Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Building and operating a layout from a rolling chair

890 views
26 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Building and operating a layout from a rolling chair
Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, November 08, 2017 1:40 PM

Due to problems I've developed with my balance, I've abandoned my multi-deck HO layout for a more simple single deck N-scale layout with staging underneath.  This layout needs to be built, operated and maintained from a swivel stool.

Thanks to our friend Byron, I've got a fresh track plan that I'm ready to get started on.  What I'm looking for is any tips, techniques or experiences anyone cares to share on building a roll-around layout.

The layout is a traditional spare bedroon G shape with one blob on the wall near the door and the other on the end of the peninsula.  One thing I know from rolling experience is that legs get in the way so I'm hoping to get by with only 2 legs under the peninsula blob and everything else being supported by brackets attached to the walls.

Lastly, this will be 99.9% lone wolf.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 4,286 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, November 08, 2017 2:37 PM

I suggest you modify the title to say that you mean the "roll-around" applies to YOU, not the layout.  We've got another topic where there's talk of rolling part of the layout around, and it might make sense to have the title show that.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 4,286 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, November 08, 2017 2:45 PM

That said,

Whether or not your condition is temporary or permanent might affect your choices. However, there's nothing especially "wrong" with having a layout 30" high, except your reach is limited compared to "the big lean-over".

There was a recent topic where running most of the wiring along the front fascia was recommended.  There were various ways to make it more attractive.

I assume the layout will be much lower than "standard".  You'll still have to consider the "reachability" distance.  Since it's gonna be all-you, I come up with a max layout width of 24".  Of course, from each side would double that to 48".

Your fascia height is going to be important.  You don't want the bottom of it obstructing your legs.  I recommend working towards the absolute minimum fascia height.  It might look a little nicer, too--more furniture-like and less workbench-like.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 7,587 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Wednesday, November 08, 2017 7:50 PM

My layout is partially double-decked, but all of it, other than the upper deck, can be operated from rolling office chairs.  In fact, the area under the upper level is best operated in that manner.
However, rather than wasting expense on a cantilevered layout design, I supported the open grid benchwork on mostly 2"x4" legs, front and back, which also support plywood shelves for storing all sorts of things...train stuff, tools, household related things...just about anything.  
The key to this allowing a great deal of storage and yet still accommodating foot-space when standing or foot and leg-room when seated, is to allow the layout to overhang into the aisle.
All of the lower benchwork supporting the open grid is 31" high, with risers used to vary the elevation of the track and scenery.

A few photos to illustrate...

 

...and lots of storage space for all kinds of stuff...

As has been mentioned, your reach when seated is less than it would be when standing, so base your layout depth realistically, then scale the depth of the storage space to accommodate your legs and feet.  This will allow you to "belly-up" to the layout when you need extra reach.

Wayne 

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 11:03 AM

7j43k
There was a recent topic where running most of the wiring along the front fascia was recommended.  There were various ways to make it more attractive.

This has always been standard practice for me and I'll use it again here.  The shelves against the walls will be 3/4" plywood with a 1x2 under the front edge.  I'm thinking about using hooks that will hold the wires behind the 1x2 done so I can bring them out front as required to make connections.

I still need to come up with a way to mount my PSX breakers, detection and decoder boards so they can be hidden but still accessible.

7j43k
I assume the layout will be much lower than "standard".  You'll still have to consider the "reachability" distance.  Since it's gonna be all-you, I come up with a max layout width of 24".  Of course, from each side would double that to 48".

"Armpit high" for me when seated is about 40".  I'm think I'll put staging at 29" and visible at 36".  The shelves along the walls are mostly 12" deep.  The only exception is the blob by the door which comes out from the wall 40" but it is mostly accessible from 3 sides.

Thanks.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 4,286 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, November 09, 2017 11:34 AM

carl425

 

I'm thinking about using hooks that will hold the wires behind the 1x2 done so I can bring them out front as required to make connections.

 

 

These might work for you:

 

One name for them is kwik clips.  I would try them out first, though, to make sure they work for you.  For example, mine were/are designed to stick-on.  The "stick"y didn't work well, so I ended up using screws.  They come in different sizes.  When they work, they work VERY well.

These are also interesting:

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073LKJSP8/ref=sspa_dk_detail_3?psc=1&pd_rd_i=B073LKJSP8&pd_rd_wg=5DXdX&pd_rd_r=B0DKP4A5GQVHZFTWDCE5&pd_rd_w=sxlH3

 

You can, of course, do the same trick with cup hooks.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • 414 posts
Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:01 PM

carl425

I still need to come up with a way to mount my PSX breakers, detection and decoder boards so they can be hidden but still accessible.

