Sunday, February 24, 2013
Exhibiting a model railway by public transport
Over at Wood End and Beyond, there is a thought-provoking post post about the idea of transporting model railway layouts by public transport.
The cause of this speculation is the rather excellent looking S gauge layout "St Juliot". It'd 5 feet long yet packs up into a carryable package complete with castors on the bottom. The photos show it stowed on a train and it appears to be about a third taller than a rucksack but a comfortable fit in the luggage section of a Class 158, whatever that is.
Anyway, this might be the solution to my exhibiting woes. If we built something similar, and at 5 feet, that's not far off the size of most of the layouts anyway, then there's no need to use the car. Result!
As I commented on the original post, I'm not so sure. Since this is my blog, I think I can ramble a bit and expand on the points mentioned.
First, the trend for UK exhibitions is to move to out-of-town venues with little or no public transport access. I know from years helping organise shows that the biggest selling point to the punters are the words FREE PARKING on the poster. Talking over the barrier at shows many years ago, when we mentioned being in a rather nice town centre venue, faces fell. Put simply, railway modellers do not travel by train.
The move to an exhibition centre made a lot of people very happy. It also made one customer at the local model shop quite unhappy but since he had been slagging the show off for years in a local fanzine thing he ran whilst never offering any help - I thought that on balance we'd done OK with that one.
Yes, I know I could pitch up at the station and call a cab but this brings us on to the other problem - cost. Exhibitions want the lowest costs and that, in the UK, means petrol money only. Not a couple of train tickets and then some taxis. I know they can be bought in advance to save money but a trip to York (for example) with be 60 quid each. The diesel Berlingo will go there and back for that in fuel.
Oh, and while I think about it - without transport, getting to the accommodation will be tricky to impossible. You might get a lift from a fellow exhibitor but there's no guarantee.
While I suggest that the layout at 5 feet long might be a Parker-stylie model, realistically there are limitations. We're talking micro-layout rather than full-blown train-set. No matter how clever the model, it's not as interesting to operate or as public friendly as a proper model. Some major planning is required to pack the baseboards, stock, controllers, power, lights and other stuff into a single box too. I notice that St Juliot requires tables, another risk as there are some horrors out there. You want them all the same level?
So, is it a goer? Not sure. My feeling is that one or two layouts like this are fine. After that an exhibition manager is faced with an expensive layout that isn't very big. Too many of these pushes the expenses bill through the roof.
The trick is, I suspect, to work in an oddball scale. S gauge is good and I've always wanted to have a go at it. 3mm would be fine too - we certainly received invites simply because of the scale where a manager wanted a full spread. Produce a largely out of the box OO or even one with kit built stock and I bet there is a lot less interest.
I love the idea. I'd happily put up with the travelling problems (early start on Friday, desperately late back on the Sunday) to have a go. I just don't know if it is worth it. What do you think?
St Juliot on at the S Guage website