A layout construction question and suggestion

Toby J. recently reached out to me to discuss a baseboard he was making. He’d seen a friend’s railway and set out to build his own OO gauge layout. Having researched construction he noticed a common problem and wanted to share a piece of advice with other MR-Engineers.

Over to Toby …

“I’ve watched a lot of videos of other modellers and their attic and garage layouts, and something has dawned on me.

Many of the layouts I’ve seen seem to be permanently fixed to the walls and ceilings and constructed in one large continuous section. I can understand why people would do but it seems stupid to me.

What if a pipe bursts inside a wall behind the layout or you need to get to the wall for any other reason? You’ll need to rip out the layout and if it’s built in a large section you ruin all of it.

Wouldn’t it be better to make it in sections and construct it so individual sections can be removed without damaging the top surface?

It’s a more work to build but surely that’s better than having to destroy it all in future?”

It’s a good point.

And one I’d not considered before.

What do other MR-Engineers think? Have you built your layout like this? Why wouldn’t you do this?

9 comments
  1. More than modular boards… Base them on (25mm) Styrofoam sheets rather than plywood with softwood framing – much, much lighter, scenic areas can be carved in situ, takes pins and fine screws without effort. OK, only valid for layouts that won’t be moved much, and you can’t lean down on it, but … I’ve just connected mine up on the dining room floor for testing, before installing it in a bedroom.

    • Hi Roger, I know of quite a few modellers who have done this and it’s worked really well but hadn’t considered it in this instance. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll pass it the suggestion on to Toby. Andy

  2. I’m constructing 1200 x 600 double-framed aluminium modules. Each frame is 300mm apart, allowing slide-out storage and/or control panels. Legs will also be aluminium with adjustable feet. 2 off 1200 x 600 x 50mm EPS styrofoam glued together will form the baseboard, allowing scenery to be sculpted below ground/rail level to a depth of almost 100mm. The costs for alumininium, corner joiners and styrofoam are comparable to wood construction

    • Hi Rob, I’d not thought of Aluminium before? I’d have thought it would have been more expensive than wood? Where do you get it from? Cheers, Andy

  3. Ah! and there is me just starting the construction of a high level shelf “6’6 high” for my 30met twin track with sidings around the open space lounge on a on3o layout as the trains are a little larger. You have to remember, many of us dont have lofts or a spare room. “OK, i have 3 spare rooms, but are rented out to lodgers to pay for my hobby’s”. lol. I am just deciding whether to go through the stud wall into the bedroom & back out into the lounge to make a longer tack. with some extra interest. The only thing i am trying to decide on, is if to step one of the track higher that,s nearer the wall. But this makes x overs very difficult.
    Oh! I’m not married, so all this is ok to do. lol

    • Hi Chris, my shed was only constructed last year. Until then space was a very real problem! In our living room we have a shelf above the curtains of the bay window. I’ve long had my eye on it for a railway but at the moment it’s ‘off limits to your railway’ 🙁 It would be great for an on30 track though… Maybe you could find a lodger who likes model trains?? 🙂 Andy

  4. I’m going through the same dilemma. I have a studio room in the roof space with the potential of a board 14.5 ft x 5ft. It can be built in situ but then comes a couple of problems, what if we move house, likely in the next 5 years, what if the layout turns out good enough to exhibit, and do I really want to commit such a useful area to the one hobby, we like other pastimes such as painting.
    Should the layout be made sectional so it can be stored away or removable?
    My concern is joining tracks so there is smooth running.
    Any thoughts?

  5. Andy,
    Re: Sourcing Aluminium
    The 25mm square aluminium, corner joints and baseboard foam were sourced via a friend who in turn sourced through wholesale suppliers here in Brisbane. Price wasn’t my main criteria in choosing aluminium as I will need to move the layout down the track (no pun intended) so modules, size and weight was the primary consideration. Total costs were on a par with using wood, screw and glue.

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