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General Arrangement




"Shelf Island" is my model railway layout, and it represents the railways of the eponymous location.


The layout is in the mould of a typical British narrow gauge project but built as a standard gauge line. And in 1:87 scale. I am trying to represent a part of a railway where wagonload freight can move between destinations, hoping this will be more interesting than the usual terminus to fiddle yard arrangement.





The main elements of infrastructure set out here are these:

  • The processing plant, at Fairport
  • The vehicle dismantlers, at Cab ry Cheilley
  • The harbour and rail/sea transhipment facility at Keiy Pabyr
  • A storage facility and passenger platform at Creg


The system has three baseboards and a link span, these arranged along two walls of a spare bedroom. The link spans is a simple and narrow bridging section I have made to suit the room. It should be possible to take individual baseboards to exhibitions or to rebuild the layout in a different space if I ever move house, but so far only the fiddle yard has made it to a show.


The main baseboard and its adjacent fiddle yard are sitting on top of five small bookcases, these are the smallest and cheapest Ikea 'Billy' ones you can buy, these were £10 each in the autumn of 2014. The fronts of the bookcases are 12 inches from the wall. They could go an inch closer if I enlarged the recesses for the skirting boards, but there was no great benefit in doing this. As they stand, I could set up the two L girders in the main baseboard facing away from each other and minimise the footprint of the layout:



I pinned a narrow strip of wood across the fronts of the bookcases to make a lip, so the layout will not pull forwards off them.


The main baseboard is held in place by the fiddle yard. There are two steel dowels and sockets at the joint between the two, and so with the layout in position first I can then slide the fiddle yard into place:



By a sheer fluke (and this is the best bit!), I set the vertical distance of the rear dowel above the bookcases to be the same as the horizontal distance of the dowel from the back of the fiddle yard. So I can turn the fiddle yard onto its back and re-engage one dowel to hold it during fault-finding and maintenance underneath the fiddle yard:



Ikea have since put up the prices of the Billy bookcases but the cost of the set of five is still much the same as a set of legs and trestles, and there is masses of space to store things underneath the layout. With so much storage, the layout doesn't really consume any extra space in the room, though of course the shelves have filled up with model railway stuff.


The baseboard for Fairport (top left in the plan) is hung on the wall above the workbench.

Edited by 47137
Reconfiguration of the layout in June 2022

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