I received the latest AMRM on Friday 12th September, earliest delivery I have ever seen, must be light on in the publishing industry these days & in a light period.
A couple of things that were in the magazine has me really wondering & after some experiences with models in the last couple of weeks, I feel a need to comment on them, initially I thought of sending a letter with the hope of it being published but after some thinking, whether right or wrong I have decided to comment here.
The first aspect relates to the guest commentary which is found on page 3, while in the main there's not a lot of issues, but one thing that interested me was the bit about detail on RTR models, & how the Australian modeller has generally been receptive to them except for a small group of hypercritical & commercially uninformed have shown dissatisfaction, but on the whole we are happy with the offerings to date, but rocky roads are ahead, if we listen to our importers. Further on, its mentioned how in the UK some went back to such things as molded on detail which was not well received after such things were introduced in the UK. This is a very abbreviated comment of what was put in the editorial.
To me, I have to say that some aspects are worth noting, whilst others not, certainly the aspect of detailed models has been great, yet how great is it really, especially when we consider the market that models are produced for? Problem in having any sort of commentaries on this sort of thing is that it can paint a broad brush over a subject requiring a lining pen. Thus the topic of detailed items on models is a wide area & one that is vexed owing to how each individual modeller looks at it, & not least their individual abilities skills.
For me, & don't get me wrong I like detailed models, but also at times I really wonder to what extent the move to the highly detailed model has actually been worth it, owing to quite a few things, not least the poor & flimsy way they are fitted to models, what has been added while what has been left off, both critical areas for the adding of realism to models, besides that, how much of it can be seen when operating or standing still on a layout?
I have a bit of a box of bits & pieces that have fallen off models, some of them I have no idea about what they are & where they fit, that is of course if you can fit them back on, especially if the items are made from the Delrin/ABS type plastics that are all but impossible to glue, that is if the items are not that fine & finiky which prevents them being glued back in place correctly.
One of the importers told me a while back that it does not cost extra for the detail, whether its a lot or not, as long as its in the original brief & quote from the factoy, somewhat a change to how it used to be from my understanding. Another aspect in this is given the cost of models, one would think that if the detail is provided then it should be a sturdy enough item to withstand some work on the model.
At this point we get the comments about these models are not toys, & need to be handled correctly, & not rough. Good points, but! how often have we opened the box of our new drool item & found bits loose, or bits broken, & you get a good price for a NQR model? I try to be very careful when handling models, keep most boxes & internal packaging, but, I also see models that suddenly are missing a piece, spider brake handles, air hoses, a break in a plastic pipe etc, after they have been placed on the track & ran for a while. Sometimes the little box has a replacement but not always.
A couple of models, I have had to reduce the weight of by needing to remove the body, not that hard, but the metal weight is glued in place on the main bottom which has the trusses & brake gear on a seperate plastic casting, both are superb in detail, to get the weights removed, means seperating body & chassis into 3 sections, then you are left with just the main floor with the weight glued on, so with care the weight is removed without a lot of drama's, but care needs to be taken with reassembly to prevent some of the brake detail breaking when fitting back together.
Why the need to remove the weight, some may wonder. Well when I initially received them I thought they were heavy, using a digital scale, they came in at 107/8 grams, to me too heavy for a bogie vehicle, especially when compared to other bogie wagons I have, both from the same company & others, which weigh between, 74 & 87 grams, the later is for a BWH, & the associated BCH from the same china source was 74grams. I had trouble trying to pull a train load of them behind a DJH 57cl on the 1:40 grade, removing the weight got them to 77grams much better, they still roll as easy without any problems at all. To me if extra weight was needed, rather that the plastic underfloor assembly which included the U channel, if it was done in metal, that certainly would add more than enough extra weight without goin overboard.
At the price of these models & hey, this is nit picking is the disgusting air hoses, they are plastic, featureless, & drop out very easy, all other companies models that I know of have very neat, strong brass items, the silly part of this is that the models come with whisker type Kadee couplers, not the cheap Chinese items, if there is no expense spared for the couplers, why the other areas of cheapness?
I am not just targetting one company in this, but when I read the review of the release of the old Austrains, K wagons, under the Columbia brand, the point in the review mentions the slightly updated brake gear, including hand brake, & a simple wire under the floor, these along with new all blackened wheels certainly improves the model, again its not all that cheap, but what is found with the models is that they are robust & the detail for mine adequate, so 2 ticks, I will shim the sides down though on mine, as per a previous blog post.
