Sunday, March 22, 2009

Too much information can be a dangerous thing

Once upon a time, a small boy received a 00 gauge Hornby Freightmaster train set for Christmas. It was the best present ever! He spent ages playing with that set. Running that Class 31 and wagons in endless circles. Shunting wagons into the siding and running the train in endless circles again. Until the motor got filled with carpet fluff and his father had to remove it all.
Then he moved the train set onto a board that once was home to a Subbuteo pitch. Once again the class 31 would go on its endless journey shunting wagons every few laps.
Then this little lad decided he wanted to do more with this train set and thoughts of a proper model railway entered his head. He borrowed books from the library, made buildings using the cardboard that shirts used to be packed around. Toilet rolls made excellent fuel tanks.
Then one day it happened. In a book that the name of has passed, forgotten into history he read a sentence that said that in 00 scale 16.5mm was equal to 4 foot 1 1/2 inches...
If you hadn't guessed that boy was me. The moment I read that statement was both the best and worst moment in my model railroading life. Best because it opened my eyes to something called "finescale" and a whole new attitude that was to take over my entire philosophy of railway modelling. Worst because I was never going to be happy with 00 scale again.
Once I discovered that the track I was running my trains on was a scale 7 inches too narrow I could never run 00 scale again. I read about this mysterious man E.M. Gauge and his mysterious more accurate model railway. Then there was the mysterious warring factions of P4 and S4. There was a lot of talk of "scratchbuilding" and making your own track. All very daunting stuff to a young teenager.
I was scared away for a while and sought refuge in N gauge until I heard of finescale in N as well. So for my next trick I took up American H0 modelling because at least there the gauge was right. I modelled in H0 for a long time and I still do. I also picked up on different scale/gauge combinations like Gn15 simply because the track gauge is right.
As you can see the simple fact that 00 scale is inaccurate totally messed up my railway modelling.
But I still want to build a good 4mm scale model railway so it has to be EM or P4. Every time I consider a plan or concept I get caught up in this same old argument.
"00 is inaccurate so I have to build track and re wheel. EM is easy but if I'm going to build track and re-wheel then why don't I go to P4?"
You'd think I'd have the answer to the argument after all this time. But I don't. Times have changed and there is now flex track available in EM and P4 and point (turnout) kits for both scales too.
I have a full set of trackwork gauges for EM from my earlier days as well as a pair of point kits from C&L and a collection of wagon kits too. So EM it is then.
But if I'm going to build track and re-wheel then why don't I go to P4?
I'm a lost cause...

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