Anything in this blog is stated as beliefs and opinions with the facts as understood at the time of posting. My apologies for a protracted delay in posting but my professional duties of the 12”=1’ ultra-modern image variety have (of late) left my time-priorities elsewhere.
15th February 2020
30th January 2020
12th January 2020
18th December 2019
13th December 2019
24th November 2019
20th November 2019
19th October 2019
28th September 2019
10th September 2019
10th August 2019
10th August 2019
4th July 2019
21st June 2019
7th June 2019
24th May 2919
20th May 2019
5th May 2019
7th April 2019
29th March 2019
29th March 2019
Short-changed by Exhibitions?
(15th February 2020)
Back in August Blood and Custard reported on a club’s 50th Anniversary Exhibition where layouts were being run with token trains as the exhibitors had packed the majority of their stock away long before closing time and when paying public were still expecting to be entertained.
At the time the observation was made that when attending a concert if the audience is lucky, they get to enjoy an encore; what almost never happens is the band or orchestra packing up its instruments leaving the finale being played on (say) just a guitar and tambourine. Unless the band or orchestra was along the lines of the Mamas and the Papas, surely there would be outrage if that occurred!
At today’s one-day exhibition the same short-changing of paying public was taking place with some layouts being exhibited; one kept shuttling the same set of carriages back and forward presumably in the belief a change of locomotive would suffice.
Yet, less than five minutes before this occurred my entry ticket had been diligently inspected as I transited between exhibition halls through the public reception area – in other words there was still an expectation to pay to enter the exhibition. With club officials still inspecting tickets into this hall my disappointment was tactfully and politely made know to a club member. However, the response was somewhat indifferent even though the exhibition had another 30-minutes to run.
So, once again the paying public are effectively being short-changed by exhibition managers (and their clubs) who knowingly let this practice continue unabated and once again, we left an exhibition feeling we’d not received our monies worth whilst questioning whether to attend their next exhibition.
Now most people are reasonably pragmatic and aren’t necessarily expecting the railway to retain its full complement of stock. However, a layout should give some resemblance of credibility with (where appropriate) more than a token train aimlessly shuttling to and from just to try and give a pretence of an operational railway.
Furthermore, it is appreciated many (if not all) of the layouts were being provided on a voluntary basis (I have been an exhibitor many times). But it still has to be remembered that people have paid money to attend exhibitions with a reasonable expectation to be entertained; not to be ‘short-changed’. Surely exhibitors are attending on the basis of understanding this commitment?
(30th January 2020)
There is a continental-based firm advertising an ever-increasing range of 3D-printed model coaches, Locomotives and EMUs including a significant number of unusual UK models. Whilst it shews graphic representation of these, I’ve yet to meet anyone who as bought and sampled the final product. So, upon finding an SECR six-wheeled brake van thereon I decided to purchase one to see exactly what you receive, particularly in terms of quality of finish.
Upon checking-out their website kept telling me my postcode should only be seven digits long (it is). However, after re-entering my postcode the website told me I hadn’t entered an e-mail address – but I had and the website had ‘cleverly’ deleted it – doh!
After several tail-chasing attempts I gave up and tried to locate some contact details - only to find I need to create an ‘account’ to do this. Why does everyone want to ‘harvest’ my details and insist on an account just to resolve (in this case) their problem with their website?
[In London I recently came across a coffee bar that sought to insist on knowing my name when all I wanted to do was buy a drink!]
Also, if it was this impossible to actually purchase anything then how difficult will it be to receive the goods or return them if there was a fault or even ask technical questions about the product. Based on this experience I could only assume the worst.
By this point I was beginning to give up the will to live and just accepted their products were only available to those who had a degree in modern computing. Selling products over the internet can be useful but only works if it is simple to use and people can actually get to buy the goods on offer. With a local model railway exhibition looming I’ll look-see what is available there rather than wasting time with an unknown model on a website that doesn’t want me to purchase anything…….
Disappointing start to 2020
(12th January 2020)
At the start of January one manufacturer announced its 2020 model releases to eager modellers, except for many this was a huge disappointment!
Certainly, as a Southern Region modeller there was nothing new on offer (apart from one BR coach found across all regions). It must be added that several previously announced models (some already long overdue) were reconfirmed as were new Southern Railway livery versions for existing models. However, at least this does leave the year-2020 annual modelling budget of many modellers free to be spent elsewhere.
Quite a few new releases of old-fashioned tinplate models were announced. However, although charming these archaic offerings no longer form part of mainstream modelling scene. Essentially such limited-edition models are intended for the collector’s market and I accept these may well be hugely popular (I would be very surprised if they weren’t).
However, by not forming part of today’s mainstream modelling scene these are potentially unlikely to be of anything other than passing interest to many 4mm modellers. Indeed, having been served well over the past two decades, in terms of 2020 this arguably retrogressive announcement may leave some 4mm modellers with the feeling of abandonment in favour of niche-collectors.
Ultimately this is of course hugely disappointing and gives little cause for celebration. Particularly when there appeared to be genuine interest in having modern detailed versions of past 4mm models that were last seen fifty or sixty years ago - a lost opportunity perhaps?
lose a new customer at the outset!