In the end, I think its great having the detail, if its correct, sturdy & can be refitted should it come off.
The second item in the AMRM dealt with adding weight to the Eureka R class, now at this point I have not read the article, but I was stunned at how much weight was needed to be added. Certainly the person who wrote the article has done a very complete job, & provided excellent detail on what he did with the work, & on each score should be commended. BUT! Again this is not a pick at Eureka by itself, but when I looked at the cut out weights along with the overall work that had to be done to this model, that comes now at an after delivery price of $660.00, I have to wonder why the amount of time & effort is needed to make a model able to pull loads that are close to a prototypical load.
Over time I have added some weight to my Austrains, 35 & 36, Eureka garratt, in fairly simple & easy ways, in order to compensate for the lack of pulling abilities. If my layout did not have grades I would not need to do it, but having 1:40 grade & other 1:75 grades its needed. But to have to go to such a dramatic effort as seen with the article, I have to ask the question especially when we consider the price of the model, is the modeller being short changed, or the other obvious question at the opposite end of the scale.
The 3rd item that I would like to commment on is the one in regard to adding detail to models, the example being an Austrains round boilered 36c to which the owner has done a very good job, & credit due to him.
This comment is more to add a bit of correctness more than anything to the article. Primarilly in regard to the fire irons. When TOR released the 32cl they included a set of fire irons, which being at least an attempt to add a necesary item to a model, unfortunately had some quite incorrect items in it,
Steam locomotives were equipped with set types of fire irons depending the type of engine, & primarilly due to the size of the firebox. There were in the sets specified for all engines the following, Dart, Rake, Short & Long Pricker.
Looking at these items, the best way is to describe them & their use, certainly there was not irons found on any locomotives.
DART: was the bent type, usually it was bent at app 33degrees, with the type of it looking much like pyramid type arrow head. This was the type seen very much high up on the firemans side of a 36cl tender. This iron was used in the initial spreading of the fire in a depot during engine preperation, engines in depots had the fire banked, under the door, to get working steam, the grate area had to be covered, thus coal was shovelled over the grate, & then the dart was used to lever down between the back of the firebox & the bankde coal, & lever it up & breaking the coals up to spread over the green coal.
PRICKER. Short types were for small firebox engines such as a 30class & smaller. Long Priker was found on all other classes. The Prickers were straight, with a section of metal approx 10" long on the long Pricker & app 8" on the short pricker at a 90degree angle to the main rod. The primary role of the pricker was to break up the coal or fire on the grate that was too heavy, & no or little air was getting through the built up coal & ash. If the fire became clinkered the pricker was used to break the clinker.
RAKE. In a sense its a wrong name, as I see many make up a fire iron such as supplied with the TOR 32 cl, that hat 3 or more prongs on it, this is wrong. The Rake actually looked much more like a garden HOE, that was on a long metal rod, same length usually as the long Pricker. The rake had a head very much like a garden hoe, & was used to evenly spread the fire over the grate area.
Often a short & long pricker were found on engines that were working on long haul trains, in this cast on a 36cl the short pricker along with a rake was positioned along the same side but on the footwalk area on 36cl while all other engines. A long pricker sat above the coal doors, & was the same length as the coal bunker width. 38c had racks for them all on the tender face above the coal doors. 59c along the sides of coal bunker & over the coal doors.
Stoker fed engines had a short pin iron, which had a short 90 degree piece on the end, which was used to pull the slides in the bunker. 38cl engines had or were supposed to have a short handled rake, more akin to what is seen on meteal gutter cleaners, this was for pushing any ash build up in the ashpan sides towards the centre of the ashpan when doors were open.
The extra shovel seen on the side of the 36cl in the article was another item often seen in some areas, as a back up in case the main one was lost.
The positioning of the crews bags, both gladstone bag, or the steel barracks bags, on a 36cl more often than not, the bags were set on the hand brake for the 36cl on the firemans side, often tied to the hand brake handle on other types, if not kit locker was on the tender, the only other place was to sit the bags on the coal, primarilly in the case of 3650gallen tenders & smaller. These engines along with the Wampu tender had a rack on the drivers side for the fire irons as well.