Workbench Cleanup and Reorganization

I like to have a fairly tidy and organized workspace. Detail parts and bits and pieces for model trains are pretty tiny, if your workbench is a mess, you’re going to lose something. I’ve seen a few workbenches over the years, and generally, those who I know and whose work I’ve seen have the same thing going, keep it clean and organized.

When I built my custom bench last year after we moved, my friend Ryan suggested including a piece of off-cut pegboard from his workshop, and boy am I glad I listened and did. I’ve never had a bench with pegboard before, but it is so flexible. Last night and today I’ve been reorganizing all my tools and odds and ends that I use, having lived with the bench for over a year, I’ve learned what tools I use often, which I am using less often, and which things are in inconvenient places. The pegboard has made it super easy to reorganize the hanging tools, along with reusing a parts tray to organize many little bits and getting them closer at hand when I’m working so I don’t have to grasp at a distance of go looking for them. I’m not done the reorganization yet, but I’m quite pleased with how its turning out so far.

IMG_0064A organized and cleaned up workbench ready for me to get back at modelling rather than cleaning (once I finish up cleaning my side cabinet on the right!)
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More Peninsula Progress

As with everything I do, slow and steady on we go. After getting the peninsula built and installed, I’ve been making adjustments, fitting final pieces for locking it into place, and starting to look at laying track.

Video showing the Peninsula swinging into the stored position to open up the middle of the layout room when its not in use.

The trackwork on the peninsula is fairly simple, there is only one turnout, and one crossover, but that leads to 4 separate tracks for spotting cars around the Standard Brands mill/elevator and plant, and the International Cooperage Company of Canada dock. There will be lots of action and work in a not very big area, and one that is occupied by the largest complete building on the layout, most buildings being flats and compressed, the mill and elevator are the only buildings that will get to be full sized!

Starting to lay track onto the peninsula. I was luck to be able to obtain a full survey of the Pardee Avenue lands that I printed in HO Scale to get the building locations.

One thing I’ve determined is the crossovers and switches are complicated enough that it’s going to be a multiple person job to successfully get them shaped and glued down, so I will be looking to reconvene my great friends sometime in October/November for another track-laying party to get it done. Lots of other things to work on in the meantime, and I’ve discovered I don’t have enough Micro Engineering Code 70 Flex track to finish the layout, so I need to get more track anyways!! As always, equal steps forward and sideways, but the layout is really starting to look like I’d imagined designing it. It won’t be long now before a train can actually run on it from one end to the other!!

A Peninsula to finish the Benchwork

IMG_0009Another trunk full of lumber, not as much as last time, but enough to finish the job.

I took Friday this week off as a rest/recovery mental health day. I’ve been quite busy at work of late, and put in a bunch of overtime, so wanted to use some of it up and get a lazy day as well. My idea of a lazy day is to be productive on something I really want to do, rather than have to do. So of course, that meant a trip to Home Depot, followed by my off-site woodworking shop to build the last bit of benchwork for my layout, the peninsula that will hold Pardee Avenue. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the final design and form, but it was finally time to just get it done so I could move on with tracklaying.

I didn’t take any pictures of the work in progress. I got into a groove, things were working and coming together as I’d planned, and because working away from home means dragging tools and supplies, I wanted to get done as quick as I could so I could pack up and get back home to see if everything worked. The peninsula is a pretty basic box, as are the legs.

Getting the peninsula in place. These shots show it in the operating position, before I’d finished installing the legs or the hinge.

The peninsula wound up being 40″ long by 22″ wide. There is only a single switch on the peninsula and several buildings/sidings. I needed to get it in place though, as the trackage to get onto the peninsula is complicated with crossovers from switches on the main line along Liberty Street.

More finished and with the hinge in place to start testing the swing.

I managed to damage the small caster wheels from Lee Valley that I’m using while building the legs (i knocked them over and they went over and smashed into the hard concrete floor, sigh). I have replacements now, so will temporarily disassemble the legs and replace them. I also need to get some ballast for the bottom to help keep the casters on the ground. Once that fettling is done, I’ll make sure the surface is level and do the final fastening of everything together. Then I can get on with making sure everything is level at the transition across the joint when I install the foam on the peninsula, and then its back to tracklaying. It was indeed a good day off work!

Closet Organization

One of the things that makes me crazy in life is things being disorganized, and not being able to find things. I haven’t been getting much work done on top of the benchwork of late. It’s late summer, and I’ve been busy enjoying the good weather. That said, I put some time into getting under the benchwork organized, in particular in the closet. Everything was being stored in 80L plastic totes, great for moving, less great for being able to find things in a hurry. I was getting really tired of having to drag out all the tubs to find one tub that was at the bottom where inevitably model railroad stuff was.

My solution, was to use a modular IKEA Shelving system, the IVAR, its a simple unfinished pine system that comes in different depths, widths and heights, and with all kinds of accessories like drawers and baskets. Its perfect for what I wanted in the closet, and fits beneath the benchwork without eating precious space in the already tight closet.

IMG_9814The closet is hard to photograph, but three segments of IVAR from Ikea in place beneath the benchwork for storage.

