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Steps to Build a Layout


For the base frame, I use 25 mm aluminium square tubing with the frame pieces put together using plastic/ aluminium connectors that are available from a reputable aluminium supplier. My layout is built on top of cupboards so legs are not required. Aluminium legs can also be used but they will require some bracing.

Step 2

The baseboard is 9 mm plywood that is fixed to the aluminium frame with rivets. The baseboard is used to lay the wiring and the train operation equipment.

Step 3

The top board, which we call the layout board, is made of 6 mm plywood. The layout is built on this board. It is glued and screwed onto the baseboard using wooden supports that are 160 x 40 x 15 mm in size. The height between the boards is 160 mm. This gives me sufficient space to lay the wires and install the train control equipment on the baseboard.

Step 4

The tracks on the layout board.

Step 5

The tracks are laid out on the board according to the track plan.

Step 6

After laying out the tracks, the tracks are marked onto the board. This allows for enough space to place the catenary masts.

Step 7

The tracks are in position and it is now time to cut out the layout board sections for the tracks that will be elevated and descending.

Step 8

The board with the attached gradient sections is now covered with a 3 mm rubber sheet that has double-sided glue on the side that goes onto the board. The rubber is used to deaden the running noise of the trains as an alternative to cork. It also provides an excellent surface for modelling all of the scenery equipment, for example; buildings, trees, grass, lights, and roads, etc. Strips of 3 mm x 30 mm rubber can be used for laying beneath the tracks instead of covering the whole board with the rubber sheetif so desired.

Step 9

The layout board is displayed here with the rubber sheeting. The elevated track sections are now supported by the correct sized wooden supports. The ideal gradient is 4 %. These sections have not yet been covered with the rubber sheeting. 

Step 10

The descended track board with the rubber sheeting in place.

Step 11

The support pillars for the different levels.

Step 12

The first step in the scenery building. The rubber sheeting is covered with a mixture of 50% wood glue, 50% water, and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. The soap assists the glue mixture with spreading.

Step 13

The ground cover is sprinkled onto the glue where the locomotive yard will be. When the glue is wet, the ground cover will look like a disaster, that is until the glue is dried.

Step 14

The tracks are now accurately laid into position and checked for an excellent power connection.

Step 15

Run a locomotive to check the track and power connections.

Step 16

Now connect up the ancillary train equipment such as lighting and moving figurines.

Step 17

Check that the ancillary equipment items are all operating.

Step 18

When connecting up all of the wires, lay them out neatly. Should a fault occur later on, it will be easy to trace the wiring back to the fault or broken electrical item.

Step 19

The time has arrived for the locomotives to go onto the layout and the trains are given their first run on the layout. The check is now done for dirty tracks, sticky turnouts, and hopefully no derailments.

Step 20

The ballast is now applied to the track using the Proses Ballast Applicator. The ballast is glued into position on the tracks preferably using a 50% latex glue, 50% water, and a few drops of dishwashing liquid mixture. Since latex glue is rubber-based, the trains run quieter than the alternative, which is wood glue. A dropper should be used to apply the glue. This helps to prevent the glue from getting onto the tracks, turnout moving parts and power contacts. If the glue is spilt onto these parts, clean it off immediately.  If you do not, you are in for a frustrating time when you start running your trains.

Step 21

Before erecting the catenary masts and connecting the catenary wire all of the scenery in awkward positions should first be completed.

Step 22

The catenary masts and wires are now erected and completed on the inner tracks of the layout. Before continuing with the catenary on the outer tracks the basic scenery in the centre of the layout is completed. So doing the scenery work is easier to do and the catenary does not get damaged.

Step 23

The layout is now complete

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 082 558 3531
 010 237 0052
Miniature Railways

Byron Street
South Africa

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