Thursday, 12 July 2012

Which Way?

I have to confess to a degree of indecision at present.

In an earlier post, I outlined my plans for the next extension to Philip's Creek. I am fortunate enough to have a three car garage and Philip's Creek resides in the third. At the time of writing the earlier post, access to the second garage had been freed up by a family member moving out. My plan was predicated on being able to relocate some old wardrobes into the second garage to create room for the new section. I had even secured the grudging agreement to my plan from the Chief Property Officer.

Unfortunately, Murphy is alive and well, and there has been a bit of turbulence in the arrangements that originally freed up the second garage.  While this may resolve itself, it has demonstrated that I may have been a bit premature to contemplate the expansion plan outlined in my previous post.

As such, I now need to move to Plan B, going up rather than out.

From what I have been able to discover on the Internet, most double deck layouts are designed as such. Unfortunately, Philip's Creek 'just grewed'. For one thing, the height of the layout, while great for a single level is probably a bit higher that it would be if one was building a multi-level layout from scratch.

If I am to gain the necessary height in the space available, a helix will be a must. However, I am quite confident about the techniques necessary to build one and a number of people have documented their experiences. Ian Millard's series for his layout is a great recent example. (

The challenge is on the left hand side of this photo
What is causing my indecision is the way in which the upper level will be supported either through a cantilever arrangement or some support structure along the front and back of the upper deck. From what I have found during my research, most planned layouts tend to use a cantilever arrangement. This gives unobstructed access to the lower level. Many of the photos that I found on the Internet showed commercial shelving products being used.
I would prefer to use this arrangement but for me, there are two problems. Firstly, any cantilever support will intrude on the smaller than normal space between levels. Secondly, and probably more important, there is no means of securing  the cantilever supports at the rear of the layout in the area on either side of the window (see photo). My current thinking is to run a beam along the length of the layout at the top of the backdrop, conceptually like a picture rail supported by the brick wall where possible, and new columns where necessary, near the garage door. A similar beam would be fixed to the front of the layout using the minimum possible number of columns. The upper deck will then be suspended between the two longitudinal beams.

One of the two problem areas
I remain nervous about the impact of the front columns on the view and on access to the lower deck. As a way of trialling this arrangement, I may temporarily fix a beam and columns to the front and see how easy it is to operate the layout.

A third alternative is to arrange some from of suspension arrangement from the ceiling but this only transfers the obstruction to the upper deck and as portability is still a design factor, it isn't as viable as the second option.

However, if anyone can see an alternative that I have mot considered, please let me know.

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