Visitors to a model railway show normally follow a strict pattern. First thing in the morning will see the appearance of the Serious Modeller. He (always he) will stand in front of the layout and silently inspect it for inaccuracies. Once complete, a process that normally takes about 15 seconds, he will move on without saying a word.
Beconsfield was different. Withing minutes we had families with children in front of us. Real people. People who ask questions and aren't just using this as an opportunity to expound their latest theory about toy trains. Within half an hour of the door opening, there were 4 well-behaved children present, all wearing Thomas the Tank t-shirts. It was too good an opportunity to miss and so our crown pleasing shunter was deployed.
Yes, folks. On a finescale(ish) layout, we ran a model of Percy.
Not any Percy you understand. This one has been got-at. The Hornby innards have been junked in favour of a Mashima motor, 2-stage gearbox, Romford wheels and Gibson cross-heads. All this work means it runs like a dream. At least as well as anything else in the loco fleet.
So, sometimes we run it exactly the same way as any other loco. No charging around for us, proper slow speed shunting is the order of the day. Basically, we have a loco that just happens to be an unusual prototype. Just like the Garratt or petrol engined shunter. Admittedly the colour is a touch brighter but if you know the books then you know that for a dockside, Percy is the appropriate loco.
Needless to say the crowds were delighted. Does anyone else have crowd pleasing ideas they like to use ?
Oh, and did I mention there is an article on Percy in my book ?