Movement At Last!

It’s been something close to ten months since I first attended an open house to view my new home on a beautiful Spring day last August. I loved the house from the moment I saw it but what really caught my eye was a huge 9mX9m colourbond steel shed in the corner of the yard: double storey no less! Dirty saws and lathes downstairs, trains upstairs. The calculus made perfect sense, well at least to a train modeller πŸ™‚ After the longest negotiation I’ve ever been through to finally settle on the house (I must admit to withdrawing the offer at one point so it wasn’t just the previous owners and my bank stuffing things about) I moved in about three months ago and immediately started what has seemed like a never-ending round of work on and around the house. OMG I’m sick of tradies! However today the builders arrived to start work lining the upstairs train room with plaster board and to repair and replace the roof on one side where it had a leak. In the morning I could have hugged them, although the air was very blue this afternoon when I discovered one of them had driven his car on my brand new turf! 😦

It being day one of probably four or five days work, the progress inside the room is not that far along but as is usually the way with builders and trades people, they managed to make a mess. The roof however is done so gone is the leak! πŸ™‚ The curtains you can see behind the new work were masking four large skylights that used to sit in the ceiling on this side of the room. The seal around one of these is the area I have assumed was the cause of the leak so they all four were removed and I’ve had the whole roof sheeting replaced. I’m not exactly sure why the owner would go to the expense of installing what looked to be quite expensive skylights and then have them covered by curtains, blocking out almost all the light they brought into the room but that’s not an issue for me. I want the room sealed, water tight and I intend the lighting to be provided by the layout’s lights. I’d have probably had them removed even if one of them wasn’t leaking.

I got home a little early this afternoon and the builders were still in the shed making a heck of a racket. The major issues I want to address in getting this work done is that the unlined room needs to be insulated and I really wanted the walls smooth and able to be painted. The structure is held aloft by three large, and very ugly, lattice beams that run the entire length of the room: one at either end and one right down the middle of the room. Any layout I was ever going to build in this space was going to have this whacking great lattice beam intruding into the scenery. So the builder and I spent a good deal of time discussing how he might bring the ceiling down into the room sufficiently so that these would effectively disappear behind the plaster board. You can see what he’s done to get this to happen in the above photo. The blue channel that the plaster boards will be attached to has been secured to some wooden beams he’s added at intermediate points along the length of the room.

As you can see from the photo the roof of this building is a barn style and as such it intrudes into the space in a most model-train-unfriendly fashion. If you look at the above photo the length of timber on the floor just beyond the short ladder marks the line where the plasterboard will intersect with the floor. So before I’ve even started I’ve lost 900mm of my lovely floor area because I don’t plan on building my layout 600mm from the floor.

I’ve labelled this photo to give you some idea of what I’ll be dealing with in building a layout in this room. Imagine the thick read line that is not an arrow as the line where the plasterboard will run.

In spite of the knee walls already intruding into the space by 900mm I still can’t build a layout hard up against the wall that s formed because it’s only 1.1m from floor to ceiling at this point. I estimate that 1.5m is what I would ideally need for a layout with the track height about 1.1m from the floor and with a (vertical) backdrop behind this of about 300mm. The ceiling doesn’t reach a height of 1.4m untill you move a good 400mm or so further out from the wall. Does this matter in such a large room? Well this blog is isn’t called Morpeth in O-scale for nothing. With minimum radius curves needing to be about 1.8m my available 8.5mX7.5m space is quickly shrinking to the point where I can’t get the sort of layout I was planning into it. Does this matter? No because whatever space I have available I’ll design a layout to suit, however it would have been nice to have a bit more room. And yes I already have a plan drawn up for this new, more modest space but it’s all very much a draft and I’m not yet ready to publish it here. One of the decisions I need to make is whether I want a coal branch or a mixed goods branch. This second option would be a normal branch that ran to a town like the one on the Merriwa branch. What’s exercising my mind at the moment is that I don’t have the space for such a branch if I want the yard for the town straight. I don’t know of many stations in NSW which had a curved station platform. Even those I can think of (East Maitland on the Morpeth line and Condobolin on the main western) curved gently. The curve I would need to introduce to fit this in would be anything but gentle. I’ll come back to that in a later post when I’ve made some decisions.

Meanwhile back at Morpeth pier…

I built the pier at Morpeth without a set of plans so just about all the work carried out so far has been from a set of measurements I took of the pier at Coffs Harbour combined with guesstimates. One measurement I overlooked the need for was of the height of the pylons that sit in a row down the side of the structure. I have a prototype photo showing these at about waist height… this is what checking this dimension looks like πŸ™‚


7 thoughts on “Movement At Last!

  1. Progress is inspiring — definitely keeps your enthusiasm high.

    BTW I think some of your tradesman are related to the idiots that are available in lower slower Delaware – One step forward and two back!

    • Bill,
      I’m mostly happy with the work that’s been done across about 6 different trades and on about 7 or 8 jobs but I just want this over with and to have some time to consolidate, paint the room and dream about the layout I want to build. I think the goof who drove over my newly laid turf was a young bloke who was probably too busy looking at his phone to notice the seams in the lawn!

  2. Hi Trevor,

    It might be somewhat too late now, or more likely far too complex, but had you and your builder considered the possibility of lowering the floor a little?


    Tim Harlock.


    • Tim,
      I did look at the space available downstairs and wonder to myself why the heck you’d have such a high ceiling down there when the roof impinges so severly on the upstairs level but never seriously considered lowering the floor. My guess would be that to do so would have been almost as expensive as tearing the whole structure down and starting again.

  3. Trevor, could some of the lost space be utilised as off scene storage roads or hidden tracks? I realise that in layout design such are considered ‘bad practice’… with a well place camera with monitor at the control panel, and wired / controlled points, it will mean that visits to this confined space ‘should be’ very infrequent. I base this on Stringybark and Arakloola storage road operational experience – ultra reliable. It is usually operator error that causes the issue.

    Looking forward to seeing the plan. cheers john

    • John,
      I have considered whether using the cavities is practical for storage and looking at the construction that happened today my initial response is that’s it’s not. Not just based on being able to see the trains but also the height. Getting the trains down low enough to utilize the space and then back up to a reasonable operating height isn’t really practical. But you never know. I’m planning on punching holes in no less than three walls to run trains over the staircase so anything is possible once I have the room completed.

  4. Trevor,
    If you are looking for a station on a curve, have a look at Walcha Road diagram dated 1950. It is on a curve, an island platform arrangement, a dock, three separate sidings and even a turntable.
    Bob (SCR)

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