Are RTR models 'really' that good?

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jim s-w
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby jim s-w » Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:35 pm

Tim Hale wrote:As for questioning my motives for agreeing with Jim S-W, I wonder why you didn't tackle Jim, too difficult a target?


My opinion of RMweb is just that. I dont expect or even want people to agree with it and I dont have a problem with anyone forming their own opinions that are the complete opposite of mine. I guess as RMweb (and myself) grow and evolve our focus' change and what I want and what RMweb offers drift apart (I found the same with DEMU too). Thats just how I find it.

Speaking personally my own interest in the actual trains side of the hobby diminishes year on year while my interest in the stuff around them grows. Yes a comet Mk1 is better than a Bachmann one but a train of Bachmann coaches is better than a single comet coach. I don't think RTR is really that good but a lot of it is good enough for what I need. Having said that i'd much rather the RTR guys stopped obsessing about the fiddly little details (im talking diesels here) and other gimmicks like the drivers watch light working or sound effects and focused on actually getting the core shape of stuff right.

Certainly modern RTR diesels have more detail and much better chassis but are they better than what we had before? In many cases the answer (for me) is a resounding no!

Cheers

Jim

martin goodall
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby martin goodall » Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:05 pm

Getting back to the original question – RTR rolling stock is worth considering as one of a number of options. It could be used as a short-term stopgap, while more detailed rolling stock which is going to take longer to complete is built to a higher standard to replace it later. But quite a wide range of RTR stock is good enough to be considered for permanent use on the layout. There are bound to be some drawbacks and limitations in particular cases, and you just have to decide for yourself what compromises are acceptable. Here are some of my thoughts:

Basic loco mechanisms: Most RTR chassis will convert to P4 or EM without too much difficulty and, subject to sorting out occasional problems of matching coupling rods to the manufactured wheelbase, will run reliably with suitable wheels. Replacement of current colectors might be worth considering. The quality of motors can vary – the best are very acceptable; others might require replacement. Complete replacement with an etched chassis is always an option, but probably not necessary in most cases, but if that is what you prefer, then go for it.

Loco bodies and detailing: A very high standard is being achieved nowadays. There are bound to be faults in some cases, and you may feel that a particular diesel cab has not quite captured the shape and character of the prototype or that a chimney or steam dome is not quite the right shape. You have a perfectly straightforward choice here; (1) accept the compromise as a time-saver and use it as supplied; (2) modify the model yourself to correct the perceived errors, and change or add any details you think might improve the model; or (3) find a different starting point for a model of this prototype.

Carriages and wagons: Again, a very high standard is being achieved by manufacturers. Conversion to P4 or EM is usually very straightforward, but more drastic surgery will be required if you insist on fitting compensated suspension or springing - this can usually be avoided. Complete replacement of the underframe or of coach bogies should not be necessary in most cases but, again, if you prefer to do so, then don’t let anyone stop you.

Whether RTR models are ‘really’ that good is bound to be a matter of personal judgment on a one-by-one basis; it is impossible to generalise, and opinions are bound to vary as regards particular models. I don’t think anyone should reject RTR models out of hand, but it is ultimately a matter of personal choice as to whether you wish to make use of them.

If you have always wanted to make a scratch-built model of a 57XX pannier tank from nickel silver sheet, then go ahead and do so. You can ignore the RTR models and various kits – the objective, so far as you are concerned, will be the actual process of turning bare metal into a fine model, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that it is all your own work. Don’t let other people’s choices or preferences influence you or deter you.

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Horsetan
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Horsetan » Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:11 pm

martin goodall wrote:.....If you have always wanted to make a scratch-built model of a 57XX pannier tank from nickel silver sheet, then go ahead and do so......


:arrow: As if by magic....
That would be an ecumenical matter.

