New Setup

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past couple of weeks settling on a plan I felt I could live with that incorporated my two, small portable layouts; Queens Wharf and Morpeth. It was not settled that I wasn’t going to change the modelling course of the past 14 years and start to model another location but today I think I’ve finally settled the argument I’ve been having with myself for the past few months and Morpeth won out. What was occupying my mind wasn’t so much whether I wanted to use the portable layouts but rather whether I could get them both set up in my new train room, linked by lengths of “bridging” layout to connect them in a coherent whole and be satisfied that this would be operationally coherent. Any layout I build will have a coherent and explicit operational plan and I was far from convinced that I could get this using the layouts in the limited space available to me. As I’ve detailed here in past posts I did some curve tests, lined and painted the room after making it weather tight and over the past couple of weeks I’ve been setting up parts of the layouts to test clearances, lighting and heights. Today I finally set up both layouts in their final positions and satisfied myself that there isn fact enough room to get to and from the two operating areas on each side of the room. Because both layouts already exist and have not been custom-made to fit the available space, this as far from certain and I wasn’t prepared to go to the time and expense of making a start and begin building the layout without testing whether I could achieve my main goals of a scenically complete and satisfying Australian scene combined with a challenging operating scenario.

I’ve been gradually working on building the stands to hold QW and Morpeth off the ground over the past few weeks. QW was essentially complete this past week and yesterday was Morpeth’s turn. Some of the components in these trestles were recycled from the last go I had at doing this same exercise but everything had to be lowered to fit into the new space so I estimate I saved myself very little time over having to start from scratch. Note the small patch of blue masking tape on the floor under one of the legs of the closest frame. There’s another patch at the other end.

I’ve been fiddling and developing the final plan over the past two weeks and I’d reached the stage where I had the curves at a sufficiently large radius to allow a test set up this weekend. In other words I was prepared to commit to cutting up wood and setting the layouts up to see if I could get my portly frame around them to allow operation in the future to be possible. I built the benchwork frames yesterday in preparation for the arrival today of my friend Peter Krause who had agreed to come down to be instructed what to do and generally act as my lackey for the day. It’s a long way to drive to be ordered about 🙂 Thanks Peter, I couldn’t have got much done on my own.

I started the morning early before Peter’s arrival by marking out where Morpeth was going to stand in the room. I measured the plan and transferred two critical dimensions to the floor of the room and marked these with blue masking tape. When Peter arrived we dissembled Morpeth and shifted QW to the other side of the room to its final position. We also cut up some MDF, applied a photo backdrop and installed this into the gap in the new section of layout of the new, extended QW. QW is the layout against the wall in the distance in the above photo. We leveled the benchwork frames using my new laser level by adjusting the feet at the base of each leg. After this we carried the new benchwork frames for Morpeth upstairs and placed these in the locations indicated by the masking tape. I managed to get these marks almost spot on and the feet ended up within millimeters of the masking tape marks I’d placed there this morning. I told Peter what I estimated should be the distance between the track centres of each layout and I was within a few centimeters of what I’d guessed they were. He had the gall to check my guesses by measuring it! 🙂 I was very chuffed. With a bit more measuring, shifting and adjusting we lifted Morpeth into position on its new, lower benchwork.

This isn’t an optical illusion. Morpeth is supposed to be set at an angle to the wall and QW. If I hadn’t placed it like this the layout would never have fitted into the room. The end I’m standing at to take the photo will eventually be closed to foot traffic by a curve of track that will connect the two layouts. The long patch of light wood in the middle of Morpeth is the new shelf that will allow a place for tools, eye glasses, coffee mugs and packs of myriad screws on something other than the surface of the layout! 🙂

After bolting the layout segments together, installing the light pans and screwing into position a small shelf I’d made for the front “set in” edge of Morpeth, both Peter and I were buggered and we called it a day. I have an electrician coming to tomorrow to see if we can’t sort out a solution to QW being so dark and muddy. I like my layouts bright! 🙂