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Lumsdonia Railway

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I am a bit of a control nut, and love specifying “Systems” and categorizing stuff, so……..

My personal opinion is that model layouts should/could be categorised to a detail level. Not as a score applied by others, but simply to coalesce the thoughts of the modeller and to quantify a level of detail to aim for.

Levels would be 1 to 10

There cannot be an empirical scale defined, only a generality as an indicator (everyone’s opinion would be different)

Grouped into beginners 1-3, Intermediate 4-6 and advanced 7-9.

Here are some pointers as examples:-

Level 1

Hornby track mat, Hornby trackmat buildings, Railroad trains

Entry level off the shelf

Level 2

Scatter, flock, hedges, fencing

Entry level with some scenic’s

Level 3

Code 100 track, standard Hornby (not railroad) trains

Entry level with extensive scenery

Level 4

Metcalfe/SuperQuick Buildings, ballasted track, static grass, painted buffers, signals


Level 5

Skaledale Buildings, weathered track, airbrush touches, building lights,


Level 6

Code 75 track, scratch built buildings, street lamps, ground signals


Level 7

White metal kit loco’s, working semaphore, DCC concepts lamps, point ground levers

High detail

Level 8

Chain link couplings, Dapol Black label, rivet count


Level 9

Code 55 track, Brass kit loco’s, super detail scenery


Level 10

Can only be achieved when they invent a shrink ray gun

Currently unattainable

There is no point running a Railroad 0-4-0 pocket rocket on a photorealistic layout, or a Black Label on a Hornby track mat. It's about consistency (of detail level).

Don't get me wrong, I am not dissing anyone who only builds the roundy roundy on a mat, by labelling with a low score (we all have to start somewhere), it is entirely down to an individual’s aspirations, capabilities and purse, as to what level they go for.

The point is, level 1-3 is for youngsters and those that have just discovered Model railways, 4-6 is for those who have some experience and are attempting a Model rather than a play thing and 7-9 is for the long in the tooth, experienced modelers aiming for perfection. It has to be said that when viewed from the usual 3ft away, anything above level 6-7 will hardly be noticed (until you do a photo shoot for a mag, when it won’t compare with some of the 'Gods' {Master Modeler's} work) at level 8-9!

Personally, I am happy to work towards level 7 at the highest, but at least level 5, I am more interested in a hive of activity, of lots of long trains, etc, rather than scrutinising detail with a magnifying glass.

What’s the point? I hear you ask. Certainly, on forums, it may assist those trying to give advice, if they knew what level the questioner was at and aiming for! It can also guide the modellers thoughts, to create a holistic attitude to all disciplines on their layout and ascertain from others, some lateral thinking for peripheral idea’s.

Set yourself a level of realism to aim for

Categorisation of aspirations

Detail Level Scale

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This scale is my personal opinion and is not a general or accepted measure.

It is not an empirical index and exact levels cannot be be determined as it is very subjective and arguable. It is only meant as an indicator for discussing the modellers aspirations, that may or may not match the experience or skills of those using it.

The expectation is that only 1-2 levels should be aimed for, above current actuality!

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