Philip Hall
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Philip Hall » Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:17 pm

No review of RTR products in any of the Model Railway Press, or for that matter their websites and forums are independant


That may be true in some cases, but not in all. I can say for certain that some reviews are completely independent; I know this for a fact because I am acquainted with the authors. They would (quite properly) not have it any other way.

There is another point here and that is a review which is very critical can be damaging. So then you have the question of whether it is better to have slightly 'wrong' models, which we can put right with a bit of effort, or a situation where the review causes the maker to go out of business and the models are lost completely. I do think that some folk are very quick to rubbish a new model with little appreciation for the good points, which usually outweigh the bad. And of course, there are ways of putting criticism; you can be pleasant , critical and informed, or downright rude. The skill comes with knowing how to strike the right balance.

I think we are just so lucky these days to have manufacturers who have the technology and money these days to give us this choice.

Philip

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Tim V
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Tim V » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:54 pm

Horsetan wrote:
martin goodall wrote:.....If you have always wanted to make a scratch-built model of a 57XX pannier tank from nickel silver sheet, then go ahead and do so......


:arrow: As if by magic....

One would be hard pressed to distinguish from the Bachman model.
Tim V
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Horsetan
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Horsetan » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:09 pm

Tim V wrote:One would be hard pressed to distinguish from the Bachman model.


....were it not for the price tag. :roll:
That would be an ecumenical matter.

Bulwell Hall
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Bulwell Hall » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:10 pm

There is the world of difference between the Tom Mallard 'pannier' and a Bachmann version!

In the real world though very few of us have the skills or ability to build such a 'pannier' - or any other locomotive of that quality for that matter and few of us have the wherewithal to commission one. Therefore we have to compromise and the Bachmann body running on a High Level chassis with Ultrascale wheels is not a bad compromise. But I know which version I prefer! Not only is Tom Mallard's model the best 'pannier' I have ever seen in 4mm scale but it is possibly the best model of any locomotive in 4mm scale.

Gerry

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Tim V
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Tim V » Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:37 pm

Unfortunately Gerry, I can't agree.

The first picture on this thread showed the poor joint at the dome edge on a commercial model, just check out the dome on the Mallard pannier, and compare it with the Bachman pannier :!:
Tim V
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jjnewitt
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby jjnewitt » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:01 pm

Bulwell Hall wrote:
Not only is Tom Mallard's model the best 'pannier' I have ever seen in 4mm scale but it is possibly the best model of any locomotive in 4mm scale.
Gerry

I'm not sure I'd go quite that far. Guy Williams 5700 takes some beating. That was a model of a working engine rather than what looks like a museum piece. I seem to remeber it having a quite a prototypical dent somewhere. It wasn't perfect but in some ways that made it seem a bit more real. It might be sacriligous to say so but the models built by the likes of Tom Mallard are almost to perfect and leave me a tiny bit cold as wonderful as they are. When I look closely at photos of working steam engines there are dents here and there, footplates had kinks in them, lines of rivets were occasionally a bit wonky, handrails were rarely completely straight.... They worked hard for a living and it looked like it at times, particualarly if they hadn't been to the shops for a while. I quite like my locos a little rough around the edges. Which is lucky for me as that's the way I build them! I seem to remember a couple of Panniers featuring in MRJ a while back that were also pretty tasty.

To answer the question posed by the thread RTR can be that good within the limitations of the medium and depending on the skill of the person designing the model. Plastic is never going to be able to replicate the thin sheet used for footplates as well as brass could but then a plastic moulded Britannia boiler may well turn out to be a lot better than any etched attempt. That doesn't stop RTR from being poor at times of course but that's no different with etched or whitemetal kits etc.

