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Re: Warping; and security

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 10:26 am
by BrianMoore
130344 wrote:My layout's built around three sides of a double garage, and I've devised an "ingenious" (for which read "Heath Robinson") method of closing the fourth side gap and allowing trains to go "off stage" in each direction – see diagram attached. (The diagram is much neater than the construction, believe me.)

E&O_gate by taghairm7, on Flickr

I have two questions that I'd like help with:

1. The traverser I've made (from MDF) has warped badly (vertically), to the point where it's unusable. I used MDF because I thought it might be more dimensionally stable in my very cold, unheated double garage. Would I fare better using another material, and if so, would I also be better off if I were to varnish it – would this be likely to prevent repeated warping? Or is there a better suggestion out there?

2. For security reasons (the garage is detached from the house) I have to install and remove the DCC system command station every time I want to use the layout. For the same reason, I also take any locomotives out to the garage before, and back inside after, a session (this also prevents them rusting to bits). Is there a good, practical and if possible lightweight and non-bulky way to effect this for the locos – eg would cassettes be a reasonable option, or some other method that I can't think of? I want to avoid handling the locos if possible, as I plan to weather them. And I have a flight of steps to negotiate between garage and house.

I'm grateful for any advice anyone might have the time to give.

1. Don't use MDF again, unless it's braced everywhere on a frame. Buy good-quality wood/plywood, and let it acclimatise to the environment, and then build your new traverser in the garage.

2. Both Mike Ruby and I have made stock-carrying cases from toolboxes like the one here: ... h-tool-box
It's easy to make up trays that can carry nine or ten items of stock in each layer, with strips of foam to protect the stock. Mine is double-decked and his is triple. Light enough to carry one box in each hand, and takes just a few minutes to pack and unpack. We use ours to bring locos and some stock to the club every month, without having to carry them in their original boxes.

Re: Warping; and security

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:38 pm
by trevorsmith3489
Re Security

My layout is in a detached garage and I have security concerns -

I am at ease with my security issues by

* Including my "model railway" as a specific item in my house insurance. The value is £12,000 and it has not increased my premium
* I have sealed the up and over front door - removed the mechanism, screwed the metal door to its frame in more than 30 places before using a plastered stud wall to provide a smooth interior wall for my layout
* From the outside, the garage still looks like a normal garage
* the garage has no windows, it is just a plain brick built structure.
* I spent £500 on a secure door that meets the latest security specs that I found on a link provided by my insurance company.
* I joined my local neighbourhood watch so that I can keep an eye on local crime trends. (There have been no burglaries on my modern estate for more than three years.

Without a major building job, no one can break in easily - I feel confident in leaving my laptop, DCC system and all stock in the garage, even when going away for long periods.

My garage has no heating, but I did prepare it for modelling use by plenty of insulation in the ceiling and walls. A small electric heater is sufficient for my use even when it is cold outside.

I used MDF for a helix in one corner, steel rods being used to hold everything in place - I do not use timber for baseboards - the modelling surface is foam and although it has not been free from movement, I have been able to use small pieces of thin card to keep my track in alignement.

More explanation here


Re: Warping; and security

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:02 pm
by trevorsmith3489
Hi Jock

Judging by the baseboard design, I guessed you might still have to get your car in!

When I first moved into this present house, the garage was a single garage and my layout was similar in design, shelves around the wall!
As a reasonably fit 54 year old I could use a duck under using the side door. However, arthritis in my left knee (and a doctor whose response to my visit told me that my joints were nearly sixty years old and would not get any better, and that I could not expect an artificial knee in the near future,) meant access became more and more difficult. I considered creating two lift out flaps, looked at "hinged" gates, considered changing to N gauge, considered a full redesign in a similar fashion to yours but in the end I decided to bite the bullet.

I took early retirement from work, and used some of my lump sum retirement funds to widen the garage by six feet and to plaster the inside. I persuaded my wife that the expense would be worth it - we could take all the stuff out of the loft and store it under the layout and it would be accessible to her, rather than the mountaineering exercise involved in getting access when we first moved in. I redesigned the layout to create turn back loops so now I can just walk in.

Modelling is so much more enjoyable when there is an ambient temperature, access to the room is easy, all the stock is in place and the DCC system can just be switched on at the plug when you walk in the room.

Re: Warping; and security

Posted: Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:24 am
by Mike_R
My DCC system is easily carried, it has to travel to modular meetings.


As Brian says my locos and stock travel in converted tool boxes, the loco trays have wider slots (4 wide, stock 5 wide) with low level side supports to stop mirrors sun shades etc. being knocked off. To help inserting and removing locos I sling them in a sheet of polythene, that also protects the paint from damage. Foam blocks stop them sliding along the slots.

I would seal all wood used in an unheated building (I seal the boards that stay in the house). MDF will swell almost double if exposed to water, other problems with MDF are potentially harmful dust, the weight of it and the hardness for driving track nails etc. For reasonable costs look at Oriented Strand Board (OSB). For portable layouts I prefer ply or ply and foam. We keep sealed ply boards on an unheated store room, and I used to keep them in my trailer.
Cheaper than varnish is 50% diluted PVA or cheap paint.

Re: Warping; and security

Posted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:28 am
by Mike_R
PVA can be removed by soaking in water, but you can buy water resistant PVA. The main reason to use it, is to seal against humidity not liquid water and it seems to do this well.