Tuesday, 15 January 2008

A modular baseboard

Having explored some ideas with my ready-made boxes I think I could have a workable arrangement.

These boxes (I think I'll call them modules) are 30 x 25cm, made from 1cm thick beech. The thin wood base is inset by 5mm. I'll have to keep an eye on the base just in case it decides to warp, but in the meantime I'll be building my trackwork on thin balsawood on a 5mm foam board inlay.

track on foam board

By happy coincidence the width (25cm) is almost the same as my layout width at the adjoining end, so I should be able to make the transition into this new section look respectable.

The questions now are, how do I join these boxes and how do I carry them?

I found some mending plates in my box of useful stuff, and got some machine screws and wing nuts to fit.

The idea is, that I use these plates as horizontal joints and also as vertical supports.

With the wing nuts tight there's no movement so I'm hoping this will be adequate on a flat surface. (I've no plans to build any supporting legs - I've already checked with the Jubilee Challenge Authorities that a table should be available on the day).

I'll have to get some more modules to be sure how many I could carry stacked like this. I'm planning to use one of them cut down the centre to provide 2 small fiddle yard areas, so if I can stack 5 feasibly the length of visible track would be 1.2m.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Early thoughts

I've been pulling a few ideas together over the past week:

* At my rate of productivity, I can’t be too ambitious about what I can achieve in 2 years.

* I already have a half-complete layout.

* I have virtually no 2mm-scale stock to run on it.

* Unlike many railway modellers I don’t particularly enjoy shunting - I prefer watching the trains glide or trundle along.

My thoughts are converging on a simple idea. Why don’t I build a “front-end” for my existing layout. It would be a stretch of single-track line, perhaps 1.5m long with simple fiddle yards at each end.

I reckon this would be achievable, it would complement my existing layout, it would allow me plenty of time to build some rolling-stock kits and perhaps convert a couple of locos, and it wouldn't require any shunting.

Perhaps I could explore a more sophisticated method of track-building. I would certainly want to make a few trees (something I find very relaxing). It should be a spur to build those wagon kits lying in a box (and get a few more). And since there won't be any sharp curves, I'm hoping that I can use 3-link couplings.

My existing layout isn't portable, but this could give me the skills and confidence to do something more ambitious for future exhibitions.

In fact I can think of an immediate benefit of this approach. I'm stalling on my 08 loco kit at the moment, worrying about varnishing and transfers. Pushing ahead on this project means I can practice some techniques on a few wagons so I'll get it right when I feel ready to tackle the loco.

A few members have been discussing their plans recently and some interesting ideas are emerging. But I think this has the beauty of simplicity:

A couple of gentle reverse curves.

So if any member is being put off from entering by the plans of some members, please think on this: there's nothing in the rules about needing to be complex. And any first-timer who wants to "have a go" - at whatever level - will surely be welcomed and supported by our Association.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

A firm foundation?

New Year's Day, and along with the whole world I'm off to IKEA. But unlike the rest of the world I don't want a shiny new bathroom / luxury bedroom / designer kitchen.
I'm looking for some ideas for an ultra-portable layout (and the cheap early-bird breakfast).

Most of my plans are still vague ideas but I'm sure about one thing. Since I don't have a car, I want to be able to take my layout on public transport.

Decide to get a couple of these:

They're light but quite solid. Perhaps I could build my layout on several sections and carry them in a stack.

Plenty of room underneath for wiring and other gubbins. A few of these bolted together might look like a real baseboard.

Also got some halogen lamps I hope to use.