Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Taking stock

I realise it's been many months since I last posted here, and even more since I wrote anything directly modelling-related. The short version of the story is that I've realised I just don't have the time (I've only found the time to write this because I'm off work sick!) or space for modelling at this point in my life and so the project I had been working on bit by bit over the past few years has been shelved - or more accurately, put in the loft - for the foreseeable future.

But what has led me to this decision? And how is it that others seem to manage to juggle the demands of daily life and the constraints of time, space and money with a successful sideline in modelling, while it has proved so difficult for me? I can't fully answer that other than through the old cliche that 'everyone is different'. Personally, while I could in theory make time for modelling, it's either time that I know should be spent doing other, more important things, or time that I'd rather spend doing other, equally non-important things!

My weekends generally tend to fill up with family activities and jobs around the house and garden. And on weeknights, once our 3-year-old is finally in bed and asleep, the only thing I'm good for is crashing in front of the TV for an hour or so until my eyes are too heavy to keep open!

Another problem is that I can't just 'dip in' to a bit of modelling when I have a few spare minutes, because there's nowhere that I can leave things permanently set up. With a 3-year old roaming the house, you just can't leave bottles of thinners, flux, soldering irons, paint, super glue, scalpels, etc lying around on a table  - unless maybe you're fortunate enough to have a dedicated room you can lock up between shifts - which we don't! And coupled with that, I'm excessively tidy - so the mere thought of having a great pile of bits and pieces just 'left out' somewhere bothers me too much, especially when the only possible bit of space doubles as an office, computer room, library and walk-in wardrobe!

The result is that an hour of modelling often requires the best part of an hour just to get everything out, set up and ready, and clean up and tidy away afterwards. And that's time I've just not got.

Coupled with these practical considerations, I do think that my decision to 'go P4' probably didn't help things in the first place. Even if you don't factor in the additional time and effort required to re-wheel RTR locomotives and stock, the overall ethos of trying to get everything as close to perfect as possible ('getting it all right'), while appealing to a perfectionist like me, also has tended to put the brakes on any kind of 'just get on with it' kind of approach that, while it carries with it the risk of failure, is much more likely to lead to some kind of end result than the kind of endless faffing about that has been the name of the game for me!

I'm not knocking P4 or suggesting that others shouldn't go down that route - just that it probably hasn't helped in my case! I'm not the sort of person who can just whack in some replacement wheels and leave it at that - frames have to be widened, brake hangers have to line up properly... the very things that 'getting it all right' is all about really. And as I found with the Bachmann 45xx, what might have seemed like a relatively straightforward task of replacing the wheels ended up becoming a long and tedious process that never got finished.

I look at the models of Chris Nevard and others who have stuck to 00 gauge and embraced the compromises, and realise that once you accept that there will be a few details that don't quite measure up to the real thing, you can still achieve something that looks and works remarkably well. In fact, if I could build something that looked half as good as some of Chris's creations, I'd be more than happy! That said, I don't see switching back to 00 at this point is going to really help with the other, more pressing issues.

So for now I'm just embracing the title of 'Armchair Modeller' and getting on with life! Even if I don't post on here very often for the foreseeable future, this blog will remain up and running. Hopefully at some point I'll find I'm able to pick up the modelling again and continue the story.


  1. I remember that scenario when my two children were very young. Like you, I couldn't just model for half an hour...besides, it took that long to get all my stuff out. I felt guilty coming home from work; felt I needed to give the kids my full attention for the whole evening. I don't know how some people do it. But now they are teenagers, help me out with train-type stuff and go mine exploring with me...just hold the line, Matt- it won't be long before you are back!

  2. I completely sympathise with you... I didn't do any active modelling for the best part of ten years whilst I explored a career, relationships, etc, etc. Now that I'm settled, I find the relaxation from half an hour of gentle fettling is wonderfully therapeutic. So just consider your time "on hold". I stayed a member of the Scalefour Society throughout my downtime, and that and MRJ kept me supplied with enough inspiration to return again one day...

  3. Finding time isn't easy at all - you don't want modelling to push other important things out as won't benefit anyone. I have a 20 month old little boy and manage to get some modelling done some evenings when he's in bed which is still quite early.

    I benefit from having a very tolerant and supportive wife! And when her programs are on telly she prefers for me not to disturb her, so ideal modelling time! I've also been lucky over the last year to have a job with very quiet periods at times so I take modelling with me then. Some of the more recent projects on my blog have been carried out at work (aside from painting!) and it's worked rather well. Though it's not something everyone can do!

    Keep reading books and magazines and visiting shows and you'll be back as soon the time becomes available!

  4. That sounds familiar. Even once I have got stuff out I end up spending half an hour looking at it trying decide what project to work on and remember what I was going to do next with it.

  5. A couple of people have commented on the difficulty of having to get everything out when you want to do some modelling, and the time that it takes. I have a solution...

    It's an old bureau (25 quid from a junk shop) with the insides taken out and my modelling kit installed. From closed up to start of modelling in under 30 seconds, and when you have finished, just tidy up a little and close the front.

    A picture here, if the link works:

  6. At over 60, I completely understand your comment about Chris and OO, my decision not to 'up my game' was due to that simple fact that I wanted to complete my layout before my time ran out.