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Tim V
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Tim V » Tue Nov 27, 2012 7:08 pm

I'm expecting some flack over my comments, so for comparison and in the context of the title of the thread (and for those who don't follow the true GW path) here are some pictures of a pannier for comparison. Note that this is the real thing!
Pannier1.jpg

pannier2.jpg

Note here that the chimney is tapered, while the model appears to be parallel.
Pannier3.jpg
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Tim V
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Tim V » Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:03 pm

Taking a leaf from John Bateson's photo album(!) here is a model, actually a Mainline body, not the current Bachman one, but it's pretty much the same.
pannmodel.JPG
pannmodel.JPG (76.14 KiB) Viewed 7135 times

Same picture, cropped on dome.
Dome1.JPG

Same picture cropped on the safety valve cover. Note that it isn't seated properly on this example.
SV1.JPG
SV1.JPG (63.59 KiB) Viewed 7135 times
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Will L
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Will L » Tue Nov 27, 2012 11:21 pm

Tim V wrote:One would be hard pressed to distinguish from the Bachman model.


Oh? See if you can guess which is which.
pannier compare.jpg
pannier compare.jpg (168.37 KiB) Viewed 7105 times

DougN
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby DougN » Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:30 am

Oh Will that explains the problem perfectly. Mr Mallard's example is fantastic but when compared as is the photo to the Bachmann model it shows how good the RTR version really is and at less than 60 Quid a bargain (I can see how the GWR branch lines became so popular).

Yes for the ultra true finescale the Mallard is the way to go. Those of us who would like to take our time but have something running the converted RTR is the way to start off. As Tim V shows with his full sized photos agains the model shows how well done the orginal Mainline model was.

As Martin suggests it is the modellers philiosphy as to how well and how far each specific item is taken. If you are happy to take a Mk1 out of a Bachmann box and plonk it on Peco track.Ok but those who have moved the gauge and their modelling ideas further along it may be just change the wheels. though to the build the comet kit changing each part to make it better until the coach is a stand out single item. I personally have the admiration of people who have the time and have spent years doing the latter and built every thing on their layout.
Doug
Still not doing enough modelling

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David Thorpe
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby David Thorpe » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:08 am

I'm just thankful that RTR models are as good as they are. I'm at best an "average" modeller and I like making kits, but that doesn't mean to say I find them easy - I don't! I'm currently working on an 0-6-0 which should be a piece of cake (shouldn't it?). It's taken me a long time but now all is finished except for the final touches to the chassis. A few days ago I'd managed to get that running smoothly without the motor in place - i could push it along the track with one finger, everything going round as it should. So I got out the 601 and put a bit on the end of the axles to try to ensure that the Gibson wheels were locked in place, and i took off the crankpin nuts and put a bit of Threadlock on to ensure that they stayed in place, and then left it all to set. When I came back a couple of days later did it all run nice and smoothly? No it did not, in spite of the fact that it had not been touched in the meantime. I have no idea what's gone wrong, but obviously I've now got to dismantle something or other, no easy task as it's all locked in place.

The point of that story is that in the meantime there would be nothing running on my layout if it wasn't for easy-to-convert RTR models, and as I like playing trains occasionally it would be most disheartening if I had to wait until I'd actually finished something. There's that rake of coaches, virtually finished but awaiting painting and lining - an exercise that I keep on putting off due to lack of confidence/skill. Meanwhile, a nice rake of Bachmann Mk1s operates on the layout and looks fantastic in crimson and cream. And that Bachmann CR signal box is as good as anything I could do, even if I had the time to do it. The Bachmann Class 24 looks good, is an excellent runner and is easily converted at an extremely reasonable price.

These RTR models wouldn't give me any satisfaction if they weren't good, but they are, especially when you take painting and lining into account. What they enable me to do is to continue my rather slow and laborious kit building, but also run trains which I find perfectly satisfactory. If it wasn't for that I'm not sure that I'd be continuing my struggle with P4.

DT

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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby John Fitton » Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:18 pm

DaveyTee wrote:I'm just thankful that RTR models are as good as they are.