(18th December 2019)
Seeking a replacement model railway magazine, I signed up for a year’s subscription with another well-known publication and was pleasantly surprised to see it appeared to be offering a free brake van with my new subscription. Perhaps I’d misunderstood for was sent a voucher for a box of chocolates redeemable only in-store. Except a serious medical condition prevents such an indulgence. Furthermore, there wasn’t any of this chain of shops in my county of residence (let alone nearby).
With a start like that it was easier to invoke a cancellation under distance selling regulations and simply give up on model railway magazines…..
Are Model Railway
magazines losing touch?
(13th December 2019)
For over five decades I have been into model railways purchasing the accompanying monthly magazines; my favourite having been the long-departed Model Railway Constructor. Today I cancelled my renewal of another long-standing magazine; its January issue being of so little interest I’d already placed it in the recycling bin.
A terrible thing to say, but for some time I’ve concluded its editorial had been somewhat stale. Certainly, it has shewn little or no interest in (say) matters of diversity such as disability issuers associated with the hobby – in my opinion discrimination by omission.
More significantly, for the last few months much of its coverage was devoted to promoting a reality television model railway show. Now, it is accepted that this may be popular in some quarters of our diverse hobby and so may of interest to many. However, there was no interest amongst our own modelling group; indeed, even a perception that this television show (and therefore the magazine) was not promoting model railways as a serious hobby with dedicated participants. Accordingly, this has resulted in a divergent path between magazine and some long-term readers.
Furthermore, it is perceived that recently much space in several editions has been used to essentially promote a large annual exhibition including post-event back-slapping. For some time now this exhibition has (for many) become too expensive to attend (entrance fee /parking charges /cost of tea & food) and has inadequate provision (like so many other exhibitions) in respect of its provision for those with mobility issues.
Across the hobby exhibition attendances will keep falling if the promotors continue to fail to address these basic issues.
So, with other issues (such as reviews appearing long after items had rapidly become sold-out) it was time to part company. In doing so I did try to tactfully raise these issues with the magazine staff. However, the was no meaningful interest in engagement thus no opportunity for them to find out why they have lost another long-term reader or (as I suspect) they simply weren’t interested.
Through this website I do have much engagement with the newer generations of railway modellers. Certainly, if I was starting modelling now modern transit systems would hold much interest. Within this it is interesting how (in this on-line age) magazines are losing relevance as social media takes over. If magazines cannot cater for the up and coming generations whilst losing their existing readers then we may sadly see some fall into decline.
Commercial risk or out of touch with demand?
(24th November 2019)
This blog posting was submitted a good friend and experienced career railwayman (ex.BR) who attended this weekend’s Warley show in Birmingham.
During my visit to the exhibition I took the trouble to speak with a manufacturer about producing a 4 EPB. This manufacturer has already produced excellent models of a 4 CEP, a four-car class 350 Desiro and the six-car Blue Pullman (both MR & WR types). They also have a 4 BEP scheduled November 2020.
Within their range this manufacturer also produces an excellent 2 EPB and (for Kernow) both a 2H diesel unit and 4TC. They also have a 2 HAP (phase 2) unit scheduled for July 2020.
So, on this basis the manufacturer was asked if they were going to make a 4 EPB. However, their reply was (to paraphrase) ‘there were no plans for it a being a four car, there was a lot more money involved and the commercial risk may not make it viable’. Their reply further admitted other people had been asking for a 4 EPB that weekend.
I left their stand somewhat bemused, as not only had this manufacturer successfully produced a number of four and six-car multiple units, they already produced half the coaches required to produce a 4 EPB - the pair of phase-1 motor coaches. Admittedly the 4 EPB motor coaches don't have the roof conduit of the 2 EPB motor coach, but then the (identical) 2 HAP (phase 2) motor-coach doesn’t have roof-conduit either; a minor issue soon to be solved!
So, this leaves just one coach to produce - the Trailer Second (TS). As both TS coaches were half-compartment /half open even the interiors would be identical within each four-car unit. A TS could also for the basis of a centre-car for the 2H (to produce a 3H unit) and even a locomotive- hauled 64’ Non-corridor Second.
Given so many modellers appear to want a 4 EPB, as a modeller I was left asking myself does the tooling cost (essentially for one coach) really represent that great a commercial risk when so many elements are already in place to produce a 4 EPB?
As modellers we can only speculate, but unlike continental companies (such as Piko and Brawa who produce four, five and six-car multiple units in ‘H0’) here in the UK several of our manufacturers can at times appear to be averse to producing four-car multiple units; potentially leaving a significant void in satisfying modellers' demand!
Lack of Trading Openness?
(20th November 2019)
Last year a good friend took delivery of an excellent limited-edition diesel locomotive being promoted and directly-sold by a well-known model railway group. By chance he found out that this year’s limited-edition (a variation of the same class of locomotive) had already been released. Concerned that his 2019-model hadn’t arrived the model railway group were contacted, only to be advised they’d cancelled his order because he had not responded to an e-mail they’d sent just a couple of weeks previously.
Not unexpectedly he wanted to an explanation, especially as model railway group had his telephone numbers and nobody had tried to call when he hadn’t responded to their e-mail. Except it then transpired the model railway group hadn’t actually sent him the e-mail (to which he’d allegedly failed to respond to). At this point the situation worsened as they also declared they’d sold out of this model-release!
