What is Protocrastinator?

A Protocrastinator is a person who puts off finescale Railroad (and railway modelling) for no good reason.
Originally for me it was 1:87 (HO) scale. Problems with acquiring the bits and pieces led to extreme dissatisfaction and the project stalled. Now I've acquired an O scale boxcar and I intend investigating Proto 48 as a finescale project.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ploughing the lonely furrow

Or is that plowing? All depends where in the world you read this I suppose. Plowing looks really, really wrong to me...
So I'm coming to realise that this P87 malarkey is quite the lonely field to be in. I've posted my P87 intentions on a few message boards and for the most part have been met with silence. Perhaps I just picked the wrong message boards.
Just my luck.
I have though, managed to find out that there is one more P87 modeller in the great state of Minnesota. Though I do have hopes for one more. You might also notice that the links section to your right is growing slowly too. This is all down to the members of the Yahoo! P87 group. So if you're interested in P87 I guess the only place to be is there.
This has to be contrasted with the adoption of more "proto" standards (EM, P4) in England. There, the interest is staggering by comparison. There healthy societies manufacture a huge range of bits and pieces for the aspiring finescale modeller. It is no exaggeration to say that when a new Ready to Run diesel locomotive is released that within a matter of perhaps weeks Ultrascale will have the P4/EM conversion kit for it released.
So why is this such a lonely furrow to plough? Why is it that so relatively few modellers in the US adopt "Proto" standards?
It can't be that they don't appreciate the details. US modellers are renowned the world over for their attention to detail in their locomotives, rolling stock and scenery. Then why on earth don't they adopt that same standard in their trackwork?
The arguments for changing from H0 to P87 are exactly the same as if you were to change from 00 to EM/P4. (Cost, time, yada, yada, yada...) I've heard them all before and I bet they are plastered all over the internet too. Of course there is no reply to the "I just don't care" argument. You can't beat that and that's fine by me.
But there's no two ways about it though if you desire a truly "realistic" model railroad then your trackwork has to be to proto standards. You can have a high level of realism in your models without them being realistic.
I think that deep down a lot of modellers realise this too. How many times have you marveled at a picture of a great model in a magazine only to realize the train is photographed so that you can't see the wheels and it is covering up the turnouts so you can't see "the Grand Canyon of crossing flangeways"?
You know I'm right...
But we're still not answering the question 'Why are there so few P87 modellers out there?"
It must be that most people are ignorant of what it takes to be a P87 modeller.
That's fine. So am I. I'm less ignorant than on Sunday December 6th when I started this blog. But I still have astounding levels of ignorance about P87-ing. However I figure that with my enthusiasm and the small band of P87 modellers out there I can solve the problems that come my way.
Perhaps you think P87 is deadly serious and that I'm being too flippant about it. Perhaps Proto modelling is perceived as a deadly serious branch of the hobby. Maybe I can help put that straight for when it comes down to it this is only a hobby and hobbies are about having fun. If as a result some more of you come over to the world of P87 that will be a bonus.


  1. Hi,

    I don't model to P87 standards, although I definitely would like too, IF, it wasn't such a headache re-wheeling Australian Prototype steam loco's, and diesels to a lesser, but still no doubt not exaclty straight forward extent.

    The debate over wheel and track std's has been raised on a few Australian forums and news groups recently (and not so recently), and it's always the same old arguments tossed around.

    We have a bi monthly model railway magazine here, Australian Model Railway Magazine, and I have every issue going all the way back to the mid 70's. In some of those mid to late 70's issues there were some quite detailed articles about why we are not going towards finer scale rail and wheels for RTR Australian prototype models.

    It was proven back then that code 70 or even code 55 rail and RP25/88 wheels were no less relaible than the clunky old code 100 track and RP25/110 wheels, let alone the pizza cutter flanges on the Lima stuff, that was about your only choice for Aussie stuff unless you bought brass.

    Even back then they were looking at EM style dimensions but altered for HO, and quite detailed dimensions for axle lengths to suit Australian prototype 4 wheel wagons was discussed.

    And yet here we are FORTY YEARS later, and although thankfully at least RP25/110 wheels are supplied on almost all of the Aust. RTR and in kits, and some are even coming with RP25/88 wheels, we are still a long way from having something better as the norm.

    The biggest problem is that there are people who want everything to be backwards compatible, and who expect to be able to mix and match their forty year old track and rolling stock with anything they buy today.

    At some stage there needs to be a wholesale change in the marketing and selling of equipment, and the educating of new modellers in the hobby.

    Even today when you walk into most hobby shops, you will rarely find anything but code 100 track, and even if they do sell code 75 or 70, you may have to ask, and even then the price premium will still put some people off.

    I see no reason why for example Peco Code 75 is dearer than code 100? Except for volume sold and therefor economies of scale maybe, there IS no valid reason. But while the new to the hobby buy that code 100, and even one piece of rolling stock that will only run on it, they have effectively cast the die for their future in the hobby.

    Of course you can't give a child a P87 std train set to whizz rolling stock around a 15" radius circle at 120 scale mph and expect that it won't derail every five seconds, and that part of the hobby needs to be catered for. But for the adult modeller, there needs to be more information available before they make their first purchase, and maybe more will go down the finer scale path to begin with, increasing sales in this area, and hopefully making the switch to P87 something that may actually happen in a more mainstream way.

    Clubs have a big part to play in this process as well, as even know clubs are building new layouts and still using code 100 track. Sure, once again you need to cater for the beginner, but more needs to be done to cater for the long term modeller, not just the beginner. I think if a lot more beginners were made aware of what kind of things they may want to look at long term, their short term decisions would be very different.

    Anyway, this is your blog not mine so I appologies for the length of my comments, but I think the stoney silence you hear is more representative of the "what can we do about it anyway?" attitude, rather than a lack of real interest in P87 and finer standards in general.


  2. Just a quick correction, it's Thirty Years since those first finer scale discussions, not forty, but them I'm sure we'll have made no more progress in another ten years!

  3. Thanks for those comments Darren. I really appreciate getting an insight into the state of finescale modelling in other parts of the world. Australia also has the extra problem of three different track gauges on the prototype (something I didn't realise). I believe that proto standards will find a way and a healthy following in the end.