Why does it take me so long to build a model
Since my last blog post, I managed to catch a nasty infection in my leg, and spent a week in hospital. I am on the improve now, but, disappointingly, I have also not been back to the workbench for over 2 weeks.
|Tour train at Wagga|
It has been almost 10 years since I made a new year’s resolution to construct, repair, and/or paint one locomotive model a month until I ran out of models. Well, until I made the move to Junee in 2014/15, I was almost keeping to that schedule.
However, whilst I was pleased with the results over that 4 year period, I often was frustrated by my inability to build quickly. So I thought I would analyse possible reasons for slowness, so maybe I can improve my speed.
- Ebay: The worldwide marketplace is awash with kits looking for new homes. And I consider myself as running a foster home. So, I spend around an hour a day looking for unwanted models. My interests are wide. This could be the reason why my kits supply has not dried up
This is the problem of lots of projects, and owning lots of kits.
I am spoilt for choice. Where to start? What to build? Some of the models I have
owned since the 1980s, but others are more recent. And over the years my interests have
changed. Whilst I now concentrate on Wagga, I still get
distracted. Sometimes it takes me a lot
of time to decide what to build.
Ffestiniog Railway Double Fairlie. Wrightlines kit in O16.5 scale. I bought this kit in 1992, and took 22 years to actually build it.
- Challenge yourself. Problem solving is a great way to keep the
grey matter active. A challenging kit
can also take longer – much longer than a simple kit. Fortunately, but also frustratingly,
instructions, and exploded diagrams are often deficient in information. Working through the steps to construct a locomotive
kit can give one a greater sense of achievement than buying a ready to run
model of the same locomotive, even if the cost is more.
GCR ROD 2-8-0. Buit from a Keyser kit in OO scale. I have painted it to JA brown's #17. This locomotive kit was bought cheap on ebay as it had no instructions. Finding instructions was another story.
- If I own more than one kit of the same locomotive, I should build a second, or third locomotive kit immediately I have finished the first. This would allow me to benefit from the experience of the first loco build, and reduce the time needed to build the second, and subsequent model. But where is the challenge in that?
- Research. My personal library is quite extensive, and looking for information in my book collection is very enjoyable. But it can also be a major time waster. On occasion I do not have the information I need. The internet is a great resource if you know what you are looking for, and don’t get sidetracked. Modelling forums are not for everyone. Emails are great too. And when all that fails, nothing beats visiting your prototype. Make a trip of it. You might even find another model loco that needs to be built too. Have you ever recalled that you have seen an article in a magazine. Great, but you don’t have an index. No problem, looking through magazines is fun isn’t it? A new idea on every page.
- Loosing bits on the floor. This can provide an instant halt to any model
construction. I am not sure the best way
to stop this. In one kit, a DJH NSWGR Z13,
one of the romford wheel nuts dropped to the carpet. I then spent the next hour looking for
it. I have no idea how it managed to
roll or bounce over a metre away, but it had.
Sure, I could have raided a nut from another unbuilt kit, and then
ordered replacements? I even
contemplated taking a 10BA nut, and filing it down to a replacement size, but
once one starts a search, giving up is not an easy option. I have not mentioned some of the parts that I
have never found over the years. The
other thing that I did with the Z13, was misplace the nuts and bolts. I had carefully taken these out of the DJH
blister pack, placed them in a small zip-lock pack, and then lost them on the
workbench. And speaking of the
DJH Z13. I built this model in just over one week.
- Workbench a mess. I like to have all my tools, paints, and
supplies close hand. My workbench is a
large office desk, but my work area has shrunk to around 30 cm square. I suspect this is a common problem, and
whilst in the process of kit/scratch building, I am rather poor at returning things to their
correct places. Of course I realise that
30 cm square is far too small for efficient model building. You would think that with so little workbench
being used, it would be impossible to lose track of the tools you use. Fear not, I spend much time looking for tools
that have been buried by other tools, or parts of the kits.
- Tools breaking, and spilling flux. Probably as a result of the workbench deficiencies, I seem to run into problems. Recently, my bottle of BGM flux decided to fall over and a tremendous quantity of flux oozed around tools, paint bottles, etc, and under my glass plate working surface. It took a long time to wipe this up. Breaking drill bits is also something that frustrates – particularly the small diameter ones. But hey, you can buy replacement drills on the internet. Just wait then for them to be delivered.
- Missing parts.
I am jinxed. I regularly find
missing and substandard parts in the kits I build. Some are easily replaced from the spares box,
but others have to be fabricated from scratch.
