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To Valence or Not?

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  • Member since
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  • 126 posts
To Valence or Not?
Posted by Outsailing86 on Monday, March 8, 2021 7:22 AM

I'm building a 10'x12' layout in HO scale, around the walls design

my basement is unfinishe, so you can see the joists up top. 
my question is... would you build a valence for dust mitigat and lighting? I only have a few builders grade lights in the center of the basement. 
or would you install the light bars?

my only concern with a valence is I feel the layout closes in on you. 

is the valence the same width as the layout? Or do you make it wider? 
how tall do you make the valence and backdrop? 

  • Member since
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  • From: Reading, PA
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Posted by rrinker on Monday, March 8, 2021 8:02 AM

 I have a fully finished drop ceiling in my basement snd I'm still building a valence over my layout. 

 I'm building a double deck layout, so the lower deck automatically has a valence - the upper deck. To keep the lighting even without all sorts of calculations and experimentation, I'm putting a valence above the top deck the same distance abovce it as the second deck is above the first. I'm using a 16" separation frop the top of the lower deck to the bottom of the upper deck, so that's how high my backdrop is, for both decks. The valence will be just as wide as the deck below it. All my layout lighting will come from lights within the layout structure (LED strips), the room lights are more for construiction and moving around in the room, I won't be depending on them to light the layout (though it is pretty bright, I probably could have gotten away with fewer LED panels).

 In one part there will be a long single deck branch, but even that will also have a valence, again to make it just like other parts of the layout so the lighting will just work without having to use different strings of LEDs to make the amount of light cast on the layout match, it if's all the same distance, it should all pretty much just work out.

 The other thing the valence level will do is support power supplies for the top desk. When I had the basement redone to prep, I had outlets installed high near the ceiling as well as down at standard height. That way I don't have to snake all the wiring for the upper deck up behind the lower deck. I'm not building the valence level as heavy as the layout decks, so I can;t use the space up there as bookshelves, although that is a possibility. I was thinking more of just the power supplies and using the space to display lightweight railroadania. It ends up a bit close to the ceiling for taller books anyway.

                                          --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
    June 2020
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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, March 8, 2021 8:44 AM

Valence or no you will want lighting directly over your tracks.

Most living spaces benefit from around the walls lighting but of course builders don't tell you that because it's expensive compared to what they like to put in: almost useless  centre of the room direct overhead lighting.

Kitchens are often the worst lit rooms in houses for this reason. 

Ergonomics tells us we need light where we are looking (duh) not from behind our heads.

On a model railroad layout we are looking at the rails. Just as for a desk or workbench. Even after your layout is completely finished .....sorry....I can't go on without laughing at that idea .....can't type..... can't think straight....give me a moment.

........

The valance just hides the actual light source from our eyes  and you'll find you want that also. Task direct lighting (which is what the layout needs) is directed down onto your hands, not into your eyes, and involves overlapping light sources so your hands don't create shadows.

Do yourself a favour and build the lighting first.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, March 8, 2021 11:14 AM

Hi there. Before working on my new layout, I took the time to finish the room I was working in, walls, ceiling, electricals and lighting. I also installed the backdrop while I was at it. That took me two years (I work full time, with a long honey-do list to manage!). I never regretted it. 

Simon

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, March 8, 2021 12:04 PM

Outsailing86
I only have a few builders grade lights in the center of the basement.  or would you install the light bars?

My next (and last) layout will be the only time I have been able to design lighting into the room.

I will not have a valence, but I will have cabinets over most of the layout. The cabinets are light blue in the image below.

For lighting, there will be three ceiling fans each with 3 or 4 lights. There will be 11 4 inch flush (can light) fixtures areound the edges of the layout. There will be flush LED lighting under the cabinets, and two more can lights over the center of the layout.

The workbench is brown in the image, and it will have five can lights over it, plus the most amazing task light over my work area.

For the rest of the image, the visible portion of the layout is green and the aisleway is dark blue.

Lighting is important, and I an happy I will finally be able to do it right.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
    July 2018
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Posted by IDRick on Monday, March 8, 2021 2:30 PM

I plan on using a valence in my next layout.  I believe a valence with a well-designed lighting system allows one to turn down the main ceiling lighting and focus on the well-lighted layout.  IMO, this really gives the layout "pop" and enhances immersion in railroading.  I've not had a valence before but enjoy the effect in pictures from near-completed layouts.  A valence is definitely high on my "gotta have" list. 

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • From: Canada, eh?
  • 11,670 posts
Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, March 8, 2021 2:37 PM

I have a partially double-decked around-the-room layout, and the fascia for the upper level does double duty as a valance for the portion below it...

The lower level is operated while seated on a rolling office-type chair, which allows reasonably good viewing.  However, I'm thinking of removing the fluorescent lights for the lower level, and replacing them with LED bulbs in porcelain fixtures.  This may allow me to remove some material from the bottom of the fascia/valance, although it might be a little awkward to handle, as it's put together as a single 48' long piece.

I have been adding LED fixtures over the single level portion of the layout, either enhancing or replacing the fluorescents....

