Exhibition layout 12' × 1.5'

Discussion of model railway baseboard design and construction
Giraffe
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Exhibition layout 12' × 1.5'

Postby Giraffe » Fri Jul 05, 2019 1:29 pm

I'm looking into options for the baseboard of an exhibition layout. It's an engine shed layout, scenic area approx 12' × 1.5', with a fiddle yard coming off the short edge.

It'll need to be transported around, obviously. I'm currently assuming 3 lots of 4'×1.5' scenic boards plus another the same size for the fiddle. 4' long should be able to fit in a standard car?

For portable boards, I'm reading lots about using plywood frames, but beyond 'glue and pinnng' I'm not quite seeing how these frames are supposed to be constructed: can you literally put pins through a piece of ply and into the end of another strip ("into" the ply rather than "through" it)? I've seen talk of making dado/rabbet joints, but I'm no carpenter and don't have a router, so if a simple butt joint is actually strong enough when glued and pinned that'd be much easier.

(The only pictures of these constructions I found were using sandwiches of ply, with softwood spacers that took screws to form the joints)

One of the team is swearing by softwood frame with sundeala top, but I'm not convinced by the comments I hear on that approach, certainly for a portable exhibition layout.

Any feedback on my thoughts thus far? Any other ideas I should be looking into?

b308
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Re: Exhibition layout 12' × 1.5'

Postby b308 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:44 pm

First things first, there's no such thing as a "standard car"!! If you have a car or are going to use someone else's that's what you need to measure up. Bear in mind also how many people you will be taking in the car in addition to the layout. That will restrict the usable luggage space.

Many people think that 4ft length is the length that "will fit most cars", I suspect this statement came from one of CJ Freezer's booklets. Personally I don't agree with it. A 4ft board will fit across the back seats of most medium sized cars and 1.5ft width would mean you could stack them on the back seat. However to fit them in the boot you will need to drop the rear seats which will restrict you to only two people in a medium sized car (Golf/Focus).

The width of the boot in most medium sized (and bigger) cars is only about 1m (3ft 3ins). In addition to the layout you will also be carrying other items which have to go into the car. Such as a stool, legs/trestles, box with equipment in it (tools, controllers, etc) and stock. All these things take up space.

Another thing to think about is the view out of the back when driving, you can pile the stuff up but will you be happy with having to rely on wing mirrors? Also what happens when you have to do an emergency stop or are involved in a crash, where will all that stuff end up? On top of you?!

Personally, after trying a couple of layouts with 4ft boards I've settled on 3ft boards for ease of carrying and fitting in my car, but that is purely personal and I know other contributors on here have bigger boards with no issues.

Before you start building decide on your car and measure it thoroughly, the worst thing that can happen is that you build a layout and find it won't fit! Also bear in mind that the larger the car does not mean the larger the space inside, some of the SUVs we see all over the place are very small inside despite their bloated outer casing! An estate or van-based car are the best, closely followed by some people carriers.




Regarding the joins on plywood, you can put pins in the way you have said but they aren't very strong, best bet is a pice of 1" square wood in the corner joins with each piece of ply pinned (and glued!) to that!

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Bufferstop
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Re: Exhibition layout 12' × 1.5'

Postby Bufferstop » Fri Jul 05, 2019 3:28 pm

If this is an exhibition only or mainly layout its structure needs to be rigid I'd agree with b308 that 3ft modules are better than 4ft ones in this respect. Professional baseboard builders have the tools and equipment to make them out of 4mm thick play, but as you say your carpentry skills are limited 6mm would be better. I used this for my demountable baseboard (can be dismantled if it should become necessary). I made the sides and ends 100mm (4") deep and strengthened all the joints with 24mm (1inch) square timber strips, glued and pinned in place. The deeper the sides are the less likely it will be to flex. I treat flexing as my bête noire, avoid at all costs, it rips rails out of sleepers. I use a large table top to build them on and make sure they are flat when pinned and glued together, then held with clamps overnight. My test to make sure it won't twist or bend is to load it up with bags of sugar or plastic 5ltr bottles of water then lift it an inch or two by one corner. If it stays straight and flat, it's good. Otherwise you may need to add stiffening ribs inside. I added strengthening plates inside the ends to take the fixing bolts and dowel pins that clamp and align the boards to each other. I don't know if they were strictly necessary. The layout is seven feet by eight in a squared up U shape. the sections still fix firmly together after 10 years and being dismantled twice in that time. I may have been over confident but I laid my tracks straight across the joints but soldered them to pins either side of the board joints. I cut the tracks through with a slitting disk the first time I moved it and that's how they have remained since, no problems.
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Flashbang
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Re: Exhibition layout 12' × 1.5'

Postby Flashbang » Sat Jul 06, 2019 2:03 pm

Basic idea...
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Giraffe
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Re: Exhibition layout 12' × 1.5'

Postby Giraffe » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:22 pm

Thanks for the replies.
Good to know that the "glue and pin" method does involve the additional block. I thought it seemed a bit wrong to screw into the end of ply!

Also noted regarding the length of baseboard. I think I may well have picked up the 4' from one of Freezer's books!

I'm having a rethink on the proposed scope of the project anyway. The club inherited a model that was built as a static diorama, built from memory by someone who used to work in the engine she'd. We are attempting to turn it into a working layout, and one thing wewere thinking to do is correct the track plan as the model isn't quite right when referencing the records of the time. That is why we were looking to build new baseboards to install new track onto and then transfer the scenic items, including the very impressive scratch built shed (which is what we are trying to give a new lease of life).

However, on reflection, I am being swayed by the idea of simply accepting the track isn't quite correct, and keep the base of the model as we received it and simply enhance. Which would involve _not_ building new baseboards!

However the information is still greatly appreciated: if we keep the existing boards at the club, I may be building some boards for a home layout in the not too distant future.


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