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An Announcement from Austrains - SDS acquisition
Connecting loco and tender - Hornby Top Tips
Trainorama 830 class 847 review
Under the Portuguese Sun - Tree planting
Bachmann new GWR Earl Class review
Reconnecting with a childhood hobby
James May urges nation to 'save Hornby' as shares plunge 62%
Hornby boss quits after third profit warning in five months
Statement from Ixion Model Railways Ltd
So, the last few months have been interesting. I got laid off in March, found a new job in April and started working again in May. All this during the Covid-19 lock down craziness. I am feeling very fortunate to have gotten through this stretch relatively unscathed. And, during all this, we have managed to keep the railroad project moving forward.
My blog posting did slow a bit. This is because I have had to adjust to the schedule at my new job – we tend to work later than I have in the past. This means less evenings in the train room and less time online. Given that, I have been trying to focus my free time on the railroad.
My friend Bob was due back for the summer and our goal is to be laying track and running trains by September. I wanted as much progress as possible before he got back. That brings us to the next post, dealing with the gap across the window.
The room housing this railroad is almost ideal. It is a uniform shape with very little intruding into the floor space. There are two features though that we need to work around. At one end there is a small wall section that houses some vent pipes (this is now hidden by the peninsula). At the other end there is a large window in the wall across from the end of the peninsula.
This is the largest window in the entire house and I need to figure out how to run the railroad across in front of it. There are a couple special requirements for this section: First, it is a span of slightly more than 8 feet and due to the window, I can use shelf brackets to support the middle. Second, I need to maintain access to the window.
Given that a door slab is 6’8” long, it will take more than one slab to make the distance. This means that I will have a joint to deal with. Due to the fact that the window is behind this span, I can’t use a shelf bracket in the middle for support.
Currently the available anchor points are at each end. While door slabs are quite strong, I would not trust mounting a slab in such a way that it is only supported at each end. In this case, since the 8 foot span will require splicing two slabs together, supporting the middle is even more important due to the greater length and the need to support a joint.
Besides the length and proper support, the other challenge is that I need to maintain access to the window. For the previous few years, this room was used mainly as a storage area. While cleaning it out and prepping it for the railroad, I discovered that the window appears to have had a small leak around the frame. We have some pretty good wind and rain out where I live and this window is big enough that if the wind is strong enough the window flexes a bit and some water manages to get inside.
In the photo above, notice the sill. To the right of center you can see a large lump. This is where the moisture seeped into the wood underneath the paint and swelled. This needs to be replaced. Actually the whole window needs to be replaced. Given the age of the house, we will likely be replacing all the windows soon so we have decided to hold off on doing anything to this right now. We just put a new roof on the house and that sort of shot this year’s maintenance budget.
All of this is a long winded way of saying I need to maintain access to this window so when the time comes we can do the repair work without the need to destroy the railroad. So, the section across the window will be removable.
I figure we can use the modularity of the door slabs to our advantage here. The plan is to build upper and lower level modules that can be removed. Door slab size modules will be pretty big and a bit cumbersome to move. Also, both levels will need support in the middle. Past experience with modular N scale layouts has taught me that I also need to consider how the modules can be removed from the layout and slid back into place without damaging the edges where they connect to the adjoining railroad.
After a number of different ideas were considered, I settled on building a portable rack that can support the modules and provide an easy way to roll them into and out of place as needed.
It so happened that I have a cart that has been sitting in my shop for a while now. I originally built it to make it easy to move a piece of equipment around. That equipment has since found a permanent location, so the cart is now spare equipment.
It’s made of the same aluminum that we used on the peninsula. In this case it is the 1” square slotted extrusions called 1010. The one in middle of the top row.
Steel shelf brackets brace all the corners making this very rigid and very strong. The whole unit sits on a set of hefty casters from Grizzly. To support the door slabs I added some vertical supports. This is where the slotted aluminum really shines. The t-slots make it very easy to adjust the height of everything as needed. Not a lot of hole drilling required.
