With a good weather forecast for the Saturday, I arrived early at Child Beale Bird Park, which is just off the M4 and not far from Reading, just before the general public opening time and found all the club gazebos were set up, with boats on the tables. I was very surprised with the numbers - I did not count them, but every space around the pond was occupied with the colourful gazebos. There were probably over twenty clubs present.Photo 1: A Thames Barge made by Alan Jones of AMBO. Photo 2: USN SC1055 made by Dave Jack from Edinburgh MBC. Photo 3: Bridge detail on USN SC1055. Photo 4: Ray Malone’s Mary Marie WH285 fishing boat, which won him second prize. Photo 5: The Revenge tug, on the ‘Tugs R Us’ stand, from Herne Bay.
Now let me say right away that this was the best attended trade show at Child Beale for many years, with hundreds of models to look at and plenty of boats on the water all of the time. A look at the frequency board saw a list of names waiting for most frequencies. The Beale Centre was full all the time with modellers browsing the trade stands. Now lets have a look in more detail at what caught my eye. Firstly, I had a chat with Terry Gosling of Speedline Models who showed me his new Severn Lifeboat model in 1:16 scale which is a very nice size at 42ins long and should be popular, as it is easy to handle at that size. The surprising thing was the construction of the lift off wheelhouse made from Perspex. Terry explained the panels are laser cut and extremely accurate, easy to join together and paint. It certainly looked very good. Terry also showed me his new American Monitor model, this time with pewter castings for all the detailed parts and making up into a museum quality model that will also work.
Dave Metcalf of Metcalf Mouldings had his new scale sail Moonbeam yacht on display. This is a magnificent traditional sailing model that should appeal to anyone looking for a classically styled yacht. Models By Design had a new range of smaller scale fishing boats at 1:16 scale which only can be described as absolutely delightful. Andy Griggs explained they come with a ready coloured gel coat and can be assembled and on the water in eight hours - they look super and will be very popular at this size. George Turner of GT Models has a new tugboat model at 14ins long, very similar to his footy fishing boat and it is now available. I was also impressed with his new fast electric Fairy Huntsman style boat, that he says is very fast and easy to build and fully watertight.
I looked at George’s ever increasing range of resin figures in different scales that are the best I have seen for crewing our models. I had a chat on the Prop Shop stand and was shown the new range of brass couplings that will enhance any steam launch where the shaft will be seen and plastic looks out of character. I had a look around the other trade stands, noting Deans Marine with warship kits and bits, Hunter Systems with all things electrical, Model Power Supplies with an ever larger range of batteries, SHG with many bits and fitting plus plastic construction kits, Mobile Marine Models for all thing to do with tugs, Ship Finder General with a good range of used models in super condition, Wiltshire Models with hovercraft and ready to run models, Model Box with a good range of glues and fittings and a new trader, Macs Mouldings, with a huge range of resin castings of deck fittings.
I did my shopping and purchased some new lightweight 1400Ah batteries cells, for the club project of a hovercraft, from Model Power Supplies and was also shown some new AA cell that retain 80% of their charge for six months, so I bought eight for the sailing bag for my transmitter back up supply.
Outside of the Beale Centre, Barrie and Jackie Stevens had driven up from Somerset with the MMI Solar Boat Challenge, a canal system built with house guttering, around which small solar powered boats sailed and were being timed. Well, they were when the sun came out during the afternoon! Barrie explained he would also have the challenge at other events in the summer and there was a prize at the end of the season of a new Futaba RC unit.
I wandered around the club stands taking photos and was surprised with the variety of the quality models on show. The club that had travelled furthest, was from Edinburgh and they had brought along a fine display of coastal naval craft. Michael Sheppard had come along the M4 from the far end of Wales, with his rowing boats which have been featured in the magazine and he was showing a mechanism for a sculling boat and his new Venetian Gondola. I caught Michael sailing his Woodney rowing boat on the lake.
I had a chat with Stan Robinson and his clubmates about hovercraft and watched Stan’s model go down his ramp and around the lake. I then got ‘itchy transmitter finger’, so I made my way to the control tent and booked a frequency slot to have a trip on the lake with my new fishing boat, Krystal D, which had its first outing at a show and I must say I had some nice comments about the boat, mainly about the sound system which is a JJC turbo diesel as well as seagull and horn units. During the show, Richard Howard had organised a competition for the best boats on display. His instructions to the judges were to choose the model they would most like to take home with them. John Scorch won the first prize for his very large varnished sailing Cat boat which is a superb piece of woodwork and being varnished shows all the hull planking with no faults. Ray Malone of the Southend Club won the second prize for his delightful fishing boat, which I think anyone would love to own and run.
Finally I popped back and bought a small prop. and shaft for the Solar Boat Challenge competition from SHG, who sell the very best small shaft units you have ever seen.
Eventually it was time to go home and on reflection I must say again this was the best and most enjoyable Child Beale Trade and Model Show for several years and I am looking forward to the next one in October 2007.
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