but the star was the modular layout........potentially, every 4 feet found an entirely new scene to study....the inventiveness was amazing.....and one's home-made creation actually got to see the passage of hugely different amounts of stock.

Public reaction to the NMRA modular concept, at those rare shows we exhibited in (usually as a recruiting drive) was truly inspiring....but I didn't personally enjoy shows....too much pressure....but we noticed folk simply 'making their way' from one end to the other......slowly, taking in each scene, board by board.....the long (slow) trains kept the kids happy......we were known to get enough freight cars together to make the lead loco a pusher!
(Athearn stock really pulled well)

I sometimes wonder what the NMRA British region is up to these days?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
QUOTE (goedel @ 16 May 2007, 23:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Couldn't you just walk past those layouts and spend more time looking at something else? Or go to shows with less P4/EM presence? Some people may want to maximise the residual value of their rolling stock by not weathering it, some people may not feel confident spraying grime on to what can be quite expensive models and some people may be more interested in other aspects of the hobby and have a finescale fetish. Also layouts take a lot of time to finish to the highest standards and why not get the track sorted to ones satisfaction before moving on to catenary/plastic people/street lighting etc?

I have no interest in building my own track and I don't give a hoot about modelling a real location. I don't care if locomotive X never pulled Y type coaches on route Z as long as X,Y and Z existed at about the same period. UK outline does nothing for me in prototype or model form, but that doesn't mean I'm annoyed by its existence! I will just spend more time looking at European layouts at shows whilst still appreciating the effort and love that someone else has put into what interests them.

Calm down, it's just a commercial!

Goedel
Well that elicited a response anyway! Yes I can walk past the layouts that I don't enjoy and with some I do. I am not saying I don't like P4 or EM in fact I think their trackwork is a wonder in itself. I was merely (badly maybe) using that as an example where people take very particular care with one aspect and for their own reason not others. I am not good enough myself to become a critic so apologise if some out there think that is my aim. I was just thinking to myself that amongs the modelling world and this forum certainly what a great expanse of knowlege there is and included in that a great variety of tastes and therefore obviously dislikes.

I fully understand why some people don't weather their stock as it makes any value plummett and it is not always easy to get the right look and far too easy to ruin something. I just find weathered layouts more appealing to me but I fully accept that others may not and certainly don't have a problem with that either. I could have used as an example the fact that I am interested in the blue era of modelling so steam does not hold much interest for me. That does not mean that I don't stop and look at the steam layouts as I do and there is always something to learn from looking at anyone elses work whether it appeals or not.

On the subject of trains running and not having to wait for the tmetable to allow something to run I could not agree more. If it is an exhibiton layout then I think the viewing public expect to see trains running as well as looking at the layout. After all if it was just the scenery we liked we would be making model villages or dolls houses.

So before I go I shall just offer my apolgies if anyone thinks I am an irate nutter and that I have offended them. I suppose the title could just as easily have been what do you like to see in an exhibiton layout? Isn't hindsight marvelous?

Calm and collected and most certainly not irate Chris and thanks all for your views much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 17 May 2007, 05:48) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>its simply a case of different types of layouts for different types of people.

Some like to model things exactly as it was or is. some like to buil;d a mini utopia and have itas they would have liked it.

what supprises me is your aparent distaste for this.

I hate the timetable operating too. i dont care about bits of paper i just want to see the railway running. 3 minutes withought a train moving is too long in my opinion.

I too agree with ozwarrior about the european layouts but i dont like the look of them. I wish there was more half way house layouts. that still had the action withought having quite so much plastic on display.

I dont really know what suspension of belief means. it does sound a bit ike an excuse for people who are really not that good at modelling.
there are things that can be used very effectivly that trick the mind such as forced perspective.

PeterHi Peter I am not sure what it means either really but to me it sort of meant your eyes see one thing but your mind can see something else. Not sure that I have explained that very well but for instance we can all look at a layout and see the fiddle yard at the rear in all it's bareness but our minds concentrate on the scenic part so see something totally different to what our eyes are telling us. Like we see the half of a station on the bend and we can imagine all of the station without actually seeing it.

I am interested in 'forced perspective' though could you explain that a little more to me? I have read of all sorts of tricks like using 'n' gauge vehicles at the rear of an OO layout to give the impression of distance. Do things like that actually work? Is that 'forced perspective'?

