Summer Shunting Shelf Project

MC Fujiwara Aug 12, 2011

  1. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris TrainBoard Supporter

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    I continue to admire not only your modeling, but your parenting. Thanks too for the history link. A very sobering reminder of how important our Constitution is.
     
  2. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the growing number of Free-moN modules and the desire to actually run trains prompted me to finally build a shelf for the "Alameda-Belt-in-a-Box" layout.
    I was going to put the shelf in the bedroom until my daughter reminded me that my wife goes in there too ;)
    So out in the garage it goes!

    Rubbermaid shelving with 1"x4" framing top & bottom:

    [​IMG]

    Had to mount it tall enough to clear the Mt. Coffin & Columbia River layout (18" tall) on the table below, so I think the rail height is about 54".

    Added 4" of 1/8" hardboard fascia to the front and sides, painted everything flat black, then installed two packs of Ikea "Inreda" LED pucks along the underside of the valence framework:

    [​IMG]

    I got some 0.06" styrene in a 18" x 8' strip from Tap Plastics, then cut it down to 76" to fit behind the shelves.
    After notching out the spaces for the upper supports, I spray painted it grey primer, then slate blue, then mist with flat white (all at once).
    Came out a bit greyer than I wanted, but easy thing to pop out it out and paint it again.

    Just the LED's make an interesting lighting situation:

    [​IMG]

    I'm thinking the valence is a few inches too high for such an "intimate" layout.
    I'll sit with it for a couple days, but I'll probably cut the styrene backdrop down 2-3" and then lower the valence brackets the same.

    Might look odd in the pull-back pick, but it's plenty of light for operating the layout, and even for some photography (with a real camera, which this is not):

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, there's a little gap between the front fascia and the actual fold-up layout benchwork.
    There's a little wiggle-room, so I can push the layout right up next to the fascia if I want, which leaves more room at the back.
    I want to create a removable low-city backdrop that I can slip in between the 3" layout backdrop and the grey sky to help break up the flat skyline (though Alameda is pretty low, especially in the late 40's).

    But it's nice to have the layout up & out & ready to go & play with.
    And, if I want to take it anywhere, like outside to photo or to a show, I can just pick it up, fold it up and away we go!

    Thanks for looking.
     
  3. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    To give a better idea of how the Ikea "Inredia" LEDs look, here's some shots with only the LED's on (no garage lights / door open / etc.).
    Just LED's and the layout, surrounded by darkness:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In person, operating just under the LED's is pretty cool.
    Gives it a Ray Harryhausen kind of feel to the layout.
    But having the LED's an inch or so set back in the valence plus angled towards the back does create shadows up front.
    Here's pretty much the same shot with the house lights on plus a CFL spot:

    [​IMG]

    So for everyday operating purposes, the LEDs plus the regular garage lights do the trick.
    Now I can reposition one of the overhead garage lights away from the wall, which will better light the layout from a further angle (and better light my workbench).

    Fun to run trains again!
    Thanks for looking.
     
  4. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Just read the whole thread and loved it. I am planning a new shelf switching layout one day approx 6 metres by 5 metres so can incorporate a lot of your ideas
     
  5. nscalerone

    nscalerone TrainBoard Member

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    I agree whole-heartedly!!!...........I have enjoyed watching your daughter's participation in the layout(s). I have a 7 yr. old grandson who is my "helper" (lol)

    Just finished watching "The War" documentary on TV the other night, and it really points up how the whole thing against the Japanese - Americans of the time was just an unfounded "Knee Jerk" reaction.
    As for the "Constitution".................I think it was completely forgotten, or ignored, in this instance!!
     
  6. sharriso

    sharriso TrainBoard Member

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    We have been experimenting with hand-held throttles. They all need a wall wart, but I like the e-z Throttle. Just curious, have you tried it on this layout?
     
  7. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, I use an e-Z throttle with this layout.
    I removed the two-wire lead and replaced it with a 4-pin telephone wire, then wired up the phone jack under the warehouse to have a mono jack in the back, so I can plug it in if I want to.
    But given how I take this layout to shows, the 9V battery works great.
    The e-Z throttle is a great size for smaller hands, too, and for adults you can operate it with one hand, which frees up the other for throwing turnouts and uncoupling cars.

    Forgot there was a picture on the cover of MRH of the e-Z throttle in action ;)
    Also describe it more in detail in the article.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2012
  8. sharriso

    sharriso TrainBoard Member

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    Speaking of throttles -- Did you discuss the wiring for this layout? Are all the tracks hot? How do you keep the turnouts from shorting? I still prefer DC and like to have some blocks so I can park one locomotive and run another with one throttle.

    I was going to use four-wire telephone plugs (RJ11) but can't find just the jack. Have to buy the whole wall plate. So I use 1/8-inch plugs and jacks.

    And I was wondering about how well the hinges held up. MDF doesn't hold screws very well. Seems like bolts and washers might work better.

    Spent the afternoon re-reading this thread. Golly, it's inspiring.
     
  9. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    This is a DC layout, as it's a "One (Iron) Horse Town".
    Though I can wire up a DCC panel and run that if I want.
    There's not a whole lot of room for two locos, though ;)

    There's a single 16 gauge bus running the length of the underside that feeds the layout.
    The turnouts have isolation cuts and dead frogs (not a problem for the Kato NW2).

