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When ever we make a model of something we have to compromise.  Usually due to materials, time or space but also sometimes due to the laws of physics.  Even if we could build an exact copy in every way of a locomotive, using the exact materials, it wouldn’t be the same.  It would be so fragile you couldn’t pick it up and even then it wouldn’t be a dead scale weight.  Try making a 4mm scale loaded continuous welded rail train, loaded with steel rail and see what happens when you get to a curve!

We accept this, even if some people on forums think they are being clever by repeating it as an excuse to not try their best themselves.  New Street is compromised for reasons – the station is scale length but not scale width.  There are 2 platforms and a through road missing and the platforms get narrower as they get further away from the viewer.  These compromises are considered ones.

However the compromise most people make is very rarely considered at all. In fact it’s seldom even recognised and that compromise comes down to aspiration.  How often have you seen people say ‘I cant do that’ or ‘I cant build brass kits’? This applies to layouts too.  How often do people set their end point for their layout ambitions on the capabilities they have at the start point? Sure there’s a certain safety in knowing that something is achievable but isn’t that the ultimate compromise?  A common one you hear is ‘id love to do p4 but don’t think i could build the track’.  Don’t think or do know?  It’s a trait of many people that they think they can’t do something because they havent tried it.  Surely its better to take the view that there’s no reason you can’t do something unless you have demonstrated to yourself that you can’t? Why just assume you can’t do something you know nothing about?  You might have a natural talent at it, something you didn’t know you had, you might even enjoy it!

When I started planning and building New Street I set my target at what I wanted (perhaps with the arrogance and naivety of a 27 year old) not on what I could achieve at the time.  I had been working with p4 for 11 years at that point and while I had helped with layouts I had never built one of my own, technically I sill havent! There were things I knew I couldn’t do, things I would have to learn to do along the way and those were just the things i knew about.  I didn’t realise at the start I’d be etching my own parts or drawing things for laser cutting. Who knows what else I didn’t, and still don’t, know I have to learn?And that is perhaps the ultimate compromise we make. Not running a 6 coach train instead of a 12 coach one, not using set-track instead of building our own but compromising our ambitions based on where we start from.

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Alex Seal
6 years ago

Great post Jim, I agree with everything you’ve said!

Petermac
Petermac
6 years ago

All very true Jim. Most people like to live “within their comfort zone” so they never know what they can achieve.

Lucy Pitch
Lucy Pitch
6 years ago

Very valid point Jim. One thing I knew I wanted to do was push my modelling skills and learn from others as I go. As you know Walsall in P4 is a big project, and a scary one having only dabbled in P4. I wanted a layout project that will last me at least a decade. Entering into the unknown will always be scary, but I recon it’s better to have a go at new things than to not.