The trouble with posting frequently is that when you don't post for a week or so the rumours start to grow and the questions start to flow. So... no i have not moved into the retirement village behind where I live and the "hospice" rumour is starting to wear thin....But i do get a laugh so all is good.
Our hobby appears to be going through some changes and also a major shift away from the basics of what used to be the cornerstone of layout building and that is "Scratch Building". It is now about 40 odd years ago that i first got started in this great hobby and the desire to have something more than a Triang or Hornby piece of rollingstock or lineside item back then, meant a certain commitment to stretch one's faith in yourself to have a go at buiding your own. The desire to recreate the local and familiar Aussie prototype in model form meant purchasing available scratch building materials, some rudimentary tools ( sometimes to include raiding Dad's highly treasured tools ) and go about creating the landscape for your trains to run through, the lineside detail items and of course the locos and rollingstock as well.
Of course at that time the first or second generation of locally produced rollingstock kits were hitting the market and while they were extremely crude by today's standards, they were certainly well recieved and were a leg up to speeding the layout creation along. Even though they were "kits" in the strict sense of the word...even these mouth watering offerings created by local visionaries still required a good level of dexterity and skill to end up with a reasonable facsimile of the intended wagon or loco.
Roll the clock forward 40 years and we are now absolutely spoilt ( although our credit card account would think differently ) by the ever increasing quality of ready to run locos, rollingstock and ready to place lineside items...most approaching museum quality. So....what is wrong with that? ...every facet of our lives is going through the same types of changes that are invented and marketted to enhance our quality of life. I cannot argue with these facts and of course have heavily invested in a fair quantity of the recent offerings....But i can't help but wonder the slow demise of what used to be the "trainer wheels" of the hobby and that is "Scratch Building"
I personally offer that the hobby may experience a renaissance where because of the high level of quality RTR locos, rollingstock and ready made structures, people may well find that they have more time to focus on the landscape in which their museum pieces travel or like me strive to create a higher level of realism in these areas where possible. For me this is through weathering of rollingstock and always trying to raise the bar and attempting to achieve a better level of lineside structure quality and realism.
While i am penning this post, the fact not lost on me ( and many blog followers would be aware ) is that I am fortunate to have the machinery at my disposal that does take a lot of the menial and repetitious tasks away and does make my chosen tasks a lot easier. In the end though...if one is to create anything we still need to be able to imagine, visualise and research the intended creation....Something that scratch building ( luckily ) instilled on me many years ago...
With the "Musings" part of the post out of the way it is time to move onto something that some blog followers may find interesting...
As alluded to in an earlier post...I have been experimenting more and more with the available options for weathering timber structures. Part of this is the ability to weather and age the timber without the need for paint. While i have nothing against paint personally... I just think that there are more suitable mediums to achieve the outcome I am after and that is to compliment the raw material and not mask it. With the added attraction being the fact that there is nothing i like more than varying my approaches to the hobby. While the following photos are of a well worn ( on this blog anyway ) subject...I think the latest incarnation certainly shows subtle differences in the approach and result of trying these different mediums. I have still utilised my well worn approach of giving the timber a first coat of the Raven Oil mix...but have then used my "new friends"....the pastels. I think i am nearly there with this approach and am gaining more and more confidence as each new structure rolls off the assembly line.
While talking about the bridges and seemingly flying in the face of my earlier musings portion of the post...we are, because of demand, taking orders for those in the hobby who would like a single or double track span bridge built, weathered and ready to "plonk"....If this interests you...just drop us a line and we will discuss your requirements.
In a future post I will also touch on the use of round piles for the bridges and what this means for our upcoming trestle and timber opening range....