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Brewery Pit at Swindon Model Rail in 2015

Reawakening Brewery Pit

For those that don’t know, Brewery Pit is my main OO gauge layout that I started constructing in 2008 while I lived in Ilfracombe.

Brewery Pit at Swindon Model Rail 2015

Brewery Pit at Swindon Model Rail 2015

It is based on the atmosphere and surrounds of Burton upon Trent’s extensive brewery operations with tall red bricked buildings towering over the main line and private brewery sidings.

The layout is set in autumn at some point in the late 1940s, but I do on occasion run various other eras too.

The fiddle yards are designed around a cassette system and the layout normally runs in DCC, but operates in analogue mode from time to time.

Brewery Pit in the sunshine

Brewery Pit in the sunshine

I’ve tried to ensure that handling of rolling stock is kept to a minimum while the layout is in operation, so most of the wagons have automatic sprat and winkle couplings fitted and are suitably weighed down for this purpose.

Brewery Pit is the first layout that I designed to be displayed at model railway exhibitions, so a fair amount of thought was given to ease of transportation, set-up and how entertaining the model is to watch.

So far I have exhibited Brewery Pit at four shows, including the Swindon Model Railway Club’s Modrail shows in 2015 and 2016, The Chasewater Railway Burton Brewery Locomotives Day in 2015 and the Loddon Vale Model Railway Exhibition in 2016.

Brewery Pit at Loddon Vale Model Railway Show 2016

Brewery Pit at Loddon Vale Model Railway Show 2016

This year I have two shows booked, which include Model Railex 2018 at the National Brewery Centre, Burton upon Trent on 4th November and the National Festival of Railway Modelling 2018, Peterborough on the 8th – 9th December.

The layout isn’t quite finished in my eyes, as there are a few more things I want to do to it, which include adding balconies to the malting warehouses and reworking the roofs. I also want to add drain pipes and an overheard water channelling system (which I may regret when I try to operate it at shows this year). I would like to explore motorising some points too, but this would be a risky job as many of the points are now buried beneath many layers of tiling grout.

Brewery Pit at Chasewater Burton Brewery Day in 2015

Brewery Pit at Chasewater Burton Brewery Day in 2015

Hopefully, all these little additions will be complete before the autumn shows begin, but I may then put Brewery Pit up for sale, as I would like to see Brewery Pit go off on its own adventures and to help fund my plans for my next model project, but we shall see how things go.

Brewery Pit under development before its show debut in 2014

Brewery Pit under development before its show debut in 2014

Watch this space for further updates.

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland Visit (Pt1 – USA Scene)

While travelling in Germany for work, I noticed that I would be giving a presentation in a city fairly close to Hamburg. Hamburg is the home of the largest model railway in the world, Miniatur Wunderland, and I have wanted to visit it for years, so this was my chance.

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

I ventured from Bremen to Hamburg on an hour-long train journey on a double decker train. As I watched the arable fields and forests flash by the window I started to get more excited about finally visiting this place that I have watched YouTube videos about for a long time.

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

I stayed in a hostel on Reeperbahn the night before and managed to navigate there on Hamburg’s Metro system (but I did accidently get off the metro at the wrong place a few times). In the morning I got up early and caught the bus over to the docks and located the big dockside warehouses that houses Miniatur Wunderland.

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

I spent some time looking at the various models of the location of the warehouse through different time periods, which was quite fascinating. It was like a merging of my ecology day job and my model interests. Each model had an identical size and aspect and the earliest model dated from the 1300s (I think). It was amazing to look at the years pass by and see how this small area of Hamburg has changed including the building of a fort and the gradual construction of the bridge and the railway line.

I then ventured upstairs to the top floor of Miniatur Wunderland and entered the model next to a model of Germany. At the time the lights had dimmed down to a night time seen and I was faced with the largest model I have ever seen, which was lit up with a range of LEDs. The first thing that caught my attention was the sparkly lights of a funfair on the model and all I could mutter to myself was ‘oh my God’. It was such an amazing sight.

The warehouses are home to large model scenes of Germany, Hamburg (complete with yet another model of the Miniatur Wunderland warehouse), Scandinavia, America, Austria and Switzerland (Switzerland is so big that the mountains begin on the floor below). Italy has opened since I visited (my visit was in 2016).  I’ll discuss these models more in other blogs entries.

