Railway room safety

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minipix
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Railway room safety

Postby minipix » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:11 pm

With the amount of time and money that goes into model railways, I'm surprised this doesn't come up more often. What should we do to make our railway rooms "safe"?

Whether your layout is in an outbuilding (such as a garage or shed) or indoors (such as a loft, cellar, or even a room), there are several things that come to mind. I'd want to prevent unauthorised people getting in, I'd want to ensure nothing gets damaged, and I'd want to make sure I and any visitors are kept safe from harm. To that end:

* What degree of burglar alarm would be recommended? Same as a house? Minimal deterrent? None at all?
* Does anyone make use of security cameras?
* What about a smoke alarm?
* What sort of fire extinguisher would be suitable for a model railway room? CO2? Powder? Water? Foam?
* Do you keep a first aid kit in your railway room? If so, is there anything out of the ordinary you would recommend including?
* If an accident happened, how would you call for help?
* Can/should you take out insurance on a layout? If so, how on earth would you value it? How would you take into account a layout that is constantly changing?

Please share your experience and recommendations!
Frontington & Backwoods Railway: https://www.matthewdawkins.co.uk/catego ... way-build/
LocoSound - sound effects for DC model railways: https://mafu-d.github.io/loco-sound

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flying scotsman123
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby flying scotsman123 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:51 pm

Just on a few of those points:
Smoke alarm - would solder fumes interfere with these? In our big railway workshop we spent absolutely ages trying to sort out a fire monitoring system that didn't get set off by fumes from our diesel shunter and it wasn't cheap, and took a lot of fettling by professionals.
As for fire extinguishers, I'm not sure I've ever even come close to setting fire to anything, could model railway electronics ever cause an electrical fire if you tried hard enough? possibly I suppose. So I guess powder would probably be most appropriate?
First aid kit - no, if I've incapacitated myself enough such that i can't walk to the first aid cabinet to get a plaster, chances are I'm a goner anyway!
Burglar alarm would probably be sensible, it depends how safe you feel your neighbourhood is, likewise security cameras, although they can be a bit more complicated with privacy laws etc.
Calling for help - shout? If not I always have my mobile phone to hand, but again, I'm really struggling to think of anything model railway related that could do you harm. Other than cuts, banging your head on a baseboard or small electrical shocks or soldering burns, none of which require immediate help from anyone else, the only other thing I can think of is serious incompetence with mains electricity, and again, if that's happened, you're probably not going to be able to do much.
Insurance - yes, plenty of people do. There are specialists around, it has been discussed on the forum before, including here.
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Bigmet
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby Bigmet » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:12 pm

I have the same movement detectors in the outbuilding with the layout in, as I do in the house and on the same zoned burglar alarm system, so except when in use the outbuilding has a working alarm.

Insurance is best arranged as part of contents insurance in my opinion. If you go for a separate insurance with a specialist and also have contents insurance, both insurers should be aware.

I wouldn't worry about the safety risk, and would recommend first thinking about the precautions you have put in place for your staircase. That's the riskiest location for significant adult personal injuries in the typical home, and most people think nothing of festooning it with trip hazards.

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luckymucklebackit
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby luckymucklebackit » Mon Nov 11, 2019 3:39 pm

This was something that I was aware of when I had the layout in the loft as when I came to think about it, I had several flammable liquids, the layout was made of wood with cardboard buildings that would burn easily, and there were the usual sources of fire, such as soldering irons, relays with a risk of burnout etc. The key was to check when you were leaving the loft that everything was switched off and disconected and that all containers had their caps securely screwed on. Didn't need an alarm as it was a loft and if we left the house for any length of time I hid the loft ladder bar carefully. Indeed my wife would give me her jewelery box to hide behind the layout. Always kept a box of plasters for the inevitable cuts.
AS my future project will be in a shed I am aware that security will need to be considered carefully, but we are a long way fro that stage yet.

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Mountain
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby Mountain » Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:02 pm

Going back a few years ago an article I saw in one of the magazines was about making trees from wire wool. The trees were wonderful. However, severalmreaders wrote in warning how flammable wire wool is and that brough back memories to when I was in my late teenage years. I was using wire wool for something. I think it was a brillo pad. I may have tried using it to clean wheels. Now this was with low powered 1.5 amps of 0 to 12V DC current passing through the rails. I had some if the "Crumbs" of wire wool land on the pointwork. It was touching between bith polarities of the rails at the frog area somewhere, and the overload cut out had not tripped on the Gaugemaster controllers I was using. I smelt something hot. At first, I could not find it. Then I traced it. This small amountnof wire wool was glowing bright red and I caught it just in time before the surrounding pointwork started to melt. It was seriously hot.
Years later I once watched on the internet how flammable wire wool was. It does not take a lot to have the whole lot burst into flames. After watching this, I had second thoughts about using the material on my layout.

