Big. Small.

I’m still pushing that track plan around on my plate. It’s certainly something I like. Perhaps it’s more muse than track plan? A form that needs to be teased to see how it reacts. I love that feeling when you see something and know there’s something there and you just need to contemplate its form to be able to see what it really is.

Naturally, in between moments, my notepad fills with reading that plan into different scales by passing it through various matrices of scale factors as a means of deriving its size and proportions relevant to its component parts.

That little sample of HOn30/OO9 track I built over a couple of hours, spread across the weekend, was sort of a byproduct of that contemplation. I swore I’d never build anything in this small narrow gauge scale and gauge combination “ever again because it’s too small” but there’s also this attraction to it and loads of nostalgia connecting Early Teenage Years Chris to Getting Older Chris. I though the blog post I was going to start this week off with was going to be more about this sample track itself but here we are.

I took that photo while waiting for the tea to brew. From the top of the photo down it’s a picture of:

  • A “16mm scale” 1/19 skip chassis from Binnie
  • A “On30” 1/48 scale side dump wagon from Bachmann
  • My trusty X-Acto square

Reading the track plan back to myself I see it as the sum of its parts and, as mentioned, its outer dimensions are a derivative not of space for the model but treated like a box designed to be big enough to hold all the things it needs to. In this exercise the unit of measurement is X = one skip chassis length.

The modelIts length is about
Roco skip (HOn30)one inch
Bachmann side dump wagon (On30)four inches
Binnie skip (16mm)four inches

There are so many other models of Hudson and similar four wheel “skip” or “tipper” wagons but these are three that I have on hand here (I say that while confessing that I just can’t find my Roco tippers). Each manufacturer makes decisions about how to represent the actual thing best in each scale and gauge combination. Peco’s recently released tippers I believe are larger than the Dundas ones; I used to have a set of KB Scale O14 tippers and they were tiny compared to the Bachmann On30 cars. Even though they were in a slightly larger scale (1/43.5) the KB Scale models were so much smaller than Bachmann’s (1/48) so scale itself is itself relative and I’m reminded of: “very big models of very small things”. I had dug out the Bachmann side dump wagons and measured one to compare to the Binnie skip and that’s how this started. Most importantly:

  • Despite being in a scale more than twice as large the Binnie skip isn’t really that much larger than the Bachmann.
  • If the layout is based on multiples of that length than why bother with the On30 models at all?

So, about the HOn30/OO9 question that’s hanging in the air. The above photo is one that James shared for a Hilton & Mears post. It’s a picture of his East Works layout. I love this layout. I see so much in it that I just adore. Like BCNPete’s Kyle in a Boxfile it’s that kind of layout that you see and never forget because it does, just exactly, represent the sum of the things I find most attactive in a model railway. It’s perfect to me. In a hobby where we’re always trying to go bigger I love how perfectly formed it is and the small size. It’s not some sideshow novelty micro layout. It’s still a railway but through a brilliant balance of form fits into a very small space. When I “see” my single turnout plan, it looks like this. Reversed but like this.

I feel an anxiety build in my chest at the thought of committing to another layout start so will do just about anything to avoid that statement. Instead, I think I’ll keep teasing at how each scale would be used to represent a simply, single turnout, track plan that I think I really like and would like to see evolve into a model railway. Rather than bury myself in a destination, I’ll focus on nurturing a seed in fertile soil and hope for the best.

Categories: How I think

1 reply

  1. You have the space…
    You have several prototypes in mind…
    You have a plan…
    Which prototype rises to the top? Which has ‘stock ready’?
    Perhaps that makes a decision for you?

    I think the basic premise works well, the Y is a great use of space on a layout, it basically doubles the operating length if done well… it reminds me of a simplified overlap in some ways…

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