Exhibiting, good running, and "009".

Exhibiting, good running, and "009".

A crowd has gathered around "The Whitsend Tramway".

Little did I know, that when I did that scary first exhibition in St Andrews Hall, Norwich in 1992 that I would still be showing layouts now, after 174 exhibitions, and about to present a new layout onto the circuit.

Exhibiting seems to be a sort of " bug", why?  

You get up at the crack of dawn on your day off (and hopefully you have loaded the layout into the car the previous evening), you drive miles to the venue, unload and set-up the layout and test run before approximately 10 am, run the layout all day, trying to get through that terrible post lunch energy drop about 3 pm, take the layout down, load back into the car, drive miles home, unload the car and put the layout into storage, have a late dinner, and for me, feel totally drained the next day.

I do know though, that it is very rewarding showing a layout.  It's because loads of people - enthusiasts, friends, dads, mums, children and even teenagers - have seen our layout and liked it,  complemented us, and took photographs.  So that's probably why we do it.

Though I couldn't have done it without the help of my wife.
A fascinated youngster looking at "Nibley Knoll" in 2017.  Sometimes children come back to the layout again and again during the show to see different things.

For us, there are important things to remember before every exhibition though:
Clean the loco pick-ups and wheels.
Clean all the track.
Test the layout, or at least the main board.
If a loco doesn't work or run smoothly, don't take it. Repair it later.
Make an inventory of all the items you want to take, and check them into the car.


009 is an ideal "size" to work with.  The scale isn't too tiny, but a lot more can be fitted into a given area than it's big daddy, "00" scale.  There are all sorts of prototypes to model, fictitious lines can be modelled and can look very credible too, giving that all important special narrow gauge atmosphere.

Joining the 009 Society is recommended, for it's monthly newsletter, local groups and second hand sales 009 Society website

009 scale suffered bad press years ago because of poor running, but I find 009 locomotives run well if everything is clean.  For years I have used an electronic cleaning solvent called "Ambersil IPA Solvent" for the track and loco wheels, applied with a cotton cloth.  Luckily, many of the newer loco's on the market are engineered better and run nicely anyway, but they still need to be maintained.  At exhibitions though, I do often get the odd brain malfunction and flick the wrong turnout or switch, but that is human error, so I can't blame the loco, can I?

 Quite stupidly, at this exhibition we ran three layouts at the same time!? 
"Grumblewick Coombe", "Fotherham" and "Hawkins Tower" can be seen here, though Hawkins Tower runs automatically most of the day.

Sometimes you even get awarded "Best Layout" in show, as here with Whitsend at Spalding in 2007.

Some of the kit built, and older commercial ready-to-run locos that got me through many exhibitions from the 1990's on.

Several "Tram" locos, mainly by Paul Windle, that we used latterly at exhibitions from when we started showing the "Whitsend Tramway".

The main problem I have always had with 009 is couplings.  When I started in the hobby the main coupling used was the Bemo type and consequently I built up a large collection of them attached to all my stock.  Generally they worked well when fixed at the correct matching height, but they do look large and ugly.  When the Greenwich Coupling was introduced it was a large improvement, they have to be assembled from a kit of blackened brass fret though, which can be a bit of a chore, but they are much better in appearance.  The new Peco 009 couplings seem to be a step backwards to me and look rather cumbersome.  

Many thoughts went through my mind over the years about my own system of couplings to look more prototypical and proportional, but they never came about, and I had so much stock already fitted with Bemo's that nothing changed.

Now at last, after all these years, new ready to run locomotives and stock from Minitrains and Bachmann are available with even more in the pipeline, along with new Peco rolling stock.

I hope "009" grows and grows, but for now, I have chosen a different path for several reasons, and I am working on a new project in (to put it properly) 1:24, 15" gauge scale, commonly called "Gn15".