Last year’s Railex was great and I was really looking forward to my trip to the 2010 show. A train to Princess Risborough, quick look around GRS and then a delicious sausage sandwich from the cafe was followed by the short hop to Aylesbury. From there a gleaming Greenline double decker bus, beautifully restored, dropped us all off at the edge of suburbia, five minutes’ walk from the show. The only dampener was that the threatened rain arrived just as we disembarked but no matter. And if you were the man in the front upstairs seat who abandoned the sport part of the Daily Mirror on the seat – your Mum wasn’t around but don’t worry I tidied up after you and put the paper in the bin beside the stop.
Even late morning there was still a queue to pay to get in. What those making use of the gym in the building foyer thought of a load of middle aged people filling the place up I’m not sure. At least we had the decency not be wearing lycra !
The hall was crowded but that didn’t surprise me. This show has a good reputation and is at the end of the “season” so just the place to stock up with all those goodies from the trade before the summer break. More worrying was that my hands had swelled up although I put this down to carrying a heavy (it wasn’t that quick a trip around GRS) rucksack by the handle on the top so as to avoid walloping people when I turned around.
Plunging through the bodies there was plenty to see and many old friends to catch up with. One objective was to go and gently remind some of the traders coming to the Leamington show in January that it was time to return their forms. It might be over 6 months away but we need to know how much space they will be taking now so the layout of the hall can be planned.
The first stop I made for a proper chat was with the people from Pendon. On the front of the stand there was a handy demo showing how to make 4mm:1ft garden birds. I’ve used whitemetal versions in the past on layouts and they have been great fun for visitors to spot, but actually making them from scratch hasn’t ever occurred to me. However, with a bent bit of wire, some solder and very careful painting I too can make a blue tit for myself. On the same stand was a stunning thatched cottage and vegetable garden. We had a bit of a chat about methods – I’ve mentioned before that I think Pendon style modelling is just the thing for the recession, material costs are little more than pennies you just have to put in the time. Of course like most modellers, I kid myself that I could do this but in reality am far too impatient to scribe all the bricks myself. It’s nice to dream though.
By this time I was scratching as random bits of me developed uncontrollable itches. Chatting to Chris Nevard in front of his tiny but beautiful layout, Arne Wharf, saw me rubbing my palms on the nice cold metal barriers to get some relief followed.
Deep crowds stopped me enjoying much layout viewing although the Ffestiniog layout with steam drifting out of the loco chimneys. If I’m honest the effect does little for me which is a shame as the modelling is very nice and the setting of the scene in the lines prime an excellent idea.
Over at Judith Edge kits stand I found out a bit of wallet-lightening news. In the autumn we can expect to see a kit for a class 01 diesel. The prototype kit was on the stand and looked really nice. All versions will be available thanks to an additional etch to make the one-off later version. Since scratchbuilding the loco years ago on a Dapol Pug chassis (same wheelbase and diameter) and subsequently losing the model to theft, it’s been on my list to build. This way I don’t have to cut the material myself.
The other news is that the 3mm scale Clayton (Class 17) kits will be with Dave Finney later this week. For a Scottish branch line a 17 is a good choice – not totally prototypical but near enough for me. It’s a handsome prototype and once I’ve already built in 4mm scale (Heljan, pah. Give me whitemetal so the model weighs as much as the real thing...) and do have a dodgy 7mm kit stashed away so something I can actually use sounds good to me.
The other big purchase was from High Level. I needed a gearbox for an HO scale shunter and had been struggling to work out what would fit. 5 minutes with the man on the stand and I was sorted. What impresses me is that the parts are made into a kit on the spot – he doesn’t have big stocks of ‘boxes ready to go so not too much stock is tied up at one time. Very sensible. Oh, and the Pacer motorising kit looked just the thing for another railcar I have in my pending pile...
By this time the scratching was getting really bad. Stopping for a cup of tea and the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in the cafe, my arms looked like I’d been carrying bundles of stinging nettles. Mind you, it wasn’t any more than annoying and so I went back into the hall to carry on looking. The passageways were a bit emptier as theose early arrivals had gone off for lunch making access easier.
At Eileens Emproium, I was just buying a new retractable scalpel handle when I felt woozy. The change and tool were chucked into my bag and I headed for a chair by the open outside door. A dose of fresh air helped but not much. Calling over a steward identified by the walkie talkie he carried (it turned out to be show manager David Lane) soon saw me attended by the shows first-aider (Tim, who is a doctor) and the centre manager, also trained in first aid. I’m not good at being ill and borderline passing out in a hall quite a long way from home isn’t my idea of fun, fortunately the attention was exemplary which helped a lot. I was offered a trip to the first aid room if required but after 5 minutes or so of sitting I was well enough to walk and make my way back to the entrance via the outside world. I made the bus easily enough and noticed that someone had come along just to make sure I was OK as far as the stop – top service.
So, I’m afraid that my show report is a bit shorter than expected. Apologies to anyone who saw me and wondered why I was scratching so much – I don’t think I was contagious. Thanks are due to the club members and centre manager who looked after me. Let’s hope I don’t need anything next year !
Just a little Railex photo album this year.