Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to decide how to proceed with getting a layout up and running as soon as possible. The thing is, the size of layout I want (at least 8 x 3 feet) just isn’t possible in my current apartment, and although I have plans to move to a larger property, I won’t be able to realise those plans for at least several months, and possibly a year or more, depending on how long it takes to get a buyer (the Malta property market is unpredictable and can be slow).
I’ve also been getting rather frustrated with setting up a layout on the kitchen worktop or dining table to do some testing and running, only to have to take it down again within a few hours because the space is needed for frivolous, unnecessary things such as cooking and eating.
I’ve decided to get a much smaller baseboard and build a small test layout on it, so that at least I can start building my tracklaying and wiring skills (and run some trains!) while I wait to move house and plan my main layout. In the longer term, once my main layout is under way, I’ll cannibalise the test layout for parts or sell it locally.
So I’ve ordered a 4 feet by 2 feet baseboard from Model Railway Solutions, and taking into account their current backlog I should receive it via TNT courier by the end of May. It’s a few more weeks but that’s OK. It will sit on the dining table when in use, and stand in a corner when not. It will also fit in my car. I decided to buy a baseboard rather than build one due to my woodworking skills being somewhat on the poor side of amateurish.
The plan I have in mind for my test layout is shown below. I’ve already got all the track for it in my track box, acquired from various Ebay purchases over the last few months.
It’s essentially a basic double loop and the curves are quite tight (Fleischmann radius 2), but I’m not going for realism at this stage – I just want somewhere to run trains, program locos, do some DCC wiring, and try out some wire-in-tube techniques for switching points and uncouplers. I probably won’t even add any scenery.
The small head shunt bottom left (or the siding bottom right) will probably be wired up as a DCC programming track with insulating joiners and a separate switchable feed.
So now I’m looking forward to having a semi-permanent place to run these wonderful beasts!