Wednesday, November 3, 2021

A Mini Test Layout

The astute observer may have noticed I haven't posted much for the past year, and wondered if this was because I was busily building the Eastborough Industrial, or if I was still waffling.

It's the latter.

I'm happy with the trackplan, the only minor reservation I have is Trans Plastics - that's a lot of cars (somewhere around 20) for a medium amount of operating interest.  I've had thoughts of substituting a smaller plastics industry.  But that's not what's holding me up.

My waffling and delays are construction related.  How do I frame the layout - traditional grid with plywood on top, foam on top, hollow core door, stressed skin panels of my own construction?  Do I use roadbed at all, and if so what kind?  How high should the layout be?  I was originally thinking somewhere around 50", but a friend has pointed out that he likes operating the lower deck of his layout sitting in a rolly chair so maybe lower might be good.  Lastly, basement complications have meant that until recently I haven't had a workable shop set up to build anything in.

Time to get the ball rolling by building some disposable tests.  A benchwork experiment is in the works.  But what I've started on first is a mini test layout.  It's built on a hollow core door, with a removable extension for a lead.

The door is 79" long by 15" wide, and the extension is 52" long by 2.5" wide.  The extension is held on with a hand screw from below, and is easily removable.

The right side in the photo is the “front”.  Along the back is a single industry inspired by Placon (formerly Plastic Packaging Corporation) in West Springfield, MA.  The industry track on the left can hold 4 plastic pellet hoppers spotted for unloading, plus one more off spot squeezed in before a comfortable clearance point.  The track on the right is the storage track, for more off spots.  The storage track can hold 4 plastic pellet hoppers.  The middle track is the main track that continues off the bottom end to another industry.  The lead out the extension is imagined to continue on to the yard.  There’s space for 6 pellet hoppers and an MP15 between the points for the industry track and the end of the modelled lead.  I think it should offer some interesting switching.

So, what do I hope to achieve with this layout?  In no particular order...

I want to have something to operate until the Eastborough Industrial gets far enough along for some operation.

I want to try out different operating heights.  I have an adjustable height desk in my home office, which can adjust from 23" to 49".  The layout is 3" thick (I added 1x2's along the bottom front and back edge).  Putting the layout across the front edge of the desk with the extension off the right, I'll be able to try any layout surface height from 26" up to 52", and higher if I bring some 2x4 chunks up from the shop to space it up a little.  Being able to do an actual mini-op session switching out an industry at each height of interest will make it easier to be sure I'm picking the right one.

I want to try out low temp solder for track feeders from the October 2021 MRH Running Extra.

I want to try out the Zip Ballasting and track painting technique described in the July 2020 MRH.

And last but definitely not least, I want to try getting enough scenery down so at a quick glance a casual observer might mistake it for a finished layout.  I haven't gotten a layout to that state for years, I need practice!

The layout in it's current state, painted a pale muddy gray:

Next up is soldering some feeders on the bottom of rails and laying some track.  It's a tossup whether I'll set this aside to wait for the 70C low temp solder to arrive and get started on the benchwork experiment, or forge ahead with regular solder and do the low temp experiment later.  What will I feel like doing Saturday morning...?

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