When one is facebooking, there are little ads for other peoples' pages, some of which are intriguing enough to click on, some you merely gloss over. I was quite pleased to see there was a reasonably subscribed-to page about finescale O gauge model railways. I clicked and had a gander and it seemed really quite good, so I joined and, so far, have had a surprisingly good banter with a widish selection of model people, some keen amateurs, some even doing it for a living!
I thought I'd risk it all with a typical one of my questions, asking if anyone actually scratchbuilt anything any more. I said that I didn't mean a difficult kit, but real "get a Skinley drawing and a sheet of nickel silver, an Antex, a piercing saw and a pot of Fluxite and actually make summat from nuttn.
After all, I'm a man who still regards John Ahern's Miniature Locomotive Construction as a bible. I met, several times and learned a lot from, the great Geoff Pember. I was a member of Jack Nelson's Ilford Junior Model Railway Club. Les Hoffman was a member of the Ilford and West Essex and nobody did EM LNWR stuff like Les. I've crawl-shunted one of his Coal Tanks for an entire weekend exhibition without the slightest failure. Entirely scratchbuilt, including the wheels and home-hobbed gears!
Well, bugger me if I didn't get a very pleasing response from a goodly number of scratchbuilders, WITH pictures in many cases, one even showing his Skinley. Amazed I am. And, of course, delighted! Blimey, I thought they'd all died out and gone to kit bash land, but no, we are not an entirely dead race yet. Of course the terminally tight wads like me are truly one-offs, nearly all the scratchbuilders also doing kits, but it does show that some COULD, when pressed, actually fashion something with their own hands. Praise de Lord!
The big problem is the outrageous cost of wheels! Ye Gods....over 20 quid for a pair on an axle. Over 15 notes for a pair of bogie wheels! That means that if I wanted to do my favourite M&GNJR 4-4-0 tank I would have to shell out 72 quid for plastic spoked wheels! A few quid more if I wanted the much nicer steel ones from Walsall Model Industries. Add I suppose about £6 for a gear. That, I suppose, is the price you pay for doing O gauge and not the wee ones for which there is a much larger choice at less money.
I have motors coming out of my ears. None of the modern things, of course, but lovely old open framers, like Romfords, Zenith, Pittman and KTMs of all sizes. I have K's too, but they're earmarked for slot cars. I won't use Jap cans if I can possibly avoid it. If I can't I'll use a Mashima as I know they're hand made, but in an O-Gauge model loco they're not necessary.
But the wheel costs? That may stop me doing anything. I don't really want to approach my modelmaking in terms of what my widow will get for every little item!