First, supports were added for the lower level.
Next were extensions for the upper level.
The upper level is 18” deep and the lower level is 15”. The front edges are even so that means the upper level extends 3” farther to the back. This results in a 3” space behind the lower level. If you recall in the earlier post #4 – Skyboards and Backdrops, on the sections of the layout around the walls, this space was filled with the 3” “skyboxes”. For this portable section, I am using this 3” space to run vertical support posts for upper module support.
I found some steel 90 degree joiner plates at Home Depot that were just over an inch wide. I bolted these to sections of aluminum to make the vertical supports: T-slot 1010 for the vertical section that attaches to the lower riser, and then basic square tube for the horizontal arm that slides under the module. The biggest challenge here was making sure that the supports were perfectly square and parallel.
Once finished and attached to the cart, they are quite strong. Given that the modules will be attached at both ends, and now supported in the middle, I am confident there is enough support that someone could lean on the edge of this section and it will not damage anything.
So, this solves the support issue, let’s return to a concern I mentioned earlier - damaging the modules (and the layout) while moving them into and out of place.
If you have ever helped setup a modular layout, you know that there is always that last section that needs to be inserted. With modules, you can flex the layout enough that you can slide that last module into place without damaging it or the adjoining modules.
The problem here is that these modules will be connecting to layout sections that are permanently fixed to the walls. There is no flex available to make it easier to insert and remove the modules without damaging the edges. And, once in place, the joints need to be tight so I can’t really make the modules any smaller.
To solve this I am taking the “keystone” approach. By angling one end of each module, the module can be swung out into the room rather than trying to slide it straight in and out.
The upper level module will be the main yard for the whole layout. Here you can see the extra section that I spliced onto the end of the first door slab and the angled cut that allows the module to be pulled away as it is removed rather than needing to slide in and out if it were a square edge.
For the lower level, I am handling this a little differently. Given this layout is all door slabs, it is going to take some clever scenery building to avoid everything being flat. Due to clearance restrictions below, no landscape on the upper level can extend below deck level. This means that if I want any scenery to extend below deck, it has to be on the lower level.
Since I already need to add length to the lower slab to span the 8 feet, I am going to take advantage of the situation and instead of adding a spliced section of door, I am going to build a special “canyon” module. This will fill the gap and allow me to add a landscape feature that extends below ground level.
The lower level of the span across the left side of the window is the approach to a small mountain town called Eagle Falls that will be built in the corner. The special canyon module will extend below layout level. As the tracks approach Eagle Falls, they will cross a high trestle over a small canyon with the town’s namesake falls.
It has its own legs from square aluminum tubing and height adjustable feet similar to those on the peninsula. Also note the keystone shape. This works well for the shape of the canyon and provides the same function as the angle cut on the upper deck. This module can be removed first and then the remaining lower module can be removed without damaging any edges.
Regarding attaching it to the adjoining modules, I attached L brackets that will be used as mounting points to the adjoining modules. This guarantees that the brackets are in the exact location needed when they get attached to the adjoining modules. The legs were precisely attached to allow the adjoining door slabs to rest on top of them for added strength.
The last step is dealing with how to connect the modules on the helix side of the room (right side of the window). This is the easiest issue that needed to be solved. I bolted a couple lengths of aluminum tube to the helix frame at the appropriate height. Given this connection will be hidden by facias and some scenery, I am considering just using c clamps and clamping the slabs to the mounts here instead of drilling and running bolts through the door slabs.
So the last step was to angle cut the left end of the lower door slab to fit the canyon module. I set the heights of all the support arms and rolled the cart into place. Set the door slabs in place and problem solved, the gap across the window is filled and the modules are removeable.
The next thing on my punch list is to try and finish the lighting. I would like all the lighting installed before we are doing any trackwork. I have parts ordered now and hope to get most of the lighting wrapped up next week.
Until then, thank you for following this project and stay safe out there.
DaveK in NB
Mud Bay & Western Project Blog
This article first appeared on model-railroad-hobbyist.com
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