MODEL RAILWAYS AS HOBBY IN FINLAND

 
 



Model railways' rolling stock of Finnish prototypes is practically not available in any scale to purchase commercially. The Finnish livery of Swiss Lok2000 (BR 460) by Roco is the first ready to run HO scale model ever made of a Finnish prototype. Some kits are available, but the normal way is to scratch build the models one wants to have. Anyhow the hobby has lived in Finland already for 50 years.

The Finnish enthusiasts have taken ideas from around the world. Mostly are the methods from USA used for the scenery and ideas from UK have been followed for the rolling stock. Small series production methods as resin casting, lost wax casting and etching has been used for over 20 years. Computers have been used to draw the etching plates and multi colour decal sheets and for planning the layouts and making scale drawings.

Finnish models hand made!

Hand work is not being done for it self. It is just the only way to get what one wants. If any parts or components are available, they are used. Under frames and gearing from ready-to-run models around the world are used, details from manufacturers around the world are ordered when they fit. A kit of a German or American house may serve as suitable base to convert to a Finnish style.

During the last years some kits of Finnish locomotives, wagons and coaches in HO scale have been available. Mostly they are small series production. Availability is sometimes limited to pre orders and prices are relatively high. But some kits are continuously available, also for the international collectors of rarities.

Buildings, wagons and coaches are usually made of plastics. For the locomotives, brass and nickel-silver is used. 3D details are cast in bronze, silver or white metal. Resin casting is also widely used as a home production method to all kind of structures. Both buildings and various rolling stock items and details have been multiplied in resin and as home made kits for friends.

Gauge of Finnish model railways: a compromise

The gauge of the Finnish railways is 1524 millimeters (5 feet). It is wider than the standard European and American gauge. Still the standard European track material is used for the layouts. This is for practical reasons. This way even the track material and wheel sets can be purchased in some ready form. But there is also another benefit. The width of the model wheel set is nearly in scale compared to the prototype, so the need to broaden structures in rolling stock is minimal.

The wheel set standard is a kind of a problem too. Rolling stock built on the under frames of European mass production items naturally use variations of the European NEM standard. Recently some kits are delivered with NMRA RP25 wheel sets, and some have been available using some British dimensioning. This causes troubles for choosing suitable switches. English Peco has been the choice for the ones building permanent layouts, serving as an acceptable compromise.