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Lift out, swing section instead of duck under

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  • Member since
    April 2021
  • 3 posts
Posted by ScenerySheets on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 9:59 AM

I have a section of my layout that makes use of a rolling cart to connect two sections. The cart rolls away to provide access to a panel with the main water shut-off. The section on the cart gets locked into place before running trains.

It's O scale three rail so the tolerances for the connection are higher than for smaller scales (as mentioned in another reply to the thread). That said, best advice I can offer is to have power leads not just to the bridge itself but to each side of the respective gap. Although you still have to rely on leads from the bridge to complete the circuit, it can't hurt to have the boosts of the extra leads on either side.


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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, March 14, 2021 11:10 AM

if it comes to that, I have a medical potty chair I can keep under the layout........

Until then, I will duck, crawl, sit on a wheeled stool, or lift out the section.....



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Posted by snjroy on Sunday, March 14, 2021 10:47 AM


I would consider a lift up section.  Here is a very cool one, probably very expensive but cool...

 A simpler and much cheaper type of lift-up:



The lifting bridge is pretty cool, but even my middle-aged bladder would not be strong enough to wait that long... Jokes aside, my liftout is used pretty much like a door, so it needs to be fairly rugged. I think it's fast enough for any quick escape... That bridge on the video might be ingenious, but in real-life, it would not be practical and certainly not be durable enough for someone goofy like me. My liftout is very similar to the one presented in the second video. The idea of re-railers on the liftout is interesting, but not essential in my opinion.  


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Posted by IDRick on Sunday, March 14, 2021 1:29 AM

I would consider a lift up section.  Here is a very cool one, probably very expensive but cool...

 A simpler and much cheaper type of lift-up:


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Posted by davidmurray on Friday, March 12, 2021 8:54 PM

I have never used any type of lift up, swing gate, etc. on a layout. If it takes some time to open the path to the exit door of the room, I would feel a bit trapped especially when the "senior bladder" calls. Could be a safety issue as well.

The higher uour layout from the floor, the less problem a duckunder will be.

My first club's portable layout had 36" of clearance, that is a crawl under.

My home layout has 46 inches of clearance, with a 2x4 connect to same size table legs at the best duck under spot.

A higher level would be even better, allowing to just lower your head.

I definitely have senior bladder, and while a fire is very low probability, it only takes one to ruin your day.


David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by bedell on Friday, March 12, 2021 12:40 PM

I have never used any type of lift up, swing gate, etc. on a layout. If it takes some time to open the path to the exit door of the room, I would feel a bit trapped especially when the "senior bladder"  calls.  Could be a safety issue as well.

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Posted by hornblower on Friday, March 12, 2021 12:36 PM

My current garage layout has a rather large six foot long staging/storage peninsula that sits parallel to the middle of my sectional garage door.  To maintain good access to all of my garage, I made this entire staging/storage peninsula a swing out section.  The end of the peninsula attached to the layout uses a 48" long piano hinge mounted vertically to one corner of the staging/storage peninsula. Small casters were mounted on the underside of the far end to take some of the weight off of the piano hinge when the staging/storage section is in its normal (closed) operational position.  The piano hinge takes 100% of the weight when the peninsula is swung open as the driveway is lower than the interior slab of the garage.  Slide bolts are used to lock the peninsula in its closed position.  

I built all of the benchwork and installed the piano hinge and casters prior to laying any track.  Once I was ready to lay track, I purposely laid lengths of flex track across the gap between the layout and the staging/storage peninsula.  I removed several ties on both sides of the gap and replaced them with pieces of copper clad PC board.  After nailing the PC boards to the benchwork, I soldered the rails to the PC boards ensuring that the track ends can't move.  Only then did I use a razor saw to cut the rails at the gap.  I finished the rail ends with jeweler's files to ensure that trains would cross the gaps without trouble.  Power is supplied by forming the DCC bus wires into a loop at each staging level (there are two staging levels and three storage levels) at the hinge joint. I have not had any track alignment problems in the 10+ years the layout has been in operation. 


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Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, March 12, 2021 11:45 AM

I have a swing gate, a lift out and a duck under all in the same door crossing. The lift out is only in place for OPs sessions. The duck under is removable but generally it stays in place. I don’t have any problems with it as it is at 60” - more of a lean under. Visitors to the layout don’t have issues with it either.

The swing gate is permanent. It has been in place for more than ten years. The track does come off of it at an angle. It does move around a bit being wood and being in a finished garage. I have noticed that the humidity moves things a little. I use a shim to hold it at the correct alignment. It has been a very convenient and effective way to enter the train room over the years.

Here is a thread explaining the build with some pictures.


 Here is a link to my website with no watermarked pictures and a description of the build


 Here is a link to my layout video. I explain the three door crossings at 8':13" in the video.

You can see the liftout in place at the back of this shot.

In the back of this photo you can see the lift out path behind the gate at the same level and the path of the duck under above it on the upper decks (duck under is removed)


Kevin - your solution looks a lot easier!!Cool

Have fun,





see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by derf on Friday, March 12, 2021 6:48 AM
Thanks guys for the great ideas.
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, March 12, 2021 2:18 AM

For my best solution, see page 22 of the April, 2021 issue of Model Railroader magazine.


Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, March 11, 2021 9:35 PM

Well, I don't have them built yet, but my new layout will have two lift out sections, that can also be ducked under.....

One will contain 5 tracks at three different elevations.

The other will contain 4 tracks at two different elevations.

My method of construction will be similar to Wayne's, but a little more involved for the different heights.

Most of the tracks will be straight at the joints, but two of them will have a curve similar to Wayne's.

Trouble free alignement is not really that hard.




