Great Model Railway Challenge: Fire and Ice

This week on the Great Model Railway Challenge, the Fawley Fliers, Diesel Dynamos and Railway Children battled it out to create layouts on the theme of fire and ice.  I think ambition outstripped time on a few of the layouts but there were some fascinating results and a truck crash!

Behind the Scenes Photos

Final Pictures

What did I learn?

Scenic-wise, a great back scene and atmosphere really work to draw you into the layout.  The Fawley Fliers had a wonderfully evocative but fairly simple back scene painted by Rachel.  It wasn’t a typical sky either which added even further to the look and feel of the layout.  My second layout had a grey cloudy sky and I do love the feel that it gives.

The second thing I learnt is that trains running well is most important thing on a model railway.  Overly complicated control systems may work great at home but are one more thing to go wrong when putting on a display.  I’m just putting in a complex Arduino turnout control system into a micro layout.  It will save loads of money but if it doesn’t work robustly, I will have to rethink it.

Finally, there’s no alternative to experience.  I learn by trying new things and making mistakes but I still learn from those mistakes.  As you spend longer in the hobby, you accrue a great bank of mistakes!  This heat made me realise how much I have learnt over the last 18 years, sometimes in model railways, sometimes in other modelling and just generally in life.  That pushing our boundaries is what makes great layouts though sometimes they take multiple iterations!  Don’t be scared to try anything but recognise that not everything will work first time or even at all.

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6 thoughts on “Great Model Railway Challenge: Fire and Ice”

  1. Looks good,but as yours is a set RR would it not be easier to do it the way you are going Kathy?
    18 years quite a bit of time, glad you have done that much.
    Nice to see that.

  2. Kudos to the Railway Children for their effort – particularly since they hadn’t worked together before, and despite getting slightly condescending comments from your fellow judge. I think they did brilliantly, and unlike the winners actually followed the theme of fire and ice.

    But they all IMO missed a trick by not referring to Game of Thrones in any way! (the series is called a Song of Ice and Fire)

    What were the MERG electronics in GMRC-BTS-Fire-117 being used for?

    1. Chris

      They all did a great effort but at the end of the day, Fawley’s layout ran flawlessly which is why they won. Their ability to produce a layout that ran well outweighed any theme issues.

      I think the electronics were a level crossing.


  3. I am enjoying the series and it’s great to have the hobby on a major channel at prime time .I only took up the hobby recently and still honing my skills but I agree that fundamentally a model railway must run trains despite the wonderful scenery .Due to the allotted time what you see in the final cut is limited but if you saw static grass for example you can then get enthused to find tutorials on the subject etc .

    1. John
      I’m glad you are enjoying the show. It’s certainly bringing modelling to a much wider audience.

      It is a shame they have to cram so much into such a short time but that’s TV. YouTube has so many detailed tutorials if you want a TV-like format.

      Good luck with your modelling.


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