Fast approaching the £1000 mark on eBay and still, if you saw that railway before and after, there’s little difference. This is a better investment than any shares I have ever bought and unlike shares, I had all the fun of playing with it in between buying and selling – and even better, that makes it untaxable because I didn’t buy it to sell it and if I wasn’t skint and getting too old to see the tiny stuff, I wouldn’t be selling it at all. One thing though – if I had known I would one day sell it, I’d have been more careful with all the boxes. I have many, but not all.
I have now obtained three OO gauge coaches to play with, these are a dream to fit gadgetry into compared to N gauge. You can get a 9V battery into the guard’s section of a composite brake end. Who needs track pickup?
Also, and I don’t know what possessed me to do it (it was probably one of those spirits that live in bottles), but I bought a pair of N gauge telephone boxes as an etched brass kit. I made one of them today and it’s about 1.5 cm high. Inside is the phone and keypad, the directory shelf, the little panel telling you about emergency numbers…and the door handle…all as separate components…I must have had some kind of brain fart.
Yes, I did it, but not as well as I should have. With the second one I will not use cyanoacrylate as instructed. When those parts touch, that’s it, they are stuck and if they are even a little out of line it’s noticeable in that tiny scale. I can disguise this one by putting a little person in there but that means I have to make a handset and wire it in. Twenty years ago that would have been no problem. Now? I can probably do it but it’ll involve swearing.
I think it’s best to put that N gauge loco kit on eBay as a kit. I don’t have the fine finger control or close-focus eyes any more and that would be an expensive screw-up. The Lambretta was a simple casting, the phone boxes are more like the detailed work required for the engine. I can still do it but really, it’s more strain than fun now.
There is also the very important matter of fibre optic smokers. Yes, this is something we must discuss in a model context as being historically vital to the accuracy of any diorama constructed by anyone who wants any kind of accuracy in their model work. I hope that you are all like me and demand absolute accuracy in al details? Good. Then we shall continue.
Smokers were only recently banned from the entire rail system so if you are modelling before then, you need smokers on your setup. Otherwise your model is just wrong and other geeks will laugh in your face and call you a Mind-free Jock.
Success in this is hard but not impossible in N gauge, certainly possible in OO even inside a coach (take that, smokophobes) and easier still in higher scales. Remember, few of your fellow geeks have even thought of this yet. Push up your glasses and adjust your braces, you have the chance here to be the first!
Caveat: The smoker would have to be leaning against a bulkhead or wall so I can drill through their faces to insert the fibre optic. It can’t bend too much or it won’t work. I will be seeking model people who resemble the Dreadful Arnott so I can enjoy that part. I have some seriously tiny drills here, some that won’t even fit a Dremel and have to be turned slowly by hand. Hmm… Marathon Antismoker.
The light can come from either a tiny red LED at the other end of the fibre, or the painted cigarette just needs a tip of clear red lacquer and it can tap off the white light running the rest of the coach/platform/buffet/no smoking area.
Actual smoke? I used to have, long ago, a Hornby 0-6-0 tank engine that produced smoke from its chimney as it moved. An engine referred to as a ‘Jinty’. It didn’t produce real smoke, it was electric. What it had was some wadding, a heater element and some special liquid in a tank below the funnel. There was a piston attached to a cog that pumped air in to push out the ‘smoke’ in a puff-puff-puff action. Basically, it was an Electrofag in a toy train. In about 1976. Yeah. Hornby and we train geeks did it first. Nyah.
Therefore, using Electrofag parts (all low voltage) and some kind of air-pushing mechanism, it is possible to make a model of a smoker whose cigarette lights up and who periodically blows smoke. This will not be easy and I will not personally attempt it below OO gauge but someone younger and less knackered could do it in smaller scales. A smoky bar could definitely be created in N and any scale above, with smoke billowing out of an open door. Maybe even in Z scale.
You could even have nicotine in the ‘smoke’ just to be a bastard. What? You need a reason to do something despicable? Why? Anti-tobacco never do. Go for it, it’s their rules we play by. Give it nicotine and strawberry flavour so they all inhale deeply. Won’t that be fun?
It might be possible to have your plastic smoker blow smoke rings. That has to be worth a try. A tapered hole in the face would probably work but really you need to be up to 1/24th to try something like that – I have models in that scale, so I’ll try. What you also need is a disc rotating around the light supplying the fibre optic that dims and brightens the light as it turns, with a puff out of smoke in between the bright patches. Yes, you know, I think it can be done. Whether I can do it is a different matter, but I think it really can be done.
I have found that the biggest surprise sellers on eBay over the years are the oddities. When I sold off OO to fund my expanding N collection, the big ones were a low-loader with four Daleks roped onto it and a multiple unit from which I had removed the Volvo-bumper OO scale couplings and replaced them with proper British hook and chain link couplings, along with sprung buffers instead of solid plastic ones. I had also flush-glazed the windows, repainted and renumbered the entire set and so it was a set you could not buy ready made.
The unusual sells really well. So if you are skilled with models, set up some smokers for rail or any other type of model situation. Now that smokers are being eradicated, your historical artefacts will make you rich.
Oh and modellers, if you want to have a pack of smokes on the dashboard of your 1980s model car or wagon, best scan them now. It’ll cost you even if you never smoke them but an olive green pack on the dashboard of a 1981 Ford Capri will destroy your credibility forever.
Now you don’t want to be one of those people we geeks look down on, do you?
Or perhaps you like to be regarded as being beneath us?