Monday 2 March 2009

Supporting Act

It's been a while since I updated the Group blog on progress on 'Niddbeck Bridge' and to do so I must retrace my steps back to August 2008 and the manufacture of the supporting structure and associated lighting and presentation facia. The layout had it's first showing at Shipley in September 2008 and this work was done in advance of that show.

One of my pet hates is poor layout presentation at public exhibitions and layouts that lack integral lighting. I'm also not keen on layout supporting structures that are complicated or 'Heath Robinson' in design, slow to erect and take down or require any sort of tools to do so.

The stucture consists of two end frames made up of 45x20mm PSE (Planed Square Edge) softwood with simple glued and screwed butt joints. The rear uprights stand 1980mm tall, the front uprights 1200mm and are 435mm front to back. The longitudinal spacers and diagonal brace are good quality 6mm birch ply. The front one is 280mm deep and the rear one and the brace are 155mm deep. The rear one is shallower to allow an operator to sit at the layout on a draughtsmans swivel seat with knees underneath the layout. For that reason there is no rear diagonal cross-brace. Being tall and narrow the structure is not overly stable but once weighted at each end at floor level with a couple of 25kg boxes of nails (I'm in the trade!), it's very stable. All bare timber is painted with matt black paint.

The beams locate onto small steel 8mm male/female furniture dowels and are secured by plastic handwheels with M10 male studs which screw into threaded female inserts embedded in the rear of the timber uprights. Nice and easy to assemble and no tools required.

The lighting is provided by 4 x 20w slimline kitchen-type fluorescent lights which are mounted in a 6mm play 'tray', lined with white Formica to reflect the light downwards. I had some of the laminate left over from a DIY project and it seemed easier to use it rather than do several coats of white paint. The tray is stiffened with lengths of 45x20mm PSE down each side. The ends of the tray have 6mm aluminium U-channels epoxied on and the channels simply locate onto the projecting bracket arms seen in the picture. The brackets are 6mm ply and like the beams are attached with alignment dowels and handwheels with T-nuts. The metal brackets seen at the ends are to support the facia panel (see below).

This shot shows the rear of the facia panel. Again it is 6mm birch ply and is faced with white Formica. It attaches to the projecting brackets using interlocking steel 'flushmount' fittings. It's a simple drop-on fit that requires no tools and is held in place by gravity. The lettering on the front of the facia panel (see first picture) are in black self adhesive vinyl and were done by my local signmaking shop. The 2mm and 2FS logos are the latest Association resin-domed layout badges .

This last shot shows one of the protection brackets I made last Saturday to protect the overhanging/cantilevered kickback sector plates. Experience at Shipley showed them to be vulnerable to clumsy operators on adjacent layouts not watching where they were going! These attach to the end frames using the flushmount fittings seen above. They give an indication of track level on the finished structure, approx. 1350mm or 4' 3" in old money

Other jobs to do prior to my next outing at York this Easter include adding a couple of extra 20W lights behind the facia panel to eliminate shadow in front of the station building and adding a small inside shelf at each end to keep my DCC 'tower' and associated gubbins off the floor.

1 comment:

Unknown said...


Looks good and I like the fascia but still wonder if you will get the, "so is this N gauge then" comment?