Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Alderson - the Baseboards! or I am not a carpenter

OK folks - it's confession time. I am not a carpenter. I'll go further than that, I love wood but it HATES me! So I have to devise ways of constructing baseboards that I stand a chance of succeeding with in some way or another. So Giles original design for baseboards seems to be based on a sheet of half inch 5 ply 48 inches by 24 inches. That sheet of plywood is split up as underneath:-

Now the 9" x 5" bits form the ends. You'll see that you get 4 ends per baseboard plus a bit! Very confusing but I only used one thickness at each end so I had two ends left over per baseboard plus a spacer that was about 3.75" tall. It's 3.75" because each cut has a thickness. The baseboard top is 39" x 9" and the two sides are 39" x 5.5". The reason that the boards are so tall is that I am using Tortoise point motors and they are about 4" tall so to protect them during transport and moving about I've made the insides 5" tall. I'm also going to mount a set of controls for each baseboard in the front side so I'll need some height for that too. The baseboards come out like this:-

Well, I wish they did because originally I had the sides 7.5" tall and I had to rip them down by 2" using a circular saw. Now even using masking tape to protect the plywood it still shattered along the cut edge. I did mention I wasn't a carpenter! So I built two boards 39" long and then I thought that I needed a crossover so I added a board 12" long for it to sit on. I could have fitted the crossover in one form or another onto the two baseboards but it all got far too busy. Having made the 12" board then I made an end board. This is to act as a switching extension of 9" long which means that I can probably get a switcher and two 40' boxcars or similar on it. I'll use it when no scenic module is connected to the "country" end of the boards. Just a bit of flexibility, that's all. So a picture is worth a thousand words so:-

Here we are in the garage with the baseboard perched on a very old Workmate and this shows what will be the Roundhouse end of Alderson. The boards are held together with coach bolts and wing nuts using repair washers each side so the wood does not get damaged. Alignment is taken care of by using a pair of Pattern Makers Dowels at each joint. They are not cheap at £7/$10 a pair but I have a few left over from years ago and it's a shame not to use them. They look like this:-

Now they are exactly 1" diameter and basically I start by clamping the two boards together and ensuring correct alignment by feel. Then I drill a pilot hole, 1/4" diameter where I want the dowels. I separate the boards and then bore a 1" diameter hole the depth of the flange of the dowel and then I drill through for clearance of the "male" part of the dowel in the female board. About 3/8" normally does it. I clamp the boards back together and drill for a couple of coach bolts to draw the boards together. Some folks only use coach bolts but I find the dowels give me an exactness I need especially using Atlas code 55!.

This is the view looking the other way along the baseboards towards the depot and "country" end of Alderson.

Now this is the board that I "slipped in" when I checked through the working of Alderson and found it was severely deficient when it was worked by one company. I'm amazed that the Atlas #5 points have such a "tail" on them and I wonder if a crossover in #7's would have been the same length? Anyway I'll get another industry or two into the station area by means of this board.

Now this is the "portable country end" which will give me some switching space when I don't have a scenic module attached. It's nothing grand and is put together from those spare 9" baseboard end sections and the offcuts. I just hope it works!

A few snaps of the undersides now:-

All I have used for assembly is white PVA glue and a handful of nails. It seems to work for me!

Now all you folks with 800 square feet basements will be laughing your socks off at this and if I had an 800 square foot, no a 64 square foot area I could call my own so would I! As it is this has to be portable because we have the house for sale and who knows what size room - if any - I'll end up with?

And finally my apologies that this blog is so stilted but it is being done in "real time" so as I'm doing it I'm writing about it so I've just described some of what has been going on since last time.

Happy Modelling Folks,



  1. Looks a lot like what I did on my loft layout, though I used thinner plywood and a foam top; see it at http://loftlayout.blogspot.com

    No reason one way is any better than the other, but I have been converted to the advantages of the foam, and it is a lot easier to get it to do what you want. And lighter.

  2. In general portable layouts need to be more sturdy than fixed ones. However it is my intention to surface off using 10mm foamboard so watch this space as they say.

    Why is it so difficult to leave a comment apart from as "Anonymous". I've been round 3 times as a Google Account. I've not come across anything as user agressive for years. Get it sorted.

    Happy Modelling,

    Mike Beard

  3. Mike:
    The carpentry work looks good. I've used those attern maker's dowels years ago (bought them from the 7mmNGA) and yes, they are expensive but very effective.
    The factory building is coming up very wll. It will be an impressive presence in the layout.