Ac­tion plan

Model Rail (UK) - - WORK BENCH -

start­ing or ‘buy it now’ prices, de­lib­er­ately de­signed to catch the un­wary. The adage with ebay is ‘if in any doubt, don’t.’ Be aware, too, that sev­eral large rep­utable model rail­way stores put items on ebay, so look for the name/ lo­ca­tion of the seller. Out of cu­rios­ity, I rechecked the avail­abil­ity of the Hornby-dublo sub­ur­ban sta­tion (fea­tured on page 62). There were three ex­am­ples, one of which was com­plete and still boxed and had a start­ing bid of just £5, while an­other, with at least one miss­ing win­dow, had a ‘Buy it now’ price of £69.95. Caveat emp­tor! Sev­eral of the ma­jor model rail­way re­tail­ers now have large sec­ond-hand de­part­ments. Let’s not beat about the bush. A lot of ‘baby boomer’ gen­er­a­tion mod­ellers (I am of that gen­er­a­tion) are reach­ing the end of their lives and their model rail­way col­lec­tions are be­ing sold off. Stores such as Hat­ton’s and Rails of Sh­effield have recog­nised that such col­lec­tions of­ten con­tain lots of highly re-saleable items and they have a con­stantly chang­ing in­ven­tory of pre-owned equip­ment. A check of their web­sites is the best way to find out what’s avail­able at any given time. If it’s what you want, go for it. Some of these mod­els come and go very quickly. It’s likely to be in good con­di­tion and boxed but may not be at bar­gain base­ment prices. These guys are ex­perts and they know the value of what they are sell­ing. The model rail­way ex­hi­bi­tion ‘sea­son’ starts soon, hav­ing taken the an­nual sum­mer break. Shows are of­ten a good place to look for bar­gains but you do need to do your home­work first. Know what you are look­ing for and how much you should ex­pect to pay for it. Sev­eral years ago, I needed coaches for my ‘O’ gauge ‘Rail­way Chil­dren’ lay­out. Sec­ond-hand ‘O’ gauge can be a mine­field as it is mainly kit-built and scratch­built mod­els and they vary widely in how well they’ve been built and fin­ished. I found a cou­ple of cleresto­ries – Mid­land, I think – but I had no idea of their ori­gin. They looked OK and were com­plete and I seem to re­call I paid around £50 each, which made me hes­i­tate at the time, but was ac­tu­ally quite a bar­gain. Most of the sec­ond-hand stalls at shows are ei­ther the club’s own sales stand or a part-time dealer – an am­a­teur who trav­els from one ex­hi­bi­tion and swap­meet to the next. Again, it’s a case of be­ing sure of what you’re look­ing for and be­ing dis­cern­ing about what you buy. If the mod­els look clean and well pre­sented that’s a good start. If they look like they’ve been hauled from pil­lar to post in the same tray for months, they are best avoided. They may well have been in a poor state to start with and re­peated han­dling won’t have im­proved them. Club sales stalls can be a source of some good buys. They are usu­ally sup­port­ing club funds by sell­ing mem­bers’ un­wanted mod­els or per­haps dis­pos­ing of mod­els on be­half of a mem­ber’s widow. Most such mod­els will have been well cared for and may even be in their orig­i­nal boxes. Watch out for ‘im­prove­ments’, though. These could be re­place­ment cou­plings or even wheelsets. Rolling stock might, for in­stance, have been con­verted from ‘OO’ to ‘EM’ gauge by chang­ing wheelsets, or it may have had three-link cou­plings fit­ted in place of ten­sion locks. Such things can usu­ally be re­versed but do­ing so will add to the cost.

WATCH OUT!

