I could fit a small railroad in two locations in my apartment, an "L" shaped layout in the living room or a "U" shaped layout in the bedroom. The "L" shaped layout would be about 14 feet long by five feet, but would block the view out of the living room windows. One idea was to have a bi-level layout with a loop, switchback, or helix at the short end to climb to the second level. However, on setting up the loop of track that came with the Silverton Flyer set, it became obvious that a loop would take up too much real estate, as would a switchback. I thought about a lift long enough to raise the whole train, but it would have needed to rotate 180° as well as lift, which would take as much or more room than a loop. Coupled to this was the fact that one end of the layout would be located over the primary radiator that heated the apartment, and that the layout would take up the space I use to set up my portable hobby table, left this choice in second place, at best.
Although I liked having a 14 foot run, the entire layout would be visible from one place, emphasizing its small size. There was also a large cabinet containing oversized books and my laser disc collection that blocked the far end of the layout. If I wanted to use the last two and a half feet of space there, I would need to build the benchwork wide enough and strong enough to support the weight of the books and discs which would have to be stored under the layout (Ironically, the cabinet was built out of the remains of the benchwork from a previous model railroad). Any benchwork put into the living room would have to be entirely built from scratch. The "U" shaped layout in the bedroom would run about seven feet along three walls of the bedroom. It would cross in front of two windows, on which I usually keep the blinds closed, anyway.
I would have to bridge across the head of the bed, and the space for the layout was taken up with three rows of bookcases of varying height. Still, an operator standing at Sumpter yard would have their back towards Bourne, and vice versa, making the layout appear larger, since it couldn't be seen in one view. It would mean I would have to keep the bedroom tidy when visitors came to call, but the "U" shaped layout became my favorite idea, especially when I realized that I could use the existing bookcases as the primary means of support, and would only need to extend each bookcase to a universal height. Whichever layout I built, the fact that I am an apartment dweller meant that it would have to be sectional, portable, and removable.
All things considered, I decided that the "U" shaped layout would be the best idea, since the S & B would have had no tunnels, loops or switchbacks, and I didn't want to take up half the living room with a return loop to climb to a second level. I sketched out the necessary benchwork for the bedroom layout, estimated how much lumber I would need, and ordered some Peco On30" track and switches.
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This page updated Aug 4, 2006
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