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IanW
post 3 Oct 2009, 11:27
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Greetings. I'm new to the forum. I'm a dad of a 6 year boy old who wants a model railway. He's been consistently asking for a couple of years, so not a passing fad. My dad built me an amazing railway when I was a boy. It was centered on a 6'x4' board hinged down from the wall which then grew with a shelf/ledge running all the way round the room with liftable bridge sections across door/wardrobe. All very impressive. I want to create a great model railway memory for my boy now too.

The layout of his room means I can't do the shelf-round-the-wall option (doors, windows and other furniture make it all but impossible). It can't be permanently up in the room but it can't be a massive job to assemble it each time he wants to use it. I'm thinking of two options:

1) Hinged board folding down from the wall with the hinge set away from wall enough to allow some 'permanent' scenery/hills several inches high to be left on the board when folded up. I'm technically comfortable with this option. I reckon my limited woodworking skills can do that. I've assembled sheds, built decking frames and designed and built my own MDF cupboards and bookshelves to fit specific spaces. No great design classics but all good solid functional stuff.

2) a rope & pulley system to raise the board to the ceiling (it's a Victorian house with 9' ceilings) and lower it onto trestles. Obviously a low base-board weight is critical. I've got ideas of building an aluminium frame with L-section edges and flat strips across to rest a thin fibre-board base on.

I've got concerns about the pulley system so option one looks like the most likely BUT I've foolishly already mentioned the idea of the pulley system and the boy loves the idea! So I don't want to give up too soon.

The board will be about 8'x 4' or 5'. Probably with a small central well so he can pop up in the middle and we can surround the board with probably 12" high background scene cards.

Any suggestions on possible designs of pulley systems would be appreciated. e.g.
a) how to mount the pulleys on the ceiling/rafters. Hanging loose so they can rotate slightly or totally fixed solid.
cool.gif where should the ropes be mounted on the board? On the corners or at the quarter-way points on the long length?
c) Should there be 4 separate ropes through 4 separate single pulleys to a quad pulley next to the wall and down the wall OR should it be twin pulleys on ceiling, single pulleys on the board edges and a single pulley near the wall with one rope going through the whole system.
d) thin plastic coated wire ropes or thicker nylon ropes?
e) Where is good place to source the hardware? I can't seem to find a retailer on the web selling exactly what I'm looking for except doughty engineering who sell pulley system for theatrical staging. Real pro-stuff at real pro-prices and a bit chunky and industrial for domestic use. (http://www.doughty-engineering.co.uk/shop/18/index.htm). Other places I've looked, the mountings seem a bit flimsy to take the weight of a baseboard on maybe a total of 4 or 8 wood screws into the rafters.

I know some of you good people out there must already have built your own suspended baseboards, so I hope you can help? Don't feel you have to answer all the questions! I know I've asked a lot! Any and all comments or pointers will be gratefully received.

Thanks,

Ian.
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alastairq
post 3 Oct 2009, 12:06
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QUOTE
Obviously a low base-board weight is critical. I've got ideas of building an aluminium frame with L-section edges and flat strips across to rest a thin fibre-board base on.


avoid fibre board..with the heat changes [especially when up in the ceiling] it would need rigid bracing at minimum 12 inch square intervals.

The important criteria is stiffness......the whole board must not flex, otherwise fixed track and scenery will be pointless.

For light weight, consider good quality plywood for an edging frame [to take the loadings]..with ply bracing internally to support the baseboard surface....

For the surface, , consider [well braced] Sundeala...as it takes pins well..or thin ply, or even, as I am experimenting with, thick, High density foam as used in building...comes in big sheets from builder's merchants.

PLy bracing/edging, produces a light stiff frame. Used with foam as above, it produces a good lightweight baseboard.

If going the suspended route, why not go one stage further, and motorise the lift? I've noted quite cheap electric winches for overhead work for sale......an old chum used one to make an electric chassis/engine lift for his motorcar hobby.
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poliss
post 3 Oct 2009, 12:44
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You can buy ready made pulley systems starting at £253.00. Might sound expensive but it's about the same cost as two new locos today. Might be worth a look.
http://www.liftturnmove.co.uk/layout_lift.html


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LTSR
post 3 Oct 2009, 14:20
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First have a look at the post “Lightweight Baseboard Wanted, Any ideas about materials to make one?” in “Tracks, Layouts & Scenery” where there was a discussion that may have a bearing on your aims. The key to stiffness vs weight is the separation of the top and bottom layers of the board.

My favourite in terms of time, skills and cost is still the egg box approach and as I stated there the weight can be kept very low indeed which is a safety issue with anything that is suspended overhead. After all boys will be boys, I survived some, shall we say, ‘interesting enterprises’ when I was young, but then didn’t we all?

I would not recommend Nylon cordage, it is too springy and indeed is popular in yachting circles for anchor cables for just that reason, its springiness irons out snubbing. Teyrelene would be my choice, you don't want the thing to start bouncing!

The one cord system has the merit that once levelled it will remain so during raising and lowering.
My set-up for one rope would be: Attach four pullies, (the deck mounted guide sheave type), near the corners of the baseboard. You will also need one anchor point on the ceiling and three blocks also ceiling mounted fitted vertically over the corners of the board. The cordage goes: Anchor point on ceiling, down to board, across short side, up to first ceiling block, across ceiling to second block, down to board, across short side, up to third block, down to winding system/cleat. The one thing you would need to provide is some form of pawl mechanism to prevent a sudden decent should someone make a mistake or loose their grip.