DT


My sentiments exactly! If you are an expert modelmaker and can produce very fine models from scratch, then this thread must be quite interesting. However, the RTR models today are so good compared to what I could produce from a kit that this whole discussion is rather moot. I get by with dropping ultrascales into diesels and electrics, CCUs on all passenger vehicles, and running them around my un-scenicked tail-chaser!! Great fun.

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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby martin goodall » Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:59 pm

Will L wrote:Oh? See if you can guess which is which.


You can see which one is which. The scratch-built model of 3770 is more refined, and has crisper detail. Its quality shines out.

This is not to dismiss the Bachmann model, which is also excellent, but can't quite match Tom Mallard' s superb scratch-built model.

I know I cannot emulate such feats of bravura model-making, and so I happily run a couple of RTR Panniers on the Burford Branch - one is a Bachmann 8750; the other is a Mainline 57XX body adapted to fit on a Bachmann chassis. Other RTR locos are in course of conversion for use on the layout.

In the medium to long term I intend to model the 1920s period, with rolling stock built to a reasonably high standard (although I am not too proud to pay for one or two locos to be built for me by friends, rather than struggling with these models myself). In the meantime, the later 1950s/early 1960s period has been chosen as a stop-gap, using RTR rolling stock (plus some additional kit-built wagons), and I have deliberately chosen to accept a lower standard of finish on these models, purely for the sake of saving time and getting a reasonable fleet of vehicles running on the layout. I even considered using the RTR 'tension-lock' couplings as supplied, but they are so horrible (and unreliable in operation) that they have been replaced. Other than that, however, the philosophy has been to do the bare minimum to get things running.

I did succumb to the tempataion of fitting Extreme Etchings (Shawplan) Laserglaze flush glazing to the BR Mark 1 Suburbans, which really transforms their appearance, and I may make one or two similar improvements to other RTR stock, but I am trying hard to avoid going too far down the super-detailing route, beyond some judicious weathering to remove that 'straight-out-of-the-box' look.

Going back to the two Panniers, although the performance of these models is 'OK', I have decided that the motors should be replaced, and have acquired a couple of Mashima 1420s for this purpose, and I will also take the opportunity to fit replacement current collectors at the same time. I confess to having bought several High Level chassis kits for GWR locos, but they are intended for use under models in the pre-2WW era, when I shall no longer take the 'rough and ready' approach I have adopted for the (temporary) portrayal of the BR period.

I hope this makes sense as an approach to the use of RTR models on an allegedly 'fine-scale' layout. There is method in my madness, or at least I would like to think there is.

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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby steamraiser » Wed Nov 28, 2012 5:28 pm

Will L wrote:
Tim V wrote:One would be hard pressed to distinguish from the Bachman model.


Oh? See if you can guess which is which.
pannier compare.jpg


I hope 3770 is the Bachman pannier - better lamp irons and number plate.

Gordon A
Bristol

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Tim V
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Tim V » Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:57 pm

John Bateson wrote:I have a couple of RTR models and have also been following an interesting discussion on RMWEB in which kits v rtr were the main topic. The green Bachmann dome is part of a RTR that has had rave reviews, the black Bachmann dome has also been enthusiastically received.
While I have a particular interest in this discussion, now that I have had time to look at the Bachmanns I am beginning to wonder. Just have a look at these domes, some real, some on Bachmanns. Am I the only one here who wants to replace the domes (and the chimneys) with alternative versions - or am I just being a little or a lot picky?
I won't comment on the logitudinal lines on the boiler or the thickness of the boiler bands or the fact that hand rails don't actually go into the cab and the cab opening handrail isn't stayed at the lower part of the opening.
In particularly grumpy mode today!
John


It has been said the Mallard pannier is the best.

My pictures were taken for direct comparison with the Mallard pannier. Note that the Bachman dome is actually better than the Mallard dome, which has a discernible gap at the lower edge. So does the safety valve on the Mallard pannier. Now I would expect the Mallard pannier to be as good - in fact it should far exceed the Bachman pannier. Though it does in the case of Will's rear shots, clearly it does not in the case of the dome.

