Ice House

During my Christmas break, I spent a couple of afternoons painting and building the Branchline Laser-Art Ice House. Some of the fittings were a bit fiddly, and I had to do some trimming and shaping with my hobby knife. Overall, though, the kit went together much more quickly than I expected. I didn’t take too many pictures, but here are a few:


I started with this particular kit because it has fewer pieces than the Laser-Art Creamery, so seemed like the easier of the two.


After masking the few pieces that I didn’t need to paint, I sprayed a gray primer on the front of each sheet. In retrospect, I should have sprayed primer on the backs of the sheets as well, because applying paint really warped the sheets, and I spent half-an-hour straightening them by hand.


I used Testors Model Master acrylic paints on most of the pieces. The colors I used for this kit were Caboose Red, Signal Green, and Reefer White. Signal Green needed only one coat, but the other two colors required 3-4 coats of paint. I used a Testors spray can of Wood Brown on the loading platform and the trestles underneath it.


Here you can see one of the basswood supports I cut to fit beneath the roof. This was probably overkill, but I wanted to prevent warping as much as possible. After I glued these in place, I decided to spray the underside of the roof with primer.


Test-fitting the roof. This was the point at which I realized that this was going to be a pretty good-looking model.


After the exterior was painted and assembled, but before the roof was glued down, I masked the exterior with painter’s tape and gave the interior a spritz of primer to seal it. I figured this would help to prevent any warping due to humidity. The roof (which had already been primed on both sides) was then glued down.


Here is the mostly finished product. I plan on taking some weathering powders to all of my buildings at the same time, and then I will spray them all with a layer of Testors Dullcote to preserve the weathering.

All in all, this was a fun kit to build, and I look forward to starting on the creamery. I hope I will have time for that next week. I consider both of these buildings to be exercises in laser-cut modelling, and the much larger (and apparently more complicated) N Scale Architect foundry is the marathon that I am training for.

Big Decisions and a Bit of Good Timing

For the past few weeks I’ve been immersing myself in catalogs and websites to get a sense of what structures are available that will make a good brewery. First and foremost, I am looking for plausibility. Without an actual brewery on the market (aside from Metcalfe’s cardstock kit) I’ve been researching the general size and shape of breweries in the first quarter of the 20th century, and trying to find a kit that will fit the bill.

Here’s a diagram of the basic processes that would be going on inside the brewery:


Grain is hoisted into the tower where it is milled, then sent into the mash tun to be steeped. It is then sent down to the ‘coppers’ to be boiled with hops. Next, the hopback filters the hops, and the wort is sent through a cooling system before yeast is introduced. Finally, the beer is left to ferment in vessels and is then casked to age in the cellar.

In summary, I am looking to model a ‘gravity-fed’ brewery (i.e. one which is designed to pump water and hoist malt and other ingredients to the top, then let gravity transfer the wort and beer from one stage of the process to another).

I would also like to model a malt house, where grain is soaked, spread, and tilled until it begins to germinate, then is kilned and stored for later brewing:


Diagram showing malt being loaded from the floor of the malt house where it had been germinating, into an adjacent kiln (which will stop the malting process).

The timing couldn’t have been better: only weeks ago The N Scale Architect released a building that will suit my needs perfectly: the Elkton Creek Smelter. This kit will serve as both brewery and malt house (although I will have to scratchbuild a kiln). I ordered this kit last Wednesday, and just got it in the mail today. I will be poring over the instructions for the next few days (it is not an ‘easy’ kit).


The Elkton Creek Smelter kit is just about the shape and size that I was looking for. The ‘ore house’ (on the near side of the tracks) will serve as the malt house, and the tipple will be replaced with a kiln, which I will have to scratchbuild at a later date. A conveyor runs between the ‘malt house’ and the ‘brewery’ tower, which is how grains and malts could be transferred. Malt that has been kilned and stored for several months would be hoisted up the brewery tower, then descend slowly between various vessels until it reaches the casking cellar, where it is once again stored for several months before being delivered out.

I have also ordered a brick smokestack from Walthers to replace the three smokestacks on the main building. Most of the breweries I’ve seen have a single smokestack adjacent to the ‘tower’ to carry off smoke from the boilers. Other, smaller chimneys stem from hoods located above the coppers, but they would be located on the roof of the building, so will have to be scratchbuilt (I will likely cut down the included smokestacks for this purpose).

To fill out the siding and generate more brewery-related traffic, I ordered an ice house and a creamery from Branchline Trains’ Laser-Art Structures line. The ice house will supply reefers with some much-needed refrigeration, and the creamery will serve as a cooperage/warehouse, and may even house a stable and loading dock in the back, or some similar means of supplying barrels of ale to local purveyors. I haven’t been able to figure out what the back of the creamery looks like, though, so a lot will depend on that. If need be, I may add a carriage house and stables at a later date. Considering how small this module is, there’s quite a bit of real estate left for more structures.


Branchline’s ice house. This looks like a pretty straightforward building.


Branchline’s creamery. Again, nothing too fancy, but a solid-looking, well-detailed kit.

I have enough Testors Model Master acrylics to paint the three structures I’ve already ordered. These buildings (all belonging to the brewery) will be red with white trim, as in the photo of the foundry posted above. All doors will be green.

If all goes according to plan, my layout should look something like this after these three kits have been built:


The layout as I imagine it will look in several months. The ‘blank’ square beneath the ore house is where I plan to add a kiln.

Lots of white space remaining. In addition to a possible carriage house/stable, I am thinking about what to do with all that space on the right-hand side. At first I thought about moving the main building to the right a few inches, then cutting down into the surface of the module and creating a culvert on the lower right. I found the idea of a culvert coming out of a brewery on the ‘other side of the tracks’ to be kind of a funny idea that could be further accentuated with figures of people filling various containers with the runoff. After guffawing to myself for a bit, I dropped the idea because I felt it would be too gimmicky.

Most of the breweries that I’ve seen in images and maps are located in populated areas, so perhaps I will trade in my idea of a rural brewery for a semi-urban one and add more buildings to the scene. A brewery in the midst of a small village could be nice, and would allow me to add more structures than I had initially planned. I could add a diagonal grade crossing with a pub and a few townhouses, and maybe a few ‘team track’ buildings. A general store could work, and maybe a small passenger station as well. Also, in the space between the ‘malt house’ and the lower sidings, I may add some trackside details such as a coaling and sanding structure and a water tank.