Two Steps Forward…

It seems months since the building work I had done on my layout room was completed but I’m yet to run a train on my layout. Getting the two layouts to fit into the room has turned out to be a lot more time-consuming than I’d originally anticipated however I took a couple of steps forward today as various components and changes have reached completion.

One of the more challenging aspects of the initial steps I’ve taken is that I’m essentially on my own if I want to move a segment of the layout on and off the benchwork. If I was loading the layout into the trailer in preparation for an exhibition I’d get a friend around to help me lift the sections off the benchwork and into the trailer. However in most instances I’ve found that what I really want to do as I’ve started to assemble the layout semi-permanently is move a section, do some work on it and then move it back into place to see how it fits or looks in place. Then I find I want to start this process over again. Now this is fine if you have plenty of willing hands to give you some assistance moving big slabs of layout about, however I have only two friends close at hand who can drop around for an hour or so to help out and one of those has been overseas for the last couple of months. When he does finally come over he’ll probably insist on telling me all about his trip and he won’t even have bought me a t-shirt 🙂 Lifting and shifting layout segments about just hasn’t been an issue with permanent layouts I’ve built in the past. As they weren’t built in segments you worked on them where they were or you didn’t get anything done. I’ve made a minor change to the benchwork by installing some cross rails to allow me to slide the segments out and I’ve found myself being a lot more careful about planning what I’m going to finish before I put a section back in place. My back protests at having to get a layout section down from the benchwork to do something minor that should have been done while had it out previously.

Today I got to a point where I could finally re-install the layout segment near the exit hole I had cut in the wall a few weeks ago. I’d done lots of measurements and checks to make sure it would actually all line up but until I got the layout back in place I couldn’t be absolutely sure that I’d got it right.

This shot shows the trimmed hole that I had cut into the wall a few weeks ago. I've filled the nail holes and painted it white prior to reinstalling the benchwork today. The benchwork was trimmed 130mm to match the 150mm I trimmed off the layout segment.

This shot shows the trimmed hole that I had cut into the wall a few weeks ago. I’ve filled the nail holes and painted it white prior to reinstalling the benchwork today. The benchwork was trimmed 130mm to match the 150mm I trimmed off the layout segment.

The most critical element to the whole operation in reconfiguring the layout from two exhibition displays to one permanent home layout was getting the track and hole I’d cut in the backdrop to line up with the hole in the wall. I’ve since decided I probably could have made this hole just a little larger (say 20mm on all 4 sides) and this would have made the job of getting things to line up just a wee bit less tense. I’d specified that the hole be just slightly larger than the size needed for the trains to pass through and as such I gave myself very little wiggle room. I wanted the hole to be as unobtrusive as possible but I inadvertently presented myself with very tough challenge: everything I did had to be spot on first time as you can’t easily shift a hole in a brick wall if you make a measuring mistake.

Today I started by trimming off 130mm from the rails holding up the layout segments to match most of what I trimmed from the layout segment last weekend. I left 20mm extra on the benchwork rails (I’d trimmed 150mm off the layout) to give myself a little more space to get a hand between the wall and end of the layout. I then installed a couple of cross rails between the two long L girders (you can see one of these in the above photo) to allow the segment to be slid more easily into place. After I reassembled the benchwork I slid the layout segment into position and the hole and track lined up perfectly, with a bit of gentle persuasion 🙂

I have ony just reinstalled the layout in this shot. The photo is taken in the garage looking into the layout room through the hole. The rear of the MDF backdrop hasn't been repainted in this shot but you can't see it on the side that counts.

I have ony just reinstalled the layout in this shot. The photo is taken in the garage looking into the layout room through the hole. The rear of the MDF backdrop hasn’t been repainted in this shot but you can’t see it on the side that counts.

Last weekend one of the jobs I needed to complete before I could test the alignment of the track and the entry hole was to install a small ply “lip” below the track bed to give me something to attach the connecting track section to when I came to run track through the hole. You can see this small ply section below the track and the ply sub-roadbed. This was a critical step and I was happy to see that it sits just above the floor of the hole. This one small section of roadbed is critical to the whole plan to run trains in and out of the room to storage.

This shot shows the entrance that will allow trains to run from the garage to the scenic portion of the layout. It will largely be hidden by the engine shed on the left.

This shot shows the entrance that will allow trains to run from the garage to the scenic portion of the layout. It will largely be hidden by the engine shed on the left.

I find that quite often you can be working on something for ages and then suddenly it all seems to come together in a matter of hours. I’ve been taking a lot of steps back over the last few weeks as I’ve moved track and buildings about on already completed sections of layout. A lot of work goes into building a layout and installing scenery, it’s confronting to have to hack into it with saws. However I learnt a lesson when I was ten years old at the local swimming pool on the 10m diving platform: once you’ve climbed up there and are standing at the edge looking down at the water, there’s no way you’re pride is ever going to allow you to climb back down. The one step forward you’re left with having to take is off the edge. Most times I’ve found the sting caused by hitting the water to be worth it. I’m pretty sure that this will be the case with Morpeth 🙂

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