Last weekend there was a shopping exhibition - for next years exhibition we are short of a 2mm scale layout or two. It's not essential to cover all the scales in a show but for the larger events it's a worthwhile goal. A quick look at the 2mm Scale Association website revealed that it is their Golden Anniversary this year and a special event was taking place in North Oxford. Best of all the show was on for two days, specialist events are often only 1 day wonders to keep the costs down, so we could nip along on Sunday when the M40 would be a bit quieter.
Now I've no intention of ever doing anything in 2mm scale. I love the workmanship. The skills displayed amaze me, yet the idea of fiddling around with rail that looks like it came out of the back of a spider doesn't appeal at all.
However once in the hall, I was fascinated. Two types of layout were on display - full scale affairs like Copenhagen Fields which have been on the circuit for a while and are fully finished (OK, I know it isn't but you get the idea) and ones designed and built as part of the Association "Challenge". Most of the later were still at little more than the bare boards stage. Not great were this an event aimed at the public but being able to see the construction methods was very interesting. Once finished all this stuff will be hidden by scenery and yet it's the bread and butter work that everyone who wants to take a model to an exhibition will need to carry out. There were a couple of particularly interesting ideas I'll spend more time looking at later this week.
The Society shop was particularly interesting to uninitiated. Since the trackwork is very fine yet requires quite a lot of accuracy, a plethora of jigs and templates are for sale. I can't think of any scale that has this level of support in that prospect. I didn't see a single roller gauge, so popular in 3mm scale upwards, but plenty of clamping things made by proper engineers.
Moving on to locomotives, these have been a source of fascination for a while. The model pictured is still under construction and has been for 11 years apparently. It runs beautifully and the builder assures me I could do the same sort of thing but I'm not convinced. The lack of gear train between the axles surprised me, the con-rods are still doing the job they are designed to. Flicking through the society book on mechanism building I understand that this isn't universal. Certainly the N gauge manufacturers don't do this preferring lots of gears. There still seems to be a lot of engineering going on in there which wouldn't be bodger friendly.
I asked about compensation and apparently this isn't common either. The axles bearings are ovalled slightly to allow movement and a phosphor bronze wire bears on the top of the axle to spring it slightly. Split axles are de regier though so some accurate muff-drilling is required.
As far as layouts go, well we could have booked everything for future years and not have been disappointed. Our exhibition manager is going to have his work cut out. Personally this was one of the most inspirational model railway events I've been to for years. I left with a head full of ideas, which makes it all worthwhile.
And I do have a tester kit of a van and length of track I bought years ago...
More photos on Flickr