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Stonham Barns model railway show: 2024 retrospective

Folks, it was great meeting you at the Stonham Barns model railway exhibition on 24th March.


If you couldn’t make it, let me tell you about it:


A model railway exhibition: with thanks

I need to start with thanks to George and my lovely wife for their contribution to the day as well as brother Robert and his wife Emma (EJ Art Creative) and also Richard Jenner (@richardljenner) for taking the trip down to see us. I wish we had a photo together before the end!


Exhibition planning and purpose

The purpose of the exhibition was to gather feedback for the prototype model trains and track. I'm using the feedback to inform what could be the minimum viable product we can launch The New Railway with when we start sales.


There was a great deal of planning before we arrived. My father-in-law, Ken (from @TheEccentricMan) kindly lent me a pair of fold away tables and a gaming mat to set the scene. I played with the composition of the railway layout and stands on the tables for weeks leading up to the show to find the best possible arrangement.





I had a great deal of help too from my little boy who happily spent many hours playing with the layout.


Eventually we followed what has become my core mantra:

  • It’s easy to make things complicated

  • It’s hard to make things simple


Like the design on the engines on The New Railway, we kept it simple and made things easy for ourselves on the day.


Running engines and sculpture

We were pleased to have been invited by the G1MRA group to run some of The New Railway engines and rolling stock on their impressive layout. An important part of testing was to see if the engines and stock could cope with Gauge 1 scale points and track from other manufacturers. 





The New Railway 3D printed engines ran faultlessly round their track.





I had an idea to include with our sale engines some blank faceplates and plasticine where the owner could replace the smokebox door with a face, they could sculpt themselves.

Naturally, this also needed to be tested.


A bunch of us set to work, with some encouragement, sculpting all sorts of faces and had buckets of fun with it.


Ryan from @numptypootis8012 sculpted an excellent creation of “16” from The Railway Series to great effect and perhaps the first ever incarnation of 16 in Gauge 1!





An unexpected engine sale


Pete from the G1MRA was very enthusiastic about making a purchase, which proved to be my first locomotive sale – thankyou, Pete, I do hope you keep in touch, and it gives you many years of service.


The model was “Mars” which is the tank engine version of the BR Class 2 steam locomotive.





The money raised from the sale has been very important. Firstly to build my confidence, secondly to reinvest in raw materials and most importantly to build confidence in my wife.


Visitors and feedback


We had a great deal of interest in the models and my 3D printed track.

The battery indicators and my simple magnetic pendulum coupling invention were big hits too.


Visitors also enjoyed the crane engine demo and plasticine faces. Rich’s “big nose” was an interesting example.





People appeared to be overwhelmingly positive about the prototypes on display and there was a huge amount of enthusiasm about seeing them for sale. I had to make many promises that next year we will be back, but this next time as a tradesperson as well as an exhibitor.


Roundup


So, I think I am currently on the right track, and thankyou to Stonham Barns for another great event!


I have a good insight on what people like, and the innovations I’ve added to the locomotives have gone down a treat: rubber buffers/battery indicator/pendulum coupling - more about those in blogs to come.


My wife is also suitably impressed and she’s onboard with the project, I had time to play with my son when we were setting up and I got to play trains with my friends and family and meet lots of new people.

What more could I ask for?




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