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A base...


MichaelW

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Having got back after my christmas road trip I needed a project to fill up the rest of the holidays. Last year I replaced the lounge and kitchen floors*, but this year I decided to do something less drastic.

 

I took advantage of a fine (if a little chilly) day to cut some wood leftover from the big layout into suitable sized strips, and started making the baseboards. This is my first foray into plywood baseboards, and must say it is a bit different. Not having to cut all the mortise joints saves a lot of time, but I soon discovered that getting everything straight and level wasn't as easy as it first appeared. First lesson - make sure you are cutting straight lines (one of the sides looks like a mountainous skyline), I think in future I'll get the local timber merchant to cut them for me.

Assembling the beams was very quick and easy - a spot or two of glue, a bit of careful positioning and application of a clamp - just had to wait long enough for it to set before removing the clamps. Second lesson - don't test a newly released beam for rigidity by seeing how far you can bend it, you soon discover that the glue hasn't quite set.

Having completed the first board, I was impressed by how light it was (compared to my normal softwood framing), and how rigid it appeared to be. Whilst I made the beams for the second board, I added the top to the first, and laid cork all over the front ready for track laying.

 

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The second board has a complicated top, two pieces of different thickness ply, 9mm for the front, and 5mm as the support for both sector plates. After a bit of interesting sawing, I managed to get the two pieces to fit nicely together, and glued them down. Only after the glue had set did I realise I hadn't left a gap to put the backscene through at the back of the front bit of ply. A bit more interesting sawing (and some colourful language) left a nice gap ready for the backscene.

 

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This only left the problem of support for the boards. Rather than build another set of layout legs (I only have 3 different sets around the house), I went for a simpler support structure. Using a couple of pieces of 4"x1" I made a little frame for the boards to sit on, which can be clamped to the top of a workbench. Despite picking the straightest bits I had, the layout boards don't sit flat on this (that's my excuse - I think the boards aren't quite flat owing to the surface I built them on), but a couple of ply offcuts sorted that quite nicely. A quick drill through the frames and tapping in of alignment dowels later, I have the basis for the layout.

 

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* Yes, the middle of winter was a sensible time to open the house to the cold air drifting through under the floor - at least, after the insulation had gone in, it felt much warmer!

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