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Rolltop Desk for small layout?

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  • Member since
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  • From: USA
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Rolltop Desk for small layout?
Posted by jbherri2 on Sunday, August 25, 2019 1:45 PM

Hello All!

My first post here - I am a long time modeler, in that I love to build 1/72 WWII airplanes and a variety of 1/25, 1/24 pickups and cars.  Figuring that I badly need another hobby (*cough, cough*); and having picked up a tiny amout of N-Scale stuff, I thought I might take a swing at railroading.  Who knows, maybe I'll unload some of my other hobby stuff and focus on this. :)  That said, here's my question - has anyone successfully built a small layout using a rolltop desk?  Any pictures, ideas, etc.?   Thank you!

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Posted by cuyama on Monday, August 26, 2019 12:28 PM

Welcome to the forum and to the hobby. Your first several posts are moderated, which means that they may take a while to show up, particularly if posted over the weekend. But stick with it and that passes quickly.

I can’t remember a rolltop desk layout, but there has probably one (or a few) somewhere. N-scale layouts built into coffee tables are fairly common and that "coffee table model railroad layout" might be a good internet search to give you some ideas.

Traditional layouts usually drop wires from the tracks through the layout surface to be connected below, but you probably don’t want to do anything like that on the desk. It’s certainly possible to use something like extruded foam insulation (the pink or blue foam board) for the layout and use feet to hold it off the desk surface so that wires could be run underneath. This would also allow you to build the layout away from the desk and then just place it there when completed.

If you post the dimensions of the desktop in the clear, folks may be able to make suggestions.

Good luck with the hobby and your layout.

Byron

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, August 26, 2019 4:13 PM

I used to have a roll top desk and loved it. They are neither computer monitor friendly nor layout friendly.

Some of them are quite long, more than 5 feet, but the overhang of the drawers and cubby holes obstruct your view and light reaching the layout.  I wouldn't drill any holes in the desk for wiring, so if your idea is to roll the top down and no one will see it, you will still have unsightly wires coming out of the front of the desk.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by jbherri2 on Monday, August 26, 2019 8:34 PM

Thank you both for the input.  I have a great deal to learn, I know.  I don't have a rolltop desk at the moment, but had been looking when I realized some were in the range of 5 feet in length.  I thoght it'd be a good candidate for actually living in the house, without taking up too much space.  Plus, wife-approval. :)  If I were to go the route of a rolltop for the purposes of hiding the layout when not in use, I'd certainly need to figure out what to do with the wiring - but I was thinking it would be dedicated to the train.  Something to think about, I guess. :)

  • Member since
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  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
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Posted by cuyama on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 9:10 AM

Personally, I think the rolltop desk is suboptimal for a layout, so if you don’t have one already, that’s not a route I would suggest, especially for a first layout. As Henry noted, the cubbies and drawers will limit the depth of the layout and restrict access. Depth is important because it determines the minimum radius, which in term dictates what sort of equipment may run on the layout.

Plus it’s a bulky, heavy piece of furniture that must be accommodated -- and a lot of that volume isn't usable for layout.

Good luck with whatever you choose. 

Byron

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 9:25 AM

My wife just picked up a used Ikea glass top coffee table we plan to install an N-scale layout for her room in the basement.

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50087072/?gclid=CjwKCAjwqZPrBRBnEiwAmNJsNqF-EEPlSSvbVfl-yjfPnjlKJauS0k-16b4GnijZM04_lX1jkOK4EhoCMhEQAvD_BwE

I'd rather had a rectangular table but went with it, it's 36x36 which should allow a couple of ovals inside.  The partitions will need to be removed.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 2:16 PM

Hello All,

Using a rolltop desk to hold an N-scale pike doesn't seem too farfetched to me.

"Hiding" a pike in a piece of furniture is not a new idea. Some layout plans are designed to be stored under beds or in closets. While others are built in modules for storage. 

Obviously, modification to the desk would be necessary.

Depending on the construction of the desk I would begin by removing the pigeon holes. Some reinforcement might be necessary after these have been removed.

Adding kitchen type under cabinet lighting would illuminate the far reaches of the pike.

I would use 1-inch blue/pink foam as a base.

Brackets could be installed to hold an additional lift-out section. This section would have a thin plywood or Luan base.

Imagine a trundle bed but rather than pulling out and up it would be pull out and down.

The top, side drawers, could be modified to support this lift-out section with latches or pins.

Controls could be stored in the center drawer.

A fold-out control panel could also be fabricated for the center drawer for turnout control, depending on the depth of the drawer.

My 4'x8' pike sits on the bed in the spare bed/computer/railroad room. There is little to no under pike access.

For the wiring I used 1/2-inch automotive split flex tube. I cut out channels in the foam to place the flex tube and then ran the wires through these.

This allows the pike to be sceniced without burying the wires. 

It might be unsightly but routing the wires to terminal strips mounted outside of the back of the rolltop would simplify trouble shooting.

Holes could be drilled in the back of the desktop to route power cords into the foot well where a power strip could be mounted.

The remaining side drawers could be used to hold rolling stock, modeling supplies and/or controllers.

A project like this might involve more cabinetry skills than a traditional pike. However, in the end, it would be a great conversation piece and a possible subject for an article in MR.

Take a look at my signature and...

I hope this helps.

 

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 5:40 PM

 A rolltop desk would make a neat work bench. Pulling the top would help prevent parts and tools from walking off, and placeing/dropping somthing on a project.

  As far as a layout; I think you would be disapointed, you would not get very mutch of anything in/on it.

For a fraction of the cost,even a cheap one,you could build a taple that would give you mutch more freedom and be a happier modeler.

I never could understand this mindset of having to ''hide'' a  layout

JMHO

  • Member since
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  • From: USA
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Posted by jbherri2 on Tuesday, August 27, 2019 6:20 PM

Wow!  Some really insightful thoughts here!  Thank you all.  And of course, if the conversation continues, I look forward to hearing more thoughts. :)

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, August 31, 2019 7:10 AM

It could be done if you have room for a  34" x 24" oval of track.  This oval includes  4 pieces of straight track(2 straights per side)  between curves. A all curve oval would be 24". 

Larry

SSRy

Conductor

“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by jbherri2 on Sunday, September 01, 2019 8:31 PM

Thank you all for the insight and discussion. :)

 

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