Website Chapeltown Loop - one from RMweb

Discussion in 'Resources' started by Neil, 1 July 2013.

  1. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Here's a rather lovely layout that's way better than the sum of it's constituent parts would suggest it was; Peco flexi (the majority unballasted), locos and stock largely out of the box and printed card kit buildings. However it has more of the real railway about it than many a scratchbuilt finescale effort. I think it's brilliant.
    Bob and Tony West like this.
  2. AJC

    AJC Western Thunderer

    I see what you mean Neil - the choice of photo angles in believably prototypical positions really helps; it hides the 'PECO-ness' of the track nicely.

  3. Bob

    Bob Western Thunderer

    Very nice layout and an interesting card waybill system. I agree with you Neil, lots of atmosphere:thumbs:.
  4. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Thank you for that heads up Neil.

    What a brilliant model railway! I can't help but feel he's actually doing what most of us just dream about, ie representing more or less the whole operation of a real railway with model trains.

    Great advert for Peco track as well, especially in a OO context and where the prototype may well have been flat bottom it's pretty much unbeatable.

    The modelling is also very good....

    "Not Jeremy" * has liked it:p


    * My new monicker on RMweb - ask Captain Kernow:rolleyes:
  5. Nice spot, Neil.

    Although I prefer hand-built track for myself, what I saw was someone making intelligent use of commercial products to achieve an operable model railway set in an urban(ish) environment, within a set of parameters established to suit personal needs and interests. This is not the same as a model of a railway. Each of these approaches has their merits, however.

    What struck me was the care in construction - no nasty kinks and dog legs in the track, for example, and the card buildings have been carefully assembled, too - as well as in the composition of the whole scene. Lack of ballast in places was due to it being a work in progress. I don't think the layout is better than the sum of its constituent parts, though, rather that most people who use them do so in a slapdash manner, producing layouts which are (sometimes considerably) less than their constituent parts - but as you say, "suggest", which is based on that experience. I imagine that the running is near faultless, and the time invested in laying the track has been more than repaid in the time not spent making corrections and re-railing stock.

    Were I more inclined towards extensive operation, I would follow the same path, no doubt.

    Peco track is extremely well made: shame more people don't ensure that it is extremely well laid!

    Care in construction is the important element in any successful modelling endeavour, no matter what highfaluting (or lowfaluting, for that matter!) standards one aspires to otherwise.
    P-J.S. likes this.
  6. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    That's a very cogent and perceptive analysis, but I think it rather understates just how unusually interesting and good the whole thing is.

    To take just one aspect of why that might be, and thinking more along your lines, one does see a lot (and I mean a lot) of extremely well and carefully put together model railways that simply do not resonate as being "real" in a way that the model under discussion does (to me at least)

    So there's a bit more to it than care and craft I think, I'd certainly like to try and emulate the sense of purpose which he seems to have given to his model.

    Good thought provoking stuff:thumbs:

  7. I also mentioned composition... ...and things not being slapdash...

    The important point is that without the care and the craft, the whole thing falls apart regardless of anything else.
    cmax likes this.
  8. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Quite, but that isn't what makes the whole thing so unusually good is it?

    And lots of layouts that are put together with care and craft nonetheless end up being more than a bit pants in the "we are modelling a railway and what it was built to do" department......

    cmax and Neil like this.
  9. Neil

    Neil Western Thunderer

    Care and craft are good, but not the be all and end all. I've argued, am arguing, will argue that it's art which gives a layout the wow factor.

    Here's where the soul of the layout resides. Give 100 competent modellers the same ingredients used in the Chapeltown Loop and tell them to build a layout using them and I'd be willing to bet that 5 will make a bit of an arse of some aspect of the construction ("I'm not a track/building/scenery man") the remaining 95 will make a good tidy job of assembling the component parts into a layout. I'd also be willing to bet that few would be able to see what the builder of the Chapeltown Loop in the real railway and express it in model form using the available materials.

