Saturday, July 24, 2010

Timesaver Layout - Yeah Right!

Unlike the previous gap between posts, this one is minute by comparison. However, in that mere two day break I've probably done more thinking about my trains than I have done in the past few months.

After my post about the coffee table layout I built, I spent a few hours looking further into the idea of building a 1200x600mm HO scale "Timesaver" themed layout to swap around with the N Scale one in the coffee table.

The basic idea of the Timesaver layout it to build something compact, and yet have it so it can potentially take up a lot more time and brain power actually operating it. Typically it involves a run around in the centre, with a few sidings coming off it, and basically you have a few wagons in various sidings that are identified to begin with, a defined destination for each wagon, and then you must shunt the wagons around to relocate them in the various sidings.

The basic layout of the track states that each siding should only be of a certain length to be able to fit the assigned amount of wagons and no more, so you find that the run around gets quite a bit of use.

Most of the HO scale Timesaver layouts I have seen are built to take two bogie wagons in each siding, but having a strict length to fit into, I have made them long enough to take a couple of RU's which are a bit longer than the typical S, K, U etc, and will still hold a BCH, most brake vans and other short bogie wagons. A single bogie wagon doesn't really fit the "rules" however I can make up my own if I want!

The sidings will also take shorter diesels like the 48 (hurry up Trainorama!) and the smaller steam engines, typically of the "tank" style, although a 19 class with a three wheeled tender should also fit comfortably.

Today I took a trip over to Bunnings for a piece of 1200x600mm MDF, and once home out with a whole bunch of photocopied point and track outlines I had, which were then laid out into the same layout as John Allen's design, albeit with the addition of an extra set of points and sidings which will merely help to fill in the space, and might provide some extra movements as well.

By the look of it, what I hoped will fit will fit, JUST. Hand laying the points will allow me to get the track centres as close as possible, and have the point blades and frogs of joining points a lot closer than RTR points. I might even see if a curved set of points in a couple of locations will gain some extra room, as every centimetre counts with such a defined space. Twisting the design slightly so the tracks run more diagonally gains a few extra cm's as well, as does having the sidings curved slightly.

As far as track goes, it will use seven sets of points, and about four metres of track, so there will be very little outlay there. Whilst it is a small area, there will still be room for basic scenery items like a goods platform, loading ramp gantry crane etc. Height will be the main constriction with any scenery though, as the layout base is only 100mm below the glass top.

Point activation will be a little tricky unless I use point motors of some description, and ideally I'd rather use a wire in tube method, but that may not be practical. Manually changing them through the glass would be a little hard, and I'd rather operate it with the top closed so some thought will have to go into this.

In any case, the Timesaver tag will certainly not save me any time at all, but is likely to chew up more of this valuable resource and ultimately slow down the spare room shelf layout, not to mention Gunnedah, which is where this Blog originally began!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Space - The Final Frontier!

I can't believe how fast this year is going past! At the beginning of the year when I started the shelf layout in the spare room, I fully intended having a degree of track laid and trains running by March. Throw in a couple of changes of mind, a quick decision to re-do the bathroom and ensuite by the treasurer which turned the train room into a storage room for a while, and the decision to begin working on another hobby of mine involving my love of old Mazda Rotary engined cars, has really seen the trains on the back burner for a while.

That's not to say I won't be continuing with things, and now the spare room is again turning back to normal and I can get to the desk again, things should start to progress once more.

In any case I thought I'd update the blog, this time with a little project I did a couple of years ago, an N Scale layout housed within a purpose built glass top coffee table. Why you might ask???

My interest in trains had been rekindled, and although I dreamed of the double decked empire, I was still living in a rented villa, with no room at all to build any kind of layout. However, being full of enthusiasm I thought long and hard about a solution.

We had a coffee table, and looking at it one day I figured that something of that size could most probably fit a small N Scale layout on it. Trouble is that would somewhat reduce the ability to use it as an actual coffee table. But what if I built a coffee table of similar size, that featured a glass top, with a layout within it? It was a win win idea, the layout is housed inside and thus kept free of dust and anything that might fall upon it, and the coffee table is still able to function perfectly. When I mention the idea to my wife she simply said, "well, do it!"

So after some quick designing and figuring out the basics, it was off to Bunnings to buy some timber, a piece of 1200x600 MDF sheet which would be the base for the layout, and work commenced. My grandfather is rather handy with the wood working, and so with his collection of tools and guidance the table came together quickly, and more importantly, it worked exactly as designed.

A top that is hinged to allow easy access to the layout, and a sliding drawer underneath to house the power supply and anything else that gets shoved into drawers underneath a coffee table!

Rather than simple oval of track, I figured I could squeeze in a double over and under figure eight design, which would give me something around eight metres of track within that tiny 1200x600 baseboard dimension.

Track was mainly a bunch of second hand flex I bought off eBay really cheaply, with a few bits of set track curves bought new, and all the rolling stock was also bought second hand off eBay, very cheaply. It's amazing when you throw away a set prototype, era and location how easy it is to gather stuff cheaply!

Within a couple of months I had a fully landscaped, operating, and quite entertaining little railway that I could simply sit at the end of the day, with a nice hot cup of tea, and watch this little engine pull its twenty plus wagons up and down, around and around for as long as I wanted. Sure it's not prototype operation, it's not NSWGR, it's not even vaguely representative of anything in reality, but it allowed me to get my hand back in at building using wood, doing scenery, laying track, and just enjoying myself while I couldn't do what I really wanted to.

The links below show trains running both when the track work was first laid and in testing, and when the layout was close to being finished. I cringe at the speed of the train in the second clip, I hate fast running trains, but there you go!

So whilst I have nothing new to report, I thought that this little post on something offbeat, might just show that even if you don't have the time, the space, or the money to build your empire, you can still participate in the hobby, even if it involves thinking a little outside the square.

Recently I was looking at the table, and wondering how hard it would be to install another layout, still 1200x600, but in HO, DCC, and representing a small yard where short wagons could be shunted around to make trains in various orders, along the lines of John Allan's Timesaver concept

I can just imagine sitting down after a days work with a nice hot cup of tea, shunting some RU's, S's, K's, LCH's and other small wagons and a brake van or two around with a 48 or 18, 20, 26 etc steam engine. Food for thought ........................