So If I could afford a Mallard pannier, I would have to re-seat the dome and the safety valve cover.

Perhaps the best pannier is yet to be built?
Tim V
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martin goodall
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby martin goodall » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:02 pm

Tim V wrote:My pictures were taken for direct comparison with the Mallard pannier. Note that the Bachman dome is actually better than the Mallard dome, which has a discernible gap at the lower edge. So does the safety valve on the Mallard pannier. Now I would expect the Mallard pannier to be as good - in fact it should far exceed the Bachman pannier. Though it does in the case of Will's rear shots, clearly it does not in the case of the dome.


But look at your own prototype photos, Tim. The fit of the dome and the safety valve cover on the protoype are distinctly dodgy (a not uncommon feature in 12 inch to the foot scale). Are we saying that our models should be more 'perfect' than the prototype?

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Tim V
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Tim V » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:04 pm

That's a preserved engine Martin.

3770 as depicted in the pictures, in that livery, would have been practically brand new.
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jim s-w
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby jim s-w » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:24 pm

its not the bottom of the RTR dome that stands out to me, the top is nothing like the prototype picture.

Cheers

Jim

Paul Hutfield
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Paul Hutfield » Wed Nov 28, 2012 9:54 pm

I'm afraid I'm in the camp that in the majority, RTR models are good but they're not great models.

The model of 3770 as built by Tom Mallard is far superior in my eye's to anything that any RTR manufacturer has produced to date and the differences are world's apart. The RTR model as judged in the photo provided has obvious tell tell signs that give away its origins, the over-thick cab side, over-scale handrail knobs (and sometimes use of a handrail knob where one wasn't used on the prototype), large gap between cab and bunker, over-thick handrail wire, chunky cab steps, large gaps around fire iron brackets, over-thick fire iron material as well as incorrect shape just for starters. This critique is probably a little harsh on an aging model which isn't a true representation of the RTR manufacturers latest products, however the point I'm making is that in my opinion it is obvious that this is a 4mm model. Tom's model however I'd be hard pushed to tell if it was 4mm or a large scale model (E.g. 7mm, 10mm or even 7' 1/4") as it doesn't have any of these tell tell signs.

The main reason RTR suffers from these limitations as I see it, is down to the materials used. An RTR model will never capture the finesse of the cab of a model such as Tom's because of the thickness requirements of the plastic material used. Using metal and solder construction allows that finesse, however using plastic just wouldn't have the strength. The latest mouldings are very good and with a bit of careful working it is possible to minimize the impact of the thickness of the plastic, however it just isn't possible to hide a thin edge such as a cab side or window frame. This isn't to say that metal is always the preferred material for a 4mm loco, some moulded boilers and smokebox's for instance in my opinion look far more crisp than those produced using etches or white metal. One recent example of this for me was the comparison of a Hornby, DJH and Brassmasters Black 5 where I acutally felt the moulding of the Hornby smokebox (ignoring the errors of the smokebox saddle) was the better of the 3.

My intention for my modelling is to use RTR bodies for some of my locos but still with additional refinements. My current model in progress is a Bachmann 3f tank engine with High Level chassis, however if I was ever to be truly happy with the body, I would have to replace at least the top half of the cab with an etching to lose the thick edges of the moulded cab sides and to replicate the individual coal bars over the rear window's and reduce the thickness of the glazing required.

One of the greatest achievements of some of the latest RTR models out there in my eyes is the quality of the Hornby BR mixed traffic lining, this really does rival that of the likes of those most professional painters and something which really would be hard to better by hand. I have to say I feel that Bachmann in general is still quite a way off Hornby in terms of finish at the moment. Bachmann seem to over-pronaunce mould lines and their lining is far too thick, I also don't like the cab handrails (particularly on the latest Midland region models) which they have just looped underneath the cab roof without any attempt to hide or disguise them. RTR definitely has a place in the finescale hobby and has transformed the entry into p4 for the majority due to time and costs, however i can't any RTR matching a truely stunning model such as that of Tom's illustrated any time soon!

