Ghosts

A couple of years ago I was at the Liverpool exhibition when I walked past a stand with a box of bits sitting on the counter. It turned out that this box contained a collection of kit bits from a deceased estate that the stand owner had been asked to sell for the widow. I bargained the price down and happily carried the box over to some friends, some of whom immediately bought the kits I didn’t want from the box. We all got a reasonable bargain and I assume we all went home happy.

When I’d spoken to the owner of the stand at that exhibition, Trains, Planes and Automobiles (from the upper Blue Mountains) he told me that I could contact him and chase up another box of stuff he had from the same source but when I did try to make contact my emails went unanswered. I’ve since been told that this second box was on the stand the following day and must have been purchased by someone else. I didn’t go to the exhibition that day.

What I ended up with were parts of an O-Aust BWH (bogie wheat hopper) wagon. I was missing one vital part but I paid Peter Krause, the owner of O-Aust, a visit and he kindly provided me with this missing part. The bits I ended up with were still essentially an unbuilt kit however some preliminary work had been done to assemble the main body components and the bogies had been attached.

I've never built an O-Aust BWH so I can't be absolutely sure, but I feel I have enough parts for a complete wagon and a mix of parts from at least two other kits, possibly three. The parts for the kit I'm building are on the right and the extras are the pile on the left.

I’ve never built an O-Aust BWH so I can’t be absolutely sure, but I feel I have enough parts for a complete wagon and a mix of parts from at least two other kits, possibly three. The parts for the kit I’m building are on the right and the extras are the pile on the left.

I don’t like half-built kits, even when they weren’t started by me, so since getting back from Sydney the other day I’ve been doing some preliminary work on starting the assembly of this BWH. I’ve taken a good look at the parts I have, written a couple of emails to Peter, downloaded the instructions for the kit from the O-Aust website and cleaned various bits up prior to drilling some holes and filling others that had been drilled by the original owner in the wrong place.

I’ve done one or two of these “resurrection” jobs in the past: taking a partly assembled kit and either repairing or rebuilding it so that it can run on a layout. I really enjoy the task mainly because I enjoy reading the story the kit and parts tells me as I get to know them through construction. I can tell the person who had commenced building this kit was an average modeller but knew enough to do the preliminary steps. I can also tell from the way the parts from multiple kits are mixed into the collection I ended up with that he’d planned to build more than one BWH at a time. I have a feeling that after his passing that someone has dumped all the parts that were out into a couple of bigger containers however this wasn’t completely random: parts were gathered together and there was no mixing of parts from different types of kits. I can also tell from the way some of the parts are still wrapped and packaged that he was systematic and reasonably organised and didn’t pull everything out of the packing and just dump it in a container together.

So what’s the big deal? It’s just an old part built kit isn’t it? In the front of my brain I’d agree: I’ll take the parts from this old kit, put it together, paint it and run on my layout. However at the back of my brain I can’t help thinking about the other modeller who ended up with the mix of parts for the rest of these kits. I hope he has enough parts to get at least one if his kits built. I also can’t help but feel that completing the assembly of this kit in some way honours the original owner of the kit. I will probably never know who he was or anything about the railway he intended running it on: however I do know he was interested in the same scale and prototype railway as me and because of this, every time I run his BWH on my layout, I’m going to spare just a small moment to think about the fact that a model he started is doing what he would have wanted, namely to run in a train. How do I know he would have wanted this? Isn’t that what we all want when we build a kit? When we build a kit or scratch build something we invest a part of ourselves into it in a way that connects us to it. We might not all be master craftsmen who build award winning models but we all share the desire to see our creations run in a train. What better way to celebrate a very small part of another modellers life?

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