Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

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Terry Bendall
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby Terry Bendall » Tue May 27, 2014 7:08 am

Jol Wilkinson wrote:Perhaps what might help are inexpensive one day workshops, perhaps held/supported by area groups where those wishing to acquire new skills could do so.


The Society has run two beginners' workshops in the past and a third is currently being considered by an area group. The numbers attending were modest but sufficient to make them viable. We can provide more if there is sufficiuent demand, if there is a suitable venue and if there are people to do the teaching. The first two were tutored by members of the committee but this does not have to be the case. As part of the same thing, I have run two lathe workshops, one locally and open to all and one for an area group, and I had a request recently for another one for an area group. Again these can be done subect to the same conditions as above and then all you have to do is ask.

JFS wrote:I first used a lathe when I was nine years old (my dad was a turner!) and as a 12 year old AT SCHOOL I first, did some proper turning, coppersmithing, siver soldering.


And when I started teaching 46 years ago that is what I taught. It is however worth remembering that boys (and it was boys then) only had that experience if they went to what were either secondary modern or technical schools. Those who passed the 11+ exam went to a grammar school and had very little experience of such things. There are lots of very fine modellers out there, including some women, and a significant number under 35 who did not have the experience that Howard mentions. Where did they learn their skills?

KK92 wrote:I for myself have a lathe and a milling machine but due to job and family comitments I find not much time to use these tools extensively.


When the Society stand is at exhibitions we frequently hear this sort of comment and of course it is true to a large extent - it certainly was when I had a young family and a demanding job. However if we really, really want to do something - watch a film, go to a show, or to a sports event. most people will find the time.

Terry Bendall

JFS
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby JFS » Tue May 27, 2014 7:46 am

Terry Bendall wrote:The Society has run two beginners' workshops in the past and a third is currently being considered by an area group.


This is a good idea and something I would definitely support. The challenge would be how to attract non-members and the "merely curious" as opposed to those who have already at least got as far as joining the society. I think the big challenge with moving to P4 (compared with say, having a go at scratch building in 00) is that suddenly, you have everything to do at once - building track, compensating locos, converting stock, etc etc. Worse, until you have some success at all of these things you have nothing much to show for your efforts. Much of these is easier now than it has ever been, but it remains a bit of a Catch 22 and anything which helps with this must be a big help.


Terry Bendall wrote: It is however worth remembering that boys (and it was boys then) only had that experience if they went to what were either secondary modern or technical schools. Those who passed the 11+ exam went to a grammar school and had very little experience of such things. There are lots of very fine modellers out there, including some women, and a significant number under 35 who did not have the experience that Howard mentions. Where did they learn their skills?


It might well have varied from area to area - I went through the Comprehensive system ("Up North") in the first year it ran (1966) and our Boxfords were brand new! We then moved and I then went to a Grammar school ("Down South") by dint of some decent first year results. We certainly did have metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing classes there - the Boxfords were much older but there was a very nice Harrison! At the Grammar school I joined the metalwork club and had my first experience of foundry work - imagine the Risk Assessment these days!
I very much agree that such a background does not guarantee a smooth passage to P4 Excellence, nor is it an essential prerequisite - but the fact remains that it is no longer a basis that we can take for granted and it must be a barrier for the many - if not for the few exceptions.

But to build on your point, in the NAG, we have a number of beginners who have never seen hand tools before - and some of them even older than me :D - but who have really got to grips with the job through support in the group - so without doubt, this reinforces my view that real practical help - through whatever means - is a real route to supporting beginners of all ages.

Best wishes,

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Jol Wilkinson
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby Jol Wilkinson » Tue May 27, 2014 7:57 am

Terry,

If we planned the workshops well a head and promoted them strongly, do you think we could use that to bring in more beginners/potential members? From my experience modelling evenings, where experience is shared, are popular with area groups.

