Monday, April 6, 2009

A Layout Tale- Splitters Swamp Creek pt2

I don't know about you but, I have a terrible time sticking to my own modelling deadlines. My plan last year was to complete the layout to display quality by this March. That original plan has been massaged a bit to accomodate all the family/work commitments that seem to so easily cut into my modelling time. Not that I mind, no really I don't, however I do enjoy the great feeling you get when you complete something as planned.
I mentioned before the idea behind the design of the modules. In that each module should overlap the end of the last. The main reason for this is to keep the layout as compact as possible, so that the area used is at the very least. I suppose too I've seen alot of layouts that are large, but with little in the way of 'shrubbery' (stealing a Monty Python term!) over the layout, so the smaller the layout is the lesser the number of trees will need to be constructed, maybe trees in the tens of thousands not 100 000's!. You know the idea of being at the 'tree building' stage feels so very far away fom where I'm at now.
So where am I at now? Well the wood for the modules has been cut up ready to go, the main framing anyway. Plywood for the backscenes has been purchased redicut from Bunnings. It's just around the corner and open till 9pm weeknights, perfect for me to duck down after dinner and get the wood cut to size with no waiting. Yep in my experience going to bunnings after 6pm is brilliant, plenty of staff to go around for one on one service! I have been procrastinating a bit over the actual construction of the modules being as they are a one piece construction with the pelmet over the top holding the lighting also. This weekend should see some free time to get the first module together, so that some of the landscaping can commence.
Apart from the construction of the modules I've also been constructing the turnouts for the layout, all no6's to NSWGR specs. The method of turnout activation is through a wire in tube method using Modratec products, and activated mechanically by my own switching unit that also contains the electrical activation of the points. At Craigs place last Tuesday he was using the spring curtain hanging material with galvanised wire as the inner for point activation. I was really impressed with the tightness of the diameter he was able to use and still have a very easily moved inner wire. I 'd say the diameter was a loop of about no more than 100-120mm. The gal wire also will not bind up over time, in fact the surface of the wire tends to be a bit powderlike over time which helps the 'lubrication' of the system.
The track design also means that there is a minimum number of track lines running across the joins. How often when you are around the setting up of show layouts do you hear or see the frustration others have in lining up all the joins? Well this little black duck says 'No More!' I suppose that the idea of a simple branchlike plan has always appealed to me as well which helps the track work over joins issue also.
From the layouts design one issue is created, in that the light pelmet is unsupported at one end of each module. The solution is for some 'dowel' trees to be planted that will support the layout ends. The pelmet itself is not heavy so this shouldn't present much of an issue. None of these ideas are new, many others have come up with them, and I thank them for sharing their ideas with all of us. When I was at Bunnings this week I grabbed some dowell and threaded rod that I will use to create the support of the pelmet. I actually was just going to go with the dowel, and have a 'clumping' of tree supports, but when I saw the rod I thought that the smaller diameter might be worth a try, (maybe I'll combine both ideas, not sure yet).
Today saw me with a bit of free time, so out to the garage I headed with the intent to make a start at the layout. It actually went along ok. I am really no carpenter so the mere fact that it's stayed together for the whole afternoon is a miracle in itself. I put in the dowel trees although I haven't trimmed them up yet so there's nothing 'treelike' about them . My whole concept has been to keep the module as simple as possible (for carpentry reasons) so I used one piece of timber as spacers for lifting the layout off the baseboard. I attached a couple of pieces of ply to each side of the spacer, they then fit over the top of the base framing and attach ply for the trackwork on the top.
The first module is fairly complete, I just need to wire it up, for lighting and track power. Then there's the painting to do, undercoat everything then a top coat ,oops forgot the top, I need another sheet of 3mm ply for the top of the module.
The next job is the cork and then a start on the trackwork. I always say that the Super Freighter moves along slowly, no exception here today!