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Posted by doctorwayne on Thursday, March 11, 2021 9:07 PM

I figured that a lift-out would be the simplest to make. and since I was going to need two of them, in the same place (one on the layout's main level and another right above it, on the partial upper level)...a lift-up or drop-down on one level would conflict with the one on the other level.

I used 3/4" plywood for both the lift-outs and for the brackets in which they sit

...and when they're not in use, they're not in the way either...

The on-layout track is cut back from the edge, so there's no chance of clothing snagging on the rail-ends...

The lift-outs are not interchangeable, and the plugs on each....

...not only power the tracks on their respective lift-outs, but when they're unplugged and the lift-outs not in placed, the approach tracks on both sides are dead, which prevents trains from making a dive to the concrete floor.

The lift-outs are self-aligning, so there's no need to make periodic adjustments to the track ends, as long as you're careful when installing or removing the lift-out sections.


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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, March 11, 2021 6:42 PM

 Nothing tricky about hinges, if you don't have to completely hide everything. Swing up - hinges go on the top, drop down - hinges go on the bottom. So long as the hinge pivot point is higher than the rail, there is no binding issue with the swing up section. 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's


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Posted by Renegade1c on Thursday, March 11, 2021 6:06 PM

  I have done a swing door lift bridges and a lift out section. I currently use the lift bridges and liftout section. 

Above are both lift bridges in the down position. These are done by having 45 ends on each end and the pivot point is below the track level. On the left hand side the bridge mechanically keeps trains from going off the end by blocking the track. on the right side the track has a electrical cutout that turns off the track approaching the bridge for about 8 feet. 

Lower bridge in up position and receiving pocket on far side

Lift out section


Here you can see 45 degree ends. the track is also on a 45 cut. This allows  everything to not interfere when opening or closing the bridge. 

I figured since it was a bridge I might as well make it a bridge. Eventually I will add scenery and it will be the platte river going under the bridge. 

The pin is used to secure bridge in place and prevent any movement that may cause track to become misaligned and cause a derailment. 

sorry that the pictures are so blurry. old camera phone. 

Colorado Front Range Railroad:


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Posted by cowman on Thursday, March 11, 2021 5:26 PM

Planning a tipup on my new layout.  My reasons for that choice:  Tip down, scenery and track are exposed to passing traffic as you go through.  Lift out, you need a place to store  it.  Swing gate, I do not have room for a swinging gate, even if you do it takes up space where it rests.  I have seen at local train shows a modular layout with a tip up that works very well, the hinges are slightly above the layout surface (block of wood under each hinge).  The actual hinged side seam is covered with a piece of rug that looks like a plowed field.  Could be made to look like grass.  I'm sure many folks have reasons for not using a tip up, but they'll  have to tell you why.

If you go to youtube there are many examples.  I found an interesting one at HO Scale Layout Lift Bridge.  There are many others.

Good luck,



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Posted by snjroy on Thursday, March 11, 2021 5:18 PM

This thread offers a lot of pictures and insights:

I have a hinged liftout, that has an HO and HOn3 track going through it. I've had it for 3 years now - and no derailment issues. My room is small (7X11), so it was very difficult to avoid. It was either that or doing a point-to-point layout, or going in n scale. Both non-starters for me. But if you enough space for return loops, then avoiding a liftout is absolutely a desirable option. Duckunders are to be avoided in my opinion.


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Posted by fwright on Thursday, March 11, 2021 2:17 PM

You didn't ask for my advice, but I'm giving it anyway.  From one Fred to another Fred - just don't.  Make do without.

Building modules for modular railroads has the same problems - getting very accurate alignment between sections - in all 3 dimensions - first time, every time is an engineering work in and of itself.  The solution - and there are many out there - will take your time and focus off the things that matter.  As will construction and maintenance of whatever system you use.

In evaluating what system to use, allowable tolerances matter.  A 3rail O section joint can have a lot more tolerance than N track.  Other evaluation criteria include acceptable tolerance in all 3 dimensions, impact of humidity and temperature on the structure, and maintenance of tolerance over time.  Also, constructability and ease of use are factors.

Tight fitting hinges can give close fit in 2 dimensions - but common hinges are not necessarily tight enough for model trackwork.  Hinges have the advantage of probably being the easiest solution to operate because you are pre-aligned in 2 of the 3 dimensions.  However, the further the joint is from the hinge point, the tighter the hinge must be to keep the joint within tolerance.

Alignment pins of various types tend to work well, but are not the easiest to position initially or use.  Alignment pins work best with a sliding section, but again getting the 3rd dimension (gap between sections) reliably aligned every time is not simple.  The advantage of sliding section with alignment pins is that the gap between sections is generally not as critical as the horizontal and vertical alignment of the rails.

A liftout can you give you pre-alignment in the vertical and section gap, but finding a structure that gives you accurate enough alignment in the horizontal while remaining easy to lift out or put back is a little more difficult.  A liftout (or even vertically hinged) with fairly tight vertical alignment pins might be the easiest to construct and use.

The problems cited above are why duck unders are so much easier, but just making your layout smaller is even easier.Big Smile

Fred W

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, March 11, 2021 2:17 PM

No pictures (1950s) but I had a hinged lift up section at a doorway that worked very good, just make sure to make an interlock far enough in advance killing the power to the feeder track to the big drop to prevent an accident.  You only have to forget once and you’ll be very sorry.


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Lift out, swing section instead of duck under
Posted by derf on Thursday, March 11, 2021 1:28 PM

Looking for what has worked best for others operational wise and ease of use between lift out sections, swing gates, etc... I don't want a duck under. If you have pics, I would like to see how you did yours.




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