This is most exciting, important and frankly insane moments in the four years I’ve been writing ModelRailwayEngineer.
Today I took the first steps in building the Great South Railway – GSR – layout.
GSR is my new project and it’s a huge, epic, model railway.
The name gives the scale of it away: a layout that encompasses all of Southern England, from Cornwall to Somerset to Hampshire to Kent! Yep, the whole of South England.
I’m under no illusion of the huge task ahead but it’ll be a fantastic learning exercise and really something to see grow.
It’s going to be a feat of model railway engineering and I’m looking forward to watching it develop and sharing it’s progress. Helping and collaborating with others to build railways is a really big part of this blog and I’ll be sharing my trials, tribulations and experiences right here in weekly updates.
Why I Am Doing This?
Why on earth indeed!!
Three simple reasons. And all hark back to the roots of why I originally created the ModelRailwayEngineer blog.
1. To learn & share model making knowledge
I touched on this earlier.
Regular readers here will know that I’ve been building a small layout based on Cornwall. I also have a number of other railways in progress. These are enjoyable but I’m not really learning much along the way. This has become frustrating as learning new stuff is a big part of why I – and judging from the emails many of readers – enjoy building model railways.
By contrast, building a model railway on the scale of GSR is going to involve a heap of new things to master.
Complex baseboard construction; scary electrics and track work; dauntingly big scenery modelling, hundreds of new architecture and stone work types to mimic plus a million and one smaller things that go into creating a model railway. I’m going to be busy!
Learning of course is a two way process and collaborating and sharing techniques with other model railway builders is the aspect of the project that I’m most looking forward to. I honestly can’t wait to swap ideas, experiences and hear about what others have already tried.
2. To visit the great railways of South England
If you hadn’t already figured it out, I like railways! Always have and always will.
They’re a fundamental aspect of ModelRailwayEngineer.
So the opportunity to visit lines, stations, yards and heritage railways across South England under the guise of research for this project is too great to pass up. I’m already route planing!
It’ll also be great to get out and meet up with the many clubs, traders and readers that I’ve previously only spoken to via social media and to exchange ideas with them face to face.
3. To build and engineer
I’m under no illusion that creating a layout of this scale is going to be a monumental challenge. The track work and electrical problems along are going to be immense.
But this is where the fun comes in.
I come from a long line of engineers and designing solutions, testing them and finding answers is what makes me tick so I’m super hyped about doing something on this scale – pardon the pun!
What’s The Plan?
Make no mistake reproducing the rail networks and landscape of South England in miniature is going to take time so making it all in one go be a non-starter.
Instead, my plan is to split the layout into sections, combining them to create the overall layout later.
Above all, this is a project to share and learn from and by doing in it piece-by-piece allows its progress, my experiences and the lessons learnt to be covered here on ModelRailwayEngineer.
At the start of this post, I mentioned I’d already started on the layout. That was a small deceit.
I haven’t begun work on the layout itself yet but I have been working out size calculations. Over the next few days and weeks, I’ll reveal more detail of the project and specifically how I’m working out the size calculations for the first baseboard – prototype to scale sizes.
How You Can Help
I’m under no pretence as to the challenge making the Great South Railway will be and I’ll certainly struggle in places.
For this reason I’m asking people – that’s you! – to share your knowledge, ideas and techniques to build this project together. Contributing your suggestions and what works for you via comments or emails will help massively. Knowledge level doesn’t matter, from beginner to modelling veteran, all information will help me and the others reading this.
Right now the biggest thing you can do to help is subscribe to my newsletter. Via this you can follow my progress, keep up to date on the developments of the layout and we can stay in touch to help each other so please sign-up today, click here.
- Connect and chat on Twitter and Facebook,
- See photos of railways and places I’ll be visiting for prototype research on Flickr, and
- Watch progress updates on YouTube
The best overall way however is to subscribe to my newsletter and updates via email (it’s free and I promise never to spam you): subscribe now.
PS: Don’t forget, subscribe and don’t miss out on updates and progress reports on this project. Subscribe here.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.