Fortunately, the situation was finally saved as the model railway group could offer him a more-expensive DCC sound-equipped weathered model, which he was happy to accept and is very pleased with.
Now that might have been the end of the matter, except in the weekly newsletter of a well-known reputable retailer, the ‘sold-out’ model locomotives were now offering on their website. To be clear, there is certainly no criticism of that reputable retailer who presumably legitimately acquired a quantity of these locomotives. Perhaps this was the group’s left-over stock being rather too swiftly sold-on?
Essentially what was rather poor was this retailing- model railway group’s apparent failures in respect of contacting its loyal customers - who were looking forward to obtaining their limited-edition model order. Furthermore, the availability of an allegedly ‘sold-out’ model via a reputable retailer could be construed as a lack of openness in its trading by this model railway group; something that could undermine the credibility of other unrelated groups seeking to produce limited edition models.
As a general aside it is disappointing that so many assume recipients of e-mails are reading them within minutes of sending (taking no account of that person being away etc) then assuming that e-mail has been received (and ignored) without further checks – all said and done, it isn’t difficult to pick up a telephone…...
An Unpalatable and
(19th October 2019)
As two of us sat swilling tea at a model railway exhibition a pair of local finescale modellers engaged us in conversation from an adjacent table; one of these I’d known for nearly a decade. Within the conversation we were asked if we wanted to join a local finescale group being formed as there was ‘nothing in the local area’. Except the two of us were amongst the founding members of the East Sussex Finescale (modelling) group which had been in existence since 2013 – something that the individual asking was very well aware of.
Whilst we wish other modellers well in progression of their hobby, it is rather unpalatable and repugnant to have somebody knowingly seek to deny the existence of a well-established finescale modelling group ‘in the area’; incredibly disrespectful and certainly bringing the hobby into disrepute (along with his local model railway club - of which he is an official).
Ironically, when East Sussex Finescale was starting out back in 2013 we approached this individual to see if he’d wish to join us, but he chose not to. Ultimately, we can only speculate as to this individual’s motives for his comments, but certainly this incident now adds credibility to past grumblings from other local modellers alleging mischief on his behalf.
To date, East Sussex Finescale successfully continues to assist local finescale modellers in many scales rather than just one very specific scale and gauge!
Discrimination by Model Railway Exhibition
(28th September 2019)
This morning’s news headlines cover arguments in respect of racial discrimination issues at the UK’s national broadcaster. However, although equally pernicious and covered by the same Equality Act 2010, disability-discrimination appears to remain in certain quarters, acceptable. One of these ‘quarters’ are model railway exhibitions where making reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities (i.e. providing a ‘level playing field’) and all too often ignored.
Today a model railway exhibition is about to take place in a nearby seaside town. The exhibition appears to have a good spread of layouts /traders and has been described by some as disabled-friendly. Except it isn’t and the organisers website does not – indeed cannot - make this claim.
Remember this is 2019 and for nearly a decade exhibition organisers have a statutory duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make exhibitions accessible. Even though the venue is relatively modern and has some facilities for those with disabilities, the exhibition was (in previous years) inadequate. Nobody manages the car parking with its substandard number of blue-badge parking bays let along their being abused (based on previous year’s observations) by able-bodied motorists. Such abuse by motorists in itself can be considered as disability-discrimination.
For this exhibition there should be adequate blue-badge parking at the venue and (as a reasonable adjustment for disability) this should be properly managed with sufficient provision made to meet the needs of the exhibition’s mobility-impaired visitors. Given the exhibition is a annually-repeated event and this problem has been previously raised with the organisers (more than once) there is no excuse for not knowing that this is a problem. The organisers impact assessment of the arrangements they are putting in place (including a do-nothing ‘cop-out’ – potentially a breach of the Equality Act 2010) should raise alarm bells that they may be failing to make reasonable adjustments as required by the Equality Act 2010.
It may be that the owners hiring out the venue will not let the organisers manage the car park. In which case the responsibility to make reasonable adjustments as required by the Equality Act 2010 rests with the venue owners. However, the exhibition managers should have agreement as to how this will be provided as part of hiring the venue (or ultimately declining to hire the venue). If the exhibition organisers thinks a ‘they won’t let us do this’ situation simply absolves them from their duties under the Equality Act 2010 then they might just find they are mistaken.
Within the venue there is a large exhibition area with no reasonable access for persons of reduced mobility. Certainly, a circuitous route involving a long walk and climbing non-dropped kerbs cannot be described as reasonable. But it doesn’t stop there as the stepped access is devoid of handrails and so not fit for purpose as an exhibition area. Certainly, the exhibition managers would struggle to find a legitimate defence against charges under Section 2 and Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 whilst their insurers might think about whether in loss can be reclaimed if the exhibition organisers knew of this risk but did not inform them.
One would hope these disability issues have been addressed prior to this morning’s opening of the exhibition and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to report that significant changes have been made since last year. However, at the time of writing with no indications of anything to the contrary, I fear this will not be the case - placing model railway enthusiasts with disabilities at a disadvantage and as a consequence being left no option to sit at the back-of-the-bus.
