Space … the final frontier!

August 16, 2010 § 3 Comments

The previous post was cut short due to the demands of parenthood, but I decided to publish anyway just to get the momentum going. There is still more that I feel I need to fill you in on before I get into any serious detail. Firstly I need to say a big public thank-you to Ania my wife for giving me the push I needed to get started, and for allowing me space in the house to do it.

Due to my Dad’s interest, trains and model railways were an integral part of my growing up, and once I bought my own house I always intended to build my own. Well it has taken nearly ten years to get started. There has always been some sort of obstacle, first and foremost being space. The traditional place where men have built their model railways has been in the loft. The first house I grew up in had the ideal loft space: high, long and due to being of traditional purlin construction relatively unobstructed. It was in a detached house and therefore reasonably well ventilated. My Dad’s model railway layout was huge, literally the stuff of childhood dreams. It had at least four stations, two levels, a large engine shed with turntable and seemingly miles of track. It allowed non-stop running and almost endless possibilities for shunting.

Unfortunately when I was eight we had to move house, and space for the layout was not the only consideration in the choice of new one. While the new house was much larger in terms of floor space, the roof was a trussed rafter affair with a very low pitch, rendering it useless for the purposes of a model railway. Of course the house did have other benefits, the garden was a quarter of an acre, and my childhood memories are full of long summer afternoons and evenings playing football, cricket and pitch and putt golf. The model railway was more modest than what we had been used to, Mum And Dad having given up nearly half of their bedroom to accommodate it. It still had a four track main line, that split onto two levels and roundhouse but just one main line station, and could only accommodate less than a quarter of a rolling stock collection that was continuously growing. The layout has undergone various revisions over the years as my younger brother Matt and I practiced our model-making skills, but has recently shrunk again after it had to be dismantled and rebuilt so the bedroom carpet could be replaced.

So when it came to building my own layout I always had high hopes in terms of size and operational complexity. The original plan was to put it in the loft, but my house is a Victorian terrace, where the loft ventilation is poor. It is freezing in the winter and like a sauna in the middle of summer. My dad will tell you that our old Loft layout suffered the same problems, but I also have less faith in the fabric of my roof and the structural integrity of the ceiling. There are also extra props bracing the purlins that obstruct the space. After the guest bedroom the final spare room would not accommodate the my grand schemes, and the basement is now full of bikes! This does not leave much space left, and Ania is insistent that I do something, however small  as an outlet for my latent creativity. You may by now have guessed that the new layout I am about to build is going to follow the general shrinking trend described above. So where do you think I am going to build my new layout? A corner of my own bedroom of course! So here it is, the space earmarked for my grand project.

Not even enough space for a single loop, let alone a full size station or engine shed! I am however going to finish this post on a high. This venture is being carefully planned to showcase my model-making skills, and I have not been idle for the past ten years. So here is an example of the quality of work I hope to be exhibiting on this post and on my layout over the next ten years! It is not quite finished but it is all scratch built by my own fair hand and not a plastic kit in sight.

Words do not come quickly, and it is getting late so I will leave the history and inspiration behind this model for another day!

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§ 3 Responses to Space … the final frontier!

  • paula says:

    You’re a nutter. But I love you :o)

  • Ania, what have you done 😉

  • J Sinnett says:

    It was fascinating to read your comments which brought back fond memories for us both. We visited Liberec again a few years ago and were amazed at how the Town Hall there looked so much like your model.We still have your model of the bank at Bratislava on display in your old latest bedroom. Keep up the good work. Give our love to Ania , Matthew and Claire and we hope to see you in the not too distant future. Mum particularly likes your writing style.
    Love Mum & Dad

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