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SKEW BRIDGE - Attic Layout


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I mentioned in my journal yesterday that I had some work to complete in the attic. Having finished the decorating in the hallway and fitted new ceiling lights, I was able to complete laying chipboard flooring in the attic and boxing in some exposed pipework at floor level.

For some time now I've been thinking of building a layout round the attic in order to be able to use the stock I won't be using outdoors but it's not the most hospitable environment at any time of year. It is however dry and available to use for most of the year so let's see what we can do with it.

The attic is a modern design with a clear central section and lots of roof trusses but I think I can run a layout within the trusses themselves. I've seen many layouts built this way and a lot of them have more complicated trussing than what I have to deal with. So I've started fastening some timber across the 'V' trussing upon which I can lay my baseboards to see if it's going to be workable and above all else, to ensure that there's going to be a decent view of the trains.

The first two photos show the layout of the roof trusses and where I plan to lay the baseboards. The attic is 33 feet in total length although I cannot use all of it - perhaps 6 feet or so is needed to access the solar panel inverter and associated electrics at one end.



There's a maximum baseboard width available of approx 24 inches which will be more than enough for some main line running and a few sidings. There's the same width along the opposite side of the attic for some storage roads.

I'm fortunate in the fact that the rear trusses at the back of the layout are vertical timbers which will allow me to simply add a tall backscene and I've used a piece of hardboard in the following two images to show what I mean. I've seen some layouts where the trusses at the rear are sloping which makes things very difficult.



Now that I've added some cross timbers and laid a couple of old wardbrobe sides along them it looks like it might just work and the trusses appear far less significant than they did. I probably have enough old wardrobe sides to complete the whole run round the attic so what do you think? Do you reckon it's worth a go? Anyone with experience of an attic layout?

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I've been back up in the attic today and added a few more timbers along both sides as baseboard supports. With another wardrobe side resting in position, the length of mainline run available is easier to see and it's all I had hoped it would be - certainly in excess of 20 feet on the straight.


The 10 feet width available for use means I can have 4ft 6ins curves, maybe a little more, which I am happy with. I think it's time to get some more timber to give support to the chipboard wardrobe sides and start building a layout. I wouldn't want the chipboard to sag after any track is laid.

I'm not sure why but I've decided the attic side in the photo will be the scenic side of the layout with the fiddle/storage yard opposite. There'll be a tall backscene to the rear and some form of lighting above. I haven't given much thought to the actual layout or even the number of running lines but I'm not looking at anything too cluttered or too involved. I want something that I can get up and running quickly.

As for the outdoor layout, well I've just got myself a cheap a SDS drill in order to drill those concrete fence posts in order to mount the baseboards along the bottom perimeter fence so things are finally moving again. I doubt I will be doing any drilling for a few days as I have other things to do but I'm now almost ready for when the time comes.

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:lol::lol::lol::lol::lol::lol: I take it that was aimed at me Mick?? :lol::lol::lol::lol: I'm glad you mentioned it tho before Nige or Roddy got chance to!!! :lol::lol::lol::lol: In your next post though could you please include a picture of your fingers just to prove none were harmed or severed during construction? :lol::lol::lol::lol::lol:

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Baimor said:

....In your next post though could you please include a picture of your fingers just to prove none were harmed or severed during construction?....

Ok, I have to admit not everything went that well.


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  • 2 weeks later...

Okay - back to some modelling ;) or at least to some construction up in the heights of the attic.

Before moving forward with the structure for the layout I thought it wise to build a safety cover over the attic entrance hole to be used while I'm messing around up there. There's already been a couple of occasions when I've been about to take a step backwards before realising just in time that there was a void beneath my foot. I looked online for something purpose built but they're way to pricey and so I've used the framework off my now dismantled indoor layout and knocked together an MDF covered frame that means I stay up there until I'm ready to come down of my own accord. Just needs a couple of hinges to make operation a matter of course. I've also put down some oddments of carpet so it feels a bit cosier up there.

I've now added some 2x1 timber battens along the edges of the old wardrobe sides, staggering them at the joints, so that the track base is now sturdy and level. Both sides of the attic have been done and next will be the curved end sections in order to complete the full loop. I'm in need of some more wardrobe sides but luckily they're just waiting to be dismantled and taken up aloft.

Despite the length available, fitting a 36 set of Hornby MGR wagons in a siding is still going to be quite a squeeze. I've just measured things out and at 12cm per wagon, a full set will require a siding measuring approx 4.3 metres in length but I'm not cutting back on my MGR's - they're one of the main reasons I've gone to these lengths. I want scale length trains.

I'm now laying down loose lengths of track in an attempt to come up with some sort of track plan for the scenic area. I'm planning on a double track mainline with loops either side and a couple of visible sidings. I'm quite happy with just double track and room to shunt trains around so there'll be nothing too complex. I did have an actual location in mind but I don't have the necessary width to make that work so it'll just have to be a compromise.

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Here's a few photos taken earlier today although I doubt they'll show much more than previous photos.


The photo above shows what will eventually be the scenic side of the layout and now with battens fixed beneath the edges of the timber sheet. The loosely laid track gives an idea of the space available.


The boards above will form the storage area. It's the same width as the opposite side but I'll be using every last inch of it in order to accommodate as many roads as possible along the entire length.


Almost impossible to take an overall view of the attic space due to the number of roof trusses, but there's plenty of room in the central section, even with the beginnings of a small portable layout erected. It's really more spacious than this photo might suggest.

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Why is my attic full of Christmas decorations, suitcases, et al and yours is full of trains???? :lol::lol: hhmmmm! I think I may need to investigate this further! :D:D:D I suppose if we get rid of the kids then we won't really need Christmas decorations!! :lol::lol::lol: On a serious note tho Mick that's looking good. :D:D:D

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Indoor modeller's don't appreciate just how fortunate they are. Outdoors on my 'Worsley Dale' layout I've managed to get approximately three-quarters of the layout constructed and it's taken me in the region of three years or so to reach that point. Up in the attic I've managed to do the same amount in only a couple of weeks! Granted construction has been very different but I've now got a little more than three-quarters of the baseboards in place with only one curved section left to tackle. Those trusses may be an inconvenience but they certainly help to speed up construction. I'll be laying track in no time - in fact I'm out of suitable timber so I may even get some track down before I tackle that remaining bit.

Again, the photo's may be very similar to previous ones but at least they show some progress.

The first one shows one of the end boards in position and only in need of some corner pieces to 'round' off the curve. I'm not exactly sure what radius I can get away with but it's certainly going to be a minimum of 54 inches.


In the next photo I've attempted to show a view along one side of the attic from just beyond the mid-point with the end board at the bottom and more completed boards along the opposite long side.


Once the main construction is out of the way I'll be able to make the place a bit cosier and hopefully a bit cleaner.

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Here's the end curve baseboard with some corner pieces added to 'round' off its profile. The darker segment just left of centre isn't a missing piece its simply the reverse side of the board which fitted better that way than I had originally intended.


Using sturdy timber across the trusses for this end section has meant that additional supporting legs aren't required - it's very stable as it is so there's room beneath for open storage and nothing to get in the way.

I've decided to do the opposite end in much the same way so that when necessary, it's not going to be too difficult to access the solar panel inverter which is fastened to the gable wall. At that end the curve will be built away from the wall leaving room for maintenance purposes. I'll only lose a few feet of running line.

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