Society Refusing GDPR Data Erasure
(10th September 2019)
Article 17 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives data subjects the right to obtain erasure from a data controller without undue delay if one of a number of criteria apply. Two of these criteria are (1) the data controller doesn’t need the data anymore <there needs to be a defined valid lawful reason if they claim they do need it> and (2) the subject withdraws consent for the processing with which they previously agreed to (and the controller doesn’t need to legally keep it).
Recently I sought to join a UK-wide model railway society but rapidly found the situation was an unhappy one; the details are unimportant. Fortunately, I was able to cancel the application process under the 14-day distance selling regulations.
However, the society (i.e. the data controller) has it appears, refused my reasonable Article 17 request for erasure of my details (i.e. the data subject). In terms of their response (which is ambiguous - further e-mails were not responded to) it is my belief that this society may be acting out-with the requirements of GDPR. With the one-month statutory timescale having elapsed, the only option was to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office. For the society involved this issue is not going to go away anytime soon and may simply continue to escalate.
Besides wasting the time of both the Information Commissioner’s Office and myself, in my opinion such a refusal brings the model railway hobby into disrepute. For refusing this reasonable request, the society’s disrespectful arrogance of Article 17 erasure-refusal simply supports my decision to cease the membership-application process.
Furthermore, through both not providing the response required by GDPR and potentially their apparent refusal to respond to a valid Article 17 request, I believe places this society at odds with GDPR. On this basis and like many others, I have no wish to be involved in (or be complicit with) an organisation that knowingly choses not comply with the legal requirements of the UK’s statute books.
As a consequence, this society will now have to explain itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office (there is currently a two-month case backlog). Although unlikely to be applied here, in respect of GDPR the potential penalties for non-compliance can be considerable let alone reputational damage.
Update: After the intervention of the ICO the society acted and was finally able to confirm data erasure.
Short-changed by Exhibitions?
(10th August 2019)
When attending a concert if the audience is lucky, they get to enjoy an encore; what almost never happens is the band or orchestra packing up its instruments leaving the finale being played on (say) just a guitar and tambourine. Unless the band or orchestra was along the lines of the Mamas and the Papas, surely there would be outrage if that occurred!
Most model railway exhibitions charge an entrance fee and those paying to attend have a reasonable expectation to be ‘entertained’. Yet there are many occasions where both exhibitors and sometimes the exhibition organisers consider it acceptable for layouts to commence being packed away long before the exhibition is at an end - even though paying ‘audience’ members are still present and expecting to be entertained.
This afternoon at a club’s 50th anniversary exhibition no less, that is exactly what occurred.
Some forty-minutes before the exhibition-end, much of rolling stock on one layout was being rapidly packed away to the detriment of those of us who were expecting to see a reasonably operational layout. Moving to another hall less than ten-minutes later, we were confronted by a visiting layout of a sizeable terminus (that had featured in at least one mainstream magazine) devoid of all trains except two just sitting stationary in the platforms. Approaching the layout, one of the layout’s operators stepped in front of us to remove the last remaining wagon.
In both instances this left the layouts looking as though they were simply waiting to be packed away. Certainly, there was minimal resemblance of any meaningful railway operations taking place.
Having walked away from these layouts in disgust, representations were made to the member of staff sitting at the pay-desk. However, after confirming the exhibition was open for another thirty-minutes our representations were dismissed with a seemingly disinterested apology; it could be said that this even suggested this premature packing up of layouts was completely acceptable to the exhibition organisers who had charged us entry.
We left the exhibition feeling we’d not received our monies worth and certainly with little or no interest in attending their next exhibition.
Whilst it is appreciated many (if not all) of the layouts were being provided on a voluntary basis (I have been an exhibitor many times) it has to be remembered that people have paid money to attend exhibitions and should not be ‘short-changed’. Surely exhibitors are attending on the basis of understanding this commitment?
At the same exhibition after looking at a layout devoid of movement for several minutes I politely asked if the layout was a static exhibit. The response was essentially “no sorry, I’m talking” before turning away to continue the conversation with his chum. So, it appears this was to all intents a static exhibit given interest (from paying public) was ignored.
This is an issue increasingly encountered at quite a number of exhibitions although to be fair a small minority do try to prevent this from happening - but not today.
Ironically it was only recently that one of the mainstream model railway magazines tried to start a conversation as to why attendance at exhibitions was falling………….
Certainly, many of us in our modelling circle are already becoming very choosy in respect of the exhibitions we now bother to attend.
exhibition attitude towards Disability
(10th August 2019)
Attending an exhibition today with blue-badge displayed we still had to remonstrate with the exhibition’s parking attendants to be able to park close to the entrance; even then no wide-bay parking was provided amongst the non-blue-badged cars. Given the attitude of the parking attendants and that these same non-blue-badged cars were still present when we left, it would not be unreasonable to assume that they belonged to those running /exhibiting the exhibition (i.e. not paying customers) and could have been moved to provide sufficient space for those with blue-badges etc.
