OK, I've decided... I'm switching to P4!
The reasons for not doing so seem so flimsy compared to the benefits. I've always been something of a perfectionist (some would say that's an understatement!) and shortcuts and compromises have never really been my thing, so why should I take shortcuts and compromises with my modelling?
I had been going down the '00-SF' route (see earlier blog posts on the subject) but for the sake of a little extra effort in the locomotive and rolling stock department (chiefly wheels and chassis) I could gain a lot more in the realism department.
I know in the past I've argued with the best of them that the difference in gauge is so minimal as to be not worth the effort, especially to someone with an untrained eye like me... but then, the more time goes by the more 'trained' the eye becomes, and for me that means I've increasingly found myself appreciating the improved scale appearance of the wider track gauge of EM or P4 over 00.
But why P4 and not EM some might say? Surely EM would give the improved track gauge appearance without the worry of compensation and all that? Well, to be honest, if those couple of extra millimetres in track gauge are noticeable to me then the wheel flanges are equally noticeable, as are the flangeway and checkrail gaps in turnouts... so EM would still only be a compromise. If I'm going to be messing around with building track (which I've always intended anyway), and now rewheeling rolling stock as well, then I might as well go the whole hog!
I intend to join the Scalefour Society, for a while at least, so that I can get my hands on their manual, and also take advantage of the Scalefour Stores for track gauges etc. Unfortunately my 00-SF gauges are not going to see much action after all the effort that's gone into acquiring them! I also intend to get the Ultrascale replacement wheelset for the Bachmann 57xx as a first step in loco conversion as it looks pretty straightforward, doesn't require any chassis rebuilding, and would get me up and running with a nice little P4 loco straight away. I can then tackle more complex conversions as and when I feel brave enough, such as my 2251, and 44/45xx's.
So there you go!