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Well just under 5 years since I started this blog here we are with the 100th entry! :-) I've been conscious for a while that although the layout is adequately lit by my workshop lights, it could really do with its own dedicated lighting. The layout has got its first showing at the RMweb Members day in Taunton on the 30th of April http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/120694-swag-2017-lineup-details-catering-all-you-need-to-know/?hl=%2Bswag+%2B2017 so I thought I'd better get something sorted! The scenic section of the layout is 14 feet long and 4 feet wide and ideally I was hoping to to get an even spread of light over the whole area and avoid any intermediate supports blocking the view of the modelling. Fluorescent tubes give a good spread of light, but are really heavy and I thought that the chances of me making a 14 foot long lighting gantry to support these without sagging might be problematic. Spotlights are nice and lightweight and would have been a possibility, but I was also keen to avoid the "multiple sun" effect that appears on many layouts lit by this type of illumination. LED light strips seemed to offer both lightweight and a good spread of illumination so I decided to use these on my layout. I found some rather nice 4 foot long self contained lighting units at B & Q so bought a pair to experiment with:-) http://www.diy.com/departments/diall-wired-led-indoor-twin-batten-light-with-diffuser-l1232mm/1238142_BQ.prd I wired one of the units up, held it above the layout and was pleasantly surprised by the level and spread of the light that the unit produced! :-) Although the lighting support needs to be 14 feet long, it also needs to split in half so that its possible to transport it in a Transit type van to future shows (Well only if it behaves itself at Taunton!) With this in mind I spent some time looking at suitable materials to built a lighting gantry from. During one of my internet searches I came across a company called Richardson's who sell a system of box section tubing and plastic connectors in a variety of shapes that can be used to assemble racking systems for workshops http://www.richardsonsuk.co.uk/25mm-square-tube-system/p47 these I felt could be ideal to make a framework to hold the light units. The tubing is available in both steel and aluminium, I chose steel because it was considerably cheaper, but aluminium would in retrospect have been a lot lighter and easier to lift in position on the layout! Steel box section tubing I drew up a sketch of the framework to work out the length of tubing needed and the shape of the plastic fittings required. During this planning stage I realised that I could use fittings designed as feet for the framework as a way for attaching a fascia panel in front of the lights that would curve to follow the front of the layout. Metal feet for connecting the fascia to the framework Once happy with my plan I placed my order which arrived a couple of days later. Unfortunately as I discovered when my order arrived you need to be very careful when selecting exactly which plastic fittings you want. I needed 4 way flat connectors, however this is what arrived:-( 4 way connector, definitely not flat! My fault entirely, I'd ticked the wrong box on the order form! Ho hum we live and learn! I placed another order, this time for the right parts which arrived the following day!:-) The steel cuts easily with a hacksaw and the connectors fit snugly into position with a little persuasion with a rubber mallet. In order to make the framework split into two sections I thinned down the plastic lugs on one end of the connectors to make a sliding fit onto the steel tubing. A length of tubing was cut to brace the joint and bolted into position. The framework was lifted into position on the layout and the light fittings were slid into position on the framework. Lighting and framework in situ above the layout. Lengths of tubing were then fitted to the front of the lighting framework to carry the mounting plates for the fascia panel. Fascia mounts The fascia panel was cut from a length of 3mm thick hard board which was sufficiently flexible to follow the curved front of the layout. The fascia was then bolted to the "metal feet" which were then slid onto the metal tube fascia supports. 1st fascia panel in position The fascia was then painted with a chocolate brown emulsion paint to match the colour of the front of the layout. Completed fascia panel installed on the layout. I'm very much looking forward to the show next weekend, hopefully everything will fit into the van that I've hired and people enjoy seeing the layout! Best wishes Dave