Sunday, 11 August 2013

Baseboards and Basics

When I was a child the family model railways were always built on big heavy baseboards with a Sundeala top, None of them, so far as I can remember, had legs, so they depended for support on whatever was convenient, and none of them consisted of more than one board.

My odd adult forays into indoor model railways have all involved small cameo scenes, and to be honest I have probably gone to the other extreme when it comes to their construction, being quite happy to use card, balsa, plywood and foam board. It is probably best to draw a veil over the fiberglass experiment.

One thing the Apa experiment has taught me is that there is no substitute for having a flat surface that can survive construction and scenic treatments without distorting. That is another way of saying the foam board  baseboard ended up getting so twisted that actually running trains is a bit of a lottery.

So for Llanhraiadr I'm planning to use Iain Rice's relatively lightweight L girder approach using cheap batten timber and a plywood top.In theory this should be simplicity itself to build, but I'm not looking forward to it. If I can get it to work though I've hopefully got a repeatable approach that will take a lot of the fear out of future projects.

The more I think things through the more I think there is too big a gap between what you can do as a modeler buying things in shops and what you have to do if you want to really start modelling something. There is no easy progression it seems. As soon as you want to move from playing trains you have to contend with a whole raft of new techniques, with no obvious or easy order in which to do learn them. Building baseboards, laying track, electrics, scenic work, buildings...all have to be developed in sync.

There must be a better way. If nothing else it should be possible to design a simple baseboard for beginners to build that would include a basic electrical bus.

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