Now, I am by nature a cynical, critical and generally flinty-hearted bastard. I do not apologise nor make excuses for this fact.
You may recall that last year, I commissioned an 8ft model railroad, which, when it turned up after almost 9 months was frankly a major disappointment. It never ran, looked bloody awful and I think that the control panel was completed by a 6-year old.
And then, earlier this year I found Steve Hornsey, and a ray of sunshine burst forth upon the Dark Tower.
You will no doubt remember that I spoke very highly of the 6 foot shunting layout which Steve built for me and which, lives in my studio, and over which I fawn regularly, caressing the fine ballasting and stroking the wonderful back drop.
Well, I commissioned Steve to take on what I understand is his largest project to date, in the shape of a 12 foot by 2.6 foot North American themed layout in N scale.
It was a bastard of a brief:
1. No continuous loop but a lot of room for different operations with multiple controllers.
2. Hidden storage
3. A late summer into early autumnal theme
4. Stormy skies for the backdrop
5. A harbour or dock
6. Full automation of points and DCC wiring
7. No buildings, but, 'Hey Steve, leave room for those buildings I'll be doing.... No I don't have a fixed footprint in mind.'
8. Space for town and local industry and yes, a lighthouse.
And blow, me if Steve didn't just send me an email this morning which genuinely and with no hyperbole, moved me to tears with pleasure.
Now, I may not be a 'well known face' in the model railroad hobby, but I am an accomplished military miniature painter, with magazine and TV appearances and thus, I know 'top drawer' when I see it.
Let me say for the record:
1. I trust Steve Hornsey 100% to interpret all of my needs and what's more to do it straight off the bat.
2. The quality of Steve's builds are second to none.
3. When he says he will do something in a given time, he damned well does it, even when you tell him there's no rush.
4. He is in my opinion a man of professional pride and integrity.
So, if you want a nice new layout, I would not hesitate for a second to direct you to Steve. You can often find his micro layouts on eBay and they never fail to sell, nor have I hear another owner of a Hornsey piece give anything other than praise.