Earlier this year, I wrote about my interest in the Great Western Railway in the Edwardian era and the possibilities of modelling it in 7mm in my basement. It’s time to have another look at this because, well… there have been developments.
To start, my fleet of GWR steam locomotives has grown considerably over the past year.
In October 2020, I stumbled across a Lee Marsh Dean Single on a UK brass dealer’s site. The same site had a Lee Marsh Dean Goods on offer in November of this year. Both are in the green, black, and red scheme that I find most attractive, with copious amounts of lining and plenty of bright brass work.
Obviously, I could not resist. These models are not the perfect cup of tea for everyone in North America – far from it. But they speak so strongly to me.
When I acquired the Dean Single, I decided to explore my options for modelling the GWR. To that end, I bought a half-dozen kits for 19th Century goods wagons (er… freight cars) from Walsall Model Industries. These are primarily photo-etched brass with some white metal castings, and require wheel sets and lettering to complete. I bought suitable wheels from Slaters.
Since I was ordering from them anyway, I also picked up Slaters buffers and coupling hooks: my experience with S scale on Port Rowan taught me that having consistent mechanical components like couplers and wheels is a real benefit, and I’d had excellent success with Slaters products when I built four of the company’s four-wheel passenger cars.
The Walsall kits sat for about a year – I got busy doing other things – but with the imminent arrival of the Dean Goods I decided it was time to determine whether I a) can build the kits and b) enjoy doing so.
While I do not yet have pictures to share, I have built a single-plank and four-plank open and I’m pleased that I can answer “yes” to both questions. They’re painted and ready for lettering. Meantime, I’m taking the first steps into a kit for an Iron Mink – a 19th century GWR metal-sided goods van that’s the equivalent of North America’s single-sheathed boxcar. There are a gazillion half-etched rivets to form and I’m actually looking forward to the process.
When not at the workbench, I’m considering what sort of layout these should run on. My space is large, but even so the broad radius curves required to prevent British 7mm equipment from locking buffers means that UK classic – the Branch Line Terminal to staging – is the most appropriate choice. (The Dean Single likely would never have turned up on such a line. I’m good with that. I’ll run it when nobody’s looking.)
In chatting with friends about this, it occurred to us that I might have to build multiple shelf-style layouts in my space in order to scratch my various modelling itches. In addition to the GWR in 7mm, there’s the Canadian National Railways / Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway in S scale. And while I haven’t written about it on this blog, I also own a significant collection of Southern Pacific and Sacramento Northern equipment in Proto:48 and it would be nice to see those models in action.
Perhaps, by designing multiple smaller, more achievable layouts, I can actually get started on one without it feeling like a huge solo undertaking. Plus, if I build all of them and find I spend most of my time on one to the neglect of the others – well, that tells me something too about what I should be modelling…