These are purely my own opinions and yes they very much are rivet counting, however my ambition is to be able to take a photo of a model and to not be able to tell if it is indeed a model or a real location. The amount of times I've seen this achieved to date I can probably count on one hand at the moment, one particular photo of Gordon Gravett's Pempoul looking up at the bridge crossing the river/canal being one such photo.

Best Wishes

Paul

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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Paul Hutfield » Wed Nov 28, 2012 10:10 pm

Tim V wrote:
John Bateson wrote:I have a couple of RTR models and have also been following an interesting discussion on RMWEB in which kits v rtr were the main topic. The green Bachmann dome is part of a RTR that has had rave reviews, the black Bachmann dome has also been enthusiastically received.
While I have a particular interest in this discussion, now that I have had time to look at the Bachmanns I am beginning to wonder. Just have a look at these domes, some real, some on Bachmanns. Am I the only one here who wants to replace the domes (and the chimneys) with alternative versions - or am I just being a little or a lot picky?
I won't comment on the logitudinal lines on the boiler or the thickness of the boiler bands or the fact that hand rails don't actually go into the cab and the cab opening handrail isn't stayed at the lower part of the opening.
In particularly grumpy mode today!
John


It has been said the Mallard pannier is the best.

My pictures were taken for direct comparison with the Mallard pannier. Note that the Bachman dome is actually better than the Mallard dome, which has a discernible gap at the lower edge. So does the safety valve on the Mallard pannier. Now I would expect the Mallard pannier to be as good - in fact it should far exceed the Bachman pannier. Though it does in the case of Will's rear shots, clearly it does not in the case of the dome.

So If I could afford a Mallard pannier, I would have to re-seat the dome and the safety valve cover.

Perhaps the best pannier is yet to be built?


I think the supposed gap in those photo's Tim is a trick of the light! I don't believe there is a gap on the dome or safety valve bonnet on Tom's model, although being really picky it could possibly be thinned ever so slightly to get it perfect. It may therefore be possible to improve on Tom's model, but I cant say that I've ever seen a better 4mm pannier tank. Sorry Justin but again in my opinion I don't think Guy Williams models were quite as good as Tom's when viewed under close scrutiny. That said I'd be over the moon if anything I produce rival's either Guy or Tom!

Paul

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jjnewitt
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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby jjnewitt » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:08 am

Paul Hutfield wrote:Sorry Justin but again in my opinion I don't think Guy Williams models were quite as good as Tom's when viewed under close scrutiny.Paul


I didn't expect anyone to agree with me but niether am I changing my mind. I think the Guy Williams pannier is better because, perversely, it's not quite as good.
To me it's like this: I look at Tom Mallard's pannier and I see something that belongs polished up in the NRM, I look at Guy Williams' pannier and I see something that belongs working day in day out at Pengam sidings or somewhere similar. I'll take the model of the working engine. Tom Mallard's work is alomost too perfect and looses something as a result. A lot of high end seven mil stuff also leaves me feeling cold. The Scaleseven layout at Scaleforum last year didn't really do very much for me. It was as if someone had taken a picture and then photoshopped out any and all imperfections. Sure I could appreciate the standard of workmanship involved but to me modelling is about something a little more, it's about recreating the real world in minature and the real world isn't, nor has ever been, perfect. The best models, in my opinion, reflect this. Call it atmosphere or whatever. I want to look at something and be transported somewhere else. Sure Tom Mallard's pannier is the more technically accomplised of the two but that doesn't make it a better model.

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Re: Are RTR models 'really' that good?

Postby Horsetan » Thu Nov 29, 2012 10:22 am

Tim V wrote:....So If I could afford a Mallard pannier....


...which most of us can't.
That would be an ecumenical matter.


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