Back in July, while building IKEA cabinets with storage drawers for my workshop, I mused that the drawers would work well for rolling stock storage under my sector plate. I was right:
Sufficient storage for rolling stock has been a problem for my layout almost from the beginning. I like to keep the sector plate free for just the trains staged to run on the layout. And I also like a variety of equipment.
While I already have more rolling stock than I need for a layout of this size, I expect I’ll acquire and/or build more. For one thing, there are certain classes of equipment that should appear on my layout, but which are not (yet) commercially available. For another, I do like building and finishing rolling stock. (In the past, I’ve had my friend Pierre Oliver do a lot of that for me while I focused on building the layout. But I’ve undertaken several projects on my own, too – and I expect to do more of this as the layout nears completion.)
This week, I went back to The IKEA Well, and purchased two 36″ wide six-drawer kitchen cabinets to install under the sector plate:
I picked the Marsta drawer fronts because they have integrated, recessed handles: I didn’t want handles to project into the aisle, where they could catch on pant legs.
Instead of using IKEA legs and a hanging rail against the wall, I attached the cabinets to the layout legs. This required bracing the sector plate with some scrap pine temporarily screwed to the front of the benchwork, the removal of one leg set from under the sector plate, and the repositioning of other leg sets to match the cabinet widths. But by carefully thinking it through so as not to leave the benchwork unsupported, I was able to do this in an afternoon without any problem.
To finish the installation, I cut some half-inch thick plywood for “counter tops” to keep the dust off and the wiring for the sector plate from drooping into the top drawers.
While building and installing the cabinets, I pondered how I was going to keep rolling stock from rolling and/or sliding about inside the drawers. Previously, I used a thin acoustic foam – the kind used as speaker covers. The foam worked well, but it’s difficult to find and needs to be fastened in place or it’ll slide about.
I thought of several alternatives and in the end I decided to dry the mats that are sold to put under carpets to keep them from sliding about. There are several different styles of these available, but by shopping around, I found the right type: an open-weave made (I think) with a string net that’s then coated in rubber:
I found these on sale for $7.50 per package at JYSK, a home accessories chain. Each package provided enough to line three drawers, and is easy to mark and cut to size:
As the lead photo shows, no dividers are necessary to keep the stock in place. The anti-slip mesh stays put in the drawers, and the wheels on rolling stock nestle into the weave. Cars stay put, and with no dividers I have a lot of flexibility in how I use the space.
I should add that the drawers have soft-close features on them, so they won’t slam shut and they stay closed. Providing I don’t yank on the drawers excessively, the rolling stock won’t tip over. (Those who are worried about this could always arrange all cars like the two tank cars in the lead photo, so they’re in line with the direction of movement.)
With room for approximately 300 40-foot cars, I’m unlikely to run out of storage space now. In reality, I’ll use separate drawers for passenger cars and motive power. I may even divide up freight cars by type: CNR boxcars could have a drawer all to themselves, since they account for about half of my freight fleet.
I may also dedicate a drawer to storing other things that should be near the sector plate. These would include throttles, uncoupling tools, clipboards and blank switch lists, and other operations aids that one needs when starting an operations session.
Regardless, it’s nice to have the options that this massive amount of storage space has made available to me. I’m glad I upgraded my stock storage system.