20 January 2009

Method in the madness

For a few weeks now I have been approaching work in the loft with something of a heavy heart. Family events have a lot to do with that, but I have also been disheartened by the apparent lack of progress. Time spent in the loft was leading to no real visible change.

Well, yesterday I think I managed to break out of that cycle, and I can now start to see an endpoint to all the chaos. I had a day off and was able to spend several productive hours working on the railway. I finally got some kind of process going, and results were relatively quick to come. What has appeared for a while to be a disorganised pile of wood has now begun to look something like a model railway.

This picture shows the three baseboards completed thus far with, at the left, the access road from the storage sidings emerging. The boards are not fixed yet as there is still work to do underneath them - not least, laying and wiring the track for the storage sidings. But the top is pleasingly level and should, when fixed, provide a good running surface. The sections are also completely detachable - they will bolt together eventually, but for now they can be taken out; this makes for much easier working.

Those of you paying attention will notice that the right-hand board in the picture, which is actually the central back section and the first one I made (see this previous post), is lower than it used to be. In fact, it is precisely 2cm lower. After some fiddling with the board design, I decided that the present height (8cm above the storage sidings) would be sufficient. It softens the gradients into the storage sidings and improves clearance near the roof purlins along the sides of the layout. It also happens that 8cm is the height of the standard Hornby R657 girder bridge, so we'll be well clear of any loading gauges. I am building all boards to this 8cm clearance and have reduced the height of the middle board to compensate.

Access to the storage sidings will still be an issue. I continue to think that I will have to make a detachable section on the top station, but I am also thinking about some kind of cassette dock on the LH approach road (near where the coach is in the above picture), to allow me to add and remove trains easily. More on that in the future.

Below is the same area with the tops removed, showing how the plywood risers fit around the track bed for the storage sidings. I am adding some horizontal batten to provide more support for the top boards - these are yet to be completed.

(I am very grateful for the power screwdriver I was given for Christmas. This has already saved me a lot of effort.)

Next to do is to complete the other two baseboards along the back wall. I now know what I am doing and should be able to complete these relatively quickly, although both have their unique problems. Once the back baseboards are completed I can finally think about laying some track.

Over the past few weeks the track plan has also changed somewhat. More on this in the next post.