Author Archives: Grasslands

About Grasslands

Tom lives in Swindon, Wiltshire (UK) and works in Newbury (Berkshire). Tom is a full-time professional ecologist (wildlife surveyor and researcher), drone pilot and Managing Director of a nature conservation consultancy. He has spent the past few years surveying the UK coastline while also being involved in various other wildlife projects across the UK and Europe. Tom performs music as the environmental electro-rock/folk entity known as 'Grasslands' and as part of the electronic duo 'No Side Effects'. Tom is also a fiction writer and is working on his first full-length novel 'Memories of Arma' In addition, Tom is a keen model maker and builds models and commissions as GrasslandsModels Websites: Grasslands Music: www.Grasslands.bandcamp.com No Side Effects Music: www.NoSideEffectsMusic.com Grasslands Models: www.GrasslandsModels.wordpress.com NatureBureau: http://www.naturebureau.co.uk DarterDrones: http://www.darterdrones.com

Wordless Wednesday

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Happy Birthday Brewery Pit!

Today is Brewery Pit’s Birthday!

I started building the model on the 1st January 2008 in a spare bedroom in an Ilfracombe townhouse. I had read an article in Model Rail Magazine about building a model railway for £100, so I decided to have a go.

Marking out the track on the 1st January 2008 in Ilfracombe

Marking out the track on the 1st January 2008 in Ilfracombe

Although that means that Brewery Pit is now 11 years old (blimey, where does the time go!) that doesn’t mean that it takes 11 years to make a model like it, but it is safe to say that the model has cost me far more than £100 as the years have gone by.

Laying the trackbed

Laying the trackbed

I read somewhere that there are two types of people when it comes to making model railways. There are those that build layouts and finish them off and move onto a new one, and there are those that reinvent the layout they are working on over and over again. I like this analogy as it makes some sense out of how I have worked on Brewery Pit over these last 11 years. Although the track work has stayed the same from those days in January 2008, the rest of the model has changed in various ways over this period.

I would say that if you lumped the actual time I have spent on the build across these years, it probably amounts to a good 6 months of graft along with many mistakes and mishaps.

Version 1 (January 2008-December 2008)

The first version of the model had plywood back-scenes at either end and a Peco industrial scene pasted (badly) onto it. Cardboard Metcalfe buildings were prominent features and there was also a stone retaining wall at the rear of the layout with a hidden track behind it. The river also lead into a pond near the front of the layout. An abutment with a signal box on the top that sat over the tunnel that exited the layout to the east was another feature. I almost finished this version with road signs and grass and various other details.

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1

Brewery Pit Version 1 with sides removed

Brewery Pit Version 1 with sides removed

Version 2 (December 2008-December 2013)

The plywood back-scene soon warped during a house move and was replaced with MDF. This marked the second version of Brewery Pit’s existence with a housing estate on top of the retaining wall and plasticard and tiling grout setts replacing the previous gravel based tramways. I also redesigned the river to be a culvert channel with Woodland Scenics water and wave effects and thick wetland vegetation.

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Brewery Pit Version 2

Version 3 (February 2014-Present)

The third version of Brewery Pit came about due to a disaster in a second house move that saw the entire housing estate destroyed as it hurtled to its doom from the top of a bookcase. It was never quite how I wanted it to look anyway (and certainly didn’t look right afterwards), so I decided to change the model and make it more brewery-focussed for this final version, which saw the entire stone retaining wall disappear (along with the hidden track) and the third removal of the river, this time it was replaced with acrylic sheet.

Disaster!!! The Housing Crash

Disaster!!! The Housing Crash

The embankment is removed in February 2014

The embankment is removed in February 2014

I also did further work on the tramway setts now being made of DAS clay and tile grout. The retaining wall was replaced with the malting towers and I have now vowed that this is essentially the final iteration of this layout, mostly because I am eager to move onto something new.

Deconstructing Brewery Pit in August 2014

Deconstructing Brewery Pit in August 2014

Brewery Pit Version 3

Brewery Pit Version 3

Brewery Pit Version 3

Brewery Pit Version 3

Brewery Pit Version 3

Brewery Pit Version 3

Brewery Pit Version 3 at its debut show: Swindon Modrail 2015

Brewery Pit Version 3 at its debut show: Swindon Modrail 2015

Brewery Pit at Loddon Vale Model Railway Show 2016

Brewery Pit at Loddon Vale Model Railway Show 2016

Brewery Pit at Burton Railex 2018

Brewery Pit at Burton Railex 2018

So as you can see, those 11 years have been spent mostly making three different versions of the same thing… well, this is how I justify it anyway.

I have lots of fun plans for Brewery Pit, which include adding some lights and raised water channels and signals and maybe some other things, but for now, I plan to honour the layout’s birthday by running the first loco that ever ran on it 11 years ago: my Bulleid Q1.

