02 October 2008

Completing the frame

After a couple of weeks of little progress, I have lots to report again. I took a day off yesterday and was up in the loft for about 7 hours. Here is the result...

With the exception of a couple of leg braces, the primary frame is now finished! The cross-bracing will help to support the baseboards and provide extra rigidity. About half of the bracing is reclaimed wood (stuff that was already up here when I started). There was just enough of this to save me a further trip to Wickes. The total cost of the frame is a little under £70, slightly over budget but allowing savings in other areas.

I put hardboard sheets along the back wall in order to provide a foundation for whatever backdrop eventually goes behind the model. For now, it will serve as a useful noticeboard!

Having done that (bar about half an hour to tidy everything up) I can turn my attention to the baseboards themselves. Before I can start building them I need to settle various questions that I still have.
  • Flat or open? Will the entire layout be built on a flat board, or will some sections be open-frame construction? At the moment I think the area along the back wall, which will contain the main station, will be flat board (possibly with the branch line platforms at a higher level along the back), but the through section at the front might include some open frame to allow interesting levels and more scope for scenery.
  • Where will I put my fiddle yard? The original plan has this as phase II, on a spur at the RH side in the above picture. But this may be impractical, because there is not that much space between the front of the layout and the loft hatch, and what space there is we need to retain for storage. So I have come up with a mad idea to try and place the fiddle yard UNDER the layout along the back wall. I would need to have feeder tracks running into tunnels and thence down under the frame. I have yet to work out whether this is possible without requiring alterations to the primary frame, which might get in the way of the feeder tracks.
  • What surface material will I use? I am still trying to decide whether to plump for plywood or MDF for the main running surface. Both have their pros and cons - MDF is cheaper and easier to fix track to, but ply is stronger and probably quieter. I have MDF left over from the portable layout, so I may use a mixture.

These are big issues and any advice or suggestions from out there would be welcome.

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