Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Real Estate

 Things didn't go to plan (do they ever?), but spare time indoors due to bad weather and a sudden rush of enthusiasm are slowly bringing rewards.

Last time, I said I would concentrate on stock for Burghmire for a while, but that never really happened. Mum passed away at the end of October, just before her 94th birthday. This and several other issues brought modelling almost to a halt. Things are moving again now though, following a couple of key decisions about the layout.

The original deadline for the 2mm Scale Association's Diamond Jubilee Layout Competition (DJLC) was pretty tight, especially if the baseboards, stock and the scenery were to be started from scratch. This deadline has already been extended by 12 months because of Covid and may yet be extended even further. 

The original deadline made me decide to use my small array of BR stock, with a few minor additions, for the DJLC event itself. Only afterwards would I start building custom stock, which would likely occupy a lot of time. Logically, I would therefore have to make Burghmire look typically 'British' so that the BR stock would not look out of place. I recently added a couple of BR railcars to fill a noticeable gap - a Dapol Class 121 'Bubblecar' and a Farish GWR Railcar. Both are very quick and easy conversions.

Trying to find the atmosphere of a typical, but mildly eccentric British town occupied much time. As I have explained before, the scenery around Wantage (the station Burghmire is based upon) would not have worked very well. Whilst the station area itself is cramped and crowded, the scenery immediately around it, as would be accommodated on my small baseboard, would totally lack atmosphere.

I spent months procrastinating; browsing books and the Internet, trying to find the kind of scenes and buildings I craved, but with only mixed success. I really needed backstreet views and the backs of buildings, when old photos almost always show the fronts of buildings and the better parts of town. One rare but good example I did find of the kind of thing I was looking for was the Archcliffe Brewery in Dover, long demolished.

Cliff's Archcliffe Brewery circa 1912.http://www.dover-kent.com/Pictures/Archliffe-Brewery-01.jpg

Even if I found the combination of buildings I fancied, I would only achieve results by spending a very long period of intensive scratchbuilding. This was compounded by the thought that I might someday extend Burghmire onto another baseboard. I desperately needed a way of (a) eliminating the timeless, never-ending quest for ideas and (b) drastically reducing the amount of time it would take to make the buildings, once I had decided what to build. At my modelling speed, every little bit helps!

The best answer seems to be to use kits, which cuts down the options quite severely, especially if I choose buildings that go well together. It also (hopefully) speeds up the production process. I enjoy working in plastic, which cuts down the possibilities even further - especially if I eliminate the not so good ones. Many Kestrel kits, for example, just don't look right to me at all. Plastic kits allow mixing and matching and also major surgery to suit awkward sites etc. - or at lease that's the theory!

 So here's a couple of views of where I've got so far...


I went for the half-timbered approach, even though it looks a little Continental. Everything is only roughly placed in position so far and all will require a lot of customisation to fit properly into the scene. At least it's a way forward - and with a bit of work, should produce a charming scene, full of atmosphere (I hope!)

As for stock, thoughts are moving more and more towards building a unique collection of unusual vehicles. Having taken the plunge to make Burghmire's townscape so different, I may as well just get on with building some quirky and interesting stock. Here are a couple of examples...

I am experimenting with a couple of bodies adapted from Model Power Brill trams, modified to represent imaginary tramway coaches for the Burghmire Tramway. This one is plonked onto a temporary chassis for the photo. I shall be assembling some 2mm Association 4-wheeled chassis kits for them soon.

Then there are these Oxford CMP trucks, just crying out to be put on rails don't you think?...

There really was a prototype for these, on the Indian railways - though to 5ft 6in gauge, rather than 4ft 8.5 inches. I am not sure if I have the courage to try and motorise them. I guess I could just fit 2FS wheels and use a motorised wagon to push them. Either way, they are just right for my vision of what Burghmire should be all about ;)

Lots more ideas in the pipeline. Just be patient - very patient!

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