Taking Down a Layout

In here names have been omitted to protect the innocent (and the guilty).

I belong to a group of model railroaders who meet at a member’s house on Tuesdays to work on the layout or to operate trains.  Recently an invitation was sent out saying that the layout had to be lowered by 5 inches so please bring tools.  Coffee and home-made lemon squares was being offered as an incentive (bribe).  Some ten of us turned up with a motley collection of chainsaws, skillsaws, jig saws, sawsalls, wrecking bars etc. and happily discussed the project over a mountain of lemon squares.

The first point raised was, “Why not raise the floor?”  It would have been easy with thick rubber matting or some wooden pallets but this solution was dismissed because the lowering was required to make room for a second level above the original layout.

Bearing in mind the need to keep the layout operational, the next suggestion was to cut an inch off each leg in sequence and gradually lower the layout down.  This was also dismissed because there were some twenty legs which would have meant 100 sequential cuts at floor level.  We are all retired and have different degrees of agility so crawling around on the floor had to be kept to a minimum.  This method was also rejected because we had a reservation for lunch at a pizzeria and our stomachs took precedence.

It was finally decided to use the “whole hog” method. i.e. take it down in one go.  Fuelled with coffee and lemon squares we tramped down into the basement and divided into two teams.  Two pieces of wood were cut five inches long to act as templates and soon we were merrily cutting the legs five inches from the floor.  We quickly found that we could put back the piece cut off under the leg and the weight of the layout would keep it in place.  In some cases the small piece was held in place with masking tape.

The moment of truth.

We were now faced with a large layout that was teetering precariously.  The next operation was accomplished in two parts as we were ready to lower the layout.  People were placed strategically along the layout.  The owner couldn’t bear to look.

“Everybody ready?”

“Do we know if it is attached to the wall?”

The owner admitted that it was not attached to the wall.

“Take the weight”.

“Now kick”.

At which point the cut off pieces were kicked out of the way.  This was accompanied by muttered curses from those who had found that painters or masking tape was stronger than it looked.  With the short pieces of leg having been kicked out of the way the layout could safely be lowered to its new position.  There was a sigh of relief from the owner. The second section was treated accordingly and we were pleased to discover that flex track would flex vertically as well as horizontally.

It had taken us almost as long to discuss how to do it as to actually do it - and we managed to make our pizza appointment in good time as well.

Ottawa Valley Associated Railroaders - The Interchange June 2016

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