Well, There’s Theory … And Then There’s Practice – Boltorr Bridge

I sort of want to delete the previous blog posting. Things didn’t turn out as I intended.


I’m modelling in OO “gauge“. Not “scale“. That’s another thing. Don’t even go down the HO route. Hey, we’re British. Not as exceptional as some, but the rest of the world uses HO. But who cares?

There is a reason British outline railway modellers model in OO gauge. But it’s complicated and it’s a compromise and I’m not going to go into that labyrinth here.

But, so as it happens OO gauge settled on an actual modelling size ratio of 1:76.2. Yes … that’s right. Seventy six point two. A consequence of plucking a strange hybrid formula from the dark, satanic British air – 4 mm represents 1 foot. A bizarre combination of rationalism and imperialism. What could go wrong?

So where does that leave Boltorr Bridge? An HO model plonked into an OO situation. Actually, size-wise, it looks pretty good. I mean, a 1:87 artefact in a 1:76.2 world. It looks authentic enough. US loading gauge is far bigger, an HO model is a bit smaller. It all works out.

However, yesterday, I spent a good couple of hours trying to make my Boltorr Bridge model look as if it had spent a good few years transporting trains over the ancient Boltorr Brook, and suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and not look as if it were made of Lego or straight out of the box.

The "perceived aerodynamic" Ford Sierra

The “perceived aerodynamic” Ford Sierra

Objectively, I did a great job. But, and thank you for reading this far, where is this all this going?

This morning I went to check how my artisan-crafted and weathered bridge looked after letting a final matt clear coat dry all night.

Truth is, it looked fabulous, authentic, real even… From about six inches away.

But from three feet away it looked featureless.

I don’t know if the clear coat had cut back the effects I’d worked hard on or stuff just faded overnight or I was just being realistic.

Getting back to six inches away, it was still fabulous, but any further and it looked as if I had been wasting my time.

Now, there is a known colour rendering effect when representing, and photographing model sets in that colours have to be toned back either in the set itself or using something like PhotoShop to manipulate the images otherwise things begin to look like early Technicolor movies.

More knowledgeable people than me will be able to tell you why this is so, but my theory is, if my eyeballs were 1:76.2 smaller and the wavelength of light were shorter by a similar ratio, then maybe we would see stuff as those model people would see stuff? Probably not … but you get my point?

A few paragraphs back there is an image of a European Ford Sierra from the 70s/80s. It looks like the sort of thing Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, might have driven, Sleek, aero, futuristic, etc.

The thing is, in the entire course of its design stages, it never went near a wind tunnel. The Ford developers actually stated it was designed with “perceived aerodynamics“. It just had to look like it was aerodynamic.

Now, one of the fundamental directives of Boltorr Road Halt is to look like it’s real, authentic. It is starting to seem to me that the layout has to employ some sort of “perceived reality” factor. Absolute fidelity doesn’t actually look real. A bit like preferring music playing through a valve amplifier or seeing more truth in a French impressionist painting than a photograph.

So on my little bridge I’ve amped up the rust and the weather, more, I hope, in an “Oscar for best make-up” as opposed to greasepaint on a clown’s face sort of way.

In this quest I’ve upped the weathering game on the little plate bridge and the results are shown below. I’ve acually treated one side more aggressively than the other and I’ll finally decide which side will be seen by viewers when I set the bridge in the scene. Anyone who ventures around the back of the layout and tells me one side of the bridge is about ten years older than the other will cease to be my fb friend.

Too much? Let's see how it goes ...

Too much? Let’s see how it goes …

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