Its cold, so its time to go back to the basement. After a serious bought with viral meningitis, I'm finally back to doing some trains and NMRA work.
Light and sturdy are the two words you need to remember when building a portable layout. If it is not durable, it won't last. If it is not light, you'll hate moving it and will eventually damage it when it gets dropped. Here you see a simple framework of 2x2 legs, 3" plywood supports, and 1x2 bracing. Cheap and sturdy while weighing only about 6 pounds.
I've added a shelf that is screwed in. This whole unit fits in my minivan, so it doesn't have to be assembled when you get to the show. To test it I'll take it to one of the next NMRA events so that I know how its going to travel before I put the scenery on.
Here is the layout frame, made with the 3" plywood strips that Blaine Holbrook and I cut on his table saw. On the right you'll see the "dip" where the river/lake area will be. The layout just rests on the 3" plywood supports, and the leg extensions keep it from moving. Is is very stable.
I am painting all the framework black. It gives it a much more professional finish, hides imperfections, and helps protect the wood from scenery materials. The legs all have adjustable feet on them.
Here you can see the depressed area. There will be two large trestles here going over this part of the canyon. The lower board (click on the photo to enlarge) is to support the edge and protect it from damage if dropped.
The waffle construction is not my usual Luan plywood, because I can't find it here in Utah. So I used thin plywood. Each of the boards is notched to accommodate the crossing board. This is a VERY strong way to build a layout, and the whole top section weighs less than five pounds. Each joint is glued and there is a small piece of corner round glued in to reinforce the joint to protect from "racking."
Notice that the scenery area on the left is longer over the benchwork than the right. There will be little weight here and possibly some "negative" or "less than zero" scenery that drops below the benwork. Extending this area allows 100% flexibility in construction.
After painting was complete, the layout was assembled in my shop. Not a lot of room, but plenty to finish the detail work with all my tools close by. One of the best things about portable layouts is that you can move them to a better place to work, like the fireplace in my basement!
Stay tuned as we progress. I may not post daily or even weekly, but I will keep you up to date. Next is to install a sheet of 2" foam, and the first loop of track.