Modeller's Block

 After a short break to recharge his Cornish seaside batteries, Chris is back to modelling 'Polwyddelan'. CHRIS LEIGH

After a short break to recharge his Cornish seaside batteries, Chris is back to modelling 'Polwyddelan'. CHRIS LEIGH

People who write for a living will sometimes complain that they are suffering ‘writer's block’. It’s an affliction, which can last for hours or days or even longer. Basically, it is a type of fatigue – a lack of inspiration as much as anything else. I find that I suffer a similar problem with modelling – modeller's block.

It usually hits me part-way through a project and it may well mean that I will take years to complete something, or indeed abandon it without ever finishing. I notice it among my modelling colleagues, too.

I had planned to complete the scenic work on my Cornish harbour layout, 'Polwyddelan', over the Christmas break. I had the terminus station to finish for the next instalment in Model Rail and the final building, a seafront hotel, was partly built. In fact, I did nothing to the layout over the Christmas break. I was occupied with family visits but there was still plenty of time. The inspiration had simply evaporated.

Instead, I set to work on the ‘O16.5’ Cyprus Government Railways 2-6-2T which Keith Willows had been building just before he passed away. His widow gave it to me to finish and it had been lurking on my workbench as an embarrassing reminder for over a year. It didn’t actually need as much work as I thought, because Keith had made many of the detail parts. He just hadn’t fitted them. It’s nearly done and I just need to make a pair of pony trucks to complete it.

Then, I set to work on a conversion for my Canadian layout. Since my ride from Sault Ste. Marie to the Agawa Canyon last autumn, I’ve become interested in the Algoma Central Railway, which owned that line until taken over by Wisconsin Central in the 1990s. The ACR had some baggage cars rebuilt from Second World War troop sleepers.

The baggage cars were used for all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and motor boat engines, anything which had petrol in it, because Transport Canada rules require such things to be kept separate, at least one car away from passenger cars. I enjoyed a nice kit-bashing exercise on a Walthers Troop Sleeper. An undecorated example of an out-of-production model, it was the most expensive piece of rolling stock I’ve bought in a long time at close to £70 by the time I’d paid the VAT and import charges. It wasn’t the easiest thing to take a hacksaw to, either!

Finally, after a month of prevaricating, I’m back at work on 'Polwyddelan' and the station will soon be finished.

Keith’s 2-6-2T and the Algoma baggage car? Well, the little tank still has no pony trucks and the baggage car needs decals and re-assembly. In the words of Scarlett O’Hara, “I can’t think about that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow.” (CJL)

 Chris is well on his way to finishing Keith Willows' 2-6-2T. CHRIS LEIGH

Chris is well on his way to finishing Keith Willows' 2-6-2T. CHRIS LEIGH