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Which way do I go with my portable Lionel OO layout?

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Which way do I go with my portable Lionel OO layout?
Posted by Vintagesteamer on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 12:21 PM

Getting back to building my portable Lionel OO layout to take to shows.  Original plan was to build a replica of the dealer demo layout,  which is very plain by demo layout standards.  Just the basic starter set loop of track, small transformer and usually a small whistling station.  I have seen the Villa used as well.   I have the 1938 freight set, the correctly sized and shaped table and a loop of original OO 3 rail track.  Right now the table has a indoor/outdoor grass carpet on it(great for noise abatement).  Do I stick with the original plan and enhance it with more of the vintage Lionel tinplate buildings and such, or leave the grass carpet in place and go a different route?  I am stuck on the fence.  Opinions, ideas, suggestions?   Here is a pic of a demo layout.  To me the train and transfomer do not match in that pic.  The set is the 1938 only 0080 set, transformers were not included and the 1040/41 style one did not come out till 1939.  The suggested transformer for 38 was the type B.  If I built the demo style, I was going to stick with what was availabe to the new OO modeler in 1938.    

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 12:37 PM

I think it depends if you're trying to exactly replicate what the dealer would have had, versus an example of what you could do with OO back in 1938. It could be extremely interesting to include some scratch-built houses made out of inexpensive materials like cardboard and stripwood- the kinds of things that model railroading books and magazines of the time talk about how to make. If you're taking it around to shows, I think it would be fun to add more visual interest, but there's nothing wrong with simply wanting to match a dealer display and including sparser scenery to match. 

That's my My 2 Cents, but at the end of the day it's what you want and what you like that matters most. Have fun with it, I look forwards to seeing where things go.

-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 1:00 PM

If I kept to the original design, which I think one could buy from Lionel if you had the $$, would be to add more period buildings to it, like the Bungalows, Villa, street lights ect.   The size of those tinplate buildings actually match OO better than O or std gauge.  Finding the vintage card stock kits sold back then is difficult.  With the grass carpet down, I just have to cut out areas for streets and so forth.  I would probably still go with the tinplate buildings, lights and such as having all of that lighted up brings the layout to life, even when the track plan is simple.  Still stewing on it right now.    Mike

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 1:47 PM

Here is a pic of the layout table a couple Christmases ago.  

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Posted by Leverettrailfan on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 1:53 PM

Honestly Mike, it sounds like you have some sense of what you want, it's just a matter of finding all the bits and pieces to make it come together. I don't think it would be a bad idea at all to hunt for some of those tinplate buildings.

The sort of cardboard buildings I was talking about, is scratch built, home made buildings. I have a few old model railroading books that talk about constructing models from mostly common household materials (of the era). They wouldn't quite fit a representation of a Lionel dealer display, but I think they would be appropriate for a representation of an OO scale modeler's personal layout. That said, you'd need to go to the trouble of scratch building everything... less expensive than original tinplate buildings, but a lot more work.

Wish you luck in your descision making!
-Ellie

"Unless bought from a known and trusted dealer who can vouch otherwise, assume every train for sale requires servicing before use"

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 2:55 PM

Were it mine I'd add a few houses or buildings, maybe some cars or people to make it more interesting.  But I'd also remember it's a "Traveling Roadshow" so I wouldn't want to go TOO far with add-ons susceptable to damage or that would make it more difficult to transport. 

Trust your instincts Mike, I think you know what to do.

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Posted by fifedog on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 2:58 PM

Perhaps start with a small folding table, say 3x6, the kind you can get at one of the box stores. Then build your table-top benchwork to snug on top of it, to avoid the occasional bump or two. Use light weight 1x3's and 1x2's, and Luann plywood. Then howzabout a 18" scenic divider, running right down the center. You can have two different seasons, or maybe urban and rural settings, to increase interest. 
As far as scenery, nothing wrong with going old-school grass mat and pipe-cleaner trees. Maybe some putz style houses and period appropriate cars and figures, to really wax nostalgic.

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 5:08 PM

I have it set back up like it was in the holiday picture, just without the tree or buildings.  Just track mounted to the grass carpet table.  Once I get a few of the Lionel tinplate houses, I will figure out a street set up and cut the grass mat and paint some roads, side walks up to the houses ect.   

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Posted by pennytrains on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 5:58 PM

I like that idea.  The vintage classic look.  A handful of bungalows and villas go a long way on a small display.  Looking at the photo you posted of an original OO display it struck me that the one thing that should have been on it was a flagpole right in the center of the circle on the right.  A few loofah trees and maybe a lamp or two, while probably not 100% authentic to what left the display department, would certainly make the layout a serious attention getter.

Big Smile  Same me, different spelling!  Big Smile

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Posted by Vintagesteamer on Tuesday, October 18, 2022 6:37 PM

I think a couple of the smaller Bungalow houses, a couple gooseneck street lights would give the original display layout some "bling" but still look vintage.  I do have one prewar gooseneck street light on hand.  I will need to take the grass off and paint the table first.  Then I can work on the rest of it.  

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