Model Railway Baseboard Construction | Avoid These 3 Painful Mistakes

2 Intermediate 2 Comments

There’s nothing worse than building a model railway layout only to realise you’ve made a basic error. Avoid these 3 painful but easy mistakes when designing and constructing your baseboard for trouble-free enjoyment.

I’m working on building the baseboard and framework for my new railway layout. I’ve built layouts before and thought I new what to avoid but while researching the subject I came across a great article on layout errors which included these 3 painful mistakes to avoid.

The original article can be read here.

#1 The Wrong Height

This usually means it’s too low. Bending over to work on a low layout will give you back trouble, and wiggling beneath it to work on the wiring will give you a bad attitude toward model railroading in general. Also, trains look better at eye level, and how many model railroaders have an eye level of three feet? Unless you’re constrained by double decks or similar restrictions, a permanent layout shouldn’t be lower than 42″, with 48″ a better height; some will go even higher. But don’t go too high, or the layout will be equally uncomfortable to work on, and you’ll drastically reduce the area you can reach.

If you have frequent visitors, keep their heights in mind, too — children and vertically-challenged adults don’t get much enjoyment from a layout that’s too tall for them to see.

#2 Out of Reach

Operator can’t reach what he needs to reach. I did this to myself as I planned my own Big Dream. An industrial park was serviced by a long passing siding. One end of the siding was close to where I’d stand while doing the switching, but the other end was four feet away — far out of reach, unless I walked all the way around to the other side of the peninsula. How could I uncouple a car I couldn’t reach? Could I even read a car number from that far away?


Model Railway Engineer Tip

“Remember: if you can’t reach it, you can’t maintain it, and if you can’t maintain it, trains won’t run on it.”


 

And forget about throwing a manual turnout from that distance. Mentally put yourself in each place where a train operator must stand to do his/her work, and verify that everything needed to do the job is close enough.

#3 Too Wide

Benchwork too wide. Don’t kid yourself here — we aren’t talking about how far you can reach to get a fingertip onto something. We’re talking about how far you can reach to manually uncouple two cars, solder a wire to a rail, or adjust the throw rod of a turnout.

For most people, at typical layout heights, that’s about two feet, and your reach gets shorter as the layout gets higher. Don’t plan on climbing onto the benchwork to fix things; even if you make it strong enough to hold your weight, you won’t want to kneel on your finished scenery just to clean your track. Pop-up access holes can be a solution, but will your knees be up to the challenge twenty years from now? The best answer is either benchwork that is two feet wide or less, or benchwork that can be reached from both sides.

Article original from www.cke1st.com

Share your stories of silly mistakes you’ve made when building your model railway, add your comment below.

Image, based on picture by Timitrius

  1. First rate warning on things not to do. I am just starting to build a layout. many thanks.

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