Regarding high cost tools, there is a general reluctance to invest in them among modellers in general. The cost/benefit ratio is often perceived as very poor, never mind understanding how to use them. Even when purchased, some people don't seem to be sufficiently courageous to have a go. That includes RSUs, although less so with airbrushes where there are plenty of DVDs and books available. The difficulty with those is also the desire to buy a cheap product and then find you get poor results, which becomes a good reason for not spending money on decent tools.

So workshops aimed at "simple" skills that are perceived as difficult but requiring a smaller investment in tools might be more attractive to the newcomer.

Jol

KK92
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby KK92 » Tue May 27, 2014 8:53 am

Jol and others,

I fell another fact that has not been discussed here is 'ingenuity'.

P4 modelling does not ask for a fully equipped watchmakers workshop.

An unbiased view on things will make the creative souls come up with a solution for many modelling problems without spending a fortune on machine tools.

The problem in my view is that every tutorial in what form ever will imply to the newcomer that this is the only way to go.

So many ways lead to Rome that it is difficult to pick one.

A workshop may perhaps not show a certain technique or demonstrate a skill but define a goal and then show ways (plural!) how to achieve it.

The goal could be the building of a P4 wagon from a kit (e.g. a Parkside 16 ton mineral) then showing what options for the compensation underframe (rocking W-iron, sprung, slightly sloppy bearings ;) ) exist.

By making this workshop a hands-on experience the prospective new P4 modeler sees what works best for her or him.

The outlay for each participant would be one wagon kit, one set of rocking W-irons, on set of sprung W-irons, 4 wheel sets. So the costs are not too high.

Gauges and tools should be provided.

If the finished product could have a run on one of the excellent layouts, wouldn't that be a reward for the builder.

I could even imagine a workshop day with single 'station's. Say starting with building the raw wagon body, the next 'station' could then be construction the underframe, next would be couplings, next painting and finally weathering.
Cheers

Klaus

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jayell
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby jayell » Tue May 27, 2014 8:54 am

I passed the scholarship exam in 1943 and went to a grammar school in Bournemouth, we had woodwork and craft as the only 'technical' subjects. I enjoyed the woodwork classes much more than latin or chemistry and looking back would probably have been happier at a the 'technical school'

My woodwork knowledge may have helped me when I applied for a job as a workstudy trainee in a furniture manufacturing company in the mid 50's (having previously been a civil servant, an air wireless mechanic in the RAF and a bookseller). During my 'work studies' I not only watched people using traditional skills like carving but the more modern techniques of moulded ply and fibreglass moulding and for several years was involved with the metal working side of the business and was incidentally part of the team that got the Robin Day Polyproylene chair to market.

It was in the factory in Haverhill that I became interested in model making through the foreman who was building a fairly large scale model tram and where I acquired my first lathe and the start of a kit of tools. The lathe was very basic, and operated by a sewing machine treadle base, but it allowed me teach myself the basic skills from watching other people doing it and reading books. I later acquired a 3.5" Warwick lathe, then a Unimat SL and a couple of 6mm watchmaker lathes when I became more interested in clock making than building a live steam loco.

I suppose I should have been less of dabbler in these pursuits and concentrated on one aspect of the hobby but as I also spent a lot of time on rock climbing in the 60s and 70s and progressed from that to serious mountain biking from the 80s until the the early years of this millenium. I only really stopped cycling a couple of years ago so metal working, for a long period of my life, was a minor activity. I also had two marriages and five children to cope with :)

As I have said previously I disposed of all my lathes and most of my tools when we offered my mother -in-law a home with us and need the workshop space in an integral garage for living space. In retrospect I should have stored the smaller lathes and tools in the loft rather than selling them for a pittance bearing in mind what they now will cost to replace.

The point though of this long posting is that I never had any sort of formal training in lathe work, toolmaking or clock making/repairing. It was all self taught from reading books, the Model Engineer and the Horological Journal. I am beginning to re-learn some of those skills in P4 modelling but unfortunately age has caught up with me and I am finding it hard to work with the sometimes tiny bits of folded etch that sprung wagon underframes, as an example, require.