Another source of ddanger comes from having electrical wires touch polysteirene sheets as over a period of time, some types of PVC cable can react with the polysteirene and melt exposing bare wires which coult heat up right next to the polysteirene sheets causing a fire.

There is then the potential to heat up wires using DCC if one is pushing out heavy currents through those wires. Just with the DCC items I have, I can push out 8 amps if I wanted to, and in theory, if I invested money the potential current seems unlimited... (Or rather the potential to boost up the current. In reality it just costs a lot to buy the equipment and is un-necessary). But just using the one main booster I have 5 amps which can really heat up wires if one has not first made sure one has used wires which can handle the current. In the past with DC I have got away with doubling up discarded telephone cable as the telephone engineers would often just leave discarded lengths of wire on the ground or throw it in ditches rather then take it back with them.

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minipix
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby minipix » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:09 am

I get particularly worried about fire risks, with visions of all my hard work going up in smoke. And it doesn't take much for my imagination to run wild with scenarios! I could drop the soldering iron onto something flammable. I could have dodgy wiring. I could have a loco with an electrical fault. Something could short out unexpectedly. I'm guessing a CO2 fire extinguisher would be best for electrical related fires, but my understanding is that that doesn't do anything once the fire has actually taken hold on something else, like a wooden base board or something, in which case I'd also need some sort of foam - which I can imagine would do all sorts of damage of its own. I too make sure I turn everything off at the wall before I leave, but it's still a concern.
Frontington & Backwoods Railway: https://www.matthewdawkins.co.uk/catego ... way-build/
LocoSound - sound effects for DC model railways: https://mafu-d.github.io/loco-sound

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stuartp
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby stuartp » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:38 am

flying scotsman123 wrote:Just on a few of those points:
Calling for help - shout? If not I always have my mobile phone to hand, but again, I'm really struggling to think of anything model railway related that could do you harm.


1. Trip over trailing cable, bit of half built baseboard, pile of boxes of stuff, any other bit of the detritus we habitually leave lying around our workspaces, fall, and go head first into something sharp or solid.

2. Anything involving power tools.

3. Anything involving bladed tools.

4. That really heavy thing you put out of the way on the top shelf because you rarely need it.

5. Anything involving lifting/moving/carrying where you suddenly find yourself bent double in indescribable pain and unable to straighten up.
Portwilliam - Southwest Scotland in the 1960s, in OO - http://stuart1968.wordpress.com/

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Mountain
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby Mountain » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:07 am

My Dad would never let me build a layout in front of a window or door due to the possible need to use it for a fire escape. I saw his point.

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Bufferstop
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby Bufferstop » Tue Nov 12, 2019 2:27 pm

If you are going to be working alone using power tools crawling under or climbing ladders, it would be very sensible to wear a personal alarm, and possibly some kind of intercom. Certainly have a first aid box, it's no good summoning help if they then have to dash back to wherever the household one is kept. If you have power points and lights in the loft have them wired from their own consumer unit, so that they can be turned off separately from any non railway room circuits (TV aerial amp, anti-frost pipe and tank heaters), Then wire an indicator lamp to the consumer unit and mount it somewhere down below so that if you do forget to switch off you will see it when you come down. If your power requirements are modest and can be provided by a single cable reel, mount it next to the ladder and plug it in downstairs. Just try shutting the hatch with that still plugged in.
If your layout is in an outbuilding of any kind, leave it anonymous, don't have a beware of the trains sign on the door! Obscure the windows with stick on frosting. Have an intruder alarm that can be heard in the house. Second use for that intercom, If its the type that you would have next to the front door, when the alarm goes off, announce "I can see what you are doing, I've already called the police." Should put off all but the determined.
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b308
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby b308 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 9:02 am

stuartp wrote:
flying scotsman123 wrote:Just on a few of those points:
Calling for help - shout? If not I always have my mobile phone to hand, but again, I'm really struggling to think of anything model railway related that could do you harm.


1. Trip over trailing cable, bit of half built baseboard, pile of boxes of stuff, any other bit of the detritus we habitually leave lying around our workspaces, fall, and go head first into something sharp or solid.

