Baseboard Support: Supporting your layout

Martin R Wicks takes a pragmatic approach to baseboard support, with some ready-made products. So for those without the prerequisite carpentry skills, or perhaps the time to dedicate to baseboard supports, nil desperandum!

Some model railways for the joy of modelling, some for the joy of operating, some for the challenge of electronics, electrical control systems and their design, some to recreate, in miniature, the past world of their youth. Whatever the reason for our individual model railways we all have one thing in common; we all need good solid foundations for our layouts!

One of Down Ampney’s main baseboards, heavy-duty personified. I am glad that we don’t intend to exhibit the layout, yet such heavy-duty boards will support the weight of Heljan locos, ballast and other such necessities – maybe even a ‘fat controller’ or two!

Trestles and baseboards may be a boring necessity, but if they are not fit for purpose, good quality and stable in use – throughout their life and the life of the layout – then it can be argued that all other effort and expenditure on a layout (e.g. track, electrics, scenery etc.) could be a waste of both time
and money.

Even with supposedly well-crafted wooden layout supports/legs, I have seen – and heard – more than one layout come crashing to the floor at exhibition – a gut-wrenching sound to say the least!

For the indoor, scenic section, of our basic 7mm trunk-line BLT (garage-garden-garage) layout, Down Ampney, we had fabricated heavy-duty baseboards from 9mm WBP (water and boil proof) hardwood ply on top of 18mm birch hardwood ply bracing.

As our layout didn’t need to be portable – but one day removable – the method of construction was a tad more heavy duty than normal; in the main, this was to cater for such things as the heavyweight – mainline – diesel RTR outline locos by Heljan (weighing in at 3kg and upwards).

What the hobby is all about, for many anyway, the scenic angle and that of the role of nostalgia. I learned to drive a tractor aged 10 and a Morris Marina van when I was 13 (all on private roads I hasten to add). One can just imagine a diesel loco from the era breaking the silence and bursting into view any minute (cameo scene on Draycott Camp Halt Sidings).

While we have made some provision for weight saving as the layout would not be portable as such (all built, however, with a future house move in mind), we were more concerned with longevity and robustness, as the baseboards would be sited within a garage.

While the garage is very weatherproof and has some insulation etc. it isn’t a ‘room’ as such, so when modelling in this environment these things have to be kept in mind and built accordingly (with humidity and temperature changes taken into consideration) almost akin to our outdoor/garden baseboards.

For the full article, see September’s edition of Modelling – available now!

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