...and have also found that if you have track close to the layout's edge, it's preferable to position the lighting at least partially over the aisle.  This is to address the issue of the train's wheels and trucks (and sometime the sides of the train) being pretty-well lost in the shadows created when the lighting is directly overhead.
That's the reason I made the upper level at the entrance to the layout room slightly wider than the layout below, where there are tracks very close to the aisle...

Wayne

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, March 8, 2021 6:23 PM

There are now really good LED refits for fluorescent fixtures. There are at least three types: some just plug into existing ballasted fixtures (ballast compatibility needs to be checked) some can be wired in directly to 110v and you remove the ballast completely. Some I think can do either but I'm not sure about that.

I fit "daylight" LED replacements for standard 48" T12 fluorescents with very good results. No "warm white" or "soft white" LED for this application as yet.  

Alyth Yard

Canada

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    June 2007
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 6:41 AM

Outsailing86
I'm building a 10'x12' layout in HO scale, around the walls design my basement is unfinishe, so you can see the joists up top.  my question is... would you build a valence for dust mitigat and lighting? I only have a few builders grade lights in the center of the basement.  or would you install the light bars?

snjroy

Hi there. Before working on my new layout, I took the time to finish the room I was working in, walls, ceiling, electricals and lighting. I also installed the backdrop while I was at it. That took me two years (I work full time, with a long honey-do list to manage!). I never regretted it. 

Simon

Listen to what Simon says.  Forget about valences - finish your basement first.  A layout in a finished basment is so much nicer.  Plus it will add to the resale value of your home as a bonus.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

  • Member since
    January 2017
  • From: Southern Florida Gulf Coast
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 12:32 PM

riogrande5761
Finish your basement first.  A layout in a finished basment is so much nicer.

Yes +1

I do not have a basement, but my railroad room will be finished as a railroad room before I begin construction. Great advice.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
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  • From: Wyoming, where men are men, and sheep are nervous!
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Posted by Pruitt on Tuesday, March 9, 2021 8:02 PM

I finished my railroad room in the basement, but I did not put up a ceiling or a valence.

Instead I painted the lower flange of the manufactured I-beam joists to match the trim color of the room. This had the effect of de-emphasizing the entire joist volume to a surprising degree. You see this kind of thing a lot in retail and commercial spaces. You probably eat at a restaurant occasionally that has this same sort of thing done - everything above the bottom of the ceiling trusses is painted in a color that subdues the entire volume. It would have looked even better had I painted the webs of the beams and the bottom of the flooring above, but I didn't have quite that much gumption.

Here's my room:

You can also see part of my lighting. I used 1X4 LED panels - a lot of them. The room is very well lit. I have installed no valences, and don't plan any. That's a personal choice - some folks like valences, and depending on the type of lighting you use, they may be necessary to block glare from your eyes.

In any case, I would avoid a very tall valence. I did that once many years ago, when I had a layout in a garage with 10' ceilings. My valence was almost four feet tall! It was above the layout about two feet, and the bottom was over my head, but it always looked very clunky.

  • Member since
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Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, March 15, 2021 9:54 AM

At some point I am going to put up a valance. Since have a large basement with an around walls layout with a center peninsula, I'm looking for low cost options. My valance needs to be a minumum of 18" down from the joists to be effective at blocking the view of the duct work, pipes, etc. I have some left over sheets of hardboard but not enough to do the job. I'd probably have to but at least 8 more 4x8 sheets. I was thinking some sort of soft material I could buy in a large roll. What have others used?

 

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    January 2007
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Posted by wesno on Wednesday, March 31, 2021 12:59 AM

My 2 cents:

 

On my layout, built in a finished room, I had some can lights.  I left them in but I rarely use them.  Instead, I installed a lightweight network of slats in an crossways fashion, placed LED ribbon lights on the slats and used zip-ties to hold them in place.  This way, you can put the amount of light you want exactly where you want.  I control the warm-white and the RGB LEDs with an app on my phone so I can dial in any time of day.

 

So, the valance...  Yes, I did put one in and I'm glad I did.  It hides a lot of the ugly aspects of the lighting install and directs your eyes to the layout.

Here's what the LED ribbon lighting looks like once it's installed.  Note that I have 2 strips next to each other.  One is warm white and the other is RGB.  I control the intensity and the RGB ratios from the phone app.

Here's a couple of views of the finished lighting setup with the valances in place.  In one shot you'll see one of the original can lights in the ceiling.  I chose to leave it alone but it adds nothing to the layout lighting;  I could turn it off and the layout lighting would change only by the slightest amount.

 

Note:  while the photos indicate that there is a big variation in light intensity when you look up at the lights themselves, there is virtually no variation in lighting on the layout itself.  That is, the layout area appears to be evenly lit throughout.  This is accomplished by having enough strips and having them evenly spaced.

My main point in this reply is to make you aware of the value (simple, low-cost and low-maintenance) of using LED ribbon lighting and to point out the importance of doing it before you get too far.  I put mine in after I had erected the backdrops but before any benchwork went in.

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