This is not a blog post about Scottish independence, Scottish politics, or the wit and wisdom of Johann Lamont. Not that anyone anywhere can write about the wit and wisdom of JoLo, which is probably why LabourHame has died. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a full time carer, my partner has vascular dementia. Being the carer of a dementia sufferer means you can’t get out much, as folk with dementia cannot be left unattended for very long.
So in order to give myself something to do, I have a number of projects on the go – one of them being this blog. I used to be quite arty, but got out of the habit what with work, life, and campaigning to bring down the British establishment (as you do). After having to give up work to care for my partner, I’ve now got the time to get back into arty projects again.
Both Alzheimers and vascular dementia (the two most common types), are progressive illnesses which have no cure. As a carer, that can make you feel helpless and useless – there is nothing you can do to help your loved one recover. So I decided to do something that can help bring pleasure and stimulation to dementia sufferers. I can’t cure them, I can’t stop the progress of the disease, but at least I can do something which will help their quality of life and give them a wee bit of joy.
I’ve been making scale model buildings, and I am currently working on a row of traditional Glasgow tenements set above shops. The buildings are based on real buildings from the East End of Glasgow. Each building takes months to finish, so it’s a slow job. The buildings are made from card which I paint with acrylics and are lit with LED lights. I don’t use kits or commercial products except for a few detailing pieces, everything else is hand made.
The plan is to build a layout of a typical Glasgow street circa 1960 with models of real Glasgow buildings, old model buses and working trams operating on model railway track set into the street – my own wee homage to Glasgow Corporation transport. The layout will be about 6 foot by 3 and a half foot, and when it’s finished I’d like to display it in local residential homes and dementia support groups. The idea is that it will act as a memory prompt to help dementia sufferers reminisce about the past, let them play with the trams, and give their carers and families a means to engage and interact with them.
I come to this with zero knowledge of model railways, and am rapidly discovering that building a tramway is a highly specialised subset of model railway building. It’s a steep learning curve, but I enjoy a challenge. Building the tram track has proven extremely difficult, but a solution seems to be in sight. Getting the trams has also been difficult, and I’ve saved up lots of pennies (a frightening amount of pennies) in order to commission a pair of working models. To save money I’m also trying to repaint a couple of diecast model trams in Glasgow livery, so they can be motorised. That’s not proving straightforward either. I’m quite happy with acrylic paints and card model buildings, but spraypainting metal models is far trickier – especially when you don’t have anywhere you can use an airbrush.
However there is another part of the layout which I am not able to do by myself, and so I am making this blog post to ask any interested readers whether they might be able to help or whether they’d like to get involved. You can’t have an homage to Glasgow Corporation Transport without a Glesga Subway train. Unfortunately no one sells models of the Subway trains, whether circa 1960 or the modern ones. No one makes kits to allow you to build one either. But that’s not going to stop me – if I can get some help.
I have a relative who used to work for Glasgow Underground. He is able to obtain information on the specifications and plans of the old trains. He’s also taking me to the old workshop, long since locked up, where there is still a much neglected Subway train from before the modernisation in the 1970s. I’ll be able to take a lot of pics. So I am able to get all the information required to make a detailed plan of the trains. But what is needed now is a way of turning these plans into a working 3D model in OO scale so it can operate on ordinary model train track. Then I can build a Subway station for my tram layout, and have working shoogly trains running underneath the street.
Apparently there are two way to achieve this – neither is likely to be simple or inexpensive. One is to find someone who can turn the plans into a metal kit which can be built, painted, and motorised, the other is to use 3D printing to print off the bodies and chassis, which can then be painted and motorised. So I am appealing to any Scottish railway modellers or Glesga transport hobbyists, or indeed anyone with an interest in Glasgow history, to get involved in this project with me. Together we can make it happen – by working together we can share skills and information, reduce costs, and we can all have working models of Glesga’s iconic shoogly trains. I’d also like to make a set to donate to the Museum of Transport in Glasgow.
I’ve never been put off by folk saying something is impossible. Ordinary punters working together have made this independence referendum a reality. We can make independence a reality too. That’s a much bigger deal than making a wee model subway train – this goal is an achievable one. Let’s make it happen.
If you are interested, please leave a comment and I will email you privately. Alternatively you can email me directly at weegingerdug[at]gmail.com (replace [at] with the @ symbol when you reply).