Layout Construction

This section covers a variety of topics related to construction on my layouts, but current and future.

The current layout, Sumida Crossing, is built in sections to make it easy to relocate when I move. The basic unit is a 4-foot by 2-foot table (I’m American, so I’m going to use English units for most construction measurements since that’s how I buy my lumber, although I use metric for the track and prototype information, since that’s what both Kato and Japan use).

Note: Dimensional lumber (a.k.a., board lumber) is measured linearly in pre-dried sizes, so a 1x3 is really about 0.75 x 2.5 inches after being dried, or roughly 18mm x 30mm. But when measuring sheet material, such as plywood panels, 2-feet by 4-feet is really 2’ x 4’, or 61 cm x 122 cm, give or take an eighth of an inch or so.

The tables sit atop an open wood framework of legs and cross-bars, with a few diagonal braces to prevent it from swaying. I could have just placed them on a conventional table, but one reason I did not is that ~15” below the track level will be a second set of tables providing storage tracks, which are reached by a helix at one end. The framework is built of subassemblies that bolt together, for ease of moving. The center divider between the tables is really two separate backdrops, attached to the tables on each side.

The end section with the helix is built differently, and is an open 4’ x 4’ structure to provide room for the helix. Again it needs to be bolted together, or I’ll never get it out the door when I move. This part was originally to be hidden behind a viewblock, and not sceniced, but later I decided to build a mountain over it and hide all the track. Thus, the railroad is an oval shape, 4’ x 16’ overall, including the end with the helix. However, the helix itself won’t be built initially; space will be left to “drop it in” later.

I’ve built a couple of smaller layouts along the way, to try out some other ideas, but only one was significantly different: the “One Point Five Meter Line” (I never gave it a better name), is a lightweight box structure five feet (1.5 m) long and a foot (30 cm) wide holding up a surface of insulation foam. It’s small enough to put in my car, and light enough to be carried one handed, and was build as a testbed for some control electronics.

I’m now in the process of planning a new layout using a more permanent construction method, probably an around-the-wall shelf layout made with L-girders, although nothing is final yet. The newer pages here are focused on ideas for how I’ll go about that.

Click on the individual topics on the left to get more detail about what I did, and why I did it that way, and what I’m thinking of for the future.