When this was tactfully raised at the exhibition pay-desk the attitude was somewhat indifferent; with the disabled parking claimed as ‘self-policing’. This beggared belief given the indifference of the pair of ‘parking attendants’ on duty (there were more attendant(s) distant in the car-park). Essentially, I doubt that the club’s disability-discrimination was even being realised - inexcusable. Having said that, one club official standing close by quickly made himself scarce…
Recalling a similar issue two-years previously, such intransigence to the needs of disability by the exhibition management further manifest itself inside the multi-levelled venue with only one club member providing assistance (thank you to that person). There was minimal guidance on how to get between levels and none when it came to struggling with the heavy external doors which (upon opening) were wrenched from my grasp by the strong gale-force winds.
Under the Equality Act 2010 exhibition managers do have statutory duties in respect of providing assistance (reasonable adjustments) to those with disabilities and not to do so remains completely unacceptable and morally repugnant.
(4th July 2019)
In today’s ‘internet age’ so much information is more readily available to the modeller, although there is a degree of misinformation too. No doubt modellers have always been seeking answers to questions; except now those questions are being sought from a wider audience and are more obvious to all. Indeed, BloodandCustard came about to assist in answering some of those questions; particularly filling in odd gaps not covered elsewhere. This included publishing the Southern Electric multiple unit histories; the topic upon which most correspondence is received. In undertaking this work, website visitors are reminded BloodandCustard is a privately funded non-commercial website with limited time-resource from somebody who has a busy day-job!
Many railway records are still on paper files (including record cards) and aren’t available online. Recently in spotting a significant number of unanswered questions on a commercial (media-run) forum, BloodandCustard did try to assist but after several attempt was unable to elicit any response; annoyingly frustrating. However, when contact was eventually established there was no apparent interest in the knowledge being proffered.
In this respect, the reaching out to others seeking information is not something BloodandCustard is minded to attempt again.
However, hopefully many can gain some answers can be gained from BloodandCustard. Furthermore, useful relevant information received from those interested in sharing for the benefit of others continues to be appreciated.
Game, Set and (no) Match
(21st June 2019)
As a former employee of British Railway’s Southern Region, I am well acquainted with the use of fixed-sets to form trains; whether these be electric (and diesel) multiple-unit trains or (back in the nineteen-fifties) coaching sets.
However, sets are a concept possibly still not fully grasped by model railway manufacturers.
Arguably it was Replica Railways that released the first coaching sets in the form of their Mk1 64’ ‘Exmouth Branch’ suburban sets. These came in packs of three coaches (BS-C-BS) each carrying the correct coach numbers for sets 152, 153, 154 and 155 with Crimson Lake /Green versions (SR numbered) and some with WR numbering. Loose seconds were also sold. Complete with Romford finescale wheelsets (a real bonus) several years on it would be nice to see these sets released again.
A welcome issue, Hornby released Maunsell Special Traffic 6-car set no.273 in two packs (R2815 containing three coaches BCK /SK /CK with Schools Class no.30924 ‘Haileybury’ and R4379 containing BCK /SK /CK). The BCK and SK coaches were of the correct Low Window type; very few Low Window coaches have been released by Hornby in BR(S) green or CLC.
Hornby also released correctly set /coach numbered 48’ Maunsell rebuild 2-car sets and Bachmann followed soon after with their much-acclaimed excellent Birdcage sets, again with correct coach set /coach numbering (also two diagram numbers were produced ); these coaches only ever ran as a fixed three-car formation and if a coach was found to be defective the whole set was removed for repair.
Today model shops were receiving deliveries of the eagerly anticipated 59’ Bulleid coaches which (for the most) ran in three car sets (BSK /CK /BSK). Except shops were being delivered two versions of the CK in Southern Railway green livery (from sets 965 & 973) and three versions of the BSK in Southern Region green livery (from sets 968 & 972). I suspect this is probably more down to a cock-up (to use a technical term) but it does make you wonder.
Recently Hornby have announced further versions of their SouthEastern Javelin electric multiple units sets except these are only being offered as a four-car set without any opportunity to purchase the additional two cars necessary to recreate a correct-length six-car set. Some might say bizarre as those wanting a correct length train will need to buy two packs and discard the driving cars and will end up with duplicate coach numbers. However, to be fair it is rumoured that the additional cars are proposed by Hornby to make correct length Javelin sets.
When it comes to multiple units Bachmann scored very highly with their superb six-car Blue Pullman set; a model of an iconic train I really wanted to find an excuse for having one on my layout. Although I failed to find an excuse for a Blue Pullman set, Hornby produced the 5 BEL ‘Brighton Belle’ sets. However, their choice of numbers is strange. No.3053 was released in Blue but then again in 1960s Chocolate /Cream with yellow warning panel. Had another unit been chosen then the two units could have been run together – except Hornby hasn’t made any provision to enable this clearly missing the point of ‘multiple’ unit. After all most Brighton Belle works were as a ten-car train. Now, I appreciate not everyone can or will want to run a ten-car train but there are many who can.
Strangely enough Hornby have chosen to ignore 5 BEL units from the nineteen-fifties, having only offered early nineteen-thirties and nineteen sixties versions. Indeed, with may Southern-Electric units the number of models featuring sixties yellow-warning panels appears to be disproportionately high given the relatively short duration /time period that saw these used on some (but not all) units.
Furthermore, some models have only been produced with minimal unit-number variations for each given unit; a possible clue being ‘multiple’ in the term electric multiple unit. With some units having been remaindered in shops perhaps more number variations are required within an overall production run. Certainly, I would but one of each number version of a particular unit but not duplicates of any given unit number.