But the skills can be learnt with the combination of a bit of watching others, a bit of suck it and see and possibly a lot of reading (a first priority in my case) and rerseverance. It does however require a fairly deep pocket to acquire lathes, bench drill and the appropriate tools. At one time it was possible to use equipment in schools etc through the medium of evening classes, this avenue may no longer be available, but there may be a local model engineering club or model railway clubs of course that could help in this respect.

John Lewis
Last edited by jayell on Tue May 27, 2014 9:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Andy W
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby Andy W » Tue May 27, 2014 8:59 am

Even though my dad was a machine tool fitter, and knew his way around every workshop tool in the factory, I don't know one end of a lathe from another. But I intend to put that right someday. Learning processes and techniques is what drives me on in the hobby. Until recently I had never built any trackwork. So I picked members' brains (like Jol and John Redrup); talked to people at an area group; read books and looked online - particularly on this forum at the work of people like JFS (Howard), and built a couple of B8s.

Yesterday I finished a three way turnout for our planned layout. I used Keith Norgrove's excellent step-by-step guide (http://www.norgrove.me.uk/points.html) to guide me through. I'm sure my trackwork isn't perfect, but it's given me a great feeling of achievement, and now I'll move forward and get better. Making mistakes is a great teaching aid.

Over the years I've had similar experiences learning things like soldering; using an airbrush; compensation; lining etc. These techniques could be seen as obstacles, but in fact they're an opportunity to learn. So we need to grab knowledge from wherever, and from whoever we can. As Jol says, sharing knowledge; on here; in area groups and at AGMs etc. is a boon.
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Noel
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby Noel » Tue May 27, 2014 12:30 pm

I think that this has gone a bit off topic, but is a worthwhile discussion. Is it time it had its own thread, perhaps?

I find myself in agreement with much that Jol, KK92 and Ealing have said, having learned what I felt I needed as and when it seemed necessary. Airbrushes and machine tools of any sort have never seemed necessary, and no, I haven't been paying anyone else, either, which is not intended as any form of criticism of those who do. For beginners, a certain minimal skill set [which is actually quite small I would suggest] is necessary to work in P4, just as it is to move away from a trainset in any scale and gauge. Beyond that it is all optional, depending on what the person concerned wants to achieve in terms both of results and skills learned along the way.

Klaus' suggestion of building a wagon would actually provide most, if not all, of the starter skills needed, which can then be built on and improved with practice. Mind you, the chassis could be a problem - Is it to be rigid, compensated with internal pivot [two types exist, at least], compensated with rocking axleguards, sprung with brass axleguards, sprung using Dave Bradwell's recent system, sprung/compensated a la Prickley Pear [have I missed any?]? All of these are viable, some are easier than others, some produce better results than others when done properly, some are easier to learn to do than others. Where does the beginner [or his or her teacher] start?

Noel
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Noel

KK92
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby KK92 » Tue May 27, 2014 12:48 pm

Hi Noel,

Noel wrote:I think that this has gone a bit off topic, but is a worthwhile discussion. Is it time it had its own thread, perhaps?

Mind you, the chassis could be a problem - Is it to be rigid, compensated with internal pivot [two types exist, at least], compensated with rocking axleguards, sprung with brass axleguards, sprung using Dave Bradwell's recent system, sprung/compensated a la Prickley Pear [have I missed any?]? All of these are viable, some are easier than others, some produce better results than others when done properly, some are easier to learn to do than others. Where does the beginner [or his or her teacher] start?



Exactly! The beginner should have a go at most of them (or at least two different ones) to understand the principle. The decision is as individual as the people themself. What might be not for the first one might be exactly the others cuppa.

To have a first hands-on experience with different means of doing something, I suppose, will be more helpful than having to stick exactly to the textbook (or DVD or what ever).

