Re-purposing and Recycling

I’ve put a great deal of work into the layout over the past couple of weeks but don’t seem to have laid much track or constructed any benchwork. Most of the work has been under the layout making cabinets and doing wiring. After deciding that I needed to order some new points for the storage sidings I couldn’t really make any progress on that side of the layout so I moved back round to the “well” that is the operating area that sits between Morpeth and what’s left of Queens Wharf. I’d gradually been getting large components of the layout in place and joining these up with new benchwork but I hadn’t put any serious work into wiring any of this up. There was a jumble of electrical cords, tools and DCC components spread about in front and on Morpeth so I decided it was time to do something permanent about this mess. I started work by once again marveling at my father’s eclectic taste in furniture.

I was talking to my sister about the history of this chair (the only surviving member of the original four) and its accompanying dining table over Christmas a week or so ago. She reckons my father purchased it in about 1972 from David Jones in Parramatta in Sydney. That makes it approximately 45 years old and until this week it was still fulfilling its allotted role. Until that is I decided my bum hurt while I was sitting at my modelling bench.

I have a theory that my father was a frustrated beatnik and this expressed itself in his taste in furniture and household fittings. The table survived until about 1977 and somehow this single chair remains in my possession mainly due to the fact that it was one of the few chairs that would fit under my modelling desk which I’ve used for the past 18 years or so. However the other day I found that my nether regions were less than comfortable sitting on the period black vinyl of this old chair so I kicked the cat off the replacement I’d purchased a couple of years ago and decided to re-purpose my dad’s old chair into a new role.

My layout may not be very far off the ground but I’m way too old to be crawling around on the floor trying to wire upside down without some mobility aids. A bit of scrap timber, 4 trundle wheels and an hour later I have a new, deluxe wiring trolley.

So after I’d partially addressed my aging body with the new trolley chair I decided to put some thought into where all my DCC components would be housed. When I’m wiring a layout I like to have the terminal points sorted so I have a spot where I’m running the wires to. I don’t like things on shelves up under the layout: for me the best way to house the various electronic boxes that form my DCC system, the power packs and the hundred and one other bits and pieces needed are best housed in a cabinet or shelf unit located underneath but in line with the front of the layout where it’s neat but easily accessible. I’m not climbing under this layout one more time than I need to.

This little three door cabinet was used many years ago on my last permanent layout Trundlemore. Funnily enough its allotted role then was to house the power packs and boxes for he DCC system.

About 1995 I was in the middle of building my last permanent layout Trundlemore when I constructed a cabinet from MDF to house the power packs and DCC system for the layout. This cabinet has followed me half way round the state over the years being used for a range of purposes but as it was originally built to house electronic components I felt it would be honoring it to place back in this role. I gave it a bit of a wipe down, reattached the back, removed the transformers that had sat unused in it for the past 20 years and fixed a sticky door. I then dragooned the better half into helping me haul it upstairs where I have spent a good deal of time getting it back in service. A whole bunch of cables and wires run out of the back of that center cupboard but the very best part of using this small cabinet for the layout is that I can lean down and flick the switches on about half the equipment that needs to be turned on to operate the layout. I hate power cords sprawled over the floor. That power board is anchored in the cupboard.

This little shelf unit took me about 3 hours to make from some ply my partner picked up for $20. I got the leftovers for free after she’d used what she needed. This little unit sits about 1.5m from the cabinet in the other photo but about 10m as the track runs along the layout. Hence the NCE booster unit sitting on the bottom shelf.

I’ve been listening to a lot audio books and podcasts over the past few weeks (This American Life being one of my favourites) as I’ve worked on the layout. These are all stored on my now hopelessly out of date iPod Nano which has no Wi Fi or blue-something capability. As soon as I got sick of carrying my little iPod dock up and down the stairs of the layout room I asked Santa to see if he could bring me a new one that could remain in place, thus allowing me to just carry the iPod itself back and forth. What a saga this request turned out to be. No one, and I mean no one, makes iPod docks anymore. “It’s all wireless these days bud” was the response from one bearded goof I spoke to in an electronic shop. I would have shot back with “I had a wireless before the invention of smashed avocado you young whipper snapper” if I’d thought of it in the shop and not half an hour later on the drive home. You’d think I was asking to be sold an Edison gramophone from the expressions on the faces of the hip young things in places like JB HiFi where I asked about the possibility of buying such a device.

Anyway the better half took on the challenge of getting me something from the “net” for Christmas and lo and behold, when I opened my gift on Christmas morning there was an Apple “Universal Dock” in my lap. However disappointingly these have no speakers so another trip to the dreaded JB HiFi was required. Upon exiting said store I had purchased a cable that I worked out cost about 25c per centimeter and a small Sony speaker box that cost approximately 3 times what my iPod was purchased for in the Jurassic era about eight years ago. However I am triumphant because I can now listen to my podcasts as I work on the layout in clear, crisp tones and I wasn’t beaten into submission by a dark corporate cabal and forced to buy a device with WiFi or Houndstooth or some new-fangled technology that won’t work in four years time anyway because no one has ever heard of it! Oh and there’s a bit of space left over to house an NCE Power booster and a transformer for the Tortoise machines on this part of the layout too 🙂

1 thought on “Re-purposing and Recycling

  1. Thinking about, it must be 2018 or thereabouts in your part of the world so Happy New Year!

    Congrats on beating the marketer’s planned obsolescence scheme – another victory for us old(er) guys.

    Looking forward to more layout news as you progress.

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