(F) Transport of portable layouts

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Steve Bennett
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(F) Transport of portable layouts

Postby Steve Bennett » Sun Apr 23, 2006 9:44 am

After spending many hours building a layout, the last thing you want is for it to get damaged in transport to a show. To this end I build a protective case to carry it in.

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Construction is very simple, and made out of Hardboard (prob has different names elsewhere) with softwood bracing. The reason for choosing Hardboard is not only for the cheapness of the material, but also the soft fibre underside is kind on the varnished fascia that I use on my layouts. The cover is simply glued and pinned together and is a snug fit over the layout. It is retained by two bolts front and rear, which screw into captive nuts in the baseboard frame, add a carry handle and you have a very easily handled unit which is fully protected. This underside shot will show a bit more detail. Note how simple this layout is, a few wires and a single rod for turnout operation:

Image

Once at the show, the four bolts that hold the cover in place are removed, the cover slid off, then it acts as a stand to raise the layout up from the table to give a better viewing height.

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This method is only really suitable for single baseboard layouts and is only one way of giving protection, there are many more, so if anyone else wishes to add their own methods to this thread, please do share with the rest of us.
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Postby rue_d_etropal » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:20 am

Steve, transportation is often the last consideration, when building a portable layout. This is the main reason why I am building my Gn15 winery layout to fit in box-files.

I have built similar boxes to yours, but you have to be careful, in case the whole lot becomes TOO HEAVY to carry.

I aim to be able to carry things myself, if necessary using a sack barrow, but prefer not to be dependant on others helping me carry the layout. I would never refuse help, but most people setting up an exhibition are busy themselves.

Surely that's one reason for building a small layout. Finding a compromise between 'easy to transport' and 'easy to set up' is the real challenge.

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Steve Bennett
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Postby Steve Bennett » Sun Apr 23, 2006 10:37 am

Agreed Simon, weight can become an issue, choosing the lightest materials possible is the number one rule of building a portable layout. Had never thought to weigh this one to see how heavy it was, it tips the scales at 18 pounds including the case, easily carried in one hand, even for a weakling like me.
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Sir Briand
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Postby Sir Briand » Sun Apr 23, 2006 3:53 pm

Steve, I see that the layout is carried on its side in the case. The problem with this is everything, not removable, has to be solidly glued down.

Knotts Wharf and Arches were both too wide to go through doors flat and had to be tipped on their sides to get them out of the house. I soon found out that I invariably forgot to remove a removable and had it crash to the floor when tipping occurred. Either that or an item would fall off en route and get lost for ever. Mark you, your box solves this problem as anything would still be in the box. I think gravity would uproot the big tree on Upton if treated this way.

Another potential problem with a box is storing the thing when exhibiting. Been there, done that. You solve this by using it as a base to raise the layout. Upton is 18 inches from base to top of big tree. This would put viewing height at 46 - 48 inches which I think is too high for general exhibition use. Another item of controversy.

I think I will make four removable corner posts for Upton just as I did for Arches. These also made handy carrying handles. A simple heavy card box could then fit over this and be designed to fold flat when not needed. Thinks. "Now what have I got myself into?"
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Postby Steve Bennett » Sun Apr 23, 2006 4:34 pm

Ah, good point about the height Brian. Had assumed the tree was removed for transport, but even so your building is quite high. My boxed up layout is only 9" deep and I use quite a shallow frame on the baseboard, 35mm or approx 1 3/8", as there is nothing really that needs space underneath and this is rigid enough for such a small board.

