Wednesday 29 October 2014

For your viewing pleasure

Last week I was sent a DVD, Right Track 19, Layout Planning and Design, to review. Now I'm a print and paper chap at heart, and while I have a DVD player it gathers dust, so what would I make of it? I watched it (2 hours, 25 minutes) in a couple of sessions, and enjoyed it. However sayings it's good, you should consider buying it isn't much of a review so lets look at it in a bit more detail.

What's it about?

The DVD takes the viewer through the stages that Paul and Paul use to develop a layout design from an inspiring subject, test it, and refine it to produce a finished layout. On the way subjects like coupling choice, perspective and backscene are covered too.

Who's if for?

I had wondered just who the DVD was aimed at; in part it assumes some prior knowledge of both model and prototype practice, yet the worked examples are perhaps smaller in scale than an established enthusiast might normally choose. On reflection though I think it's pitched pretty much spot on. It would take a newcomer to the hobby who wonders why his or her collection of models doesn't look like a real railway and doesn't please the eye, a long way in their quest towards a better layout. It would equally work for the established model maker, expert at the mechanics of construction but unsure of their artistic abilities to create a pleasing and coherent design.

 Those with ambitions greater than the scope of the small project layout, illustrated under construction above, should easily be able to extrapolate the concepts and process to a much larger scheme. Though shown in their finished state, Paul Marshall-Potter gives a tour of two larger layouts to demonstrate how such thinking has been applied.

What's it like to watch

Even though it's easy enough to digest in big chunks the DVD is broken down into several 'chapters' making it simple to dip in and out, or to go back and refresh ones memory of a particular piece. Both presenters deliver in a pleasant and engaging manner to camera, not always a strong suit of the railway enthusiast video. I particularly enjoyed the first half of the DVD, the initial stages of working up a design being an interest of mine. Paul Lunn explains this process with clarity and crispness. Both presenters discuss the mock up stage, where 2-D plan becomes a full sized simple 3-D realisation. It was good to see personal preferences coming into play here, as each argued the case for a particular size or site for a structure. Paul Marshall-Potter takes this a stage further turning a full sized mock up into an actual layout, showing the further refinement undertaken along the way.

I reckon that most modellers would get a lot out of the DVD, certainly those who haven't really considered design beyond track plan would. I'm going to lend my copy to a mate, a beginner whose present layout has evolved from a circuit to include loco depot and branch line. He's shortly going to embark on a rebuild, I've no hesitation that he'll find this DVD to be of benefit.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Tidy like

This week I have mostly been tidying up. I'm not sure how it happened but the big empty space that was my playroom had evolved into a cluttered mess. Admittedly it had taken seven years to get there, but perhaps it was the slow, steady, incremental progression to it's awful state that had blinded me to what was happening. It took a trip out to Birmingham Museum to make the penny drop that I'd be happier and more motivated if I did something about it. Various plans were hatched, some included the dismantling of my big trainset 'Morfa'. In the end a less drastic course of action was taken. It's taken a week or so to get half way through the tidying but already I'm more motivated to get up there and do things. Here are before and after photos.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Reality and Fantasy

Mutually exclusive terms I hear you say. Well I'm not so sure; let me explain .....

For the past few months I've been building a narrow gauge micro layout in 009. The notion was to build a layout to fit into an old leather suitcase I had found, however nothing much had happened until we took a holiday in Belgium. Freed from the practicalities of layout building I had time to plan and concoct a history for the line and its fictional setting of Little Point, a sand spit protruding into the North Sea. Many of the elements of this back story are plainly fantasy, a sort of Emett-esque rendering of an Ealing Comedy. It's this barely believable, imagined train of events which make the line live in my mind and motivate me to press on with its construction. In many ways it's as real (or even more real) than my more grounded essays like Shell Island and Morfa. Here, have some pictures.

While I hope you will have enjoyed the photos I'd also like to think that the railway seems plausible to the viewer. What I'd like to point out at this stage is that none of the component parts is anyway near an accurate copy of a real life example. All the bits and pieces I've constructed into a whole are at best loosely based on something similar, but more often are utter figments of my imagination.