Sunday, 25 January 2015

So Why The Change?

After amassing a small, but expensive collection of VR O scale locos, a railcar and a number of pieces of rollingstock over about 10 years, why did I suddenly sell up and move to HO scale?

Well a visit to the VMRS Prototype Modeller's Forum a couple of years back had me seated before well known WAGR Sn 3 1/2 scale modeller and author Adrian Gunzburg, who was presenting a session on operating your layout in a prototypical manner.

Up until that point I knew I wanted to have an O scale layout that had operations and I had developed a timetable for my proposed pike that would do just that, but hamstrung by the limitations of size, number of locos and rollingstock available and of course the practicality of just how many trains you could run on what was basically a branchline and could only sustain a certain number of trains realistically per day.

An hour later after Adrian's presentation I was even more convinced that operation was the way to go and approached him to say that his session was quite inspirational for me. Adrian and I had crossed paths many times over the years and it seemed each time we did I was up to something new in model railways, whether it was a change of scale, location or system or all three at once.

Adrian and I got talking and he invited me over to view his Sn 3 1/2 scale layout Bunbury that was under construction at his home, but very close to being ready to operate in a manner as he had presented at the forum.

Well that first visit we discussed operations as I toured Bunbury and we both seemed to be on the same page. We decided that I would help Adrian with creating timings from running trains on his layout so he could develop his timetable for future operations. In return Adrian was able to pick my brains having worked on the present Victorian and NSW systems as well as back in the late era of the VR from 1979 until 1984.

This process developed over time and soon we were ready to operate with a crew of several other guys. Those early sessions were a bit rough, but it gave us mountains of feedback on how to improve on the last and before long we were pretty good at it. At that stage Adrian fitted a telephone system and we even introduced train control and train graphs creating even greater challenges.

Well to say I was in seven heaven playing trains like I do at work as a locomotive driver was an understatement. The trouble was all this fun was radically changing my thinking on what I wanted my layout to do. Here we were operating with up to 7 crew members, running 30 timetabled trains, shunting yards, talking to train control, shuffling wagon cards and using staffs to move from station to station and having a ball doing it. At most I would be able to handle maybe four crew members, 12 trains (including railmotors) and have to chain myself to the modelling desk to get enough rollingstock kits built to make trains long enough let alone build the layout. Also there would be a lot of down time during the day's timetable after the goods trains had run and only a couple of railmotors would be chugging around.

No matter how I tried to manipulate my layout design and timetable I knew that I could never achieve in O scale what I now wanted to do having experienced the fun and challenge of operating Bunbury.

To my thinking at this point there was only one answer. Change scales.

I still wanted to model the VR and since I was constantly envious of my fellow modellers producing their latest beautifully made HO scale purchases at various meetings, I decided to take the plunge and sell up and down size in scale at least.

So here I am at the beginning of a new adventure in VR  HO scale. The sale of my O scale equipment has allowed me to purchase a large collection of locos and rollingstock and paid for the insulating, lining and finishing of my now very cosy garage.

The new layout plan is roughed out and I'm set to begin. I'm hoping I can emulate what Adrian has so successfully created on Bunbury and inspire others to jump on the operations band wagon as I have done.

To finish off my first post I have to say if I had the choice I would have not sold my O scale collection and tried to do what I plan to do in HO in 1/4" to the foot. You just can't beat O scale for running quality, presence and detail. Unfortunately lack of space, time and money required me to make a hard decision. Hopefully one I wont regret.

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