    The analogy which most readily springs to mind is that of photography where many can take technically competent photographs, very few can capture spirit, soul and emotion.
  10. That's where the composition comes in - the whole thing has been composed to replicate the workings of a railway.
    Don't disagree. Not at all. I hate sterile model railways that are (scale) inch perfect.
    For example, the P4 Bodmin layout of the North London Group doesn't do a lot for me, excellent though it is, wheres St. Merryn, also P4 and also set in Cornwall, ticks all of my boxes.
    I find the latter to be warmer. Others may disagree - personal feeling, that's all.
    Yes, but all good artists will tell you that care and craft are essential to art, too - particularly in composition.
    Oh, I agree with your general principle, but not the numbers - surely 1 of the 95 would produce something exceptional, or do you think that fewer than one in 200 could do so?

    What I saw was a layout built by someone with a good understanding of prototype operations, using available commercial components with care and precision, to create an outstanding layout.

    Since I don't see "standards" as the be-all and end-all of finescale, (I see it as moving closer to the prototype) then unlike your OP, I don't diss "scratchbuilt finescale" in comparison to this layout: rather, I wish more such layouts had a warmth and charm about them - something which people like Trevor Nunn, Jas Millham, Barry Norman and the Gravetts have achieved. I know that is where you wanted the remark to go, but the point would be equally well-made if you had said, "it has more of the real railway about it than many an effort, regardless of track and wheel standards". There are very few largely scratchbuilt layouts out there, and proportionately far more of them achieve a feel of the real railway than others.

    As far as I am concerned, the layout is finescale: it attempts to move operations to being closer to the prototype. In choosing to use Peco track, the builder has not then adopted a slapdash approach to laying it. In choosing to use card structure kits, he has not skimped on time when it came to assembling them. Might not be scratchbuilt, but the attitude is very much finescale in my book.
    Good analogy, which rather proves the point I am making. An exceptional photograph requires the technique, added to composition and a sense of when to press the shutter trigger - this comes more naturally to some, very naturally to a gifted few, but can be achieved through hard graft, a lot of patience and a touch of luck* by most (sadly, not by all).

    The best photos of model railways I have seen are produced by Chris Nevard of this parish, who trained professionally and uses this training to spend time on lighting and composition, rather than shooting off reams of photos prior to selecting a few for editing and photo-shopping. He might use digital cameras, which allow anyone to be technically proficient with little effort, but his approach is very much that of the master artisan user of film. He also uses that in designing his layouts, which might be 00 and a touch compressed, but nevertheless capture the essence of the look and operations of a real railway.

    I have said it before, if someone has a true appreciation of their prototype, and cherishes it - warts and all - then that love of the subject matter shines through. You have shown, and continue to show, this with your various flights of whimsy and particularly with Morfa, and I see that in Simon's slowly developing garden line. In both cases you are taking things steadily, and are prepared to back track and re-do things which you feel are not good enough. Similarly, Steve Cook's build of the best British 4-6-0 has not been a blind "out-of-the-box" production. We all know just how technically good Steve is, but as with everything he does, there is that bit more - sometimes just a simple thing such as using metal black on shiny metal components to tone done the bright-work and make the model look more like the prototype. These are just three more examples of finescale modelling, despite the fact that you have too-tight curves on under-gauged (EM) track, Simon's "scenery" is 32 times larger than it should be, and the wheels on Steve's Castle are somewhat over scale in the flange department.

    However, the fact that we are having this discussion highlights how rare it is, considering the number of layouts built, for a "Universal 00" layout to reach such standards, which is sad.

    For the record, at the risk of repetition, I am not saying (and did not say) that care and craft are the be-all and end-all of a good layout, but without them, everything else is downgraded. A good, thorough even, understanding of the prototype is essential to composition of a model and a feeling of warmth.

    *Famous golfing quote about luck and regular practising, anyone? ;)
    cmax likes this.
  11. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Ach! You were so close to having the last word with your magisterial essay, but then you slipped it in...

    Simon, forget damning with faint praise for a moment, this layout is exceptional amongst all model layouts, not just those built for a "Universal 00" - it is more realistic than a hell of a lot of "finescale" at whose altars numerous groups congregate up and down the land.

    I'll stick my neck out, it is a better model of a railway (in my judgement) than a whole series of MRJ featured layouts - "Woodfield Road", "Melcombe Magna" and "The Border Counties Project" to name but three and many many other "finescale" layouts. Note I have not said that I did not like or appreciate the craft and skill in any of the above named works.