The first train to run on Brewery Pit, January 2008

The first train to run on Brewery Pit, January 2008

Q1 on Brewery Pit

Q1 on Brewery Pit at the National Festival of Railway Modelling, Peterborough 2018

Happy Birthday Brewery Pit and a Happy New Year to Everybody!

  

Q1 on Brewery Pit

Brewery Pit at the National Festival of Railway Modelling 2018, Peterborough

I took Brewery Pit on a road trip from Swindon to Peterborough to exhibit the layout at the National Festival of Railway Modelling in Peterborough.

Over the weekend of the 8th-9th of December I exhibited Brewery Pit at the National Festival of Railway Modelling which was held in the East of England Arena in Peterborough.

I have been very busy preparing Brewery Pit for this exhibition in recent months and have made many changes to the layout including building a new back-scene, making a lighting rig, motorising the points and creating a control panel, all of which I plan to discuss in future blog posts.

Setting up Brewery Pit

I travelled over to Peterborough with my car packed full of model railway on the Friday night before the show while suffering from a bad cold and set up the bulk of the railway in the arena that night. This gave me chance to check that the new point motor system was operating. I then retired back to a hotel to do some last minute work on some other items including the lights on my rig and some of the models I planned to run at the show.

Me and my brother (who kindly acted as my second operator) got up bright and early and got into the arena to make sure everything was working on the model. I got myself a bit confused while connecting up the various lights and I also had a spot of last-minute soldering and wiring to do. Everything was working just fine as people started to come into the show for the advanced ticket bookings.

Days 1 and 2

The first day went by quite quickly as I spent much of the day behind the layout trying to get my Christmas-themed Coca-Cola train to run across the rear line of the layout without crashing into tunnels and buildings. I built the Coca-cola train over the Thursday and Friday nights before the show and although it was a little bit stubborn on that first day of the show, people really loved seeing it and hearing the theme-song playing from inside the containers.

Coca-Cola Train on Brewery pit

Coca-Cola Train on Brewery pit

Brewery Pit in Peterborough

Brewery Pit in Peterborough

I decided to make the Coca-cola train a static display for the Sunday, which gave me more time to operate the layout and talk to visitors. Me and my brother had a fairly consistent stream of discussion about Bulleid’s Leader that was coupled up to the Coca-cola train with many people asking what it was or asking for more information about the kit. A nine-year-old boy eagerly told his Dad about Leader (much to his Dad’s confusion).

Santa driving Bulleid's Leader

Santa driving Bulleid’s Leader

Leader Pulling the Coca-Cola Train

Leader Pulling the Coca-Cola Train

Having left my brother in charge of Brewery Pit, I went off to look at some of the other layouts and there really were some amazing ones on display.

Habbaniya, Iraq 1941

My favourite model of the show was Habbaniya, Iraq 1941. This is a fixed perspective model where the buildings and other items gradually get smaller to the rear of the model giving the impression that the landscape travels much further into the distance than it actually does (I have discussed my love of these models before). This model is a particularly clever one in that it includes various planes, trucks and trees that all scale down gently enough to appear as if you are seeing a whole desert runway scene. It must have taken a lot of planning to achieve.

Habbaniya, Iraq 1941

Habbaniya, Iraq 1941

The Bridge of Remagen

Another model that was amazing was The Bridge of Remagen, which is a fascinating large-scale N gauge layout set in Germany in World War II and focusses on the Ludendorff Bridge. There are lots of fascinating little cameos including bunkers, and flat loaders carrying plane parts and armoured trains. The best feature of the model to me is the river and bridge crossing with very realistic ripply water that seemed to be made from resin and various boats under the long bridge.

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

The Bridge of Remagen

Bournemouth West

Bournemouth West was just behind my layout and is a really realistic model set in the 60s with onboard sound, steam effects and realistic lighting, and the club operating the layout were a really friendly bunch too.

Byway MPD

Beside Brewery Pit was John Gay’s Byway MPD, which is another very realistic model with automatic lighting and a touch panel control panel and some nice onboard engine effects including flickering fireboxes and sound.

Byway MPD

VIP Engines

John had recently digitised Model Rail Magazine’s soon-to-be-released J70 steam tram and Chris Leigh from the magazine brought along the digitised tram to run on his layout for a bit, and sure enough, I ended up having the wonderful opportunity to give it a run with my kit built steam trams for a while.

Model Rail J70 visits Brewery pit

John also let me run his sound-equipped USA Dock-Tank. He’d also fitted a stay alive capacitor system to the loco (much like my trams), which made it perfect for running on Brewery Pit. Find out more about his projects here.

As the final hours ticked away, I bought myself some LED circuit equipment, some nano LEDs and some lamps for setting up over winter and then I and my brother started the job of packing down Brewery Pit and we made our exit from the arena.

It really was a great show and it was so very nice to have such nice comments about Brewery Pit after all the time I’ve put into improving the layout for the show.

Here is a video I made of the show, I hope you enjoy it and Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Grasslands Out!