Chop Chop

I’ve only been doing a small amount of work on the layout over the last few weeks but the progress has been steady. After laying the new track on Queens Wharf out to the turntable I’ve been working on the extreme other end of the layout. This is the location where the turntable originally was sited on Morpeth. I want to sort the track at these locations out before I start building new benchwork because it will be more difficult to access these areas once the new benchwork is in place. I also know my attention will be fully absorbed with the new track laying once I start and it will be very difficult to devote any attention to these old areas once I get the bit between my teeth and start on new track.

After setting the layouts up in the room after the building work was completed a few weeks ago it became apparent to me that the curve that will exit the end of Morpeth and take the track along the back wall of the room to Queens Wharf would be too tight for my liking. I had some wiggle room but the radius of the curve was starting to hover dangerously close to the critical 1.2m mark and I made the decision last weekend that I had to take some radical action. This involved chopping 150mm from the end of the module at the spot that used to be the location for the turntable. This module was the obvious choice for a bit of trimming; it was already on the saw horses ready for the work, it had just had a large empty circle created where the turntable used to sit that needed to be filled with something and there happened to be a join in the photo backdrop at the other end of the module’s backdrop that was 157mm from the end. This join was terribly obvious as it sat out in a blank piece of sky with no way of disguising it. By chopping asection off the backdrop at this exact spot I could remove this join and the join between modules would be the only gap. This could have a tree placed in front of it to help disguise the gap.

I began by removing the backdrop from the module. Once this was removed I cut a hole in the backdrop where the trains would now enter from the fiddleyard turntable in the garage and also sliced 156mm from backdrop, right on top of the join. At the other end I trimmed the rails back and essentially set to cutting off 155mm of the module. This trim job involved cutting back the fascia by about 450mm and then cutting straight across the module with a range of different saws. This was quite disturbing work and I won’t detail how many beers I had in recovery mode after I’d done the chopping 🙂

Reconstruction commenced last weekend. I recycled the pine end plate from the end of the module and screwed this in place with wood screws. I then replaced the aluminium riser at the end of the layout and installed a small section of ply that extended the sub-roadbed out of the hole I’d cut into the backdrop. This will line up with the hole in the wall and allow a length of connecting track to join the layout to the fiddleyard turntable that will be located in the garage. After I got everything replaced I used the circle of ply I’d cut from the sub-roadbed at the new Queens Wharf location for the turntable to provide a base for the engine shed that would now be located where the turntable had been. This filled the spot quite nicely but I didn’t use the whole disc. I trimmed the ply disc along the front module edge to allow me to drop the land below the sub-roadbed if I wanted to later when I come to scenic this spot.

This weekend I re-secured the backdrop in place and re-installed the pockets that hold the aluminium lighting uprights. Because I had chopped 6″ from the module I had to re-centre the pockets so that the light rig would be located over the centre of the module. I secured everything in place, installed the engine shed and cut and shut a new section of mdf fascia to fill the gap left by the chopping job. I cut a hole for a plug point for my DCC system before re-attaching the fascia as this is much easier to do when the fascia can be laid flat than if it is upright, attached to the layout. I intend filling in and completing the scenery around the engine shed before I lift the module back onto the benchwork and start testing the alignment with the hole in the wall and installing track through this. The module is far more accessible down on two saw horses than it will be once it is back up on the benchwork.

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