    I do think there is an argument that the British model railway hobby has resolutely focused on a small orifice labelled finescale or something similar, and doggedly climbed so far up inside that they can no longer see any sunshine, but only the precarious steps which ascend to even greater heights of perfection.

    And yes, I'm stuck in there with the rest of you for a lot of the time:p

    And as for the standard "exhibition layout" - don't get me started:mad:

    Which reminds me that someone had better sort out Larkrail arrangements:oops:

    Toodle Pip!

    Alan, Neil, cmax and 2 others like this.
  12. Debate is good for clarifying ideas, I say. I love it. Also that we have this forum on which we can do this.
    Is this a Socratic dialogue, a Hegelian dialectic, or simply a Ma-Tzu style robust exchange of views, though?
    As before, you are miss-reading/interpreting what I said and accusing me of something I haven't done.
    Show me where I haven't supported that thesis.
    All I commented on was that this layout is truly exceptional, with the implication that given the quality of, for example, Peco track, it is a crying shame that there are not more layouts like this coming out of the woodwork in the Universal 00 section of the hobby, which I suspect is the majority of it.
    Nor did you need to. (And do you know, none of those layouts is stuck in my mind!)
    Interesting that you cling to the use of the word "finescale" with reference to track/wheel/detail standards.
    I quite clearly stated that there are other possible interpretations of the "finescale approach", and that this layout certainly fitted in.
    I think you are right, but as I said, if you define "finescale" as moving modelling closer to the prototype, and leave it at that, then the finescale approach becomes one of applying that principle to the facets of the hobby which interest you. In this case, there is a well-built system which enables prototypical operations. I would call that a finescale approach to operation. Similarly, if all that interested someone was signalling and timetabling, then they could run the proverbial tennis balls if they liked, and it would still be a finescale approach provided the rule book was followed very closely.
    What I really enjoy, though, is a well-constructed layout that runs reliably and is a joy to see being used for authentic operation - the scale, gauge, standards, "finescaleness" of it are largely irrelevant at this point.
    Of course, from a magazine perspective, we don't see the movement, etc, and as you say, we all climb inside a small orifice and stay there.

    That's my point: too many people roughly nail down some track, and don't sort out the bugs, etc, which means things don't run. Given the quality of RTR and the supporting components (e.g. Peco track) and kits, it is a crying shame that not only can you make that remark, but that we all know exactly what you mean by it.

    Yeah, pull yer finger out, mate!

    Given the improvements in RTR over the past decade particularly, but ever since Airfix and Mainline shock things up in the 70s, it is a pity that layouts of this quality are not the norm - the stock is there, the track system is there, yet taking the time to understand how the real thing works, and taking maybe 5 extra minutes to lay a turnout, just isn't happening.

    It would make some of us orifice-dwellers pick up our game a bit, too. I mean, why move away from 00 if it runs really well and you want a decent operable system?

    What this layout shows is just how good a modern layout can be, using items bought from any decent model shop.

    I think that is where we all agree, and have been consistently and violently doing so all through this thread!
    cmax likes this.
  13. Jordan

    Jordan Mid-Western Thunderer

    Are short posts allowed in this Thread..?? :rolleyes: ;)

    Personally I'm not that moved by the appearance of the layout itself (though the finished scenic sections are very good); I think there's something else about it that adds the 'certain something' to it, and that is that the builder can tell the story behind each picture ("It is Wednesday 2 April 1963, 6.00 am. The day starts at Pennyfields Sidings.") giving each train movement a purpose.
    In that respect it reminds me very much of Alan's Wencombe of this Parish. :bowdown: :thumbs:
  14. I think, Jordan, that you have hit the nail on the head: the layout tells a story.

    See? I can do short...
    Jordan likes this.
  15. Simon

    Simon Flying Squad

    Drat, I can't really find anything to disagree with here, better go home and finish off that 1/2 bottle of rather nice wine:)

    Jordan and Simon Dunkley like this.
  16. Phill Dyson

    Phill Dyson Western Thunderer

    I do like that Simon :D:thumbs:.....but then again I don't have much desire to climb those precarious steps towards perfection;);)
  17. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    I do agree with what has been said above and the track is very well laid. Thank you Jordan for the comment about telling the story. It is that which I am trying to portray. By the way it is good to see the Flour mill I chopped into the dairy being used full height as a mill.