From RPM To Freelancing

So, typical of my sometimes scattered interests in the hobby, I’m following up a post on attending a Prototype Modellers Meet, with one on a freelance narrow gauge shelf layout.  Strangely, the rolling stock for the layout will be partly prototypical, with my 009 Gauge conversion of Talyllyn being the primary motive power, along with display space for a Lynton & Barnstaple Railway passenger train at the back of the shelf.  The shelf itself, is just a little switching puzzle/run around for moving wagons from one side to the other using Talyllyn.

Its one of my “IKEA Shelf Specials“, a micro layout or diorama designed to fit into one of the standard sized IKEA Besta fame/bookcases, on a $10 IKEA shelf for the base.

IMGP6215RawConvNarrow Gauge IKEA Shelf Layout track plan in progress.

Having gone through a variety of designs and layouts, I settled on the design above.  A sweeping track at the back, which will be home to a Lynton & Barnstaple passenger train with a platform and station canopy behind, and the shunting puzzle in front of it.  It’s not really based on any other shunting puzzle I’ve seen, more an attempt to maximize what I could do in the space, and clearly not based on any prototype!!  My plan is to operate it as a single locomotive with 4-5 wagons, and the goal being to move the wagons from identified spotting locations so that everything winds up on one of the two sidings opposite where it starts.  The operating scheme is still a work in progress, and its mostly designed as flexibly as possible to let me run things around.

Track laying in progress.  The first image shows the back display track and base for the platform in place, the second shows the printout transferred to the IKEA shelf using a chalk marker, and the third shows the laying of cork roadbed in progress.

I have used Midwest N-Scale Cork for the roadbed, I debated putting the track straight onto the board, but having the roadbed gives me options for when I decide what the look of the basic scenery will be in terms of ballasting or raising the open spaces around the tracks.  I can either use the roadbed to create a profile, or fill the gap areas to get a level look.  If I didn’t use a roadbed, I’d have fewer options moving forward.  I haven’t really thought much about scenery other than doing a crushed stone/simple platform and possibly a canopy at the back platform.  With the plot of the track plan, i was able to cut away and mark the centreline of the tracks using a chalk marker, then, once the track plan was laid out, start laying the cork along the outer boundaries, then filling in the central areas.

Completed Roadbed on the right, and the track about half tacked down using DAP Silicone Caulk on the left.

I am using Peco OO9 settrack for this, because it is readily available and Peco track has a great reputation.  This is the first time I have used silicone caulk to lay track.  It works nicely to adhere after weighing the track down during the curing.  I’ve found that the track seems to be noisier glued with the caulk, hopefully ballasting the track will kill the noise off some.  During the track laying process, I’ve also been running electrical tests with the Peco track and switches to figure out how I need to wire the layout.  Electrical wiring and such is not one of my strong suits in terms of understanding where feeders are needed, and what to do to make sure everywhere has power when needed, but not creating electrical shorts or frying locomotives!!  I think I’ve got it now, my plan is to install drops and continue to test as I go until the layout operates reliably without having to set the switches in a certain way to ensure power is routed where it’s needed.

Its been nice having this set up, as when I’m working on it, even though the range of travel is less than 2′ each way, its more running than I’ve managed in a long time in our apartment!  It’s also a rabbit hole that the decision to buy one locomotive for a project has led me to know building a narrow gauge layout!  Still, it’s been a fun diversion from other projects, and a chance to work on skills I otherwise wouldn’t be working on.

4 thoughts on “From RPM To Freelancing

  1. This is just cool.

    I like the idea of the presentation track across the back of the board to provide some context to this location as a station on a greater system and also as a display place. A very tangible backdrop for a scene of very attractive rolling stock.

    So…L&B…are you also looking forward to Heljan’s engine?


  2. Thanks Scott.

    Chris – yes, eagerly awaiting mine when they arrive in the next few weeks. I have a “Taw” in the later Southern Railway green on order from Hattons in Liverpool to match the coaches I bought previously. I will be writing about it whenever it arrives.



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