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Following the demise of APA I have been in conversations with Tim Horn of laser cut baseboards fame. Between us we have specced up a box which is a similar size to an Apa but with our intended use at the fore. This is Mk1, 3ft x 15ins laser cut MDF. We will be producing a range of boxes and fiddle yard boards suitable for the modeller in both this MDF and also as a Rolls Royce version in Plywood. The plan is to have these boxes available off the shelf.

 

Thats the plan anyway...

 

Back to this one for now. This will be Boxhorn Lane, an N gauge TMD layout set in the early 1990s. So far I have dry assembled the boards to check for fit, given it a name and got an exhibition booking for early June! Heres some pictures of the kit, dry assembled box and dry assembled fiddle yard.

Trackplan and more to follow!

 

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Prototype 3ft Small Layout Box and Fiddle Yard by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Prototype 3ft Small Layout Box and Fiddle Yard by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Prototype 3ft Small Layout Box and Fiddle Yard by Steve Purves, on Flickr

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That looks good! - but are a couple of pieces missing in the top pic? I see a front, and back. and two sides, but no horizontal surface board or top bracing - and where does the piece with the 5 big holes fit?

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4' x 1' no problem! I have aimed for a standard size in this one. The original idea was 30ins x 15ins to keep it under 4 square feet. Having seen this now Im glad we had the extra 6ins. The large holed pieces are diagonal braces underneath. All will be revealed when I stick it together properly

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I was impressed with Tim's items at the Great Electric Show and when finances have recovered enough from the bills to fix the car I intend to order a couple of 3ftx1ft (or 3ftx1.5ft) boards and a 2ftx1ft (to allow for a level crossing to be a removable/replaceable feature in the middle) board for the Woolwich Dockyard plan I'm working towards as I was originally going to use APAs, but the cost of Tim's work is very reasonable imo and much better quality/rigidity etc. 

 

Nice work :) these though might work for a LT Lillie Bridge plan of just the shed I have. 

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A very cool product... doubtless prohibitively expensive to export to me in Australia, but very cool nonetheless!

Having absolutely no idea or involvement witb this project, it may be possible for Tim to sell / franchise the plans to a suitable supplier in Australia. 
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Steve, For the off-the-peg versions, I know the dimensions will obviously be fixed, but can I assume Tim would be open to producing custom sizes?

 

Of course! We are hoping to try and cover the marked with these standard sizes but Tim is open to doing specials also!

 

 

Having absolutely no idea or involvement witb this project, it may be possible for Tim to sell / franchise the plans to a suitable supplier in Australia. 

 

 

Not sure where Tim would sit with that, but I know he has previously exported some baseboards and kits...

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Right, I decided to stick the box together last night, all I have used is good PVA glue and some books (for weight) as the parts have a nice snug fit enabling the box to support itself whilst you are building it. The actual box itself goes together very easily, the ends attach to the baseboard, with the 2 main stretchers in the middle. This assembly is then lowered on to the back of the box, and then the front added with the brace along the top. Once dried the box is turned on its top so the lightweight diagonal braces can be glued in and the inner bolting faces on each end can be glued also. This whole process was complete in under 30 minutes.

 

One thing I haven’t done at this stage is cut the entrance/exit holes for the layout in the box end, this would be a simple task if cut as a flat pack but I wanted to try to cut these in a completed box so I can see what it would be like to extend in the future. I the next report will contain details of that.

 

I have had a lot of comments and enquiries from the various forums and Facebook pages about the box, I have ‘soft’ launched the product on a Facebook page called ‘BoxRail’ this is just to gather momentum until I am ready to release the box proper once prices and specs are fully nailed down. We are looking to have two main sizes available off the shelf, this one and the double length box, along with the standard fiddle yard which is the same as this standard box but without the frontage. We are also looking into corner modules and special sizes. We are also hoping to have everything available in either the budget MDF range or a ‘Rolls Royce’ Plywood construction, and everything will have standard bolting faces so completely modular. I am keeping a keen eye on the price, whilst not going to be as cheap as APA, I am hoping these will still be cheap enough to inspire a few little side projects. I will also keep this thread updated with any developments on the box system until its release proper in a few weeks time.

 

The first two photo’s show the bolting face, and the under board construction. The second two I have started placing some N gauge stock to get a feel for the layout itself, Boxhorn Lane

 

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Boxhorn Lane by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Boxhorn Lane by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Boxhorn Lane by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Boxhorn Lane by Steve Purves, on Flickr

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Truly excellent - whilst the APA box was a good starting point for a micro layout in N or even OO, even if it hadn't reached the end of its production life, you and Tim certainly seem to have consigned it to the bin. A good idea made even better, well done.

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The APA box is discontinued as far as I understood so unless people have them hanging around at home they are not an option - however this looks far stronger and more rigid than the APA and more suitable for purpose than the APA ever really was.