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

It is safe to say that I took many photos and videos, but I wasn’t too sure how best to edit everything together, so I have settled on grouping the videos in the specific scenes, so I have started with the USA, and trust me, it only gets better from there!

USA

There is some really cool stuff on the USA scene. The standout being Las Vegas and its illuminations. I also thought the canyon scene was great and the Area 51 styled scene, which shows the good sense of humour the makers of this model. Speaking of a sense of humour, you’ll notice that my video follows the adventures of a train painted like a sandy beach. If you find that difficult to imagine, it might be worth watching the video.

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Miniatur Wunderland USA Scene

Here is a video of the USA scene, I hope you enjoy it. More to come soon (I hope you like my new logo on the video).

Five Shunter Challenge Pt12: Gearbox construction and chassis tuning

The BR Class 02 Shunter has shifted into the lead by a mighty mile this week, after I sat down for a few hours and tackled the High Level Kits Slimliner+ gearbox.

Gearbox Construction

The gearbox is a nice simple kit to put together, but I was a bit nervous of firing up the soldering for the first time in years. All the folds in the etch were made using my x2 hold and fold tools; these are worth their weight in gold (in fact, one of them IS gold).

The holes in the etch were all reamed out slightly and I soldered the shafts in place, trying not to overheat the plastic gear sets while I did it.

I kind of wish I would have only soldered one side of the shaft in place while I settled the gear sets in for meshing, but that is something to consider for next time. The main gear box has four fixing holes to screw most of the smaller Mashima motors onto, but you only really need to use the opposite fixings and two tiny screws. I would have preferred mine to be fixed in the up/down positions, but it was very difficult to fit the tiny screw into the motor from behind the gears at the lower position.

I accidentally soldered the lower part of the gear box to the upper part while soldering the lower gear shaft in place (Whoops); I would have preferred it to be free moving, but never-mind. As I still have two more (at least) of these gearboxes to build, then I can at least consider some of these problems for the next ones.

Chassis tuning

Once the motor and wires were all set up, I oiled the gears a little and did some test running. It worked first time, but seemed to be disappointingly jerky and the running speed was quite uneven. I do set my standards quite high, so I decided to run it in for a bit and see if the running changed.

I could see there was a lot of movement on the motor and gear box, which I resolved by soldering an etch beam across the main frame to reduce downward movement on the gear box and then I soldered a piece of wire to the back of the gearbox to restrict upward movement. Sadly this passed a lot of the uneven movement to the wheels. I was a little disappointed as I had compensated this chassis to reduce such issues.

I then removed the coupling rods and checked how much side movement there was, and noticed a considerable amount of side play in the front, non-driven axle. I experimented with adding and removing some tiny brass washers to the front axle and the running vastly improved and I finally had a lovely smooth running chassis (one of my best chassis builds). I am ever so happy about this, as I never thought I could get an 0-4-0 to run so well.

Now all that remains for this little loco is to start glueing down the main body parts (after a little sanding) and it will soon be sent off to paint shop.

Here are some notes on progress for each of the locos:
x5 Shunter Challenge Progress

BR Class 02 Diesel ShunterDJH

Chassis complete and ready for final body work and paintshop

Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBTRT Models

The Sentinel chassis and gear box is complete, other than fitting a white metal ash pan beneath the chassis, which I didn’t do as it doesn’t quite fit, and I wanted to fit the body first. I am itching to fold up the frames, but I am going to try and hold back for now. Annoyingly, a few very fine bits of etched details have been bent out of shape while I played with the etched frames (that will teach you not to fiddle with things, Tom), but I have unbent the damaged bits for the moment.

Ruston & Hornsby 88DSJudith Edge

The Ruston 88DS has a completed chassis and gear box and is also ready for the frame build. Both this kit and the sentinel have the same super small gearbox.

For some reason I seem to have removed the inner plastic wheels from the tyres, and I can’t remember why.

11001Judith Edge

The Bulleid super shunter chassis is built and the rear compensation is fixed on, but I seem to have had some troubles with the middle balance beams, which are no longer attached to the frames. I may have opted for removing them when I took the axles out of the chassis. This loco also has a High Level Kits slimline chassis to be fitted, and I have started building the motor harness, but never got around to fitting the gears; I assume this was the last thing I did on the challenge many moons ago.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DEJudith Edge

The Hawthorn Leslie lags behind, and is still just two side frames. I did consider putting the frames together, but it seems a bit daunting after being away from the hobby for so long.

