how accurate are our models?
by John de Frayssinet
There is always an expectation that when we
buy a kit, it is as accurate as possible. The fallacy of this came into
sharp focus for me when I purchased an L&B 009 coach by Golden Arrow, and
compared them with my Langley models. They could easily have been
prototypes from two entirely different railways! The window apertures of
the Golden Arrow coach are significantly smaller that the Langley
ones.......who is correct? Another example is the acetylene generator used
in Langley coach kits which is only good for one coach, in later years.
OK, we can go back to the usual photos, they
don't lie, but all too often, we may also refer to some of the many
drawings that have been made of L&B stock. But do we know the drawings are
correct? Sadly this is not always the case.
For many modellers, such niceties are not
always in the forefront of out minds. Stock modelled in 009 is actually so
small that it is often necessary to use a high resolution camera to see
what we have made. Most modellers building in this scale are only too
pleased to get the kit put together at all, without worrying about such
esoteric affairs. There are, of course, some exceptional modellers who
will go to extreme lengths to 'get things right' even in 4mm/ft, but the
disparities become more and more evident as the scale increases in size.
Such disparities are of less concern to me on
my County Gate model, as I have deliberately gone a bit freelance. I
realised that I do not have enough years left in me to be that accurate!
This is not of course the case for those who strive to render their models
as truly accurate representations of the railway as it actually was.
Another problem is of course the passage of
time. One might have a photo of a particular wagon taken in, say, 1929.
This does not mean however that all the rest of the stock presented in the
same way in that year.
The final aberration can take place when one
well known modeller makes a mistake and everyone then follows. Only today,
a forum member noticed a model of a Manning Wardle finished in cream and
wondered when this livery was used. The model was of course the famous 'Alastair'
built out of scale for his seminal 'Craig and Mertonford Railway'.
Coming about as result of Trust members
"The majority of model references carry
mistakes in the detail of the prototype which have been perpetuated in
subsequent published works. We hope at some stage to have a set of drawing
etc that have been vetted as correct. We can then put them on the website.
Have a look at the example pictured above. One the left is the Accucraft SR Van and on the right is the same 4 ton van made by
professional model maker Mike Beeson. The measurements are obviously
different and neither is strictly correct. However this picture threw up
an interesting fact. The livery is both cases is correct. Van no. 47036 is
apparently the only van where the numbering is reversed. So Accucraft
got it correct, but appear to have numbered all their other vans the same
way, therefore incorrectly. We have looked at hundreds of photos and have
never been able to find that 47036 was repainted to match all of the other
To my shame, I am not going to spend the next
few years bothering that the rivets are quite right. My County Gate is
built more to portray the 'spirit' of the railway. But for those who want
museum quality, 'caveat emptor'!