Much research and development go into making so many excellent models these days. In concentrating on the details perhaps model manufacturers slightly miss the wider picture of how these trains were operated and what modellers are seeking?
DJ Models Ltd enter Receivership
(7th June 2019)
I anticipate only few modellers use the Companies House website and perhaps even fewer read the London Gazette; this being an official publication that I’ve used many times in the past to provide notice of Parliamentary Bills and latterly applications to the Secretary of State in respect of submissions under the Transport and Works Act for new railway and tramway schemes. The London Gazette is also used for matters such as notification of deaths (for the purposes of inheritance) and for petitions to enter into receivership. Yesterday one such notification was published on behalf of DJ Models Ltd (Company Number 08601496) with resolutions for winding-up and an appointment of liquidators (the Companies House website has been updated to shew the liquidators address). DJ Models Ltd website carries an announcement of their closure (stated as 4th June 2019).
Companies entering receivership are rarely saved with the company ceasing to trade. Assets are usually subject to liquidation (often sold at a knock down price), directors will typically lose their employment (and any monies due to them from the company) while their conduct is investigated. From the creditors' perspective, it is unlikely that any unsecured creditors will receive little or even any of their money back with the bank having to underwrite the receiver's costs.
If my recollections are correct, locomotives made by DJ Models Ltd were the excellent LSWR Beattie Well Tanks and the LSWR O2 (both commissioned by Kernow along with the superb LSWR Gate-Stock), the BR(S) Type HA (TOPS class 71), GWR 14xx (commissioned by Hattons) and finally an LNER J94 (the latter two models being in Hornby’s range). Whilst the ownership of the tooling probably rests elsewhere (perhaps with the factory(s) in China) one could speculate if there are any rights to use that tooling that could be acquired as part of the liquidation - assuming these rights to use aren’t already held by others (such as the commissioning companies) and that more model issues these would be commercially viable under another brand.
Blood and Custard perceives there is much speculation as to why this situation has arisen and readers will no doubt be able to find such ‘rumour and gossip’ elsewhere on the web, although this development does not appear to have created huge surprise. What is clear, none of the proposed models will now be produced by DJ Models Ltd including those being sourced through crowdfunding. Like many investments, peer-to-peer lending (crowdfunding) can be a gamble in which the investor has to be prepared to lose all in their furtherance of a common goal.
Those who invested more than £100 in crowdfunding (compared to placing an order or deposit on an order) via their credit card may have recourse via the Consumer Credit Act 1974 but this is by no means certain as the money was being paid on the basis of investing (via crowdfunding) into the production of a model rather than for the certain delivery of goods. Conversely the credit-card company may accept that the goods (of value over £100) were being ordered and so provide a straightforward refund. In seeking recourse I recall that a time-imperative may exist under the Limitation Act 1980.
Ultimately anyone caught in this situation will need to take sound legal advice although if the sum is relatively minor (as low as £30 has been bandied about) it might just be simpler to put this down to experience. The Financial Ombudsman Service does provide advice this on their website including references to the Financial Conduct Authority who may consider crowdfunding to be a loan.
In an update to this post (20th June 2019) a statement of DJ Model’s affairs as published by Companies House may be found here.
Move to ‘https’ with SLL certification
(24th May 2019)
Readers may have noted that some websites use ‘http’ whilst others have ‘https’. With http websites information between that website and is transferred unencrypted with the web page being flagged as "insecure". On BloodandCustard this is not really a problem as our website is passive with no transfer of personal data.
Other websites that use say, a password or require the input of personal data should use a more secure ‘https’ connection. With ‘https’ the website has an SSL certificate associated with it to provide you with a greater level of security. For those who want to learn more there are any websites on the net that explain the mechanics of how this works.
However, many popular browsers now warn users if they are trying to access a site that doesn't use an SSL certificate (i.e. doesn't support ‘https’ access) which can lead to site-visitors being advised to not continue onto an ‘http’ site. This could potentially lead to a reduction in search engine ranking and the website could suffer if it doesn’t support ‘https’. Accordingly, although ‘BloodandCustard’ remains a passive website (it can be read without a login or password) we have decided to move to ‘https’ to provide users with the comfort of browsing a website with SSL certification.
Vandalism at Market Deeping show
(20th May 2019)
Few can have missed the national news headlines in respect of the overnight wanton vandalism of an entire model railway show last weekend leading to four arrests at the scene. Held in a school hall, these feck-wits broke into the premises and wrecked exhibits, layouts and trade stands with consideration towards the impact this would cause upon so many. Fortunately, such incidents are rare and the public response in terms of donations most-heartening.
Like most hobbies, railway modelling is a labour of love with the final financial value of any given model being somwhat minimal compared the hours spend building that model. Notwithstanding this most modellers aren’t constructing models with a view to the final monetary value. However, when it comes to insuring models, cover is based on just that, its monetary value with modellers unlikely to receive full ‘reimbursement’ on the many hours of time and dedication involved.
What may need to be reviewed is the security of model railway exhibitions; indeed, insurance companies may start considering adherence to more stringent standards which exhibition managers may struggle to meet when the venue is rented for the show. Years ago, I was aware of some clubs that manned their venues overnight; quite an onerous ‘ask’ as (besides the unsociable hours) clubs are often stretched already.
Hopefully, this incident will not be repeated with minimal adverse impact on the hobby. As for the feck-wits that wrought this devastation? Perhaps their sentence ought to be community-service equating to the thousands of hours that had been spend creating the models they so wantonly destroyed in just a matter of minutes….?
(5th May 2019)
Last year BloodandCustard found blatant plagiarism on a railway enthusiast’s website in respect of BloodandCustard’s livery-history, which had been copied verbatim (including a couple of minor errors long-since corrected). Except it wasn’t just a case of BloodandCustard’s copyrighted work being copied; it was being passed off as the work of the offending website with no mention of BloodandCustard. Steps were rapidly taken to have the offending material removed. Had that website asked if the work could have been used (suitably accredited) then BloodandCustard would probably have provided its consent although a link would have been equally effective.
Several years previously BloodandCustard copyrighted photographs were published without consent in a commercial for-profit publication; again, without consent. Accordingly use of these images was stopped.
It has just come to BloodandCustard’s attention that an enthusiast’s group has been using a copyright image from BloodandCustard’s webpages, albeit with references to BloodandCustard and the photographer concerned (ironically, I was once a member of that group). The copyright of many images on BloodandCustard often rests with the actual photographers (many photographs having been provided on the basis of goodwill). In this respect and to reassure my contributors, BloodandCustard respects the rights of photographers (declared copyright holders) and is unable to unilaterally provide consent for the use of copyright images where the copyright does not rest with BloodandCustard. Sadly it appears this enthusiasts group chose not to ask; potentially breaching copyright.
Notwithstanding this in terms of the actual written information on BloodandCustard hopefully this not-for-profit enthusiast group found it informative in furthering everyone’s knowledge on the Southern – after all, that is why it is provided by this site!
Commentary on a Model Railway Exhibition
(7th April 2019)
Arriving shortly before opening time there was no parking set aside to blue-badge holders (etc) or was there anybody present in the car-park to provide assistance – a huge failure by the organisers. We were lucky being able to get in an end-bay (the last of two empty parking spaces) where I could open the car door wide to get out. Whilst we observed two persons standing outside the gate when we left, they didn’t appear to be ‘doing anything much to help’ (in the words of one wheelchair user in the exhibition).
As we queued it started to drizzle be were fortunate in just being able to just squeeze inside the doors; many were left outside waiting in the wet. Finally, at 10:00hrs the cash desk was opened and people were very slowly sold entry tickets. However, it could have been so different with tickets sold (say ten minutes) in advance enabling people to at least wait in the dry (inside) thence the avoidance of protracted queuing delay at 10:00hrs when the ticket vendors simply struggled to cope with the immediate rush. Furthermore, what the ticket vendors couldn’t advise upon was what ‘Concession’ actually meant in terms of the tickets they were selling….
The school venue is restricted as it involves stairs and as a consequence parts of the exhibition were only accessible via stairs. Essentially this meant the needs to those with disabilities were in part ignored (potentially contradicting the Equality Act’s ‘reasonable adjustments’). In this respect it is not sufficient to claim this is the ‘fault’ of a venue which ‘we have always used’. It may be that parts of a venue simply aren’t suitable for public exhibition. Perhaps one of these areas could have be used for say, part of the exhibitor’s seating area!
My trusted friend and I concurred that whilst there was a mix of layouts and traders, these were only just sufficient to maintain some modicum of interest. Some of the layouts appeared to be static exhibits as the operator(s) ignored the paying public to instead chat away to somebody who had possibly regretted asking a simple question. Several layouts had good detail and looked the part although one used inappropriate humour thereon (there is no amusement in potentially fatal accidents); another’s train movements bore little to operational reality.
Within the exhibition a second ‘side hall’ had this time been turned over to exhibitor’s seating instead of (previously) having further exhibits therein - subtle exhibition downsizing perhaps? More importantly whilst this side hall remained completely empty (whilst we were present) the paying public struggled to find sufficient room to sit to eat /drink in a small cramped area; let alone many of the chairs being unsuitable for adults. On the Sunday my trusted friend found this a huge problem with his family (including young children) and consequentially left early in disgust having found nowhere for them to reasonably sit.
This may all sound very negative and it is - unashamedly so.
However, it must be remembered people pay an entry fee for this shambolic quality of ‘service’.
During the exhibition, constructive attempts to tactfully talk to two club members about these issues during our visit fell on deaf ears. Accordingly, these members were politely advised that a commentary would be appearing in my blog lest they had any comments prior to publication. With no response, publication has now taken place.
In conclusion my trusted friend and I agreed the exhibition failed on so many levels with nothing whatsoever being memorable about it.
Even though it is relatively local, none of us will be seeking further attendance in future years.
Potential Duplication of Models
(29th March 2019)
Like many I can remember when the model range was very limited and new releases were all too often a change of livery. If a modeller wanted something else then kit or scratch-building was the way forward (I still have my Wills ‘V’ class Schools 30906 ‘Sherborne’).
