Railway Modelling

A Rebuttal

A Reprint of a Letter in The Coupling of June 1999 - Eric French

In the days when I studied (and taught) Logic, it was necessary first to define one's terms. I do so, using a dictionary:

  1. Collect, verb. "systematically seek and acquire (eg books, stamps, coins) as a continuing hobby"
  2. Model, noun. "A representation in three dimensions of an existing person or thing...especially in a smaller scale (e.g. a model aeroplane...)

The collector cannot change in any way the items in his collection, or even use them, because then they will no longer be in the form he acquired them.

I ceased to be a collector of Hornby Dublo 3-rail trains first when I ran them on a layout which I had designed and built; and again when I replaced the metal wheels on the wagons and carriages to run them on a 2-rail extension on the layout. If I am not a Collector what am I?

My second example is a friend of mine who has built a layout on which every railway building, platform, bridge and item of scenery is scratch-built. His trains are purchased. If this person is not a Modeller, what is he?

Now I enter unfamiliar ground. I have never made a model locomotive. However, I can understand the creative effort of a sculptor who starts with a lump of clay or a block of wood, or stone, and creates a model of some person or thing. Now, a model loco not only looks like the real thing, but acts like the real thing: it includes many small parts, all to scale, and a small electric motor to make it go. Surely, to be a Modeller, I should make all of these parts from basic materials. How long would this take?

The mind boggles.

I suspect that the person who constructs a loco does so by assembling a kit of parts designed and fabricated by someone else, and then by adding much of his own work in completing the model. Is he really a Modeller?

I feel that Mark has opened a very lively can of worms.

© Eric French - 1999

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April 2001