Monday, 12 March 2018

By The Beach Extension

It's March, the Australian summer is now over, and the layout extension that I first talked about building just before Christmas is now in place after a rather inglorious past few months of set-backs and near misses. So much so, that for a bloke who isn't short of words, I don't really want to talk much about it. Believe me when I say there were more than a few times when I just wanted to palm the layout off to someone else, and start over. Or walk away from the hobby altogether.

Thankfully, the rebuild is now behind me. I can get to work laying some new track and having the layout ready to operate in time for Philden's next exhibition. So without going into too much detail, I'll let the following photos show you how I almost butchered a perfectly good layout, and how I somehow managed to bring it back from the brink of disaster to now have a great opportunity to build something that will be better than the original.

Remember the antique signal box plaques from my post Making Awful Look Awesome?

They not only disintegrated when trying to remove them, but gouged out my timber panelling.... I cut a new panel using 3 mm fibreboard lined with the same self-adhesive steel checker-plate film I used here.

Remember the exhibitor plaques from my past layouts that once guarded the mouse-hole door?

The panel is 3 mm MDF board with blue sky backdrop on the other side. Removing them almost tore through the backdrop.

It called for another cut-out panel to be glued in place over the top and a strip of film to cover the removed gold trim.

So after months of problems with matching the paint to the original layout's timber stain, almost butchering the sky backdrop at the mouse-hole end of the layout and destroying once valuable railway artefacts that were glued a little-too-well to the layout, I could finally remove the door that once covered the mouse-hole exit, and join the new section to the existing layout.

To do so required a flush-fit between the two sections, so I had to remove the gold timber trim that runs around the bottom perimeter of the fascia from the mouse-hole end of the current layout. This not only destroyed the paintwork, but also gouged holes from the timber fascia, calling for ample amounts of wood putty. Already aware that I was unable to match the timber stain on this original section, I simply cut a strip of self-adhesive checker-plate contact film and hid the mess. The two sections will bolt together flush, and no-one will ever see it anyway.

The former exhibitor's plaques from my past layouts now have a new home on the bottom of each end panel.

The re-painted leg panels bolted back into the same places. There are now only 3 instead of 4.

As for the vintage metal railway poster plaques featuring the retro poster girls I wrote about on my post replacing legs with panels, they bent completely out of shape when I removed them. At around $7 Australian plus postage on eBay, they are cheap enough to replace. I have another 4 on their way from the UK, so there will be another 2 to fit between the Blackpool girl and the gold trim above the exhibitor plaques, and likewise on the other end panel.

Before: the layout with a short 700 mm two track staging shelf and bulky lid that was clumsy to move.

After: the layout with a new 800 mm extension to be filled with scenery, and a new lightweight lid.

Most people might argue that for a small layout, this seems like a whole lotta' work for nothing. And I'd be inclined to agree with you. Once more having to work off a concrete garage floor in the heat of an Australian summer, and having everything go wrong, has resulted in my adding just an extra 100 mm of length to my layout. Hardly worth the effort involved you might say. What it has rid the layout of however, is the bulky and clumsy lid and staging shelf set-up that was an aftermath of my failed attempt to originally build this as a double-layered layout back in late 2016. The old staging shelf was a waste of space. I now have an extra 800 mm long section of 300 mm wide blank layout space to work with to complete a new scene. From "Somewhere in New South Wales, at a railway station far, far, away....." to "By The Beach", my small layout will soon have two very different destinations.

The new beach extension bolts flush to the layout and shares the middle leg panel.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I could have built this layout a whole lot simpler. Even an oversight with my measurements for the mouse-hole exits between the two sections called for some last minute cutting, filing and gnashing of the teeth. But perhaps the biggest disappointment I faced was not being able to match the original timber stain to any of the staging shelves, leg panels and finally this new extension. That in itself almost led me to walk away from this project and start over with a new layout.

While the gloss Indian Red spray paint is by no means a perfect match, with the extension bolted in place to the layout, I'm prepared to call it good enough and get on with working on the layout. The next step is to get the 3 mm clear acrylic perspex panels measured and cut to fit the new extension to the right in the below picture.

Let the IKEA fit-out below begin! Starting with the 700 mm x 800 mm EKET storage display.

Perhaps the greatest benefit from adding the new beach extension is that I built it to accommodate plans to replace my desk and hide the growing corner of model train clutter that just seems to accumulate. I needed the gap between the two above leg panels to be wide enough to accommodate the 700 mm wide x 800 mm high EKET storage display unit I'd had my eyes on at IKEA. Another of these will soon stand at the other end of the layout with a new, narrower desk to stand between the two, while the tall white stool that is visible in one of the above photos is my new operators seat and will accompany me to the next few model train exhibitions.

Not only has the first EKET halved the amount of clutter from the floor, but the few accessories I also picked up from IKEA help keep the area looking neat and tidy. After all, my small layout does occupy prime living room space in our small apartment. And you've gotta' love the sound of all those Swedish names they give their products. My model railway and train magazines are now all safely tucked away in the TJENA magazine holders. My modelling bits and bobs are hidden from view in the grey FJALLA storage box. The photo of my wife Denise and I enjoying the sunset at Margaret River in Western Australia on our recent 25th Wedding Anniversary is mounted in the RIBBA frame, while a scented candle and small artificial plant Denise helped me pick out are resting in white metal VACKERT baskets. And there's even room for my signed Marcos Ambrose model NASCAR (not from IKEA, obviously).

Next up, I'm going to dismantle the desk, sort through even more clutter then head back to IKEA to complete the make-over below the layout. By the time I'm finished, it won't just be a new desk, it will be a new creative work space environment, whatever that is called. But as usual, I'll let that be a story for another day.

See also; When paint doesn't match and Almost ready to re-fit


  1. Carrying on the fine traditions of the NSWGR, mismatched Indian Reds. An old chippy from the carriageworks said they used to make up near enough pots, no hex numbers at Eveleigh!

  2. So true. Funny enough, if I said that was the look I was aiming for, people would probably believe me!


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil