British Railway Modelling (BRM)
COSTS IN CRISIS
You ask, 'How do we keep the cost of our hobby under control?'
Is it time to recognise that the high prices are for goods made in a repressive regime, which seeks to dominate the world and destroy manufacturing elsewhere? Having cornered the market, China's prices are out of our control. Spiralling container costs make transport across the globe an unaffordable waste of resources.
It is still possible to make a decent layout from largely British-made track, scenery and electronics. And, as you suggest, there is a wealth of second-hand bargain items that could be reused. Isn't there value in British railway modelling using British railway models?
BRM replies: Can you make a OO layout with Britishmade stock? Yes, but it won't be easy. The obvious answer is kit building. Most manufacturers are tiny operations and they tend to use local firms for casting and etching. Even the wheels and gears will be British, only the motors tend to be imported as they are often by-products of the consumer electronics world. Rolling stock built from kits will also be produced in this country.
OO Works (www.ooworks.co.uk) produces a small selection of hand-made locomotives. It's an eclectic range and they aren't as detailed as modern Chinese-made RTR, but they have a loyal following who appreciate the quality of the product. Wagons can come from Dapol for plastic models and Rails of Sheffield for 3D-printed items.
In N, you could use Union Mills locomotives. Made in the Isle of Man though, not the UK, the range is again limited and the detail not as fine, but they are rugged and popular with enthusiasts. For wagons, try Peco. It has retooled a seven-plank mineral and produces several others.
If narrow gauge models appeal, there are a number of firms 3D printing models, although many rely on imported chassis.
The best solution is to go large (G) scale. You'll find plenty of British-made battery-powered locomotive kits, and even live steam from Mamod or Roundhouse whose factories are in Smethwick and Doncaster, respectively. Running on Peco track, you can easily build an entire layout from products that have never travelled over an international border.