Flip up, flip around…

These are not expressions one normally associates with “staging”, but my friend Chris Abbott and I decided a flip up shelf was just the (train) ticket for providing the space required for the few minutes needed to turn locomotives via a flip-around cassette. Chris visited after work last night and installed the shelf while I glued down ties on the sector plate.

Here’s the shelf in the down position – ready for use. The locomotive cassette has a piece of green tape over its ties. (You can also see my ties on the sector plate.)

Staging Extension - Shelf Down.

And here’s how it works:

When a train arrives, the crew will connect the cassette to the end of their arrival track, uncouple from their train, and then drive the locomotive onto the cassette:

Engine Turning - 01.

The cassette is disconnected from the sector plate and turned end for end by sliding it on the shelf:

Engine Turning - 02.

The cassette – now with turned locomotive – is then connected to a clear track and the crew drives back onto the sector plate:

Engine Turning - 03.

When not in use, the cassette sits next to the sector plate, while the shelf is stored upright:

Engine Turning - 04.

This will prevent equipment from being driven off the end of the staging area.

Flipping the shelf up exposes its cabinet hinges and a brace that contacts the end of the staging benchwork to provide support for the shelf:

Staging Extension - Shelf Up.

Chris plans to install some hardware on the brace to provide for fine adjustment, so the shelf is flat and properly aligned with the staging area’s base.

Using a flip-up shelf also provides unimpeded access to a chest freezer in the layout room – helping to maintain a healthy domestic situation:

Staging Extension - Freezer Access.

The shelf can even be unclipped and removed:

Staging Extension - Shelf Removed.

This will be handy when working on track in the staging area: It will allow me to sight down the rails, and will prevent me from using the shelf as a resting place for tools and materials during work sessions.

We’re still working out the details of connecting the cassette to the sector plate, and powering the rails on the cassette. But we’ll get there. Meantime, I’ve stopped adding ties about an inch from the ends while we ponder the problem.

Progress on the Rest of the World

Sector plate - with cork.

The Rest of the World – otherwise known as “staging” – is taking shape with the installation of the sector plate.

The sector plate is relatively straightforward. A piece of 3/4″ thick MDF has been cut to create a stationary deck and a moveable plate. I laid out the centrelines for the four tracks, as well as the centreline for the plate. Chris Abbott then drilled a hole at the far end of the plate and deck for a steel dowel pin, which makes a great pivot:

Sector plate - pivot.

Rather than get fancy about supporting the pin, we drilled the first hole about 1/8″ undersize, all the way through both plate and deck. We then used a press-fit drill size to drill down through the same hole, all the way through the plate but only about 3/4 of the way through the deck. This keeps the pin from falling through, but also allows us to push it out from underneath if we need to take apart the sector plate.

We then used the pin, a pencil and a piece of scrap MDF with a couple of holes in it to create a beam compass and mark an arc across the entrance end of the sector plate. We did this about two inches in from the end of the plate, then cut the arc with a jigsaw and sanded both sizes of the cut smooth. The short piece was screwed to the deck, located so the plate would slide past it with the saw’s kerf as a gap:

Sector plate - entrance.

Here’s a tip – screw this end of the plate to the deck before drilling the holes for the dowel pin. The short piece will then go back in place exactly where it needs to be after cutting.

When we were satisfied with the fit of the plate, I added cork roadbed to the plate using No More Nails. I also finished the cork roadbed for the mainline from the north switch at St. Williams to the sector plate. Note how the roadbed fans at the entrance to the sector plate, so that each track lines up with the approach track. Note also how I cut back the cork around the dowel pin to make sure we can remove it if necessary.

The sector plate is now ready for ties and rail – and I am another step closer to driving the Gold Spike.

Rubber gauged

Sector plate with train.

I’ve decided to hand-lay the sector plate – even though I’ve purchased S scale flex track for the job.

In setting up a train to determine what would fit in the staging area (shown above), I discovered that the semi-scale wheel sets from Northwest Short Line* do not like the Code 70 flex track from Tomalco. I have these under my passenger cars and they drop in between the rails on the flex. Not good.

I’ve used an NMRA-style track/standards gauge offered by the National Association of S Gaugers* on all my hand laid track and turnouts and the cars work fine there. So, hand laid it is.

I like hand laying track and have lots of supplies to do this, so this isn’t a problem. It’ll just take a little more time.

(*Check the “Links” section on this blog’s home page for the most up-to-date links)

The rest of the world

I have been working on Port Rowan for several months now. Yesterday, we took a trip to the other end of the line.

My friend Chris Abbott (I should create a keyboard shortcut for that expression, I use it so much), dropped by after work. After suitable handwaving and head scratching, plus a hot cup of tea, we nipped over to the local builders supply store and picked up a 4’x8′ sheet of 3/4″ MDF from which to create the sector plate staging system for the layout.

The lumber yard made two cuts for us – creating a 2′ x 8′ piece, a 1’x8′ piece, and a leftover length. At home, we trimmed these to fit my space. The 2’x8′ was cut down to 7′ and became the deck, while the 1’x8′ was cut to approximately 6′-6″ and will become the movable sector plate.

Some basic carpentry later, and we had everything mounted and level:

The rest of the world: a start on the sector plate.

The track is S scale flex track, set in place to help visualize how the finished sector plate will look. I may end up hand-laying the sector plate trackage, as I have elsewhere. Also in this photo, at left, is a rectangle of MDF that will become a fold-down extension for the deck, plus a 4″x18″ piece of MDF that will become a removable cassette for turning steam engines. This will plug into the end of any of the four tracks on the plate. Unplug it, turn it end for end, and reconnect: voilà, the locomotive is turned.

A screen of trees will hide the sector plate from St. Williams – seen in the distance in the photo.

This sector plate will give me plenty of storage for the layout – holding 32 40-foot freight cars. But I will most likely use it to stage three trains with a clear track for engine escape moves.

Each train will provide sufficient operating fun on my sleepy branch line before friends and I retire to the pub or grab dinner. As an example, this S scale rendition of the Port Rowan Mixed M233 – a.k.a. The Daily Effort – features a 10-wheeler, three carloads for spotting in St. Williams and Port Rowan, a boxcar in less than carload lot (LCL) service, a baggage mail car, and a combine:

What fits: a train mocked up on the sector plate.

It’s nice to see how the full layout will come together. I can see an end in sight to the track-laying – and a start to running trains!