Locomotive Aesthetics

in modelling

(all photograph links from the Wikimedia commons unless otherwise noted)

G’day all,

Some locomotives, the VR K class, NSW standard goods, Thomas the Tank Engine/Stroudley's Terrier, Puffing Billy nA, CSR’s Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0s, N&W J class, TGR C/CCS (not CC)/SAR Y (again not Yx) etc, NMLR 4-6-0s, EBR Dubs 4-8-0s, GWR Pannier Tanks, single Fairlies such as Taliesin...they are aesthetically pleasing, they look like steam trains should, and frankly Powellite isn’t in that group. The TGR K class Garratts are not aestheticaly pleasing, G42 on the other hand is closer to the mark and from a distance an AD60 (photo J Hurst) is quite a looker. SAR T class (Johnny's rail pages) from behind is awkward and expansive but put a lower sided tender with a flared edge and take the photo from the front and it’d be a rather attractive loco. Locomotives with a 4 wheel bogie (photo from John Hurst's site) under the smokebox are often prominent members of the popular group at engine school. Oddly enough, class A Climax (photo from geared steam locomotive website)often pass muster and appear easy to ‘get right’, particularly if not using a diecast HO diesel mech for power (need the gap between firebox and water tank).

Just like a symmetrical human face is infinitely more attractive than the common mug, some trains have a well balanced appearance.

Luckily, some people like ugly, so we all have a chance to attract partners and/or model ‘interesting’ trains like WSL Heislers or Southern Railway Q1s...


When building freelance models, think of the aesthetic balance and believability will be easier to accomplish. One of my colleagues has been building the ugliest critter I have ever seen, if he’d narrow the damn bonnet, give the engine some ventilation and allow some headroom in the cab, the model would look kinda like an industrial loco versus a round edged brick with handrails! Large flat surfaces are boring and hard to weather too, rivets, louvres and panel seams are your friend.


Luckily for our buildings, roofing materials such as corri, shingles and tar paper are never boring, with their parallel lines and multi colours.

Whilst form should follow function in industrial modelling quarters, charismatic models are much more fun to play with and be drawn in to the scene. A miniature perfect world if you please.

Do remember though, each person has a different view from the next person, one mans trash is another mans treasure and all that.


Can you guess who studies design?


PS I like ugly locos too like Shays (photo www.shaylocomotives.com), GWR Castles and the Harman. But certainly not Bachmann Porters!




any comments?

Email me: trainbrain @ optusnet . com . au
(remove spaces from address before sending)

Mark Kendrick 9/2/09

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