Well, having completed our move from China and been through the first stage of the surgery I needed, it was time to get started on the actual construction. Before that, however, I did make some minor changes to the track plan since, after trying to work out how the signalling will eventually have to be installed and having looked at several prototypical situations, I came to the conclusion that the access between the MPD/Head Shunt and the main 'Down' line needed to be improved. I therefore removed the simple cross-over to the right of the main station area and introduced a double slip at the right hand end of the platforms. There were also a few minor changes to the size of the layout now that I was able to measure the actual room instead of relying on the original estate agent's dimensions. I have replaced the original trackplan and scenic detail pictures in the earlier posts to avoid any later confusion.
The first task was to design and build the support framing for the layout. The configuration of the benchwork and baseboards was more or less dictated by the design of the layout itself and the need to avoid clashes with point motors etc. This was quickly drawn up using Winrail again and I found a local joiner who was able to both convert the existing swing door to a sliding one and build the support framing in situ. So this is the design for the support framing with the individual boards also identified.
Once the framing was installed I then had to move all of my boxes of railway equipment into the train room which did present some problems due to the reduced space now available, but I did eventually manage to squeeze the proverbial quart into a pint pot. A couple of coats of paint to seal and stabilise the timber and the job was done. Here are a couple of pictures of the situation as it was then. First is the arrangement for when the layout is being operated, with my workbench tucked away under the boards.
And this is with my workbench pulled out ready for some serious modelling to start.
As you can see, space is definitely at a premium and it's a good job I'm reasonably slim. I will definitely have to find somewhere else for the radio though as that is where the lift-up board will be.
The next step was to find a baseboard manufaturer as, due to my restricted movement and disability, I am no longer able to build them myself. Having identified several potential manufacturers from magazine articles and web searches I looked closely at their designs and the materials used as I need boards of a strong but lightweight design so that I will be able to position them on edge to do the underboardwiring without having to crawl underneath - (which I couldn't do anyway). I also prefer plywood both as a top surface and as the framing material as it is, IMHO, the most consistent material in terms of quality and, once settled, is less susceptible to expansion and contraction or warping than softwood framing
With these parameters in mind I eventually identified https://modelrailwaysolutions.co.uk/shop/index.php?route=product/category&path=20 as being my manufacturer of choice since they use a lightweight 6mm plywood framing system which is very similar to the open grid system I have always used when building my own boards. Board tops are also 6mm Birch Ply. Below is a picture of one of their typical boards.
I sent them various CAD files which were generated from within Winrail and they quickly came back with a quotation which, while not cheap, would, I was sure, provide me with a set of boards that will be strong, light and durable.
Delivery was promised in about 3 weeks so, in the meantime, I got on with building my Point Control Panels and a few small switch panels to control the various wiring circuits.
Here are a couple of pictures of the Points Control Panel design and of one of the small switch panels. These drawings are all produced using the 'Draw' utility within MS Excel.
Well that's about it for this installment. I'll be giving updates of the Control Panel construction and wiring in the next installment.
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