Friday, February 19, 2016

Gunnedah and Beyond - Layout Construction Begins

It's been a while since my last post, but I am happy to report that some reasonable progress has been made recently, and the beginnings of "Gunnedah and Beyond" are well and truly taking shape.

I've often taken slightly unconventional paths with things that I have done over the years, a mate of mine often says that I'm slightly "left of centre", which is a polite way of calling me slightly unbalanced! When it comes to layout construction it typically involves timber bench work of some description, topped with plywood or MDF or similar, and in most cases when located in a permanent building, are made in a somewhat permanent and immovable fashion.

I have always liked the idea of layout sections being somewhat modular, and if necessary the layout is able to be disassembled and moved without having to destroy any part of it. Another factor that appeals to me by building something in a modular fashion, is the ability to move individual sections into a position where they are most easily able to be worked on, where access to all sides is available, and they can be flipped over so that any work needing to be done underneath does not involve working upside down or a contortionist act.

So taking all of this into account, I decided to go down the path of getting some one inch square tube brackets made up that are as previously mentioned basically in the shape of a capital E. Two holes have been drilled towards the front and rear of each horizontal section, and brackets have been attached by simply driving a couple of large hex head wood screws down into the bench top. The beauty of this is that nothing needs to be attached to the walls, no holes drilled, so that in the event of the layout needing to be removed, there is no damage left on any of the walls.

There is a small amount of sideways movement in the brackets as they sit, however once the piece of timber that will support the small fascia that the LED strip lights will be mounted to is attached, the brackets are all then essentially tied to each other and cannot move. The one inch steel brackets have a small amount of flex or spring in them if you really lean on them, but they are incredibly strong and will hold a massive amount of weight, more than any model railway will that's for sure.

With the brackets bolted in place and spaced at around 850mm apart (it varies slightly for various reasons), construction of the individual modules that will make up the layout commenced. I am using foam insulating sheets that normally going wall cavities, these are 1200mm x 600mm x 50 mm, they are very light, and more importantly they are very strong. On the underside of the panels goes a simple frame made of 38x19mm pine.

Corner modules are made up of two panels forming an L shape, that ends up being 1200mm by 1800mm along the back edges, having corner modules shaped like this then means that the track running across the joints to the straight sections will not be crossing the module joins at an angle, as the majority of the curve is contained within the L shape of the module.

Straight modules basically fill up the space between the corner modules, and depending on position end up between about two and three panels long. Again they are braced underneath in the same fashion as the corner modules, and the finished product is again very light and very strong, easily manoeuvred in and out of place on the steel brackets, and can be worked on in any position.

At the moment the modules which will make up top deck, which sits on the middle horizontal leg of the steel brackets, is about three quarters of the way around the room, and on the bottom level, the corner modules have been assembled, and the remaining straight module sections in between are yet to be assembled.

Also mostly in place are the backing boards to which the back scenes will be attached, the top deck again is about three quarters done, and the bottom deck has probably about half of the back scene boards done.

A friend of mine has been responsible for the amazing work done so far, because although the ideas and design are mine, physically building the layout and making my dream a reality requires somebody else's hands, so I am very lucky to have somebody who is not only capable of deciphering what is "in my mind", but building it to the required standard.

Something else that has happened over the past few months, is that I have met up with the local Central Coast Wednesday Night model railway group, which is made up of a great bunch of guys who have been most welcoming and helpful to myself, and this has been a great source of inspiration and enthusiasm, as well as literally decades of experience that all are only too willing to share.

Hopefully from this point on, updates will be slightly more regular, and all going to plan progress will continue at a reasonable rate.


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