Five Shunter Challenge Pt11: Where did I get to? (aka forgetting progress)

A few years ago I decided to attempt building a number of my locomotive kits in tandem, as a means to improving my abilities at each stage of the build; normally I spend years labouring over one locomotive and then completely forget any of the lessons learned along the way.

And so started my ‘five shunter challenge’ where I plan to build five shunter kits and do a bit of explaining along the way. Unfortunately, a few life crises destroyed my momentum and both this challenge (and the blog in general) have not moved very far in recent years.

Today I decided to revisit my kit boxes and look through the blog posts, so I could try and work out exactly where I got to.

My original plan was to get each of the chassis completed (including gearboxes etc.) and then move onto building all of the bodies. Although, I really fancy building something that isn’t a chassis right now, I still think this method probably makes the most sense.

Here are some notes on progress for each of the locos:
x5 Shunter Challenge Progress

BR Class 02 Diesel ShunterDJH

The BR02 chassis is complete and the body is also very close to completion (it is a small number of well moulded white metal blocks). I do need to do a bit of work sanding the nose down smooth as there are still a few flash lines. The original motor and gearbox were replaced by a High Level Kits Slimliner gearbox, but I am yet to start assembly of the gearbox. I may have to make some adjustments to the chassis block to allow it to fit, and I’m hoping that the amount of research I did a few years ago hold up and that the motor will fit inside the bonnet. If I build the gear box up, then this loco leaps in front of the kits and will be almost complete and probably move to paint shop.

One of the buffers broke off, which is a bit annoying, but I can glue or solder it back on again. The chain links that came with the kit also look dire, so I will replace those.

Sentinel post war 100HP 0-4-0VBTRT Models

The Sentinel chassis and gear box is complete, other than fitting a white metal ash pan beneath the chassis, which I didn’t do as it doesn’t quite fit, and I wanted to fit the body first. I am itching to fold up the frames, but I am going to try and hold back for now. Annoyingly, a few very fine bits of etched details have been bent out of shape while I played with the etched frames (that will teach you not to fiddle with things, Tom), but I have unbent the damaged bits for the moment.

Ruston & Hornsby 88DSJudith Edge

The Ruston 88DS has a completed chassis and gear box and is also ready for the frame build. Both this kit and the sentinel have the same super small gearbox.

For some reason I seem to have removed the inner plastic wheels from the tyres, and I can’t remember why.

11001Judith Edge

The Bulleid super shunter chassis is built and the rear compensation is fixed on, but I seem to have had some troubles with the middle balance beams, which are no longer attached to the frames. I may have opted for removing them when I took the axles out of the chassis. This loco also has a High Level Kits slimline chassis to be fitted, and I have started building the motor harness, but never got around to fitting the gears; I assume this was the last thing I did on the challenge many moons ago.

English Electric/Hawthorn Leslie 0-6-0DEJudith Edge

The Hawthorn Leslie lags behind, and is still just two side frames. I did consider putting the frames together, but it seems a bit daunting after being away from the hobby for so long.

Also….

I’ve bought myself another sentinel shunter, which is based on the same chassis block as the sentinel in the x5 Shunter Challenge (also from RT Models).

This sentinel was in the news not too long ago, as it is the former Fry’s Chocolate factory shunter, which was missing for many years and found in a shed! I’ve always liked this little thing, so I’m looking forward to building this one up soon.

I also have a little OO9 Fowler shunter from Backwoods Models, which I have been making for years and has progressed very well. I am bit apprehensive about the next stage of the build, as I assume I need to tackle the rather complex outside frame coupling arrangement. I have quite a few little narrow gauge locos to build, including a few more little diesel shunters (maybe I should start a ‘x5 OO9 loco challenge too’.

There is also my Class 13 shunter to finish off too.

So many models, so little time.

Grasslands out.

Commission 1 is go!

I am pleased to announce that I am building my very first commission model. Which is… wait for it…. A large model of Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbird 3.

I have the kit on the work bench at the moment and I am about to start cleaning up the pieces. I’ll keep you all updated as I go.

Oh and in other news – Grasslands Models is now on Facebook too 🙂

F.A.B