Transporting An Exhibition Layout

Queens Wharf is about to be exhibited for the first time at the Brisbane miniature Train Show http://rnashowgrounds.com.au/what’s-on/event-details/5565/Brisbane%20Model%20Train%20Show.aspx next weekend. I only exhibit QW on average about once every three years. As it’s been just under two years since QW’s last outing I’m improving my average a bit.

As I’m working to a deadline, packing the layout in the trailer ready to be transported to the show next Friday was on the to do list today. I’ve had the layout set up for a couple of months and this has allowed me to snap some of the photos I’ve been posting on the blog recently. However the main purpose of setting it up was to test everything was in working order, repair some minor damage and refurbish a small scene I had never been happy with on the front edge of the layout. Yesterday I made some final touches to the scenery and today it was time to stop fussing and fiddling with things, pack the layout up and load it in the trailer. The only problem is that I had to unload what was in the trailer first! QW may have originally been designed to fit into the back of my Toyota station wagon, however it has grown a bit since it was first conceived and anyway, I no longer own that car!

About the same time as I was starting to build QW, I made the decision to sell off all of my HO equipment, and I do mean all. I invaded Ebay and within a couple of months I’d sold every piece of HO equipment I owned, raising a very pleasing sum in the process. Some of this money funded the purchase of a purpose-built, enclosed trailer that I bought with the intention of transporting layouts to exhibitions in. I’ve been involved with several exhibition layouts over the years and these experiences have convinced me of one fundamental law of layout building: if you’re going to build an exhibition style layout you ignore the transport needs of such a layout at your peril. For me this fits into the same category of model railway design “common sense” as layout lighting and backdrop installation: it’s a whole lot easier to install lighting and backdrops on a layout before you get trains running. In the same vein: it’s relatively easy to design and build a layout to fit the available transport, it is the devil’s own work to do it the other way around!

The blue box on wheels I own was purchased to transport the layout I intended to build after QW, however this doesn’t stop me using it to transport Morpeth Mk II’s older sister in the trailer too. I managed to do 95% of this shifting of various layout segments on my own, so making layout modules as light as possible does have its advantages. I invited my partner down to the “man cave” to help out with the remaining 5% I couldn’t safely do on my own, however most of this final phase was actually completed with the able assistance of her 9-year-old son. He insisted that he didn’t need his mum’s help and is growing up way too fast. Where the heck did he get muscles from? 🙂

I’ll post some photos if this unpacking/packing process to let you see the aluminium racks that I use to transport the new layout and the way the segments sit in the trailer. To keep things as flexible as possible I made the rack removable as well as the layout segments. This allows the trailer to continue to be used for a broad range of purposes such as transporting QW (which won’t fit into the rack) and a range of family transport needs.

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