Thursday, 1 March 2018

Breathe In! Getting into and around the layout

Access has always been a challenge for Philip's Creek. As the layout has moved through various locations and configurations, it has grown steadily until, as regular readers would have noted, Philip's Creek now resides in one of three adjoining garages. The other two garages have different uses and the domestic manager steadfastly refuses to countenance any extension of Philip's Creek into these. Unsurprisingly, and probably like many other layouts, space on Philip's Creek is tight with narrow access passageways measuring somewhere between 500-600mm. For someone who, for much of his recent working life, has railed about the need for access within buildings for maintenance, there's probably a fair degree of hypocrisy in this, but it is what it is.  Crab walking is the normal way of getting around the layout. This isn't too much of a problem for just one operator but when others visit the layout, things can get a little cosy.

Being very aware of the access challenges as work on the Kingston Plains progressed, I was forced to compromise and accept a glaring omission from a typical branchline terminus - a turntable. The reason for this compromise was fairly straight forward, a need to ensure a reasonable width (about 600mm) access leading into the layout area from the main garage .

However, it was during a recent chat with a neighbour that I found myself describing how I could add a turntable to the end of the terminus. The consequence of this small extension would be a 50 percent reduction in the width of the access passageway from 600mm to around 300mm, albeit with the fallback of access via the garage door if absolutely necessary. But as our chat continued, it became obvious that I was talking myself into this alteration.

As the idea materialised, I decided that any turntable extension had to be removable to ensure that the original access was available if required. I fabricated the 300mm cantilever frame shown in the adjoining photo. The bricks in the photo are acting as weights while the PVA glue between the styrofoam sheets cures but also give an indication of the load that the cantilever section can carry.

The extension is removed by lifting it vertically. To assist the fixing, I installed magnets on the extension and the mating layout module. The method is demonstrated in the February 2018 You Tube segment of 'What's Neat',

The use of magnets was an experiment to test the concept but I got a bit nervous and included other connections which added a level of redundancy, so it's difficult to tell if the magnets add anything to the support of the extension.

I have now purchased an Anton's Trains model of a 60ft Steller's turntable, a type frequently used at a branchline terminus. Ian Dunn provided an overview of this type in the December 2011 issue of AMRM. There is also an earlier article on the same topic by Alan Templeman in the June 1984 issue but the value of Ian's article is the collection of colour photos that assist with painting and weathering. 
The turntable is is currently being installed although I have yet to purchase an auto-reverser to enable the turntable to operate with DCC.

So, for better or worse, the access into the layout area is now further restricted and it's certainly a case of 'breathing in' but at least a steam engine can be turned before commencing its return journey.

No comments:

Post a Comment