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Thanks Steve, the front fascia also has a nice piece of smooth hardboard that can be painted and stuck over the front so as to hide all those joins. Like I have said before about cost, the APA was £11, to which we had to butcher to some extent and add some form of baseboard, this will be a little more expensive but you will have to bear in mind this works 'out of the box' and is designed with railways in mind. not to mention the better quality materials, increased durability and size.

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Hi Steve like what you did with the name of your new layout giving a clue to the origins of the layout base very nice.

But as I also live in the land down under won't be able to try this out as a layout options but like most of Tim's items I'm sure they will be quality off the shelf items perfectly suited to the small layout builder.

Have checked out his web site recently and he has been busy.

 

Will follow your progress with this new project.

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Steve - you and I have to stop having the same layout ideas!! I was planning a micro N-gauge TMD as my 2015 project! (although I was planning to do an EMD with wires etc..)

 

However - I love the box idea, that's really neat and I wish you the most success with any business you're planning in launching it. Certainly appears to fill a niche in the market which is currently not occupied. If you can get the price sorted I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the larger companies or distributors knocking at the door. I don't know a lot about it, but make sure you've patented/trademarked such a good idea.

 

Best wishes

 

David

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Steve - you and I have to stop having the same layout ideas!! I was planning a micro N-gauge TMD as my 2015 project! (although I was planning to do an EMD with wires etc..)

 

However - I love the box idea, that's really neat and I wish you the most success with any business you're planning in launching it. Certainly appears to fill a niche in the market which is currently not occupied. If you can get the price sorted I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the larger companies or distributors knocking at the door. I don't know a lot about it, but make sure you've patented/trademarked such a good idea.

 

Best wishes

 

David

 

Thanks David, our ideas run more similar than you think, I was thinking about adding a couple of roads with OHL on this one (a la Dysearth Road) as I keep finding it hard to resist reasonably priced Dapol 86s!

 

not sure what kind of protection we could have on the design, or for its value whether it would be worth it. Will look into it, unless anyone has any off the shelf advice? 

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Normally they tell you to "think outside the box" but in this case you probably need to think inside the box.

 

You're welcome to use that in marketing without commission :)

 

 

I had thought about that breifly... 'Thinking outside the box... inside the box' or some such...

 

As for commission hows about a cup of tea next time we meet!

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Planning continues apace on Boxhorn Lane, I had some templates and some spare track out last night and I think I’m now happy with the track plan. I will let the photo’s do the talking but for the sake of visualisation, the layout will be ‘boxed in’ by retaining walls, to the left and rear, with the right side one being a ramp for the depot entrance. The foreground will contain a car park and train crew room. Front left where the pair of 31s sit will be the fuel point. The rear right will have a single road shed on the rearmost track. The other two roads will be used for stabling. The layout will be DCC controlled, points will be electrified with old faithful seeps. Trackwork will be Peco code 55. I don’t plan on double building (my other layout Apagele is still unfinished) The planning on this one is purely so I can build a shopping list and start acquiring the bits I need so that once Apagele is done, this one will start straight away. That said, I think I will find it hard to resist putting the track down at least!!!

 

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Boxhorn Lane planning by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Boxhorn Lane planning by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Boxhorn Lane planning by Steve Purves, on Flickr

 

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Boxhorn Lane planning by Steve Purves, on Flickr

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I think there will be a lot of new micros showing up next year.... :)

 

Edit: I have posted a link about these on 'The Gnatterbox'.

http://forum.gn15.info/viewtopic.php?p=116976#116976

 

 

Good idea, I am not sure the materials are stronger than those in the APA box, which had a real wood frame. The only additional support I have added is the styrofoam to raise track level. The thin hardboard is very easy to cut with a craft knife.

I think these new boxes are designed to bolt together, again I prefer the gap between boxes.

It will be necessary to decorate the boxes as well, as they look like a 3D jigsaw, so it is not a complete alternative to the APA box.

I have used APA boxes at a few exhibitions and the store, transport and exhibit very well, and are lightweight and easy to carry. Contents inside boxes have also been well protected.

As I am not a member of RM Web, I can not post anything there, but I do think there are a number of better features on the APA box, in particular the ease of carrying. These new boxes have a lot of heavy material which will make them heavier. I have carried 3 APA boxes at a time, with no problem, except opening doors etc.

Some sort of frame at ends would make it easier to carry.

 

 

Just to address a couple of points from the Gnatterbox thread.

 

Tim is looking at reducing the thickness of a lot of the components to reduce weight and cost. I will be getting one to test for structural rigidity soon that will be made up from 3mm MDF apart from the actual baseboard itself which will relain 6mm MDF.

 

I'm not sure what he means about bolting together/leaving gaps?

 

Adding carrying handles and such is left to the user.

 

Regarding the appearance, yes you will need to paint once built, but there will be supplied with the kit a thin sheet of hardboard to place on the front which will cover all the 'jigsaw' pieces so you get a smooth one piece frontage. This box is longer and wider than an APA. I elected for a slightly larger size as to make them more useful in 00 gauge, although some excellent boxes have been completed I felt that a bit more space would be useful. If you want a smaller one, just ask!

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