As regards loose items on the layout, I keep this to a minimum, as yes, you invariable forget to remove something at the end of a show. For figures, I have a brass rod glued into one foot and drill a hole in the baseboard to pass the rod through, then under the board, slip a bit of plastic insulation from electrical wire over the brass rod to hold it in place. They turn but dont fall out. For other items I use a non-setting glue which stays tacky, an American product called "Grab", this is suitable for most items, but not heavy bits of whitemetal. Even the shed on my layout is glued on with this stuff, with its roof just held on with Blu-tac.
Maybe a few ideas there for you?
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Sir Briand
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Postby Sir Briand » Wed May 03, 2006 8:58 pm

For figures, I have a brass rod glued into one foot and drill a hole in the baseboard to pass the rod through, then under the board, slip a bit of plastic insulation from electrical wire over the brass rod to hold it in place.


Using 2" foam as a base makes for a long pin.

Essentially all my figures have a pin up a leg so I can hold them when painting. This pin also stabilises the figure when stuck into the base material. Predrilled a hole if base hard.

On Arches all the figures were glued down and so was nearly everything else that did not move. Road vehicles were the exception. Will probably do the same with Upton when the time comes to finalise positions of the etceteras. By using CA as adhesive, and a debonder to remove, damage to paint etc is usually minimal if removal is called for.

As Upton will fit through an average door flat I won't have to contend with the pull of gravity on even a lightweight figure, which might be the case, if the layout had to be tipped on its side.
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Postby DCRfan » Fri Jul 21, 2006 9:00 am

Mount Albert Tramway consists of four standard baseboards and a small jointing section, and was designed from the start for ease of transportation. This was achieved by:

- one man/woman lift sizes & weights
- light weight and strength by using plywood construction
- must fit into my small hatchback.

Image

- Board 1 is the house section sitting on the floor. It is carried hanging from one hand. The backplate for the house is right on the point-of-balance. I would like to claim it was designed that way but I would be fibbing.

From the right:
- Board 2 is the tunnel and fiddle yard section
- Boards 3 & 4 are carried bolted face to face. Sitting on top are two low relief houses that bolt onto the sides of Baseboard 4. They are carried taped face to face.
- All the removables, rolling stock and tools are carried in the plastic four drawer lowboy. It had wheels but they only lasted one exhibition. Sitting on top is the joiner section.
- And finally all the legs.

Sequence:

1. Park at hall.
2. Locate layout site carrying lowboy and all legs slung over shoulder.
3. Carry in BB 1.
4. Carry in BB 2 with joiner balanced on top.
5. Carry in BB 3 & 4 with houses balanced on top
6. Assemble.

Note between each trip, stop have a natter with the other exhibitors as they arrive. If the wife is there only two trips each are required.

Image

My entry in the strangest shape baseboard contest. The best that can be said about the design is that it has two sides that are parallel. It was a challenge to construct. There are no right angles which was either aided or not by my basic woodworking skills. I'm not sure which.

During transport the layout has only suffered minor damage to the fences which line the edges of several of the baseboards. I put this down primarilly to the baseboards being light, small and easy to carry.

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Postby Steve Bennett » Sat Jul 22, 2006 10:25 am

Interesting to see it all ready for transport Paul, not the easiest shape layout pack up compactly.

Those small plastic drawer units (lowboy) are very useful for carrying stuff to exhibitions, I use a couple of them myself. One tip, the wheels don't last long if used over rough ground. If you put a baggage strap around them from top to bottom, it keeps the drawers shut in transit and can be used as a carry handle when you come to uneven ground, putting it back down on its wheels again when you come to a smooth surface. I have just replaced one after more than five years use, not because the wheels went, the plastic of the main body has gone brittle over time. Hope that helps.
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Postby Colin Peake » Sat Nov 18, 2006 8:03 pm

My dad and I examined Steve's box design in great detail at Burton in May, and for Shifting Sands we took the design, beefed it up a little, and then added to it. The timber we used was larger in section than Steve's, and we added extra suupports at the front to accomodate two lighting towers. To tie them together we used a piece of hardboard, later painted and lettered to match the layout.

Image

Shows the set-up, taken before the doors opened this morning at Retford. We have had a lot of compliments about how professional the set-up looks, so credit must be given to Steve for sowing the seeds of the idea!
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