Trains.com

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!

Murphy Bed style fold up layout?

23103 views
20 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March 2007
  • 2,751 posts
Murphy Bed style fold up layout?
Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Friday, December 2, 2011 12:58 PM

Have been away form the forum for some time do to illness and deconstruction of the basement layout. We will be  relocating the HO layout to the new addition to my barn which is 30'x40' with the help of some friends we'll be building a new layout designed for operating sessions my newest love of model railroading. All that being said fellas is now my son who is 9 isn't very happy with this decision so I am looking a solution. I was contemplating a fold up layout similar to the way a Murphy Bed works. I am leaning toward O scale because I feel it's a little more "kid friendly" if you will then HO or N scale which would afford me much more layout wise but it is what it is as they say. So I'm asking has anyone ever seen or built any such layout? Not permanently attaching the structures etc. is not really an issue. Thanks for your input always greatly appreciated.

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
EDZ
  • Member since
    January 2011
  • From: Salisbury, MA
  • 158 posts
Posted by EDZ on Friday, December 2, 2011 3:10 PM

Hi, and welcome back.

When I was a kid, my dad built me an HO slot car layout as you're describing.  He attached 2x12's in a rectangle (4 feet tall x 8 feet wide) to the wall, then hinged a 4x8 sheet of plywood off of it.  I had it for years, and did have permanent scenery & structures mounted on it... as long as they're under 12 incvhes tall, lol. 

The issue you'd need to work through is reinforcing the plywood (or whatever you use) to prevent warping.  My setup warped slightly, even though it was reinforced with 2x6's.  Trains weigh more than slot cars, but I think that if you used a few hinged legs throughout, and not just supporting the corners, it'll be fine.  It's certainly doable.

I'm not sure what kind of layout you can fit in O scale on a 4x8, but that's another topic, lol.

-Ed

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."  -Aristotle

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,522 posts
Posted by AltonFan on Friday, December 2, 2011 3:25 PM

In one of his books, and maybe also in some back issues of MR, the late, great John Armstrong drew up some plans for a "murphy bed" style layout.  I think pictures of several were published in MR and RMC before the 1980s, but i don't recall too many "how-to" articles.

Dan

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 30,002 posts
Posted by rrinker on Friday, December 2, 2011 4:16 PM

 Armstrong's design is in Creative Layout Design, layout called the Murphy Bed and Credenza.

I also had this book from the late 60's/early 70's called Childrens Rooms and Play Yards, and one of the rooms features a Lionel layout that folded up against the wall although just basically hinged, not the more complex Murphy bed style of attachment. If you have high ceilings it probably doesn't matter too much, but the Murphy style attachment gets the largest layout for a given ceiling height, compared to just hinging the bottom edge. Remember for a kid you want it kid high, not 4'+ off the ground, so you gain that much more space before it can;t fold up against the wall.

                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,387 posts
Posted by cuyama on Friday, December 2, 2011 5:57 PM

EDZ

I'm not sure what kind of layout you can fit in O scale on a 4x8, but that's another topic, lol.

O scale may not be practical, but some O Gauge models are designed to work with tight curves down to 27" diameter curves (O-27).

If the models are chosen carefully, O Gauge can be more suitable than HO for a simple 4X8.

  • Member since
    February 2005
  • From: Southwest US
  • 12,914 posts
Posted by tomikawaTT on Friday, December 2, 2011 8:07 PM

The Murphy Bed and Credenza has what I consider the one key ingredient - a fixed yard where rolling stock can remain on the rails when the rest of the world is standing on edge.

As for HO being too small for a 9-year-old, when I was that old I was scratchbuilding in HO scale!

In HO, the original MB&C was mainly suited for short cars and small locomotives in HO.  John Armstrong drew the same basic plan in both HO and N.  The N scale layout could handle longer trains of longer cars (duh!) and just generally looked better.  I can't help thinking that going to O27 is a big step backwards.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964)

  • Member since
    May 2007
  • From: East Haddam, CT
  • 3,272 posts
Posted by CTValleyRR on Friday, December 2, 2011 8:16 PM

I've built several fold-up shelves for my wife's sewing stuff and laundry room.  It's really pretty simple.  Your biggest challenge is designing a stop so that your layout doesn't get crushed against the wall.

I'll also second Chucks' opinion about your son's age and the scale you chose.  My youngest, now 8, has his own layout which he shares with his 10 year old brother.  They've been using it since they were 4 and 6 respectively.  We've had a couple little bumps which broke off small details (but I know one case at least was a neighbor's son, and one was a cousin, both of whom are younger than my kids), but they are very careful with it, and can usually make their own repairs when things go wrong.  It's HO scale.

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 4,387 posts
Posted by cuyama on Friday, December 2, 2011 8:28 PM

tomikawaTT
  I can't help thinking that going to O27 is a big step backwards.

