Saturday, April 01, 2017

Ally Pally 2017

Strictly speaking, The London Festival of Railway Modelling, but we all call it after the iconic venue.

Busy weekend. Friday required an earlier start than normal as I needed to be in the venue in time to do an interview from Charlotte from Love Productions about a rather mahoosive project.

Basically, the makers of the Great British Bake Off are looking for people to help build a model railway in Scotland. It's a bit whacky races, but if you buy into the idea, could be great fun, or at least a somewhat different way to spend a couple of weeks in Scotland!

Sadly, she didn't bring any cake (boo) but I managed to snag some from the exhibitors cafe. Nice sausage bap too. You'll have to take my word for this as I can't find the photographic proof.

My stand formed one side of the BRM presence and included my modelling board, wagon in every scale display, Wickham diorama, horse shunting model and of course, the N gauge in a box layout.

Saturday started busy and never let up all day. Without the Bachmann sales stand to spend money at, people flooded our subscriptions desk. Luckily for me, this isn't my problem, I was there to talk to visitors and answer modelling questions.

One visitor brought along a little challenge for me - his 50 year old Hornby Dublo loco.

50 year old loco

Unearthed from the attic, it wouldn't work and he was nervous about investigating further. I had no such qualms and a few minutes for stripping and cleaning parts saw the model running back and forth along my test track for the first time in half a century.These old locos might be seriously light on detail, but they are built like tanks and can generally be coaxed back to life with screwdrivers and a bit of through.

On the bench was a Coopercraft kit wagon and I'm pleased to report that by the end of the day I'd managed to fit a couple of brass bearings and glue one solebar to the floor. The rest of the time had been taken up with chatting.

Awaiting opening

Sunday dawned clear and bright. Waiting to get into the hall and then wandering around before the show comes to life are a pleasure in this venue. OK, it could have done with a bit more heating, but sat under the round stained glass window or even looking at the ornate brickwork on the outside walls makes you happy that even if it involves a drive into London, the reward is to spend a couple of days in the sort of building that people travel around the world to see, and a million miles away from the anonymous tin sheds that we normally end up in.

After Saturdays bumper attendance, Sunday was quieter so I managed to paint a couple of figures and get a bit more wagon built.

Along the way there I had a chat on camera with Steve Purves from Bachmann about their new 009 loco, the first working prototype being on show in the Collectors Club members area.

First impressions are that it's a cracking model that runs well and looks great. The rolling stock is very nice too with opening doors on the vans and interior detail. As an aside, Owen's Bridge is now the only layout to have had both the Heljan L&B model AND Bachmann's Baldwin run around it. 

The interview - see next month's BRM DVD for this. 

By the end of the day, I was tired and glad to get on the road home. All weekend people came up and congratulated me on the stuff we put on our DVD and in the magazine. It's nice to have a little bit of celebrity and  it's really appreciated when anyone takes the time to give us a bit of feedback. 

The car was very empty for the return trip. You see, I didn't bring back any layouts with me...


David said...

A great story for April 1st!

Huw Griffiths said...

Judging by what I encountered when I visited the show on the Sunday, Phil's account strikes me as very "close to the money" - certainly not an April Fool joke.

As for other potential "stories", an alternative assessment of the show could be based on how many new build projects come out of it (or are "helped along the way"), thanks to advice or parts obtained at the show.

It's probably far too early to make such an assessment - and some projects might actually turn out to have been helped along by different stuff at several shows - but I strongly suspect this show will have made a difference with some projects.

We might even hear about one or two of them in due course.