I rather think that a visit to a yacht chandler, despite their inflated prices, would be cheaper than spending £235.00! No criticism of the system intended, it does look a well made job, but do you really need that much engineering indoors?

I'll tell you what the hardest job will be, finding exactly where the joists are in the ceiling! My place is Edwardian, also with a 9ft headroom, when I needed to know where my joists were in the end I drilled small diameter holes down the side of the joists and made good afterwards. Saved a lot of guessing!
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Edwin
post 3 Oct 2009, 14:40
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How do you stop the layout swinging to and fro when somebody bumps into it?
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alastairq
post 3 Oct 2009, 14:46
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TBH.....I would tend towards a folding, fold-away baseboard......ie it could concertina up to the wall.....or better still, fold up into, what amounts to, a nice piece of furniture.


The wall-mounted system would reduce any risk factor with things heavy falling from a great height, and any unwanted stresses in ceiling joists.

The fold-away-into-furniture idea solves potential house moves, repairs to walls, or indeed, structural engineering.....even if only at the wall-plug level.

[By furniture, I mean, something along the lines of a wardrobe?]
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Doug
post 3 Oct 2009, 14:55
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I have done this in the past and I'm actually busy building a new one for a routed wooden slotcar track in my garage so the track can share the garage with the wife's car.

Picked up a collection of yacht pulleys for 8mm cord going cheaply on eBay and I use them.

A hand winch is useful for raising and lowering the track, but you need an automatic brake in case the handle is released by mistake.

I rest the track on trestles in the lowered position. I wouldn't consider letting it swing on the suspension ropes or wires.


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adriancr
post 6 Oct 2009, 12:36
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Here are some photos of what i have done with my layout...

http://knowedale.fotopic.net/c1764807_1.html


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Brian Considine
post 6 Oct 2009, 12:57
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Neat solution Adrian - thanks for the pictures.
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GoingUnderground
post 6 Oct 2009, 16:55
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When I was young, we had a clothes airer in the kitchen that worked on the same principles. Six wooden "battens" ran between two cast iron end pieces which were coathanger shaped, with a rope going to the centre of each "hanger". There were two pulleys, one with a single wheel the other with two. The pulleys screwed into the joists above, just like cup hooks, and the rope was wound round a cleat fixed to the wall. The clothes went on the rails and the whole thing was hoisted up out of the way whilst the clothes aired.

What would worry me about a suspended layout is the strength of the fixings securing the pulley wheels to the ceiling. If the fitting is vertical, it would worry me that the fixing screws would pull out at some stage with dire consequences for the layout and anyone or anything below. Also there is the possibility of the cleat or whatever method you're using for securing the ropes also pulling out. Once you start adding scenery the weight could increase significantly putting greater strain on the fixings. I'm sure that everyone will be very careful with the fixings, but don't forget that the layout will put on weight as you add the scenery. So take that into account when you choose your fixings.


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Chinahand
post 6 Oct 2009, 22:37
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QUOTE (GoingUnderground @ 6 Oct 2009, 20:55) *
What would worry me about a suspended layout is the strength of the fixings securing the pulley wheels to the ceiling.


One way to get round this would be to fix a length of steel angle using 3, 4 or more fixings up to the ceilng. Then drill holes in the flange of the angle at suitable locations and bolt the pulleys on. That way the load is spread over all the fixings and, if one does start to pull out, you will have plenty of warning and can re-fix it with a more robust screw or bolt. That way you won't have a disaster on your hands.


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railstimulator
post 7 Oct 2009, 09:41
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You could drill right through the ceiling and joists and insert a eye bolt lon enough to go all the way through. Put penny washer and lock nuts or nyloc nuts on those. If the layout then falls down the house will also so not much chance of that happening, unless there is an earthquake when you would have far greater problems to worry you.
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LTSR
post 7 Oct 2009, 14:46
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There is no need for anything as unsightly as steel angle, (‘er indoors might not approve!), or even drilling right through the joists. Go to a builders merchants and buy some lengths of steel studding, 6mm diameter will be more than strong enough. This can be easily bent into a ‘U’ to match the width of your joists. By drilling a pair of small holes close to the joists each ‘U’ may be dropped through the ceiling from above. You will need to make four plates with matching holes which when nutted up will spread the load and provide something to attach the pulleys to.

For further neatness it is worth considering having raised sides of a sufficient height to protect any scenery when raised flush with the ceiling. As a bonus such sides will add stiffness and help keep dust at bay and if painted to match the décor it will help it ‘disappear’ when not in use. Why if you were really clever you could even insert some of those lo-volt spotlights things in the underside!
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shedmad66
post 7 Oct 2009, 15:58
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QUOTE (alastairq @ 3 Oct 2009, 15:46) *
TBH.....I would tend towards a folding, fold-away baseboard......ie it could concertina up to the wall.....or better still, fold up into, what amounts to, a nice piece of furniture.


I an only see one problem with that.If it was a sofa, you could be accused of sitting on the job! Get it?..........Oh never mind!


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railstimulator
post 8 Oct 2009, 09:54
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Convert a fold away double bed, layout would be about 6'3" by 6'. When not in use would look like a wardrobe.
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