"Backwards" for whom? This is a layout for a nine-year-old to enjoy, ASAP. The fun factor of O-27 is pretty high. According to the original post, Dad is starting a 30'X40' HO empire for himself in another building.

  • Member since
    November 2006
  • From: huizen, 15 miles from Amsterdam
  • 1,484 posts
Posted by Paulus Jas on Saturday, December 3, 2011 3:22 AM

Hi gentlemen,

when I am looking at my 10 year old i wouldn't be that sure. Having  O-27 stuff and a place to build a layout, apart from playing just on the floor, ain't that bad. Though my guess is the young fellow would love to see a phase one of the biggie ready and operate that one.  He will not object at all doing both.

How long does he has to wait for a phase one of the big layout? Kids don't like to wait for month's; this is a huge understatement. Yes Byron, ASAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The young man is ready for the big one, if he is allowed to run trains his way too and is allowed to participate in the build as well. You could give him a corner or section, that really is his. Like on sectional layouts for shows.

Smile
Paul

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • 1,518 posts
Posted by trainnut1250 on Saturday, December 3, 2011 11:12 AM

My father built one for me when I was little.  He took a bunk bed and sawed off the posts so that the layout came down and rested on the bed posts for support.  All three rail marklin.  Ran great had two levels and was lots of fun.  All trains had to come off before putting back in the wall.  I did sleep under the layout on occasion with the plywood 6 inches from my nose....

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
    October 2001
  • From: US
  • 973 posts
Posted by jmbjmb on Saturday, December 3, 2011 12:17 PM

Besides the John Armstrong plan, I recall several articles from the 70s in MR about flip top layouts.  One of which was an entire wall that rotated down.  When up it looked just like a paneled wall to the room with the operating pit covered by a picture.

On the HO vs O debate, either is probably good, ask him what he likes.  When I was in 5th grade (which would be about 10) I earned the money for my first HO train by selling Christmas cards.  Before that I had been building model rockets (which actually had to be built from balsa and cardboard back then).  Didn't take me long to figure out that launching & losing model rockets quickly burned through the money I earned picking up coke bottles for the deposit.  Model railroading probably has the highest return on the "play value" dollar of any hobby. 

My only point is, every kid is different and by 9 or 10 should be able to help decide which type of railroad he most wants.  Don't underestimate a kid.  My son, when he was five stringing his wooden Thomas track through out the house told me he did it because "trains go someplace, they don't run in circles." 

 

  • Member since
    May 2007
  • From: East Haddam, CT
  • 3,272 posts
Posted by CTValleyRR on Saturday, December 3, 2011 1:24 PM

trainnut1250

 

...  I did sleep under the layout on occasion with the plywood 6 inches from my nose....

Guy

That's good training for the submarine service!

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

  • Member since
    May 2007
  • From: East Haddam, CT
  • 3,272 posts
Posted by CTValleyRR on Saturday, December 3, 2011 1:28 PM

jmbjmb

Besides the John Armstrong plan, I recall several articles from the 70s in MR about flip top layouts.  One of which was an entire wall that rotated down.  When up it looked just like a paneled wall to the room with the operating pit covered by a picture.

On the HO vs O debate, either is probably good, ask him what he likes.  When I was in 5th grade (which would be about 10) I earned the money for my first HO train by selling Christmas cards.  Before that I had been building model rockets (which actually had to be built from balsa and cardboard back then).  Didn't take me long to figure out that launching & losing model rockets quickly burned through the money I earned picking up coke bottles for the deposit.  Model railroading probably has the highest return on the "play value" dollar of any hobby. 

My only point is, every kid is different and by 9 or 10 should be able to help decide which type of railroad he most wants.  Don't underestimate a kid.  My son, when he was five stringing his wooden Thomas track through out the house told me he did it because "trains go someplace, they don't run in circles." 

 

Right.  That's what I meant with my original post.  Don't just arbitrarily decide that you need to go with a certain scale because of the age of the child.  See what your child is capable of.

I do agree that getting something running quickly is very important.  My children are more patient than most, and do get a lot of enjoyment out of the building phase, but they also want to run trains.

Connecticut Valley Railroad A Branch of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -- Henry Ford

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • 2,751 posts
Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Sunday, December 4, 2011 11:40 PM

To all who have posted thank you for your input. The scale as I mentioned is lets say non negotiable for reasons I prefer not to get into  so lets leave it at that. After reading all of your posts and drawing some CAD  plans I have come up with what I feel is a solution to my problem.

The short version is I will mount a 4'x8'x8" box constructed of 3/4" birch plywood to the wall and to a 2'x2'x8' storage box with will have draws for storing rolling stock etc. when the layout is not in use. The two will be fastened to each other and to the wall stud for safety and stability sake.the top box ( 4'x8'x8") will be mounted horizontally with a piano hinge for the 3/4" layout surface. the entire structure will be glued and screwed together making more then strong enough..There is only one wall in the room where it can be mounted and will leave a few inches to spare when the door is open, so you can see space is tight hence my reason for this project.

I have also been toying with the idea of laminating two hollow core doors together which will allow the layout surface to be much lighter making it easier for let say my wife to unfold the layout n the event I am not home. I could use a system of pulleys and counter weights etc. such as used in a window sash to facilitate the movement but I don't need this to become an over engineered monstrosity.. The hollow core doors may need some framing to give them extra rigidity if you will. A friend suggested making a frame out of 1'x2" and using 2" extruded foam as a layout base. I am taking his suggestion under advisement.

This is something my son wants and I agree that he should be able to run his trains when ever he wants and not have to wait until I get home to go out and play with trains on the big layout. It is going to be housed in an addition to my shop which is a stand alone building 35' feet away from the house so there is no way he would ever be allowed in there without supervision so this makes perfect sense to both him and me. I know all too well the virtues of HO vs O regarding more layout for he space but there is nothing wrong with being an O scaler as far as we're concerned. He'll be the CFO of our big train set  one of these days anyway.

Thanks again to all who replied

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 11,434 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, December 5, 2011 8:39 AM

Fold down train layouts used to be a regular feature in magazines such as Popular Mechanics, Boys Life, and the Sunday newspaper "men's" section.  I do not know if any of those still exist!  But not surprisingly the internet has jumped in to fill the gap -- and the fold down layouts and similar solutions to the problem are found on various websites devoted to projects for the handyman -- not the model railroader per se.  I suppose almost any type of project table that folds down would be adaptable.

 A simple Google searched came up with several.  here is just a sample.  There are others including on YouTube

http://lumberjocks.com/DanLyke/blog/12366

http://www.ehow.com/how_4886201_build-folding-train-table.html

The idea would be a case on the wall that extends out maybe 6 to 8 inches so that buildings could be  secured to the layout when folded up.

Dave Nelson

 

 

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Colorful Colorado
  • 8,639 posts
Posted by Texas Zepher on Monday, December 5, 2011 2:22 PM

CTValleyRR
 trainnut1250:

 

...  I did sleep under the layout on occasion with the plywood 6 inches from my nose....

That's good training for the submarine service!

I slept under my N-scale layout for a year of high school and three years of college.  It was a 1x4 frame so it was more like 24" over me.  Clearance was never an issue.   I originally put it over the bed so I could lay on my back and work on the wiring.  It was also narrow enough I could still sit on the edge of the bed.  It worked out so well it stayed there.  Thinking back it was possibly the best layout location I've ever had.

  • Member since
    November 2006
  • From: huizen, 15 miles from Amsterdam
  • 1,484 posts
Posted by Paulus Jas on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 3:49 AM

hi,

kids are op to much,

http://cs.trains.com/TRCCS/forums/t/195425.aspx

Paul

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • 2,751 posts
Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Tuesday, December 6, 2011 6:41 AM

closed

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
  • Member since
    March 2022
  • 1 posts
Posted by Douglas L Hemmingway on Tuesday, February 7, 2023 10:07 AM

I had that book for awhile, but in all my moves since I got the book it has disappeared. I know the Murphy Bed layout was shown as either an N-Scale or an HOn3 layout. I think it was called the Murphy Bed and Credensa. It had the main route on the fold up Murphy Bed frame and the yard or a branch line on the top of a bookcase like credensa. I think something similar could also be done in On30 using a somewhat modified HO plan. Just remember that the depth of where the Murphy Bed folds up needs to be such to handle your highest scenery features and or buildings that you won't be removing went putting the Murphy Bed part up for storage.

  • Member since
    December 2008
  • From: Heart of Georgia
  • 5,406 posts
Posted by Doughless on Thursday, February 9, 2023 9:10 AM

I have a model railroading book printed in the 1960s that shows a modeler storing his layout on the celing of his garage.  He used a pully system to hoist it up and down off of the floor.  It looked like two separate 4x8 halves with two seprate hoist systems that butted together when lowered on the floor.  I assume there was a fastening device to align the tracks when operated.  

Probably too heavy to hoist as one 8 x 8 layout, but broken into two 4x8's made it manageable.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • 21,529 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 9, 2023 2:46 PM

When installing a Murphy-type bed, be sure to install the appropriate framing around the hinged panel, to maintain the strength of the wall.  Some Murphy beds in large size have metal portal frames to facilitate this.

The two forms of counterweighting I'd look into would be garage-door springs and cams on "sash weights" -- either of which would give you proportional closing effort without either hard pushing at the top or tendency to slam down at the bottom.  The idea of having something with 'hard' post support with the layout down is a good one, especially if you're doing the 'credenza' with fixed trackage that has to coordinate with the flap when down.

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!

Users Online

There are no community member online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!