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Baseboard rebuild for Vehicle Dismantlers




It is four years since I laid the track on my main baseboard and the model is still almost completely bereft of scenery.  This is partly because so much of my operating has been test runs on new models, and also because I changed part of the story behind the railway. In particular, the high-level section was going to be an industrial processing plant and an interchange between narrow and stand gauges; but the processing plant looked much better at Fairport (another baseboard) and the narrow gauge turned out to be too much railway in the space available. This is a pictorial account of the rebuild.


The high level baseboard has been like this for four years:



There is a track underneath this area and I have relied on reaching through the gap at the front to deal with derailments. I want to close up this gap with scenery so I need some access panels in the new baseboard above. The turnout here is a my very first attempt and it is a bit of a shame to see it go but maybe it will find a home on another layout. The black area under the point blades is a sheet of thin styrene over a Kadee magnet, more of this later.


So - I lifted the track here and pulled off the foam board top. Then I rebuilt the structure underneath:



Conventional wisdom states baseboards should be "strong"; I prefer to try for "stability" first with strength as a secondary consideration. I don't need to climb onto the model. So I use the thinnest strip-wood I can, with lots of triangular constructs. And a foam board top.


I am still using my Hornby Mk3 coach as a gauging vehicle. I have used this throughout the build and it seems daft to start using something smaller just because I have gone across to H0 scale for the project:



Then I covered the structure with a piece of 5mm foam board. This is matt black, so no photo.


I want most of the track on the new baseboard to be inset into the ground surface, so there is no benefit in having a cork underlay. The baseboard is reached on a 1:20 incline and I was able to alter the baseboard structure to reduce the gradient. Essentially, I cut out the width of a saw blade (about 2 mm) and then joined the part back together:



The new turnout is a Y point from Marcway. This is marketed for 00 gauge but comes with the timbering at a 9 mm pitch, just right for H0. The geometry of the point is very similar to the Peco small radius Y point, but you get one-piece point blades and the timbering looks much more British. I trimmed the ends of the timbers to give a better appearance for H0.


The point sits above the same Kadee magnet, the magnet is on a hinge so I can drop it out of the way. This stops unwanted interference with steel axles:



The magnet is covered with the thinnest materials I could find, I used a piece of aluminium foil topped off with tracing paper:



Then I "made'"the inset track for the two sidings. I use a piece of code 100 rail as a shim to set the first flangeway. The head of the rail is between 1.0 and 1.1 mm wide. I installed one of running rails and then added the first inner rail beside it:DSCF9400.jpg.dea745a9efb752aeecbc93deeb8c5caf.jpg 

I am using FB rail throughout, code 75 for the running rails and code 60 for the inner rails. This way, the ground surface between the rails will have a better chance of surviving future track cleaning.


Then I added the second running rail using a 15.2 mm check gauge:



Then the second inner rail. The finished gauge of the track measures between 16.2 and 16.3 mm throughout. The narrowing from the usual nominal 16.5 mm is just enough to make the flangeways look better, but the track remains compatible with all stock with the usual 14.4 to 14.5 mm back to back.


With the new track tested for running I cut through the whole assembly with a razor saw to let me make a lift-out section:



Then I cut through the foam board to make a lift-out section.  I arranged a second lift-out section at the back too. Here is the finished baseboard:



The Setrack turnout at the back here is there to let me attach the fiddle yard to the end of the baseboard instead of the front. I don't have space to do this at home, and the point blades never move. In theory, the extra track gives me a miniature fiddle yard for use if I ever took this baseboard on its own to a show.


This is the space available for the vehicle dismantlers:



This will be a scrapyard with a dismantling shed and a metals processor. I have a design in my mind for this space, the design has been evolving here. I can also have a think about the location at the front of the layout, where the trains reverse to enter the harbour area. I fancy some cliffs here, some trees, and a fuel dump squeezed in too.

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2 hours ago, Mikkel said:

Very neat work, and interesting to see the layout develop. 


I also follow the "stability first" principle. Having said that, I do understand why some people like to engineer their layouts for maximum strength. I can see the satisfaction of doing so, and I can also see where my layouts have developed weaknesses over the years, which I then have to retro-fix. 



Mikkel thank you for you kind comments.  I am very pleased with this baseboard: it is now four years old and it has not moved (no twisting or warping) but it is robust and fairly lightweight. At the moment it weighs 9 kg including all the track and point motors and wiring, and a few plaster casts for cliff faces, so less than 1 kg per square foot of baseboard. It is also proving easier to alter than I had feared.

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