Why O-scale?

It feels like I’ve spent enough time on ancient history so I’ve posted a photo I took today of my (Z)19 class 0-6-0 on Queens Wharf, my small, 3m long exhibition layout.

Queens Wharf is an “enhanced” depiction of a station stop on the Morpeth branch line. My version is a blend of models of the real place with a lot of added extras.

1919 is a Century Models locomotive kit I purchased way back in 2001. I finally managed to get round to completing building her in September 2011 after a false start a couple of years before. The delay to completing the build wasn’t so much that the kit was particularly difficult to build, it was more that work and family took priority, well at least for a time.

Now that I think about it, saying that 1919 is a kit is probably a little misleading. Only about 60% of the original kit survived to become a part of the locomotive you can see in the photo. 1919 contains a number of modifications and upgrades that are available from the group of 7mm modelling manufacturers who serve this scale. She has full, working inside motion and the footplate and cabin are a set of brass etches I acquired a few years ago.

It’s this building and adapting of kits that I probably enjoy most about the hobby. I moved from HO to O scale modelling just before the advent of the ready to run explosion, so I can’t claim that I became jaded by the advent of r-t-r plastic products. In fact I’m absolutely certain that if I’d stuck with HO I’d have snapped up the odd r-t-r loco along with everyone else.

I still have vivid memories of modelling in HO and fervently wishing that I could have a loco, just one loco, that would run sweetly straight out of the box and that I didn’t have to spend hours and hours upgrading. So when you come across an O-scale modeller looking down his nose at the “unwashed masses” crawling over each other to snap up the latest r-t-r plastic product, don’t imagine that he’s not just slightly tinged with green.

So why am I in O-scale then? My first exposure to O came in a round about way via a friend by the name of Laurie Anderson. Laurie and I happened to live round the corner from each other for a few years. I used to visit his home and marvel at the locomotives he had built from scratch and kits. One night we were chatting and he said to me something along the lines of “if I were starting again now I’d begin working in 7mm”. My immediate reaction was to think, “well if you want to model in 7mm why don’t you just do it?”

So probably the simplest answer to the question, why work in O-scale, is to say “because I choose to”. I’m not big on dreaming about things, if you want to do something then as far as I’m concerned you go ahead and do it. I’ve heard so many people say that O-scale is too expensive, or that it takes up too much space or I that I don’t want to have to scratch build everything, that it starts to sound like they’re trying to convince themselves. I’ve never found any of these statements to be true but then, to misquote Christine Keeler, I would say that!

The initial spark provided by Laurie’s observation has seen me happily modelling in 1:43.5 for the last 12 years or more. If you’re happy with your chosen scale then good on you. I hope that over the coming months and years, if I keep this blog going that long, that you’ll find lots of stuff here of interest no matter what your scale or prototype.

Well I can always hope…

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2 thoughts on “Why O-scale?

  1. Hi Trevor,
    I too work in 7mm scale, Scale 7 to be precise back here in England. I moved up from working in 4mm scale (P4).
    What made me move up?. Well I was at a model railway exhibition and there was a relatively small 0 gauge layout, about 12ft. long, based on a British Goods yard, there was no main line just a train of wagons being hauled on to the scene and shunted to various parts of the depot.
    what caught my mind and made me decide then to change scale was the realistic way the stock moved, it had mass, the sprung buffers compressed a much greater sense of realism than you could ever get with 4mm scale.
    And all of this in not a particularly large layout, a case of less is more if that makes sense!

    I have a growing interest in Aussie railways thanks due to a close friend and colleague who is about to start building an OZ based layout for whom I have to build a loco and will probably build one for my self also.
    ATB, Col.

  2. Col,
    You wouldn’t be referring to John Birch would you? I’d be interested to know whether there’s another UK modeller who is building an Australian layout in S7 aside from John.

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