Hey Carl-

I'm pondering the same issue on my current double-deck layout. The bottom of the upper deck is the 'ceiling' of the lower deck, and I'm trying to hide all the electro-mechanical stuff to not spoil the view. The wires are easy, even though there are a lot of them. Clips, hangers, even bread twist ties can keep them in order.

There are a couple of SE8C boards out in the layout that need to be dealt with. Right now they are sitting loose on the lower deck (lower deck is not yet tracked or scenicked). My plan is to attach them horizontally to the underside of the upper deck between the 'rafters' facing downward. Another plan is to attach them to some sort of cup hooks or eye bolts so that they can be swung into a vertical position to be worked on and then swung back into the horizontal position out of the way for storage. Might work. I dunno.

Good luck with your efforts. 

Robert 

LINK to SNSR Blog

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 20,891 posts
Posted by selector on Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:25 PM

Carl, could you mount the breakers on hinged boards?  You could screw a small anchor block of 2X2 or something like it, to the nether surface of the layout above, and attach a hinge to one of its edges.  The other half of the hinge would be affixed to a small square of 1/2" ply onto which you attach the breakers.  When folded up and retained with a simple fasterner, the boards would be parallel to the nether surface of your layout above them.

When I mounted my PSX-AR, I mounted it on a 1X4 joist, but spaced with small plastic tubing that I cut to about 3/4" lengths.  The mounting screws went through the circuit board where designated, through the tubes, and were driven into the side of the 1X4.  That allowed air to circulate across both surfaces of the circuit board.  Mounted the way I described earlier, with hinges, you'd have the same effect.

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 2,245 posts
Posted by Doughless on Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:40 PM

If the peninsula will have legs near the center, consider having at least part of a center backdrop extend to the ceiling so it can be tied into the rafters, if the scenery design allows that.

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 2:33 PM

Doughless
consider having at least part of a center backdrop extend to the ceiling

That would be a tall order for someone working exclusively from a chair.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 3:24 PM

7j43k

I suggest you modify the title to say that you mean the "roll-around" applies to YOU, not the layout.  We've got another topic where there's talk of rolling part of the layout around, and it might make sense to have the title show that.

Ed

^ This.  I skipped over reading this topic for days because the title made no sense.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 3:36 PM

riogrande5761
I skipped over reading this topic for days because the title made no sense.

OK, changed again for improved clarity.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 3:50 PM

selector
could you mount the breakers on hinged boards?

I did a couple like that on the last layout.  I never came up with a good solution to hold them firmly in place when swung out so I could attach wires.  Soldering wasn't bad, but screw terminals were difficult.

I also tried some full extension drawer slides.  They worked OK, but I have spots where I need to mount boards this time where the shelf is only 12" deep and the drawer slides are too long.  I found some wooden dovetail slides that can be cut to length that look interesting.  I might test drive those and see how they work.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 4:00 PM

YesHurray! 

I'm mulling over a future layout and some have talked about operating one of the levels from a chair with wheels so this is something I am giving some thought to as well, at least for part of the layout which may be multi level.

So the trick would be design/build at a height workable from say an office chair with wheels.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: In the heart of Georgia
  • 2,245 posts
Posted by Doughless on Thursday, November 09, 2017 7:32 PM

carl425

 

Doughless
consider having at least part of a center backdrop extend to the ceiling

 

That would be a tall order for someone working exclusively from a chair.

 

Ha.  Good Point. 

Maybe have a friend do it.  Wouldn't want to have it topple onto OPs lap either.

 

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • 622 posts
Posted by NWP SWP on Thursday, November 09, 2017 7:50 PM

doctorwayne

My layout is partially double-decked, but all of it, other than the upper deck, can be operated from rolling office chairs.  In fact, the area under the upper level is best operated in that manner.
However, rather than wasting expense on a cantilevered layout design, I supported the open grid benchwork on mostly 2"x4" legs, front and back, which also support plywood shelves for storing all sorts of things...train stuff, tools, household related things...just about anything.  
The key to this allowing a great deal of storage and yet still accommodating foot-space when standing or foot and leg-room when seated, is to allow the layout to overhang into the aisle.
All of the lower benchwork supporting the open grid is 31" high, with risers used to vary the elevation of the track and scenery.

A few photos to illustrate...

 

...and lots of storage space for all kinds of stuff...

As has been mentioned, your reach when seated is less than it would be when standing, so base your layout depth realistically, then scale the depth of the storage space to accommodate your legs and feet.  This will allow you to "belly-up" to the layout when you need extra reach.

