"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. The layout has a fiddle yard (which rather resembles a motive power depot), but the long-term plan is to create a model of a self-contained railway system where trains move imaginary freight and passengers between different locations. So far, I have built the railway infrastructure for four locations (and also the fiddle yard), and gathered together a somewhat eclectic collection of model trains to operate the services. The scenic setting at Fairport is complete (August 2018) and barely started everywhere else.
The layout has four baseboards and two link spans, arranged around three walls of a spare bedroom. Three of the baseboards are micro layouts by most criteria, the fourth is currently a flush door with the track loosely laid on it. The link spans are simple and narrow bridging sections 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 elements of the layout are these:
- The processing plant, at Fairport
- The vehicle dismantlers, at Cab ry Cheilley
- The harbour and rail/sea transhipment facility at Keiy Pabyr
- The chemical plant, exchange sidings and PW depot, at Shelf Marshes
The area marked "Wellwood" (first added to the plan on 3 August 2020) will be a scenic section for photographing trains and to set out some model road vehicles. There is a siding here to connect a TrainSafe tube so I can move complete trains on and off the layout.
Plan last revised: 27 October 2020
The total run is 28 feet, most of half a scale mile in 1:87 scale. The room is L-shaped and so while I would very much like to take the track around the whole room as a continuous run this will not be possible. If I run trains at Light Railway speeds, I can have journeys lasting for a couple of minutes.
The main baseboard and the 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 and the baseboard at Shelf Marshes is in an alcove, sitting on wooden brackets screwed to the walls:
At the moment, Wellwood is a temporary arrangement of some Kato Unitrack on a part of a flush door. The two link spans are hanging between their respective baseboards.
The "possible new fiddle yard" marked on the plan needs a hole through a partition wall to take tracks out of the room and onto the landing. If I ever do this, I would like to rebuild the present fiddle yard as the headquarters of the local transport preservation society.
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