2. Anything involving power tools.

3. Anything involving bladed tools.

4. That really heavy thing you put out of the way on the top shelf because you rarely need it.

5. Anything involving lifting/moving/carrying where you suddenly find yourself bent double in indescribable pain and unable to straighten up.


So anyone decorating their home should be thinking the same, then...



I really think some people are making a mountain out of a molehill. I quoted your post, Stuart, but I could have quoted several others...

FlyingScotsman summarised it best for me. There are lots of things we do around the house not railway related that are equally as dangerous and there are lots of appliances in the house as dangerous if not more than model railway equipment, tumble driers and cookers anyone?!! I'd suggest that cooking has the potential to cause many more injuries than our hobby (and, I suspect, does), not to mention fires caused by cooking...

If your house doesn't even have the basics of a fire alarm and those trip fuses for the electric then you need to do something urgently. Also some sort of insurance and security is a given in any home, surely? Other than that it's just a question of being careful, like I hope people would doing when carrying out any other activity around the house.

Please lets not get carried away by scaremongering.

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minipix
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby minipix » Wed Nov 13, 2019 1:05 pm

Yes of course, b308, scaremongering is definitely the wrong approach here! And yes, I expect a lot of the precautions we have elsewhere in the house (and our general behaviour) applies when we're in our railway room too. Common sense goes a long way.

I guess my own curiosity was around how I can apply the same precautions I already have in the house to my railway room, to bring it up to the same standard. I like the suggestion of a simple intruder alarm of some sort for an outbuilding, particularly because garages and sheds don't usually come with them as standard. A handy fire extinguisher and first aid kit also sounds sensible, just as you might have inside the house. Beyond that, I know I make a point of announcing to my DW where I'm going and for how long. Maybe that's enough. But equally, you could easily justify going further if you wanted/needed to.

In any case, it sounds like there isn't an established 'best practice' in this area - each modeller has their own approach suitable for their particular location and scenario. And I guess that's fine, as long as safety has at least been thought about.
Frontington & Backwoods Railway: https://www.matthewdawkins.co.uk/catego ... way-build/
LocoSound - sound effects for DC model railways: https://mafu-d.github.io/loco-sound

b308
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby b308 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 8:34 pm

I suppose "scaremongering" was a little strong to describe it. But I do feel that everything we do is no more dangerous than other things we do about the house and in most cases is a lot less dangerous. Therefore I think we need to be careful not to blow it out of all proportion which I do feel some people are apt to do when we start analysing what we do in great detail. instead we should treat it the same way as we would when doing other jobs/chores around the house and take the same precautions as we would doing them. i.e. treat it with respect but not get carried away.

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stuartp
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby stuartp » Thu Nov 14, 2019 5:41 pm

b308 wrote:So anyone decorating their home should be thinking the same, then...


Yes, A&E departments are full of DIY experts. I presume your house has a fire extinguisher, smoke alarm, first aid kit and some means of phoning an ambulance if you need one ? If your railway room is in the house (spare bedroom etc) then fine, but if it's somewhere out of sight and hearing of anyone where you habitually disappear for long periods on your own you need to think about it. I don't take all my own advice, I lock the garage door behind me when it's cold because it doesn't latch shut properly, but I always have my phone with me and I don't use the jigsaw or circular saw in those circumstances.
Portwilliam - Southwest Scotland in the 1960s, in OO - http://stuart1968.wordpress.com/

b308
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby b308 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:31 pm

Actually Stuart yes it does have the things you mention. Common sense precautions for any home.

I'd suggest you read my last post (above yours) my point is simply that much of what we do is actually less dangerous than cooking and diy.

I have no issues with taking sensible precautions such as telling others where you are, I do that already, but it is not a dangerous hobby unless you deliberately mess with things you shouldn't like dismantling mains electrical equipment (old controllers for instance). Whilst there may be lots of diy-ers in a&e there aren't railway modellers. Perhaps thsts because, in the main, we are a sensible lot already.

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Bufferstop
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Re: Railway room safety

Postby Bufferstop » Fri Nov 15, 2019 12:54 pm

As a fire and evacuation warden for 10 years in my last job I learned to look for possible dangers and review safety regularly, and automatically size up any new situation. Qualifications for the job, work on the top floor, know the ways out and have a copy of the room timetables. Being able to minimally open the doors to the loos and shout "everyone out go to the fire assembly point" was handy. I must be one of the few passengers who reads the safety cards at the ends of a railway carriage,
I reckon I was a good 30 seconds ahead of the plot, involving a mini band saw, on this weeks Doc Martyn.
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