About 20 years ago I got seduced by radio-controlled model boats. I’ve always been interested in ships and the sea. In fact, I usually profess an interest in ‘anything man-made that moves’. One year, at the Model Engineer exhibition, I bought a kit by Model Slipway that builds into a very nice ‘Loyal’ class fleet tender. Two decades later I still haven’t finished building it and probably never will. I prefer working vessels like the ‘Loyal’, to ocean liners. Cruise ships don’t appeal to me at all. What diverted me from the ‘Loyal’ was a kit which my late wife bought me for a birthday present. She was given a pretty precise hint about what to buy!
Gry Maritha, also by Model Slipway, is a model of the Norwegian-built freighter which plies between Penzance and St. Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. She carries the islands’ supplies and brings back their produce (daffodil season must be starting) and their containerised refuse. This is the sort of vessel I really like, and the model is to 1:48 scale, which is close enough to be OK alongside ‘O’ gauge railway models and even 1:43 model vehicles. As a bonus it has a poseable crane and opening hatch covers.
I made a good start on building it but I doubt that I’ve touched it in the past 10 years. It lives on a high shelf in my study, where it has gathered dust and cobwebs. I keep telling myself that I will finish it.
Model boat builders have at least two standards of model, a bit like we might consider coarse and fine scale. In model boating, ‘stand-off scale’ models are intended to look OK at a distance but they are primarily for operation and some of the more delicate detail is missing. This makes them more durable and provided they look good on the water they are not intended for close scrutiny. Gry Maritha is much more in the scale category, and although effective in operation, it also stands up to much closer scrutiny.
I wonder, sometimes, if ‘stand-off’ might be an appropriate category for some railway models. I’ve just finished kit-bashing an Oxford Rail ‘Dean Goods’ 0-6-0 into a post-Grouping, ‘Swindonised’ Midland & South-Western Junction Railway 2-4-0 (Model Rail 244 February 2018). It’s a fair old carve-up and the finished model certainly looks quite convincing from a distance. Adjusting the balance in order to get it to run well has been quite a challenge, having upset a perfectly good mechanism by removing the front wheelset. Look closer, and there are details which I haven’t changed and probably should have. In particular, I had no clear illustration of the tender top, so I left it largely untouched. I should probably have built a complete new tender body.
This was, however, a 1960s-style kit-bashing project, so it was as much about the retro nature of the project as it was about creating a model which would have been more than acceptable 50 years ago and still might pass muster today. Especially, as there is no alternative way of obtaining a ‘Swindonised’ MSWJR 2-4-0 unless you can track down a kit that’s long out of production, or you want one enough to scratch-build. So, maybe, there is a place for ‘stand-off scale’ in model railways, too.