Setting up the IVAR’s let me get most of the boxes for rolling stock out of plastic totes, even things that aren’t on the layout, just so I can find the boxes and manuals if needed. There is a space for my general toolbox where I can get at tools when needed, a space for my drill set, dremel, etc, instead of having to dig under a desk to find them. I’m still working on figuring out where I want everything to be, but one of the things that IKEA systems are good for, is they are systems. If I decide I want another shelf or a hanging basket, its easy enough to go back and grab them.

Again, photography in the closet isn’t easy, but you can see the supplies and tools organized beneath the layout.

Another days thought on where I want to put things on the shelves, and hopefully I’ll be back to wiring and laying track on the layout.

Peninsular Musings

I’ve written about the peninsula for my layout in passing in posts, and at least one post on mocking it up, but now that I’ve been living with it mocked up since April (4 months), I now have a good feel on what I do and don’t like about it. I like that I’ve gotten it down to a size where it does what I need it to for the layout, but where it isn’t so big that it completely blocks traffic in the room. I don’t like how small the room feels when the peninsula is in place but nothing is happening. When I took the peninsula down for the wiring and tracklaying to proceed last weekend, I walked into the room and went wow its a bigger room without the peninsula, not necessarily the response I wanted.

IMG_7814Peninsula mockup before trimming it down.

My original plan had been for it to be hinged and swing over to the front of the benchwork to free up space. Over the four months I’ve had the mockup in place, I’d been coming around to having it be permanently mounted, but having taken it out now, I know that would be the wrong decision. Keeping it movable, even just swinging it around is necessary to open up the room for a whole variety of reasons. because of the buildings on the peninsula, I don’t want it to be completely removable as then I’d be constantly having to take the buildings off and put them somewhere else, having it hinged and swinging away does the best of both worlds, easy to store, and opens up the space.

June 07 18 - Liberty Layout - West.anyExtract of the Track Plan showing the slimmed down 22″x40″ Peninsula

The peninsula will swing to the right of the plan above, so that it would be against the benchwork between Jefferson and Atlantic when its stowed. In working on the trackwork, its also become clear that I need to actually build the peninsula benchwork sooner rather than later, even if I don’t permanently install it, just to support the track and get the alignment right. I have a few ideas on how to do the hinge and alignment pins to make sure that the benchwork and track always align and hold in space when it is put in position for operating.

IMG_9205Flying trackwork, this needs a peninsula badly to let me finish making sure this trackage works when complete both on the main benchwork and the peninsula.

I want to get the trackwork and scenery on the wall mounted benchwork done and finished before I start working on the peninsula in earnest, but I can build it, get the track in place, and take it down, or who knows, maybe once its in place, I’ll be happy its there and be able to work around it. While I putter away at the trackwork in the coming weeks, I’m going to think about when I can do the woodwork to build the simple box and legs so I can have it in place for a bit, then take it down to finish the phase 1 construction of the layout.

IMG_9236My printed survey showing the footprints of the buildings on the peninsula, and the roughed in track lines. Just waiting for a wood box framework to get installed.

So, its continued progress, slow and steady. I know now how I want to handle the peninsular, and doing it hinged to start, its easier to change my mind and go permanent later, rather than going hinged as decisions like casters on the legs are now a must rather than an option.

More Sunday Trackwork

Last week I had friends over and made a big dent in the trackwork. I took last Monday off work to recover from that and clean the house and putter on the layout. In the week since, I’ve made a fair bit more progress in starting to rough in the track beyond what was glued down last weekend.

IMG_9205Working on the complicated crossovers that lead to the sidings on the currently non-existent peninsula.

In the week since, I’ve worked on some little clean ups and starting to advance getting the track ready to complete the primary trackwork between the two ends of the layout. it’s a slow process, and one where making sure the tracks aren’t so sharp or misaligned now will make the layout run much better down the road. A single days help from a couple of friends has set me up with things I can work away at on my own for a half hour here or an hour there when I get home from work, or need to clear my mind while about the house.

The most complicated bit of trackwork left are the switches and crossovers to the peninsula shown in the image above. As I’ve been working on this, I still don’t have the peninsula built, and I haven’t settled on it being permanently affixed or hinged, but as I’ve worked on the track, I definitely need it in place to allow the track work to be properly aligned and cut if it is going to be hinged/removable.

IMG_9226A success, these switches I got adjusted and the holes for the frog wires and throwbars drilled myself and down into position to let me start working on the track alignment at the east end of the layout in the closet.

As I’m roughing out the track, I’m also looking at making sure I am happy with where elements are going, and that I have enough room for acceptable representations of the buildings I want to model that are served by the layout. This has seen me move pieces from the track plan a little, but for the most part what I’ve designed is becoming a reality in the space. Its a good feeling and it is giving me continued motivation to push ahead with work seeing things come together as they have.

Looking to and from the closet, the glued down track stops at the switch in the foreground on the left image. the gap from there to the glued down track in the closet is currently being roughed in.

I have a lot of things to do, I’ve been struggling with my soldering technique, and supplies. The “no clean” flux I have is useless, it just runs away from where I put it and I can’t get solder to do simple things like tin the end of a wire with it. Writing about my adventures in soldering is on my to-do list, but I’m probably going to wait until I actually work out my soldering problems so I can provide some insight on how i finally got competent at it (I’ll settle for competent, capable or good would be outstanding achievements!)