Middletown Railroad

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Middletown Railroad



If you read this web site from beginning to end without jumping around from one setion to another, at times, sections of it will seem out of sequence. This is one such section. Between the building of the table and the addition of the electrical system, other work was started, such as the building of some terrain and the laying of track. This site is not meant to deal with each aspect in chronological order so much as provide an overview of the whole process, broken down into managable and understandable tasks.

In this section I will deal with two aspects of the construction of the layout ... a)- the design and building of the table itself and; b)- the power supply/control panel and wiring.

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The Table

The first thing folks notice about this particular layout is the odd shape. There is a logical reason for it. When I started thinking about building a model railroad layout I knew I had to work within a very tight space. The shape of the layout makes a lot more sense once it is seen in its place.

The layout has to fit at one end of the den, surrounded on three sides. On the left of the layout it is up against a large storage cabinet for office supplies. At the right side, there is a small bit of wall before it meets the bifolding closet door - hence the notch - for door clearance. The two front corners have been cut off just for safety. It's a busy room sometimes and a jab in the ribs from a table corner is never pleasant.

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table02 table03

As you can see from the pictures the table top is an old door. It was cut to fit the space as efficiently as possible. The legs were made from bi-fold door panels that I saved after a small job. The board across the back of the legs is a piece of leftover 16" closet shelf.

As soon as I had the top in place I could not resist getting out a few pieces of rolling stock and a piece of track just to see what it might look like. And of course I just turned my back for a few seconds and already Alvin the railroad inspector arrived to check it out. To prepare the top I stripped a large portion of the veneer off the underside and then I cut a clearance hole where the entrance to the underground parkade for Acadia Square will protrude through the table top, as well as the pie shaped hole where the sector plate will reside. The other round hole is where the door knob used to be. It will be filled.

table06 table08

The next step was to cut 1/2" foam board to cover the entire top. I started to draw the track but I quickly discovered that with a carbon paper layed over the foam, the paper plan layed over that and tracing the plan the foam would not take the image from the carbon paper. I had a lot of it traced but when I pulled away the paper and carbon paper it was not there. So I had to paint a coat of flat white paint on the foam in order to use the carbon paper method.

table09 table10


Electrical - Control Panel and Wiring

Not wanting to lose any of the table surface for a control panel and not wanting the table to extend and farther into the room I had decided from the beginning that the power/control panel would stow away under the table like a drawer. The biggest challenge with that was to design a flexible cable link from the drawer to the table itself. I looked at a number of options for cable and because of cost and availability issues finally settled on using regular 18 ga. lamp wire. I had volunteered in amateur drama for a number of years, had built a few portable lighting systems, and it was material I knew well.

The first four photos show the basic frame of the drawer, with terminal blocks installed for the switches; the drawer bottom and switch panel cover added (bottom view); the lead for the power supply/speed control; and with the switch panel. The face of the switch panel was created using Paint Shop Pro and printed on regular paper. The paper was then fastened to the panel using Shurtape double faced art tape. A quick spray of dull-coat was used to seal the ink and then the whole panel was given several light coats of polyurethane and the switch holes were drilled out.

panel01 panel02
panel03 panel04

The next group of photos shows the switches installed; the switches wired to the terminal blocks; the power supply/speed control temorarily in place; and the the drawer installed in the table. One of the beauties of a layout this size is the ability to stand it in the "hood up" position and work on it without having to crawl under the table to do all the work.

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panel07 panel08

The last four photos show the table up with the link arms fastened to the drawer and the terminal board on the table; the flexible cable link completed; the bottom cover installed; and the completed project.

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panel11 panel12

The rest of the electrical work comprised running the wires from the track to the terminal blocks on the table. I have not showed photos of that. I did not use drop feeds from the track and bus wires. With the terminal blocks, that would have been far more complicated than it need be. I simply used 20ga. solid soldered to the track and run right to the terminal blocks.

There are many great "how-to" web sites that cover all aspects of electrical wiring for model railroads and it would be pointless for me to go into any great detail on something that has already been covered so well.