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 ........................

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