So, are there spe­cific things to watch out for and cer­tain mod­els to avoid? In short, yes. I can­not overem­pha­sise the need to do your home­work. Don’t just buy some­thing be­cause it’s cheap. De­cide what you want and go look­ing for it. Use your model shop and the big name on­line model shops first, and then go to ebay. You may find a choice or you may have to de­cide whether the one ex­am­ple that’s avail­able is at a price you are will­ing to pay. I re­cently went search­ing for Bach­mann’s Scenecraft ‘Wag­gon & Horses’ pub. I found one, sec­ond-hand. It was in Aus­tralia and the price and ship­ping cost was far more than I was will­ing to pay. The first re­quire­ment with a lo­co­mo­tive is that it should work. Some traders will make sure that the model is in work­ing or­der and will clean and lu­bri­cate it. Oth­ers won’t. Check the un­der­side of lo­co­mo­tives for fluff, dirt and ex­ces­sive lu­bri­ca­tion. Over-oiled lo­co­mo­tives won’t work. Ex­am­ine the wheel treads for wear and avoid any­thing on which the plat­ing on the wheels has worn away. If you are buy­ing from a high street re­tailer, have a mem­ber of staff test-run the lo­co­mo­tive. This is not usu­ally pos­si­ble at shows or swap­meets. A lo­co­mo­tive which is of­fered in its orig­i­nal box will usu­ally have been bet­ter cared for than one which is un­boxed. The wheels are of­ten a clue to the age of the model. Tri-ang lo­co­mo­tives had sin­tered iron wheels. They are a dark grey colour and are

very thick, with deep flanges. Tri-ang be­came Tri-ang Hornby in the early 1960s, so these mod­els will be ap­proach­ing 60 years old. Enough said. Even af­ter the move to plated wheels with a finer pro­file, Tri-ang Hornby and the 1970s ar­rival, Lima, con­tin­ued to pro­duce its mod­els with very deep wheel flanges. Lima used brass wheels which, like the sin­tered iron ver­sions, were prone to col­lect­ing dirt, im­pair­ing the per­for­mance. In the in­ter­ven­ing years, most of the pro­to­type lo­co­mo­tives mod­elled by Lima have been cov­ered by other man­u­fac­tur­ers with more up-to-date mod­els which are gen­er­ally bet­ter in al­most ev­ery re­spect. Mod­ellers have up­graded their col­lec­tions with the newer mod­els and the older ones have been sold off sec­ond-hand. The re­sult is that the sec­ond-hand mar­ket is awash with these older mod­els, which means there are some good bar­gains to be had. The Class 52 ‘Western’ diesel-hy­draulic is quite a good case study as there have been ‘OO’ mod­els by Lima, Hornby, Hel­jan and Dapol. I sold a Lima Class 52 ‘Western’ last year, fit­ted with Ul­trascale wheelsets, for lit­tle more than I had paid for the wheelsets them­selves. This is be­cause the Class 52 has been cov­ered by Hornby and Hel­jan, and even more re­cently with what is, per­haps, the de­fin­i­tive Class 52, by Dapol. So, if you want a bar­gain base­ment Class 52 and are will­ing to over­look the dis­crep­an­cies in the Lima model, you should be able to find one for £20-£30 on ebay, (£30-£40 on Hat­ton’s/rails of Sh­effield). The Hornby model seems to com­mand £30-40 sec­ond-hand and the Hel­jan around £80. Sim­i­larly with steam out­line lo­co­mo­tives, you need to have done your home­work. Tak­ing as an ex­am­ple the ever-pop­u­lar Gres­ley ‘A4’ 4-6-2, we can trace ‘OO’ gauge mod­els back to Hornby-dublo’s three-rail Sir Nigel Gres­ley, first pro­duced in the 1930s and reis­sued as Sil­ver King in the 1950s. The present Hornby or­gan­i­sa­tion has is­sued two sub­stan­tially dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the ‘A4’, the ear­lier ver­sion hav­ing the drive mech­a­nism in the ten­der and, more re­cently, much more de­tailed ver­sions that have the mech­a­nism up front, where it be­longs. Many thou­sands of ten­der-driven mod­els were pro­duced, in­clud­ing ‘A4s’, Stanier ‘Pacifics’ and SR ‘Schools’ class 4-4-0s, and all have been su­per­seded by more de­tailed loco-drive ver­sions. Whether or not you choose a loco-drive model or are con­tent with a ten­der-drive ver­sion is your choice, but there’s no doubt that the older, ten­der­drive model should be much cheaper than its more mod­ern coun­ter­part.

