Aisle Clearance

After a few months mostly working on models for other people and setting up my workshop I had a free morning this morning to put some time into a model. The first order of business was to drill holes in some white metal castings using a jig specifically designed to hold the parts at right angles to the 1/8″ drill bit required. The only problem was that I couldn’t find the jig! It wasn’t in the drawer labelled “jigs” and after hunting through all the nooks and crannies in my modelling workroom (twice) I went into the layout room and took a look there. I knew the jig wouldn’t be in there but I thought it was worth a try. No luck. However upon walking into the room I saw Morpeth’s recently made control panel sitting on a chair waiting to be hooked up to the layout. The thought struck me that I really needed to do something about reinstalling the panel as I had my first operating session booked for the first Wednesday in June and time was quickly running out to get the layout ready. So, as you do, I started out to work on a wagon and ended up spending a couple of hours crawling about under the layout. The best laid plans hey? 🙂

Now I hear you saying to your collective selves “operating session? He’s never mentioned operating sessions before” and you’d be right. However I was set a challenge by a friend a month or so ago and he’s a HO modeller and I’m not letting one of that species get one over on me 🙂 The turnout making sessions I’ve written about here have organically morphed into a get together between the three of us on the first Wednesday of the month. We’ve met at both my home and the home of the other O-scaler in our group and last month it was Phil’s turn. Phil does dabble in O but his primary scale is HO and his layout is built to HO scale to a NSWGR outline. Upon arriving he announced that he wanted to try running a basic operating session. Then he apologized, about 10 times, as if this was a burden for Peter and myself! A burden??? This was something I’d been working toward myself and here I was being asked to operate a train! I was actually excited but I hid this well and pretended to be put out and grumpy. Actually I’m not sure Phil could tell the difference from my normal demeanor, maybe that’s why he kept apologizing 🙂

Anyway things went swimmingly and as is usual in these cases he’s spent the last couple of weeks working on his layout altering things that cropped up as we ran our trains. Well done Phil! After getting home I started thinking it’ll be months before I can do something similar on my layout. Then I had a “bugger it” moment and sent Phil a text message that if he can do it so can I! I was running an operating session the next time we get together at my place. Our next get together was booked for May the 1st… at my place. May the 1st???!!! That was less than 4 weeks away! Luckily Phil made contact and said he couldn’t make it on that date so could we change the date? I said I’d reluctantly change the date and so we’re going to meet at my home on the first Wednesday in June. Thank Heavens for that, it gave me an extra month and Phil’s none the wiser. He apologized again 🙂

There are a lot of things that will need to happen before I can run a fully fledged, multi train operating session but Phil kept two of us busy for two hours with just two trains. I have plenty of locos but a dearth of rolling stock, hence the aim of working on that wagon this morning. However the layout has languished a bit over the last 6 months and hasn’t seen a train run right round the circuit because I haven’t yet finished the track laying for the loop extension at Queens Wharf. So this is very high on the must do list. Getting the layout up and running and reinstalling the control panel at Morpeth is one small job I thought I could do this morning instead of continuing my fruitless search for the drilling jig. I’ll get back to that!

The control panel for Morpeth was made as a separate item so it could be easily removed from the layout and stowed for transport. It hangs from a cleat at the front of the layout and is connected electrically by two cables that plug into receptacles under the layout and on the underside of the panel itself. The position I’d chosen for this panel was based on the need to get the operator away from the middle front of the layout when it was being exhibited, however this position down one end of the modules is less than ideal when the layout becomes part of the larger permanent layout.

This photo shows the area where I was working this morning as I moved the position of the control panel at Morpeth. Where I’ve labelled the photo A is the passageway at the end of the branch at Morpeth. This is a major traffic area and as you walk round the end of Morpeth, travelling from the Raworth side of the layout to the Queens Wharf side, the first thing you encounter is the control panel on your left. I decided that the panel needed to be moved up the aisle (toward the camera) to the position marked B and as far down the aisle from C as possible, as this spot is the narrowest part of the aisle where the yard at QW juts into the available aisle space.

I would’ve liked to have moved the panel to the middle of Morpeth (to the right of the camera position) so that it was completely out of the way of the aisle at its narrowest point. This is more than possible as the panel is hung by a cleat from the front of the layout and as such moving it is a very simple process of undoing some small bolts and shifting the cleat along the front of the fascia. The limiting factor is the cables that hook the panel up to the layout. These are about 800mm long and the receptacle for them under the layout is pretty much set. I could move these by doing a rewire job but I only have limited time before the first Wednesday in June so I moved things as far down the aisle as I could without doing any re-wiring. I’ll go with this for the operating session. If I feel the position of the panel is still a problem I’ll come back to it later and move the receptacle.

The main consideration in setting the position of the control panel for operations on the permanent layout is the amount of clearance between the panel and the fascia on the other side of the aisle. I’ve managed to get 700mm clearance (about 52″) at this point and this should be enough to allow someone to pass behind an operator standing at this panel, just.

While I was at it I moved the receptacle for the NCE throttles I use from the right hand side of the panel to the left to allow the panel to be placed just a little further up the aisle. I’m not totally happy with the position of this but again, it was a case of trying to achieve an acceptable result in a minimum of time. I can shift this back to the other side of the panel later if it’s something the operators complain about.

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