I wish I’d done this before my most recent journey to the dark side of my layout!
It’s one of those tips that I ask myself not just why I didn’t think of it ages ago but why I’ve strained my eyes all these years.
I recently noticed a crack in one of the joists of my baseboard. Unfortunately fixing this meant I had to reroute several track feeder and point motors wires: without doubt my least favourite activity around model railways.
Working upside down and trying to follow the wiring in the cramped space under my layout is tough enough, having to squint to see the thin red and black wires in the dark shadows leaves me with eye strain and a head ache.
Thankfully, on this occasion it resulted into a eureka moment.
Giving my eyes and aching back a break I happened to look up.
My layouts are in our converted loft and in a flash of brilliance (if I say so myself) it dawned on me that the corners of the loft should also be as equally dark but were much easier to see into. The difference was that the walls and beams of the loft are painted white.
My mental light bulb lit up.
That’s it! Forget squinting as you solder and screw wires!
A coat of white paint applied to the underside of the baseboard reflects light and creates a high contrast background against which the fine electrical wires stand out. No more eye strain.
So next time I have a half an hour spare I’ll be attacking the underside of my baseboards with a brush and tin of high gloss white paint.
Your eyes will thank you so give it a go too BEFORE you need to dive under the baseboard.
Update: Since originally writing this I’ve found an interesting discussion on the idea.
> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.