Today, not only do we have an unprecedented range there is now much duplication much between manufacturers therein; in using the term duplication an updated version of a model by a manufacturer is excluded as this is a natural progression of their range through improvement in quality often driven by consumer demand.
Duplication occurs where two manufacturers bring out versions of the same model around the same time (such as the Rails of Sheffield and Hornby class A1x ‘Terriers’) but is it duplication if a manufacturer brings out a version of a competitor’s model last released some twenty-years ago (Such as Hornby’s and Bachmann’ class N15 ‘Lord Nelson’ locomotives. Arguably not as, in the terms of say the ‘Lord Nelson’, the model has been duplicated (past tense) but as one version is long out of production it isn’t duplication (present tense). It must be said the even today the Bachmann model still reasonably holds its own with both having a comparable haulage capacity.
Hornby & Bachmann ‘Lord Nelsons’
Recently we had duplication in terms of the class ‘0415’ Adams radial tank as well as the class ‘HA’ electric locomotive (class 71 under TOPS). In terms of these models they had their own merits including price. Personally, my choice of purchase was relatively straightforward (particularly with the type-HA) but this was contrary to other modellers within East Sussex Finescale which proved interesting.
There is (I’m given to understand as my modelling is Southern Region) duplication occurring in respect of the TOPS class 66 diesel locomotives with one (or is that two?) manufacturers producing detailed models with another re-releasing an existing model in its ‘budget range’. Arguably whilst there is some overlap, the duplication between a highly-detailed model and a less-detailed model is potentially small being driven by the budget available to individual modellers (or collectors).
Now we have the choice of two class A1x ‘Terriers’. In 4mm (00) the only ready-to-run model being the Dapol version; this entered the Hornby range as has been produced for many years, albeit using one bodyshell for all. In this respect Golden Arrow Productions in Hastings produced conversion kits for these models to extend the Dapol /Hornby Terrier bunker to Isle of Wight capacity (many returning to mainland service in this form) and to give extended smokeboxes.
As a model the Dapol /Hornby Terrier was oversized and (now) dated, with complaints of poor running (I never experienced this) so it isn’t surprising that a new version was being announced; the existing (but durable) Hornby model rapidly becoming akin to one of its budget ‘Railroad’ range. Except the announcement of the new model came from Sheffield-based model shop Rails of Sheffield.
One minor manufacturer has registered models claiming intellectual property rights, although I very much doubt this would hold much credibility in any (expensive) court case as the original shape of (say) a locomotive would have been determined by its builder or designer many years ago. Essentially intellectual property is something unique that you have physically created. Company logos are trademarked and the rights of use remain with the trademark holder.
Models supported by model shops isn’t a new process but it does involve risk and available capital. As a consequence, many of these models were commissioned from existing manufacturers and often offered as a limited edition only available from that model shop. With most UK-outline model manufacturing now undertaken in China some model shops were able to go directly to manufacturing plants in China; not through existing UK-outline manufacturers. Potentially creating direct completion in terms of manufacturing, Hattons (a model shop with a huge £13 million? turnover) scored a hit with SE&CR class ‘P’ tank engines; a small class of locomotives limited to the south-east of England that was possibly not high on the radar of the UK-outline manufacturers.
Hattons class ‘P’ tank no.31323
Rails’ class A1x ‘Terriers’ is a venture with or through UK-outline manufacturer Dapol; this not being without irony as Dapol had produced the Terriers that eventually entered into Hornby’s range. Having commissioned its Terrier there was (it appears) consternation when Hornby not only announced its own new ‘Terrier’ model in January 2019 but commenced its release in March 2019. The new Hornby model is a significant improvement on its past version (or should I say the past Dapol-heritage version). However, the Rails version may also shew great promise……
Personally, I’ve ordered both (indeed Hornby’s 32636 has now sold out in my local model shop) so I can compare and decide on which version to go forward with on those versions that are actually duplicated.
Hornby Terriers (old and new models)
In this respect my apologies for having a policy of deliberately not undertaking reviews on models on BloodandCustard.net; besides being time-consuming there are already others undertaking reviews.
No doubt many are asking if duplication is to the benefit of modellers?
Ultimately model-manufacturers are a business that is there to make money and thrive. If a given manufacturer sees an opportunity in the marketplace then they will consider seizing that opportunity; I suspect the only consideration of ‘benefit of modellers’ is within a new model fitting-in within their existing range and so have greater sales potential. With a relatively long-lead time in model development its is therefore doubtful that a manufacturer will commission (from new) a new model in direct competition with another.
Indeed, rumour has it that following Hornby’s announcement of the LSWR Maunsell 58’ rebuilds, Bachmann may have been reconsidering its Birdcage stock which may have been too similar for modellers to purchase both. Fortunately, the Birdcage stock was produced and modellers were able to purchase both. Indeed, rather than being ‘too similar’ they actually complement each other – a significant benefit to modellers!
Going forward Bachmann are producing new versions of its 64’
Bullied stock; Hornby are manufacturing 58’ Bullied multi-door stock. Again, a
win-win for modellers.
The only question being who is going to produce the 64’ Bullied multi-door stock?
Scottish Steam Models
(29th March 2019)
Sadly, I cannot find an excuse for a J36 on my layout but a Caledonian single no.123 that undertook railtours on the Southern Region would be superb!
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