    I, too, am worried about the hinges and screws, but a master carpenter friend let me in on the trick of dripping some thick CA down the holes before screwing, and so far they've held up well.
    I do try to not open & close it as much as I can.
    (better now that I have a nice shelf to keep it out in the open!)
     
  10. sharriso

    sharriso TrainBoard Member

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    Wonder if this layout could be adapted to Unitrack.
     
  11. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    It would definitely lengthen the whole layout (and/or shorten the cuts of cars), especially given the longer size of the Unitrack turnouts.
    And you couldn't have the crossing as tight as I handlaid it.
    (Almost all tracks are on 1" centers)
    But as long as the hinge pivots are mounted above the rails to allow them to lift & separate (instead of squish), I guess it could work.
     
  12. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

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    MC,

    What type of Gorilla Glue did you use to glue the rails to the deck of the carfloat?

    John Bartolotto
     
  13. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    The one with the ape on the bottle ;)
    I think it's just the regular stuff.

    Though now I see they have a Gorilla "Super" Glue that cures fast (but not too fast), so maybe I'd try that one.
    (The biggest drawback to Gorilla Glue is the long dry time if you can't clamp it).

    Just FYI, there's a lot more step-by-step details on the carfloat in the MRH article "How to Build a Simple Rail Barge for Under $10".
    [I know the author, so I can slip you a free copy ;) ]

    If you're building a float, I'd love to see photos!
     
  14. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

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  15. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks!
    Looking forward to seeing "Z" carfloat!

    As a last detail on the shelf construction, here's probably the most important addition:

    [​IMG]

    A small right-angle bracket securing the shelf to the wall!
    There's another on top of the valance.
    The fascia on the shelf sticks up a couple inches to come even with the layout, so that should keep the layout on the shelf, and the right-angle should keep the shelf on the brackets.

    California occasionally has an earthquake or two ;) so I want to make sure the shelf, which is just sitting on the brackets, doesn't slide off.
    Will it hold during "The Big One"?
    Probably not, but during that time I'll probably be more worried about other things (like my family, or whether the house is still standing, fires, or availability of potable water, etc.).
    But it should help out during anything up to a 5 or 6 on the Rock 'n' Roll scale.
    (Anything under 6 is "meh" here in the Bay Area ;) )

    Now onto the other projects (right after I run some trains ;) )
     
  16. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    Ok, maybe not the last detail.
    As I was making some angled shelves for the Free-moN staging loop module, I stopped, slapped my head, and said, "D'oh!"
    What was missing from the shelf layout?
    How about a place to put the throttle, bamboo skewers for uncoupling, and any future car cards?

    So I whipped up some hardboard angled shelves for this, too, using some 45 deg wood triangles as braces and moulding as the lip:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Why are they both 30" long?
    Because that's what length hardboard I had lying around.
    I actually attached both units to the fascia using Gorilla "Super" Glue (as opposed to the regular GG I keep pontificating about).
    Squirted some on the three triangle supports, and held the unit against the fascia: 30 seconds later it was stuck.
    As is, not going anywhere for a looooong time.
    That stuff rocks!
    Even still, I put a 2" screw through the hardboard, triangle support, and into the shelf framing itself.
    Pretty sturdy.

    I dunno: the shelves seem to take away from some of the simple framing that was nice before.
    Maybe filling in the holes with some spackle and repainting will help.
    Or maybe gold sequins.

    But it is nice to have a place to put things!

    A couple more picts?
    Why not?

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now to start making some car cards with photos on them!

    Thanks for looking.
     
  17. SHarrison

    SHarrison TrainBoard Member

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    I'd like to try making a similar layout and checked out MDF board at the hardware store. The 1/2-in. was heavy -- is that why you chose it?

    Sally
     
  18. utcke

    utcke TrainBoard Member

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    Sally,

    no idea why MC went for MDF (because it was lying around, would be my guess :), but it is heavy, doesn't take well to water, doesn't hold screws very well, and is generally a pain... About the only good things about it are that it is very smooth (initially) and dimensionally quite stable (unless it get's dry). I would generally go with plywood for such a project, or possibly wood-core board (or whatever the US-name is), if price is an issue.

    But maybe I'm completely off here, and MC had a good reason for using MDF...

    Sven
     
  19. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

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    The main reason for using MDF is that it doesn't warp, twist, curl, wave or bend.
    And as the board is basically the whole "benchwork", that was the selling point.
    Although I live in a pretty dry place, I really didn't want any warping and have track / turnouts pop off, etc.

    The whole layout isn't that heavy: I can carry it easily with one hand.
    And the thick CA down the screwholes seems to keep the hinges in place.
    If I did it again, I'd probably try to find hinges with slightly wider screwplates and put a very thin layer of Gorilla Glue under, though you'd have to be careful of it expanding into the hinge itself ;)

    I'm sure there are ways to make a lighter layout.
    Even two sections of 1/4" sanded ply glued & screwed on top of a 1"x2" frame would do (you wouldn't need the framing on the 3" middle section, I'd think).
    Though that makes the overall dimensions larger (it would hide the wiring better, though!).

    I'm sure some high-quality 1/2" ply would work, too, but the good stuff might be just-as or heavier than MDF.

    Anyway, hope this helps, and looking forward to seeing your own portable project come to life!
     
  20. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

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    MC,

    Where did you purchase the two pieces of .8 styrene from and in what length/width?

    Yours,

    John Bartolotto
     

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