I don't think a teacher is required but a tutor to watch the first steps. It is important to get the prospective P4 modells out of the classroom where one just listenens and watches what happens but into the workshop and get his hands dirty and sticky with glue. Demonstrations will not be the way to help the absolute newcomers, with more experience they are helpful to broaden the horizont but for a start?

The only thing that a tutor is required is patience to watch and enough experience to help rectify the possible mistakes.
Cheers

Klaus

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David B
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby David B » Tue May 27, 2014 2:02 pm

Picking up on a couple of points above:

Cheap tools are a frequent cause if dissatisfaction. I learned quite quickly that it was cost effective to buy the best tool I could afford. Cheapies have their place like the 10p screwdriver for opening paint tins and stirring the contents, but as a general rule, if you skimp you will only end up paying more later. Having paid your money, it is also important to cherish, not abuse them. Cheap ones are for abusing.

I never had any technical education - I was sent to a direct grant school (no, not Borstal though looking back . . .). I have learned skills such as they are from other people. In the railway modelling world I have found people to be very generous with their time and knowledge and in turn, I hope I have managed to pass on some of what I have learned. When I was teaching, I once had a poster of those Japanese monkeys, covered in snow and sitting in a pond, with the caption "We're all in this together".

One of the benefits of a club, area group, gatherings such as those I am involved with at Missenden and demonstrations at exhibitions is the opportunity to see or try out tools which are more expensive and represent a considerable investment - those you think you would like but wonder if you can justify the expense. The RSU, airbrush, lathe, pillar drill come to mind but also things like the Hold 'n Fold and useful gadgets that are £40 or so and upwards. I have recently toyed with getting a profile cutter at £200+ (the Sillhouette family) and a static grass machine at £80. I have bought the latter but declined the cutter because I don't think I have enough use for the cutter at the moment to justify the expense. I came to this decision after having seen and tried both out. I had a demonstration of the cutter at Thyme Graphics in Derby on my way to Scalefour North.

At Missenden, several people have tried my RSU, some buying one and using it, others deciding against it. The opportunity was there for them so that they could make an informed decision.

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John McAleely
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby John McAleely » Tue May 27, 2014 2:16 pm

JFS wrote:This is a good idea and something I would definitely support. The challenge would be how to attract non-members and the "merely curious" as opposed to those who have already at least got as far as joining the society. I think the big challenge with moving to P4 (compared with say, having a go at scratch building in 00) is that suddenly, you have everything to do at once - building track, compensating locos, converting stock, etc etc. Worse, until you have some success at all of these things you have nothing much to show for your efforts. Much of these is easier now than it has ever been, but it remains a bit of a Catch 22 and anything which helps with this must be a big help.


I speak as an attendee of, and very much a product of, one of the workshops terry mentioned (I was at the london one, having done 'not much' in the nearly two years of society membership I think I had before then). I will do what I can to assist future workshops.

I think you make a good point about the number of things that need to be achieved to get a working P4 layout. That they can be simplified leads into another discussion that we've had recently - the apparent lower quality of P4 layouts these days. If you ruthlessly simplify the P4 experience to make a 'jump start', you might select an exactoscale point or two, a couple of RTR diesels with drop in ultrascales, and some simple RTR wagon conversions.

Such a layout would be easy to mis-judge as 'much the same as a lot of 00', when in fact it is an incredible achievement, and an important first step for many. It will also (if moderately well executed) still look better than what the same modeller might achieve in 00. How we view and critique such layouts (and criticism, is in general, necessary to improve quality) is important, so that we recognise the skills developed and encourage further refinement in the future.

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John McAleely
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Re: Ultrascale Conversion Proposals

Postby John McAleely » Fri May 30, 2014 8:57 pm

Noel wrote:I think that this has gone a bit off topic, but is a worthwhile discussion. Is it time it had its own thread, perhaps?


I've had a look through for obvious ways to split this thread, but I don't see them. Yes, we've wanderd off topic. However, we've definately meandered there, and I think the reader will only make some sense of it as a whole.


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