Switching Layout- Room Preparation

About a month ago, I posted a drawing of my unfinished basement so that I could share the anticipation of building some kind of layout in all or part of that space.  Though I have a few different rolling stock projects on the go, I’ve just come to the end of three months of intense work and personal challenges, and I needed a few days away from those.  Instead, I spent the past week or so digging through books and searching online for more information on a few possible layout concepts.

All of this has produced a small pile of scrap paper, each decorated with odd loopy lines, and while none of them represent anything close to a track plan, it’s been fun to noodle with some ideas.  Of the dozen that I sketched, I’ve come up with two concepts that work with the space I have available.  Both represent about two miles of railroad selectively compressed along the outside walls of the basement.

Ah yes… those outside walls.  They’re unfinished, and I expect that I would be deeply dissatisfied with a layout in an unfinished room.  I won’t be building anything until the exterior walls are framed and drywalled.  But wait!  One wall is already framed and drywalled on one side!  All I need to do is drywall the other side and I’m good to start building.

layout detail1

Orange oval indicates the location of the wall that is easiest to finish.

So the decision was made.  Instead of aiming for that larger project of two miles, I’m going to build a shelf layout depicting a specific industry or two.  The shelf will measure approximately 12″ to 16″ deep and be about 12′ in length, mounted to the wall ahead of the crawl space (the orange oval in the sketch above).  That crawl space will be a good location for some staging.

Yesterday, I got to work.  I roughed-in three receptacles (one facing the finished side of the wall, and two facing the layout).


I picked up four sheets of 1/2″ drywall after work today, and with any luck, I’ll get some of that up quickly.  I have to do a small amount of framing so that the area above the crawl space is finished with drywall.  I’d like the layout to have finished walls behind and beside it.

So there it is, I’ve defined a layout space that represents an attainable challenge for me.  I expect that finishing the layout side of the walls is within the scope of my abilities and the time I can dedicate to it.  The layout that will be built in this space will serve as a place where I can practice modelling techniques and pose my finished models for photos.  I’ll get to plan a small, operations oriented layout, and then put the plan to the test by actually trying to build it.

Wish me luck.

13 thoughts on “Switching Layout- Room Preparation

  1. FWIW…. staple those wires before covering the wall. Cabling must be stapled to a structural member (stud) within 6″ of the box. You also need nail protectors on the studs where the wires pass through. Not trying to sound like a building inspector. Rather, am concerned for your safety.

    • Those wires are stapled but not tight because when I took the photo I was still feeding the wire back to a junction box. I’ll go back and tighten the wire to the stud and drive those staples home.

      I’ve never heard of nail protectors, though it sounds like a good idea. There are none in any of the exposed studs or floor joists in my house, which is exactly one year old this weekend. I guess the electrical contractor who was the lowest compliant bidder wasn’t compelled by the building code to use such protection, which is not to imply anything other than the fact that our building code may not have caught up to that of your jurisdiction. I’ll look into it.

      Thanks for the tips!

  2. Best of luck!

    For what it’s worth I’d never heard of nail protectors either, though sure sounds like a good idea. You can also find stud finders that detect electrical which can be handy as well.

  3. Nail protectors are only required if the hole is within a certain distance of the face of the 2×4. From what I can see in the photo you are well within the requirement.
    While you’re drywalling, don’t forget the ceiling!

    • Good thinking Pierre. There are many ducts and pipes (water and gas) strapped to the bottom of the floor joists in this part of the basement, so I’m inclined to go with a suspended acoustic tile ceiling. Am I correct to assume that this type of ceiling gets installed after the walls are framed and drywalled?

      • No doubt variations in inspector’s interpretation of building codes. During the electrical inspection of our current home we built 10 years ago the inspector tagged us for no nail protectors on the studs. We had them for plumbing but not electrical. The through bores for the wiring run was centered in the studs. Electrician came back an hammered them on. Inspector was happy. Illustrated here parallels exactly what the inspector said: http://www.strongtie.com/ftp/fliers/F-REPRPROTECT09.pdf

        • Wow. I’ve never seen those things. I guess one would shim the studs so that the drywall doesn’t get bulged at the nail protectors.

          Building codes where you live are different from ours.

      • Further investigation online uncovered the actual Ontario Electrical Code.
        Does the Code require nail protection plates on the face of all studs and joists through which non-metallic sheathed cable passes?

        No. The Code states that cables must be kept back at least 32 mm (1.25″) from the outer surfaces of studs, joists, or similar structural members; or they must be protected from mechanical injury from driven nails, screws, or staples. Steel protection plates are most often used to protect the cable and should be of sheet steel of at least No. 16 MSG or the equivalent.

        Rule 12-516.

        Ontario Electrical Safety Code 25th Edition/2012

        And FWIW, no shims are required the drywall conforms very easily over all forms of protection plates

  4. Great idea – get something started so you can enjoy your locomotives and rolling stock. It’s also a great place to tune up equipment (check it running through turnouts, etc.) – so you’ll be that much further ahead when you are ready to use the whole space.
    When designing the shelf switching layout, think about putting temporary staging to the left – into the crawl space. You can protect the staging area with a drop cloth draped over supports. That will keep dust off the staging area while allowing you easy access to deal with any issues.
    We can pencil some ideas next time you visit – later this month. Be sure to bring your doodles…

    • I like the idea of draping cloth over the staging. It’s a small pike, and it will likely only have a few places to spot cars, so traffic moving to and from the layout will be light. I can’t imagine needing much staging capacity.

      About the crawl space, the clearance between the floor and the bottom of the joists is 52″. I wonder if I could hang the staging from the floor joists. If I did that, I might be able to get the railhead as much as 48″ above the floor. This might be a good height for me.

  5. Good luck my friend!

    It is amazing how much time is involved with the organization and execution of all of the background “stuff” in order to realize the end product….a piece of art that we call a layout. A creation that is visualized and engineered in our minds and then re-created in real space.
    I, like you, have been ruminating about a room space, a railroad and location to model, a time period and whether or not there is enough time to attain the goal. Months of toiling and tinkering attempts have nearly rendered my vision into the available space so that the scene remains faithful to its historic location, is balanced within itself, and balances within the rest of my living space.
    It appears that the canvas for your art is fresh, clean and ready for your media. Make your space comfortable as you will be spending a lot of time working your craft and entertaining your fellow artists within it.
    Now, after reading your very encouraging blog entry, it is time for me to put a stake in the ground…enough chewing of the cud. Its time to start…staging!

    Best Regards;

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