A Portable Layout by Brian Jackson

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This all started in my loft when I realised that access was becoming more difficult and was not too safe for the grandchildren. So where could the railway go ? There is not much spare space in a small retirement bungalow so it had to be portable and, to fit the available storage space, 3ft by 2ft by 5ins maximum plus a wallpaper pasting table (6ft x 2ft erected).


The Baseboard is in three sections, one is 3ft by 2ft and two are 2ft by 18ins. The bases are 12mm MDF and the sides 6mm MDF, screwed and glued together with 15mm softwood battens. The blocks on the middle board were later replaced with 2ins by 1ins timber to improve rigidity. For storage, the three sections are held together with cabinet toggles and a luggage strap from Staples. When assembled, the sections are held together with "corner blocks".

Trackwork and Wiring

Track is all Peco Code 80 with foam underlay secured with PVA. The use of Setrack curves for the ends enabled me to set out with black marker pen. The really tricky part was positioning the track and scenic structures(buildings and so on) to avoid damage when folding for storage! Brass screws were positioned at the section joints. The track was glued in place, the rail soldered to the screws, then cut through in the usual way. As I already operate using DCC the wiring is very simple with the feeds connected across the surface to one input socket and 2 pin plug and socket connection to each end section.

Turnouts are operated mechanically using the GEM Mercontrol system in flexitube. This, plus the levers and the wiring, is hidden under scenery. An article in Railway Modeller led me to adopt a "scenic ladder fiddle yard" which was a great help in positioning buildings and scenery suitably for the storage state.

Buldings and Scenery

Buildings are a mixture of Metcalfe, Ratio and Kestrel. Note the Station Master’s house and the pump house which hide the joiners and are removable for storage. The stone hopper and conveyor are a Ratio coal tower plus corrugated sheet with supports from the scrap box. Scenery is card and paper mache plus various scenic scatters. Finishing touches such as trees and hedges, vehicles, people, etc., are still to be added. As usual another layout never finished!

This article was first published in Journal 3/10. The following photos were not published with the original article.