Rolling Stock

We’re all keen to have some­thing for our lo­co­mo­tives to haul, and if there are hun­dreds of used lo­co­mo­tives to choose from there will be thou­sands of coaches and wagons. You may find a se­lec­tion of boxed coach­ing stock, but boxed wagons are less likely. My lo­cal store cer­tainly had a rea­son­able choice of boxed coaches in good con­di­tion, al­though it is al­ways worth check­ing that the box la­bel and the con­tents match. As with the ten­der-drive lo­co­mo­tives, so there are two ver­sions of Pull­man cars by Hornby, the more re­cent ones hav­ing LED ta­ble lamps and much bet­ter de­tail­ing than the ear­lier ver­sions. On the sub­ject of Pull­man cars, Gra­ham Far­ish made some plas­tic-bod­ied mod­els of match­board-sided Pull­mans in the 1950s. These mod­els still crop up fre­quently in sec­ond-hand sales but I’ve yet to see one on which the plas­tic body has not suf­fered ir­repara­ble dis­tor­tion due to the un­sta­ble na­ture of the plas­tic used. Sadly, these are only fit for the bin. There are, too, older and newer ver­sions of the Hornby BR Mk 1 coaches. In gen­eral, the size of the ten­sion-lock cou­plers and the fi­nesse of the un­der­frame de­tail are the best clues. The newer Mk 1s have small ten­sion-locks clipped into NEM pock­ets, while the older ve­hi­cles have the large, old-style cou­plers at­tached to the bo­gie. When we come to wagons, deal­ers tend to have so many of these that they will be in a bar­gain bin. My lo­cal store seals them in in­di­vid­ual plas­tic bags, which is good way of pre­vent­ing dam­age. Many will be old Hornby and Lima wagons but, as Ge­orge shows on page 54, you can make these sow’s ears into silk purses with a lit­tle work. Just avoid those with the re­ally large ten­sion lock cou­plers, re­ally thick wheelsets and open-ended axle­boxes. You can find bet­ter.

Set­ting THE Scene

In the days of plas­tic and card build­ing kits, many of the mod­els sim­ply did not sur­vive to be resold. At­tempts to re­move them from the scenery re­sulted in so much dam­age that they were only fit for the bin. How­ever, the ad­vent of much more durable resin struc­tures in the Hornby Skaledale and Bach­mannn Scenecraft ranges has cre­ated a sec­ond-hand mar­ket for build­ings, par­tic­u­larly in ‘OO’ and ‘N’ gauges. Most of these are likely to be un­boxed ex­am­ples and you will need to check that chim­neys and other vul­ner­a­ble details are present or, if they are dam­aged, that they are re­pairable. Thanks to Train­s4u, Peter­bor­ough, for as­sis­tance with this fea­ture and for al­low­ing me to pho­to­graph their well stocked sec­ond-user sec­tion. If you have model rail­way equip­ment to dis­pose of, give them a call on 01733 895989 (or visit www.train­s4u.com)

Un­boxed rolling stock, in­di­vid­u­ally priced. Just check that wheelsets and cou­plings are all present and cor­rect, and that such mod­els are not too old for your track. Re­mem­ber that stock with wide wheels and deep flanges won’t run well through mod­ern ‘uni­ver­sal’ point­work. Deep flanges will rat­tle along the rail fas­ten­ings of nearer-to-scale track.

The scenic shelf has plas­tic and resin build­ings. I have a nice Colonel Stephens-style light rail­way sta­tion con­verted from Skaledale’s cricket club.

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