Chris

Oh and 'not very good at modelling' fits me to a tee but I am trying to learn and having a go. Hence the questions I ask to attempt to learn more from those more experienced.
 

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Sorry for hijacking your thread Chris! (I just wanted to post the expression 'finescale fetish'...
) You were making a perfectly reasonable point!

Forced perspective is combining all those tricks together in a subtle way to hoodwink the audience convincingly. It's easiest to pull off if you have for example a city scene behind with lots of terraced houses etc. that you can make in a gradually decreasing scale along the terrace. Combined with minature office blocks at the back and a fitting backscene one can suggest perspective and make the layout look larger and somehow more complete, as if more context/environment is included. The wikipedia article on this is very good:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_perspective

No railway is an island. (Except Sodor...
)

Goedel
 

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Re 'Forced Perspective' - 'Copenhagan Fields', the Model Railway Club's 2mm layout of the area just north of King's Cross, is a shining example of this technique. Gives a remarkable feel of looking out over N London.
Regards,
John Webb
 

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QUOTE (chriswright03)I am interested in 'forced perspective' though could you explain that a little more to me? I have read of all sorts of tricks like using 'n' gauge vehicles at the rear of an OO layout to give the impression of distance. Do things like that actually work? Is that 'forced perspective'?
Chris

Hello chris.

Forced perspective is a way of creating an illusion of space. it was first used in the silent film industry in the 1930's when the studio was too small for the set they were building. a good example would be the new superman film. the room with the model railway is very forced. the colums are much further apart at one end of the room than they are at the other and slightly wider at one end of the room. the model railway itself has LGB at the front O gauge behind HO behind that and N gauge behind that. this helps to create an illusion of space.
This is a more extreme example and on camera i dont think the railway is convincing but the columns and perfect and make a very small studio look much larger than it really it.
this can be used on a model railway to great effect. the closer to your eye height the model is, the greater the effect that can ba achieved but subtle changes in scale here and there can work wonders. for example of a road is going off into the distance, make it get gradually narrower as it goes off into the distance and put a TT scale car or bus on it.

I will try and do some diagrams to try and illustrate what i mean.

Peter
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
QUOTE (pedromorgan @ 21 May 2007, 06:23) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hello chris.

Forced perspective is a way of creating an illusion of space. it was first used in the silent film industry in the 1930's when the studio was too small for the set they were building. a good example would be the new superman film. the room with the model railway is very forced. the colums are much further apart at one end of the room than they are at the other and slightly wider at one end of the room. the model railway itself has LGB at the front O gauge behind HO behind that and N gauge behind that. this helps to create an illusion of space.
This is a more extreme example and on camera i dont think the railway is convincing but the columns and perfect and make a very small studio look much larger than it really it.
this can be used on a model railway to great effect. the closer to your eye height the model is, the greater the effect that can ba achieved but subtle changes in scale here and there can work wonders. for example of a road is going off into the distance, make it get gradually narrower as it goes off into the distance and put a TT scale car or bus on it.

I will try and do some diagrams to try and illustrate what i mean.

Peter
Thanks for that Peter. So I have sort of got it right when I was saying about using n gauge cars in the background. I have seen some tremendous backscenes in the past at exhibitons where they actually draw your eye away from the layout and into the backscene. One in particular was a street and houses diminishing in size. Very effective it looked and I think that is what 'suspension of belief' means to me because I can see what is happening with the backscene but my mind is telling me something else. Sometimes a bridge with a few cars and buses on ending abruptly just does not do it.

I often spend longer looking at the small detail in layouts than the trains on it especially when they are not an era that I am interested in (not distaste just my personal preference) and I find that by looking at them I see far more and learn far more but somehow still can't seem to take it all in. That is another point I suppose. How much time and effort goes into some of the smaller detail which is probably missed by a large proportion of the viewing public?

I would be interested to see any diagrams should you manage it Peter. My main interest in it at the moment stems from our club building a new exhibition layout and I am keen to be able to offer some imput as to what should or could work on it in the scenic area. I think it was Nottingham where I saw 'Alton' that had a huge scenic area probably 5 or 6 feet deep that brought the depth to it that you don't normally see with scenic/fiddle yard oval layouts. Even though it was steam and an area that I would not normally be interested in it held me captive for some time and had that extra something that holds the eye.

New as I am to model railways I am keen to learn and joining a club has been a huge help but the forum is a massive source of information which I keep telling the club members about and hopefully they will come and have a look for themselves.

Thanks for your help. Chris
 
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