Visiting the annual convention and AGM of the 7mm Narrow Gauge Association today I was struck by the number of O9 items on show. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that I haven't seen that much O9 in one place before...
Layout wise the flag was flown by one minimum gauge "classic" and a relative newcomer. Rather than his usual 'Big Cat Mine' in Gn15, Steve Bennett of Sidelines/Black Dog Mining fame had brought 'Black Cat no. 2' along with him, it is the same concept but just that little bit smaller. This of course demonstrated items from the Black Dog Mining and Avalon Lines Ranges:
In the smaller of the two halls Christopher Payne was demonstrating his O9 layout 'Brink Valley Tramway', a minimum space layout, just under 3ft x 8 1/2" - in fact the size of three sheets of A4 paper to suit a the rules of a competition it was built for. The original simple run-off has now been replaced with a much larger set of hidden sidings which Christopher has indicated might be used for a larger project in the future:
Not O9, but next to the Brink Valley was Brian Cameron's 'Bottom Road, Summerhill Estate', built to the same competition guidelines but in O-16.5. This used many items of rolling stock from the Black Dog and Avalon Lines ranges and it was easy to imagine a version built to the smaller gauge:
In terms of trade, despite Howard Martin's absence with the Avalon Line stand (due to a family commitment), there was again more O9 on show and sale than before, with several new products on display. Firstly, as caster of the Avalon Lines range, Steve Bennett had the two new open coaches on sale. These are 12 and 16 seaters in modular form, from masters that I produced myself last year. These come complete with bogies and wheels:
Steve also had a new version of the Black Dog 'Mite' for sale with the chassis re-designed to fit the Kato 'Tram' chassis.
Allen Law of Minimum Gauge Models was displaying all sorts of new products for the O9 and Gn15 modeller in etched brass. I had seen his Heywood stock at the Trent Valley members day of the Association back in January, but the range has now increased to include other subjects. One that took my eye was this Basset-Lowke 4w coach, with some Fairbourne additions such as arm rest rails:
Allen is rather keen on the Fairbourne and has even made a model of the canteen car and generator wagon that used to sit at Barmouth Ferry!
Other new models include a 4w diesel to fit a Kato chassis, which looks very like an enlarged 'Redgauntlet' from Romney, and a representation of the Romney "Scooter", also to fit the Kato chassis. I have purchased one of these and hopefully later in the year I'll get the chance to build it up, which will be a challenge to my ham-fisted brass soldering skills:
Also on display were these rapid-prototype models of Ravenglass 20 seat coaches designed by Jamie McBride. I have some reservations about the surface finish from this process at the present time but like all technology it will get better over time and hopefully cheaper too:
One thing that struck both myself and other observers was the size of these coaches - is 'big' O9 the next thing, are we going to see layouts based on Ravenglass and Romney practices with near scale length trains? I know at least one person who thinks so, he has bought a few of the items mentioned above and has promised to keep me up to speed....
After today's show I am confident that O9 is about to become a more popular branch of 7mm scale narrow gauge models. One or two traders have let some details slip on other new items that are on the way in the future and it certainly looks bright!