Sure, one could go back to the
manufacturer if the kit is modern, and you had bought it from them, but 90% of
the kits I own are ancient. As an
example, the NN I was building had the following problems – one of the chassis axle slots was
out of square by a huge 0.34mm; one of the Romford wheel nuts did not have a screwdriver
slot; and a turned brass handrail knob
lacked a hole for the handrail wire. The
upside is that the satisfaction of completing a kit where parts had to be
scratch built is far higher than an otherwise straight forward build
DJH NN - Still in original build, but after the 35 class renumbering. Makes it far too early to be a loco I can run on the Wagga layout.
modification. Building straight from a box is a lot easier than modifying
parts. But to not improve a upon a
model, could compromise the effect you are after.
- Assumptions I could also put in the not reading the instructions properly, and having to reverse a number of steps to do something that I should have done in correct order. And don’t rely on the manufacturer order either. If I had built the NN body according to the instructions, soldering the external boiler fittings from the inside of the boiler would have been impossible.
and puppy dog distraction. My workbench
in my old house used to have a window, which lets in natural light. Unfortunately, I had a very friendly family
of magpies that loved to see me working
there, as it gave them a free meal. All
they do is land on the window sill, or the fence, make me aware of their presence, and keep
annoying me until I react. I then get
up, go to the fridge, get some mince, and go outside and feed them. They were good breeders, with 2 youngsters in
2013, and 3 in 2014. The
youngsters learnt the parents’ trick, and thus I can be interrupted 2 or
3 times per hour. Yes, a problem of my own making, but over a period
of building a model, I lose many hours. My place in Junee is not quite as bad,
although the magpies, and pied butcher birds spy on my movements, and feeding
them often takes priority. And I haven’t
mentioned the puppy dogs...
Mum magpie One of the Pied Butcher birds "Rykar" collie - demanding attention
- No decals. Mostly a problem with Australian diesel kits. Ebay may again provide a solution, but not all classes are covered. For instance, I have a DJH/VR X class in grey primer for over 11 years awaiting decals. Occassionly, I have had to take on a different paint scheme than the one I originally wanted. Worst case though is to drawup the artwork and submit to a specialist decal maker.
- Too complex a paint scheme. Masking multiple colours, and extensive lining takes much time. A lot of this is waiting for paint to fully dry. Of course this relies on great weather...
starting another kit midway through a build.
Starting another kit is a recipe to lose momentum on the first kit. Sure, certain tasks like waiting for paint to
dry may seem an opportunity for starting a new kit build, but unless you are
very methodical, starting a second kit
can multiply the problems. Perhaps I
should build 2, or 3 identical kits simultaneously.
- Television. I waste too much time watching the idiot box. ‘Nuf said.
- Youtube. Probably a worse time waster than TV. Recently, virtual conventions have provided significant insights into modelling across the world.
- Blogs. Authoring a blog has been one of the main reasons why I have maintained focus on the Wagga project for the last 3 years, although each blog post can take significant time in editing. Then there is the time spent on reading the blogs of others. Great ideas
models for others. Something I am
reluctant to do, as this takes priority over everything else.
A pair of O scale cranes for my mate Max Burke. Max wanted them a bit weather beaten. The grey crane kit was missing parts of the jib, that I had to fabricate. Max is the owner of a model of the Morton Mill's lift span bridge, and I got to run my sugar cane loco (Badger BliBli kit) and sugar can bins (Greg Model Emporium) in a prototype accurate setting.
building. There is great flexibility in being
able to build what you want, without the hassle of not having a kit. Although, it is important that one has
sufficient “raw” materials, detail parts, plans and good photos.
- Attending NMRA, and other model train meetings. Either in Canberra or close by – my travel time from Junee is in many hours per month more than when I was based in the ACT area.
- Gardening. My house in Queanbeyan was a on a small 760 square metre block, and I deliberately avoided any plants that needed much care. Mowing took less than 30 minutes. The place on Junee though is more like a hobby farm size, on 1ha, and 1/3 is devoted to gardens and lawns. I am spending close to 5 hrs per fortnight mowing, and the gardens, despite the extensive time I spend, look neglected.
- And lastly, and probably most importantly, health concerns. We are not getting any younger, and modelling can be put on hold at any time – often without warning. Whilst good workshop practices can prevent cuts, burns, and eye damage, maintaining your health through good exercise, sleeping, good food, and regular doctor appointments will hopefully pay you back with extended quality of life. This is a lesson I will have to quickly learn
|Lloyds 620/720 set. I bought this model from a second hand stand unstarted, but all parts loose in a plastic tub. I will have to research if 620/720s were used on the Junee-Albury line. |
Well, when I stated the one loco kit a month, I thought that I had around 50 loco kits in the cupboard. Well, at last count I still have OVER 50 loco kits. And this is not counting the brass models awaiting restoration, and/or painting. Are the kits breeding? I don’t think so, but I can’t be certain. Am I having fun? You bet.