Large BAYKO Models - Planning

This is becoming a habit. In May's edition, in his superb article on design, Robin Throp suggested I do an article on how [and why?] I set about larger projects. I thought I'd split the article in half so that our illustrious editor can print them in different editions if he so wishes. This article is about Designing Large Models; the sequel will be about Building Large Models.
OK - first, how it started. Having acquired and expanded my '50's #2 set, it wasn't long before I'd exhausted the manuals, including the 'exotics' at the back of the manual that fuelled my early shopping lists from “The Pram Shop”.
Leo's stunning little model of the Empire State Building - think of the planning needed for this one
Many of the models frustrated me. They were representations not realistic models. For example, the detached house on 50's manuals and sets would be say 2,500 sq. ft. That makes the Town Hall less than 10,000 sq. ft., 1/10th of the true size. The #4 Pier is hardly over 100 feet compared with 1 kilometre or even 1 mile in reality.
That led me to scale up various models, building Medium Roof models in a Large Roof version, etc. That was an education. To build larger models, you must target particular Roof or, more often, Floor sizes, to determine the final model size. Sounds simple, but leaving gaps that are too large to use standard Floor sizes is both a pain and detrimental to the appearance of large models.
Detail. I learnt another lesson whilst building a 20 Base version of the Pier. I used pairs of rods, set at 45 degrees across each other, to simulate the cross bracing used in real life. However, the rod tops stuck out oddly so had to be hidden, but how? What could be more natural than seats? Regularly spaced seating along the Pier transformed the model above Floor level as much as the cross bracing had below. The overall effect was superb. Confidence in my freelance designs grew - mine were better!
Like most of us, I tried modelling friends' or family homes and local buildings, but felt frustrated, the limited range of Roof and Window shapes and sizes making this difficult. I wrote to Plimpton, but it was during the MECCANO take-over and I got no reply - if only Leo had been around then!!!
In my youth, I had nowhere near enough BAYKO for the large projects I do today. On my adult (?) reconversion nothing had changed - until the Eckersley collection arrived - it included several long pre-war Rods. This was too good a chance to miss and Eckersley Towers was conceived. These skyscraper flats, with shopping mall below, became my first big project.
Here the initial constraints were easy - how many big rods did I have? There were three sizes, so I decided on a block of flats like a vertically stretched, Olympic-Medal rostrum. That bit was easy, but then came the 2 problems common to all large projects - or at least the ones I've done.
Firstly - repetition. This applies to 2 dimensions. In a block of flats, floors repeat, forming a vertical pattern. How many fit a 61-brick rod? This is the first decision as it affects what you do in the lower part of the building and how you top it off - people can't live in half a storey can they?
Normally, horizontal repetition is even more important. Some of my models have used a chain of MECCANO period, 'D' Roofs, each 12 Bricks long. However, you must allow half a Brick more if the Roofs fit in between taller walls, [or half a Brick less if free standing]. This means the section will be (say) 36.5 [or 35.5] Bricks long - not ideal for a repetitive pattern of Windows/Doors/Bricks! You have to calculate the size of the repetition, what goes between and what happens at each end. Maybe it's the mathematician in me, but I love solving this problem. Get it right, the building looks great - but get it wrong…
Secondly - disproportionate needs. Often, solving horizontal repetition problems requires excessive numbers of Long Bricks and Large Windows - far beyond the proportion in which they naturally occur. Other projects have similar problems. I needed 126 Arches on the BAYKO Railway model! Peter Gurd's service is excellent for this sort of order, but even then I had to borrow 300 white Corner Bricks from Ron Garside to build the Cathedral!
The theme. Each building type has at least one feature you can emphasise in a model to identify what it is and this often forms the key for repetition patterns. It's like a cartoonist picking out certain traits and exaggerating them to make it easy to recognise the subject.
Original model of Liverpool Speke Airport
For example, the cathedral uses opposed pairs of Corner Bricks to simulate buttresses round the model, it looks so much better than flat walls and it's so much more obvious what it is.
BAYKO Mill will feature full height drainpipes (Pillars) at the centre of recesses 1 Brick wide and half a Brick deep. These will be aligned with the 'gullies' between long runs of Flat Roofs (made up 3-D) and have large slabs of Windows in between. Use of these repetitive features should scream out what the model is. If not, then the 52-brick (1 metre) chimney will!
Inspiration. So where, apart from the mathematical challenges, does the inspiration come from? Well, there are lots of different types of building in this world - how many have you built? I simply list the big types and decide to build them. I'm not brave/clever enough, to model real buildings, but enjoy building something that looks like it could have existed at a given time or in a given place.
I have to admit to one major weakness (no not that!) I like symmetry. That's why you'll find that most of my large projects result in symmetrical models. I'm not convinced this is a vice, as I believe it significantly enhances the grandeur of the model.
Drawing. Coping realistically with pattern repetition can mean that some of the corners and building junctions are quite complex. This is true in spades where you also have complementary (or clashing) vertical patterns. That's why, for large projects, I draw an almost full size plan [1 cm = 1 Brick] on A1 size graph paper. There's no need for the Brick-by-Brick detail of the BAYKO manuals - that's one of the gains of repetition. A simple line is enough for each wall with a cross for each rod (it's length clearly marked). You can also map out exactly what pattern you should use for the bases to avoid using more than necessary. I simply draw them in red dotted lines on the plan.
Look what Leo did - Buckingham Palace in BAYKO!
Part 2 on Building Large Models follows Next month.
I hope this helps you to give serious consideration to taking the mega-plunge.
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Latest update - August 10, 2022
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