This weekend sees the largest event of the year in the model railway calendar: the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham.
Naturally, Hornby Magazine will be there as usual with our large stand, but this year we are going all-out by taking no less than four different layouts in four different scales to the show! Our aim was, and is, to show a range of layouts in different scales which can all be built at home by individuals rather than the recent large mainline scenes we have been building.
At the time we made the decision to exhibit four layouts – February/March this year – it seemed achievable as we had just embarked on building a series of different micro-layouts for the April 2019 issue of Hornby Magazine (HM142). Of the layouts developed for the feature the ‘OO’ and ‘OO9’ layouts were completed, while the larger ‘O’ gauge example was basically bare baseboards and the track layout completed. The ‘N’ gauge layout was in a similar situation.
Fast forward six months or so and by the end of October it dawned on Mike and I that we were no closer to completing the layouts for Warley. Other projects had taken priority, but we were still keen to achieve our original aim! So, once our appearance at the Spalding Model Railway Exhibition was out of the way at the beginning of November, we were able to put the ‘O’ gauge layout up in the workshop and get to work completing it. It gave us just three weeks to transform this bare set of boards into a fully scenic layout. To start the process there were tweaks to the track design, installation of point motors, ordering a good deal of resin castings for the backscene and road bridge, ensuring we had enough scenic materials to complete the task and more.
And so it was the first day after the Spalding show that we began the transformation of the ‘O’ gauge diesel depot layout. I spent much of the first day fettling resin warehouse façade castings ahead of them being painted, while Mike installed point motors and completed the wiring under the baseboards. Ten backscene castings later and my attention turned to the parts for the road bridge, which seemed to have more components to it than the backscene – my sanding sticks were beginning to look the worse for wear!
Such was the enormity of the task, we called upon Richard (who was filming progress on the layout) to help with painting some of the castings too. All hands required! Once painted, the castings then needed a mortar course wash to further improve their appearance together with window frames painting in off-white and drain pipes in black, before being weathered and installed. As this was taking place, Mike added the baseboard’s base coat of brown paint ready for adding the ground cover of scatter and eventually static grass. Also, the huge Heljan diesel depot building needed painting too, buffer stops were added and a storage yard needed to be built. This required a sliding traverser to be installed, enabling two or three locomotives to be moved at the same time. Then the backscenes needed cutting out and painting, as did the fascia boards.
As I write this blog, there is just one day to go before we need to pack everything into the back of the van and transport it to the NEC. The ‘O’ gauge layout is almost complete, the ‘OO9’ layout is good to go, apart from painting the fascia boards, and we have a revised plan for the ‘N’ and ‘OO’ layouts that will appear. Barrenthorpe, our ‘N’ gauge office test/exhibition layout, will now be travelling with us to the Warley show as will a guest layout – Graham Muspratt’s superb ‘OO’ gauge micro layout Canute Road Quay (HM142). As many of you may know, Graham is one of Hornby Magazine’s regular layout operators with the magazine layout fleet.
So, there you have it – the plan is almost complete. Hornby Magazine’s appearance at the Warley Show this year was always about demonstrating what can be achieved in a small space irrespective of the gauge you choose – ‘N’, ‘009’, ‘OO’ or ‘O’. Will everything come together at the last minute? Will the paint on the fascia boards be dry in time? You’ll just have to visit our stand (A44) on Saturday or Sunday at the NEC in Birmingham to find out! We look forward to seeing you there – please pop over for a chat and if you ask nicely you can even take over the controls if you want to have a go. See you there!