Wayne 

 

 

IndifferentIndifferent Doctor Wayne that layout is impressive

Modeling the combined lines of the Southern Pacific, Western Pacific, and Northern Pacific after a fictional Depression Era merger forming the SouthWestern Pacific and NorthWestern Pacific Railroads. SP, WP, and NP operations remain independent but also operate alongside NWP and SWP equipment.

  • Member since
    January, 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
  • 991 posts
Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 8:19 PM

My next layout is being designed so it can be operated from a wheelchair.

.

My wife and I are both in perfect health righ now, but nothing is guaranteed. Our house remodel includes making the whole thing wheelchair accessible. Planning for the future, that now is not as far away as it once was.

.

This has meant a lot of sacrifices in the design of the kitchen, master bathroom, and train room. However, I would recommend this to anyone who is "getting up there".

.

So for your layout, you should have no problems. You will need to sacrifice layout depth. But you can have a layout, and I believe you can build it yourself.

.

-Kevin

.

Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 329 posts
Posted by railandsail on Friday, November 10, 2017 7:57 AM

You might have a look thru some of the thoughts and photos on this subject thread,..
Metal Benchwork
http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/265524.aspx

....cantalivered ideas like this

or this...

or......

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Friday, November 10, 2017 8:31 AM

railandsail
You might have a look thru some of the thoughts and photos on this subject thread,..

Two 10-packs of these were delivered yesterday.

I plan to put a shelf of 3/4" plywood directly on top of these and add a 1x2 under the front edge.  This will support the staging yards.  The visible track above will be supported by a 1x2 grid attached to the wall in the back and vertical 1x2's sitting on the front edge of the shelf.  Two exceptions: The peninsula and the other blob will be traditional construction.  I haven't decided yet on L-girder vs grid.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:00 AM

Carl,

As I am considering a mulit deck layout, it is a good possiblity I'll make the top level a shelf along some of the walls.  Where did you get those brakets and how much were they?  They look sturdy and could hold moderately heavy benchwork securily if well secured to studs behind the drywall.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:10 AM

doctorwayne

 

 

So Wayne,

In the photo above, are the two levels "stepped" so you can sit in a chair and operate the inside on the bottom level but there is a raised floor so you can sit and operate the upper level on the outside?  If so, this is a great design feature and one we've been seeing a lot in recent years.  Remember onewolf is doing that same type of design, although not meant for rolling chair operation, you do stand at different levels so each scene is mostly self contained.  I think the term I've seen used by some is "mushroom".

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:22 AM

riogrande5761
Where did you get those brakets and how much were they?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017LJSDVU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

$49.99 per 10-pack

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 4,286 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Friday, November 10, 2017 10:29 AM

carl425

...I need to mount boards this time where the shelf is only 12" deep and the drawer slides are too long.

I've got a catalog that shows full suspension drawer slides down to 8".

Knape & Vogt KV8400 series

 

Ed

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • 4,286 posts
Posted by 7j43k on Friday, November 10, 2017 11:02 AM

A goodly part of my test track/layout goes around two walls of a room (12 x 14).  It's a foot wide (except in the corner--48" radius).  Support is by 1/2" lag bolts run into the studs.  There is nothing projecting below.  There is an aluminum fascia strip 2" high that defines the edge.  And it provides room for the various block switches. 

And if/when the structure is removed, there's only 1/2" holes to patch.

Where it crosses doors and windows, there are liftouts.  Should the need arise.  Which it hasn't.

 

Ed

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 4,905 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, November 10, 2017 11:08 AM

carl425

Sweet thanks.  They look like they can hold a lot of weight.

 

 
riogrande5761
Where did you get those brakets and how much were they?

 

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B017LJSDVU/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

$49.99 per 10-pack

 

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Contrarian's contrarian
  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,351 posts
Posted by carl425 on Friday, November 10, 2017 11:50 AM

7j43k
I've got a catalog that shows full suspension drawer slides down to 8". Knape & Vogt KV8400 series

Cool!  I found the 8" slides.  Thanks.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 7,587 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, November 11, 2017 6:33 PM

riogrande5761
...In the photo above, are the two levels "stepped" so you can sit in a chair and operate the inside on the bottom level but there is a raised floor so you can sit and operate the upper level on the outside?...

No step (other than on the stepstool seen in the photo), as the upper level is meant to be operated while standing in the same aisle that the chairs sometimes occupy.  Because I operate the layout alone, I simply push the chairs or stepstools out of the area where I'm running a train. 
The stepstools are there mainly for use when I'm working on the upper level...laying track or adding scenery or structures.  For train operation there, everything is accessible while standing...no need for the stepstools (except, perhaps, for the younger grandkids).

Wayne

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook