Saturday, 20 December 2014

Introducing 'Up-cycle' - A MicrO-9 Project

As some of you will know, I'm very short on space about the house these days and my workbench lives in a walk-in bedroom cupboard, aka the 'Railway Cupboard', aka the 'Tardis'.  Over the years various schemes have been sketched up to get a working bit of railway in there but most were just too daft to actually build, or would compromise space somewhat.  Last month I pictured the workbench in a rare, tidy moment...

This month it's a bit different:

I've always come back to idea that the best way of getting a working "layout" in there is simply a desk-sitter shunting plank.  So the size is rather pre-determined.  Finding space to store it whilst not in use is the other main design criteria. 

During a week off work in early December I managed to create a workable baseboard based on the principles of a box file layout (which was an alternative at one point) - i.e. three low sides and a base, but dispensing with any folding bits and incorporating some timber under the base for strength and to give the wiring somewhere to run. What you see above is all 29 1/2" x 6" of it, underneath it looks like this, you can see that with some foresight I drilled two 16mm holes in the ply roughly where the slide switches for the points would be:

Almost everything is recycled from somewhere or second-hand, hence the project name 'Up-cycled' (and we know what happened to my last project name..).  The ply was part of some boxing-in we removed from the living room during redecoration and the timber (allegedly pine but I'm not convinced) from a shelving unit I built as a shoe rack during that week off. The strip along the front is some 'J' section timber, marked up as costing me 20p at some point in the past. Everything was glued and screwed/pinned together and the result is a lightweight, strong board. All ply and timber parts are varnished to help avoid warping.

On top of the ply is a layer of 5mm foamcore and then cork tiles, this composite accepts and holds track pins with nothing poking out underneath.  Trackwork is all Peco, the points were secondhand some time ago and the track is mostly some short lengths I picked up for 50p at a recent exhibition, although some short rail lengths were swapped for longer lengths from the spares box to avoid too many joins.  Points are operated and frog polarity changed using slide switches recovered from an earlier project:

The overall height of the sides of the board is 70mm.  This is very low to be a backscene but can be disguised with walls and fences. This is where the second part of my design criteria came into play - any micro layout had to store in a very shallow space above a set of drawers:

All wiring is now complete and test running has commenced using my MG Models tram loco and A1 Models diesel. I hope that eventually I will be able to do a little shunting of sorts and certainly for testing MicroTrains coupling set-ups. This low level shot shows that there is enough depth to also allow use as a photographic backdrop:

More as and when the project develops.


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