I feel that I’ve reached another minor milestone with my layout depicting North Tonawanda NY. I’m ready to proceed with laying more track, but there’s a back-story that I want to tell.
Back on July 30th, I posted about my quandary over layout lighting. Thanks to those of you who responded to that post with ideas and opinions, by the way. It was one particular response from Tim Swaddling, via this blog’s link to my Facebook account, that prompted an important shift in my thinking.
Tim suggested that I consider using LED lighting on the underside of shelf built above the layout. LED lighting sounds like a promising technology, but it was idea of a shelf above the layout that appealed to me immediately. The existing and future parts of my layout consume valuable storage space, and this will be a point of contention if I choose to expand the layout beyond the scope of the first phase. You can check out a conceptual drawing of my plan by reading my post from July 21 2014. The idea of capitalizing on otherwise wasted space above the layout presented an excellent opportunity to prove that the layout can co-exist with other uses for the room.
I didn’t follow through with the LED lighting scheme that Tim suggested. I don’t have enough experience with LED lighting, and I don’t have any on hand with which to conduct experiments. In the interest of moving forward with the layout construction, I decided to go with a continuous strip of single lamp T8 flourescent fixtures.
I considered having cabinets built above the layout, but that was soon proven to be a prohibitively expensive and impractical extravagance. Once the notion of cabinets was ruled out, I was back to Tim’s suggestion of a shelf.
For the front edge of the shelf to be generally above the layout facia, the shelf would have to be 16″ deep. I didn’t want shelf brackets on the wall underneath because that would mess up the flat surface for my layout backdrop. The combination of ductwork above the layout and the fact that I had already finished the wall for the backdrop meant that I would be looking for ways to hang the front edge of the shelf from the ceiling and somehow attaching the back edge of the shelf to the wall.
I decided that a solution involving hanging the wooden shelf with steel rods and angles would be worth trying. I got a great deal on a sheet of blemished cabinet-grade plywood, and also bought some threaded rod, nuts, bolts washers, lag screws, slotted steel angle, and then set about experimenting. Eventually, I settled on the approach shown below.
I’ve spent most of the summer framing walls, wiring up outlets and lights, building this shelf, and installing the layout lighting. The next step is to move that heat register from its current location above the shelf to about two feet out, so that it dumps air into the aisle instead of onto my shelf. Eventually, I’ll off the shelf and the space below the layout with black fabric. Having worked all summer on the room, I’d like to spend some time actually working on the layout. I think I’ll get to work on building more switches.