Saturday, March 26, 2016

London Festival of Railway Modelling 2016

Ruston Quays

"No you can't move the stand."

That's what I was told on arrival at a show. A slight mix-up with the planning left Ruston Quays stranded in the gangway if we followed the diagram in the programme. I was supposed to be beside the BRM stand but this was as wide as the island it sat at the end of. And moving it a bit wasn't an option.

Hurried calls on the radios from the organisers and a few minutes later, a site electrician was hard at work with bit of wood and cables. Result, a new spot opposite the BRM stand with electricity and an excellent view of the Bachmann stand. The location was perfect with just enough room behind for all my stuff but not too much. The layout was easy to find but not in the way.

The trip to the hotel started with an amazing site - London at night from the top of the hill. Sadly it wasn't possible to stop and take photos so you'll have to trust me and enjoy the next mornings view instead.

View from the hill

The reason I was happy to have a good view of the Bachmann stand was that they had brought along something new. Gone were the piles of returned RTR. Instead we had a members lounge for the Collectors Club and demonstrations of Woodland Scenics products by staff flown in the the States. The expectation was a bit of a fuss when the first people in the door found out.

As expected, the first visitors sprinted for the stand. They didn't see anything at the front and carried on around the sides. I'm told that the first person to circumnavigate the stand managed it 33 seconds after the opening.

Not long after, my view was obscured by people enjoying my layout, something that didn't change all day. My only break was to appear in the lecture theatre - to talk about the layout!


Day 2 started with a wait in the back of the hall as we'd all forgotten the 8:30 not 8am opening. Once in, I took the chance to have a little wander. Not that there was much to see as the layouts were still being prepared for the day. At least I managed to pick up some sandwiches, even though they contained the slimiest processed chicken ever served up.

I also had the chance to renew my acquaintance with Andrew the Hedgehog who I first met at Doncaster. As a souvenir, I bought a knitted miniature which we subsequently did silliness with.

The main interest from visitors was in the DCC Concepts point levers - marvelous tactile devices for working the points.  Despite hundreds of people working them, they are still as good as new. Not cheap but in the opinion of many people, worth the money.

After this it's Skytrex warehouses and Wills arches. Lots of, "Where did you get that?" questions.

Sunday is always quieter than Saturday but after an hour I was chatting away again until my break for the theatre. Maybe a better night's sleep helped but my talk lasted about 10 minutes longer than the day before. It wasn't helped by Andy York sitting in the front row scoffing chocolate cake however!

Finescale chocolate cake

Needless to say, once I'd finished, I was straight over to the 2mm Society stand to claim a piece. Those guys make excellent model railways and even better cake!

The layout worked well with only a couple of issues: the Hornby DMU is stuttering a bit after a while. I've cleaned the wheels several times but have a horrible feeling that this is yet another loco worn out on a stand. That will be the third, although the first standard gauge one. We also have an issue with a point motor which isn't throwing perfectly in one direction - hopefully an adjustment of the wire through the tiebar will be enough to fix this. 

Winding down, I managed a few minutes buying stuff with some lengths of plastic for a model boat and an Airfix J94 from the Kitmaster Collectors club for a future project.Then pack up and head home and some sleep!

Thanks to everyone who dropped in and said hello. I hope you enjoyed the show, from the photos I've seen it looked excellent.

My paltry selection of picture on Flickr.


Huw Griffiths said...

I've never been to Ally Pally on a Sunday - but it sounds like it went OK.

It's interesting to read about "Andy York sitting in the front row scoffing chocolate cake" - interesting because I thought this was a lunchtime talk.

OK, I'd probably make a slightly different choice of menu - probably also a slightly different choice of when I eat my lunch - but I suspect that, at shows, exhibitors often need to make the most of any chance to obtain some nourishment.

Still, I'm sure this stuff would have been rather more nutritious - rather more palatable - than exhibition hall sandwiches - or a lot of exhibition hall catering in general. A lot of the time - at a lot of venues - it might be suggested that the fare on offer might make BR "Travellers-Fare" seem possibly haute cuisine by comparison.

Saying that, I've never been a demonstrator - never been an exhibitor - never been "on the other side of the table" at any show - so I'm not in a position to say what I think.

Turning to the DMU used on "Ruston Quays", I'm beginning to wonder if fixing this model might end up forming the basis of a future BRM article (or finding its way onto a cover DVD) - OK, it might not, but you know what I mean.

Andy York said...

Dear Huw,

We do indeed have to grab chances to eat something or anything when the chance is available so normal meals or dietary norms go out of the window. When the hotel doesn't do breakfast until 8.00 it's a dive into McDonald's for a bacon roll on the way into the show. Phil's one of the few who I can comfortably leave unattended from a technical perspective in the theatre which gave a chance to buy some bits for future projects and relieve Jim Allwood of the 2mm society of a piece of his wife's excellent chocolate cake. He'd have been in trouble if he'd returned home with it so I always like to do people a favour if I can. Knowing Phil's appetite or cake I deliberately sat in the front row as a distraction technique, such are the simple pleasures of our job. When Phil did finish his first question wasn't "Was everything alright?" but "Where did you you get the cake from?".

The cake was good enough to keep me fed until getting home that evening so I'm quite happy with the Marie Antoinette diet when exhibiting.

Richard S said...

Do you know, I had an excellent time on both days, and really enjoyed talking to you about weathering on the buildings. Shame the point was playing up. I think in the end being where you were was an advantage. Everyone going in or out almost had to walk past you. Thanks for being so open and affable. It must be tiring standing there for several hours at a stretch.
PS "Please prove you're not a robot"? hasta Lavista, Baby!