The original layout I was working on was 8ft by 3ft on two 4ft boards constructed from a 18mm x 45mm softwood frame topped with reused 6mm ply. This caused me a few issues, warping, instability, difficulty in joining and a lack of depth underneath for point motors and dropping the landscape for waterways and ponds etc. Plus space was an issue in our current property and even though we are selling, now the diy was completed, I had the modelling bug bad again.
After spending a month or two pondering my options yet seemingly just going around in circles, we came up with an idea. I knew I wanted to stick with the original 8 by 3 plan but would want to extend it if our new property allowed so thought why not reduce the layout to a 5ft length and then add another board when space allowed to complete the original plan. Maybe the extension could be another 4 or 5ft board giving a total length of upto 10ft eventually.
As the orginal plan consisted of a town, station, industry and sidings area on the left 4ft board and a countryside, village, farm area on the right 4ft it would mean choosing just one half and allowing an extra foot for the return curve. I decided to go for the town board as this was more developed. I would build it in such a way that although it will, in its current form, be a self contained layout, I could easy modify the right hand end to extend the run back to the original design.
I should at this point explain that I do not get overly worried about being strictly prototypically accurate as long as it looks right to my eye. My preferred era is the steam of the 1930s to 1960s and populated with a mixtue of Great Western and Southern Railway with some BR stock. Oh and did I mention its N gauge.
Here are photos of the original boards to give an idea of the track plan. The left hand side will feature the town over the curves whilst the right hand countryside end was to have a hillside with tunneI over the outside loop.
The new 5ft by 3ft board was pre-cut from an 8 by 4ft sheet of 6mm WBP external ply with 4inch strips being used the make the frame. 1″ by 1/2″ battening was used to brace the frame and to give something to glue and nail to. This would also form the part of the frame the top could be screwed into. Front to back bracing was spaced at 12inch intervals. Once this was constucted using wood glue and nails & staples, the cross pieces had a 2in deep by 6mm wide slot cut into them from underneath. Then a lengthwise brace had similar slots cut and was slotted in down the centre of the frame. After drilling, counter sinking and screwing the top board to the frame, the whole structure was giving a good coat of quick drying satin varnish. Once thorough dry, I tested the rigidity of the structure by standing on it. This egg box method of construction, as well as being obviously very strong, is also incredibly light weighing somewhere between half and two thirds the weight of one of my slightly smaller previous baseboards.
Ply, £20, 1″ x 1/2″ pine battoning, £3, varnish, £5, -Total cost £28.
Next job, track laying.