Sunday, 31 March 2013

Return Of The Layout


It has been some time since i spent some meaningful and productive time in the layout room but with the some time off over the easter break, a couple of long outstanding tasks have been addressed.

Firstly a start was made on the required lift out section across the doorway.  This void in the landscape has prevented a continuous circuit of the layout being completed and with the lift out section in place  will certainly throw down the mental gauntlet to getting on and laying some more track.  The benchwork design to the right of the doorway ( when viewed from inside the train room ) has a roughly 45 degree angle as it protrudes from the wall and this has proved to be a pain in the proverbial when designing the lift out.  I am not entirely sure how this stroke of stupidity made it's way into the original bench construction...I feel sure it most likely had a viable ( at the time ) reasoning...but that reasoning now escapes me. To square of this benchwork now, would incorporate far too much modification which may affect rigidity.  

Ensuring continual alignment of the running rails across the transition between benchwork & lift out section is certainly a valid reason why some people elect to just incorporate a permanent duck-under arrangement...but with the sheer size of the layout room, coupled with the inclusions i have planned and the fact that i will be entering & exiting the room for a lot of years to come...I felt a liftout section was warranted. 

The design... The deck of the liftout section is a common or garden 90mm x 35mm piece of dressed framing timber with 50mm x 25mm x 3mm aluminium angle being screwed to the sides of the deck to add long term rigidity plus allowing a modicum of safety to prevent errant locos or wagons from dropping to the floor if a derailment occurs. I could have utilised cheaper, mild steel angle iron... but the weight factor coupled with the fact I have plenty of this angle on hand ( thanks to the sign business )....dictated this decision.  Mounting cleats of the same material were fashioned and attached to the existing benchwork coping.  The last design element that needed to be achieved was my personal need to have independent adjustment of the deck so that as time goes by if there is any movement in the benchwork through seasonal changes or age...I will be able to adjust the liftout deck to cope with these fluctuations.  To address this I have incorporated individual adjustment at the four deck bearing points via locating pins fitted with nylock nuts.  This will give vertical adjustment as well as fine lateral adjustment across the deck if any mis alignment of the track occurs.  If required securing nuts can also be fitted at each bearing point.

The next step will be laying the track in a continuous length across the span and approach benchwork,  ballasting and then utilising the dremel to carefully cut the rail and ballast sections at the transitions. Wiring and plugs for powering the liftout will be incorporated as well. It will be interesting to see if this section is a success or I revert to the fall back position of a duck-under.   I will post a follow up when the trackwork is in place and the liftout is fully detailed.

Overall view


Angled end of the liftout showing "bearing" points

Angle to be transitioned...

Opposite View...


  1. G'day Rod

    Lift up sections can certainly be a pain in the proverbials, yet I have seen quite a lot of them that have been very successful, including the one on Ray Pilgrims layout, likewise there are several members of the local group here that have them also, including one that is on two levels, besides the one I have, which was built for me by one of the members here.

    The method you have there could also be built as a swing type & not so much a lift up bridge, there was an article I think in a US Model Railroader mag a few years back illustrating how it was done.

    While the one I have does not appear to be as long it is probably twice the width & all timber construction, including the sides, & fairly solid with the only trouble being with the expansion & contraction during different weather changes.

    The one huge benefit of the bridges, whether lift up, swing or even one drop down that I have seen somewhere is that, it is wonderful for the back, with no bending or stooping, a real joy.



  2. Rod

    My two lift up sections (one above the other) are hinged at one side and do work well. The advantage of hingeing is that the wiring requires no plugs to be forgotten and then wiring ripped out when lifted without thinking.

    I do note that you have your door opening outwards and not against the lift out section which would be dangerous in an emergency.

    I am aware of this issue as many years ago when the layout resided in its own shed I had a lift out section that was bolted in and after installing I realised my error (door opened inwards). My only answer to this was to add extra hinges near the middle of the door and cut the door in half horizontally which allowed the lower half to be opened under the lift out. This is why I now have hinged lift up sections as my knees are not as happy as they used to be.

    Ray P