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 comparing notes:-

"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 vans".

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'!




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