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Author Topic: Working Beneath Layout  (Read 4380 times)

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« on: November 26, 2011, 06:15:15 PM »

Here are a couple ideas I have found valuable for when you are down on the floor, working with the wiring below your model railroad.

First, lighting is always a problem.  I have even seen large model railroads with their own lighting systems installed underneath them.

Problem is, with a lamp down there with you, it can get pretty hot.  And then there is the problem of one's own shadow getting in the way of the light.

The solution is to use one of the "headlights" sold in outdoor sports equipment departments in stores.  These have high-intensity battery-powered lights attached to an elastic headband.  The light shines in the direction you are looking, and because it is attached to your head, you stay out of its way.

Another problem is never having the right tool with you once you are down there.  I take a small plastic tray that microwaveable food comes in, and carry my tools around down there in it.

Another thing that I have found to be very helpful:  take a pen with you that can write upside down.  When you run a wire up through a hole in the layout, or when you mount a barrier strip (see my previous post "Wiring Tips"), write what it is for on the underside of your benchwork.  It saves a lot of time when you have to track down a problem.

Ken G Price

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« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2011, 09:36:56 PM »

Ken's list of things that can happen. Cheesy

A headband lamp will not be at the correct angle no matter how you will adjust it.

The light will never be able to shine where you need it to.  So have more then one type.

No matter what tools you think you will need there is always one that you did not bring. Shocked

Take a pen and it will run out of ink. You will have the correct pen but the labels or paper will drop and be out of reach so you have to start all aver after you retrieve it. Roll Eyes

Of course there are many others, but these are what makes model railroading so much fun. Grin

Ken G Price N-Scale out west. 1995-1996 or so! UP, SP, MoPac.
Pictures Of My Layout,
the Bach-man

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« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2011, 11:46:30 PM »

Dear All,
Micro Mark
has both Top Side and Bottom Side creepers which become indispensable once you try them!
Have fun!
the Bach-man
« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 11:39:49 PM by the Bach-man » Logged
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.

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« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2011, 12:50:20 AM »

My latest layout is a portable, made to take to shows.  Wiring is easy - set a section on edge on the bench or on the floor and go to it.  No special lights required, no sawdust in the face from drilling holes, downhand soldering - life is good.  But a friend went one better.  Confined to a wheel chair, he could not work under his layout.  So he built it with a chase or channel along the front where he ran all the wiring for his layout, except the last few feet to the tracks, the switch machines, the lights etc.  The top of the chase was hinged.  When closed, the top formed a slanted panel for controls, indicator lights, throttle panels, etc.  Next around the wall layout I build, that is the way I'll do it.


Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2011, 12:56:22 PM »

I made a couple of these from scrap wood, casters, 1/4 20 hardware, sheet rock screws. You can make them adjustable if you prefer. Modify them to suit your layout height. Add cushions, etc.
Use your imagination. We all have one.

I wear a ball cap which has two high intensity LED's mounted in the cap brim.
Links about bal cap LED's.

Sometimes I use a fluorescent drop light. The light part is about 12 inches long. Some are longer but this one works for me.

« Last Edit: November 27, 2011, 01:02:23 PM by richg » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2011, 04:05:24 PM »

I use The head lamps in my line of work, they work great when you adjust them right, the trick is to adjust them to shine where you look not look where they shine.

Seems simple, but once I say this to a new employee they end up using them all the time.

For drop lights/spotlights I shine them on a wall or other surface and let my eyes adjust to the reflected light, this way you can really see better and don't have to change the light position all the time.

Last if you paint the underside of your layout white it will be nicer to work under  and will protect your layout as well. (think... a day of work can eliminate a life time of frustration)

« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2011, 04:51:15 PM »

I sometimes use a light similar to the below. Little shorter. As LED's evolve, we will see LED drop lights.

Jerrys HO
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2011, 05:17:45 PM »

LED drop lights are available.

 I use one simular to this one. It's nice with the magnetic holder as well. I have a file cabinet under one side of my table to hold my train stuff and I stick it right to the side of it when I work on that side of my table.

« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2011, 06:59:31 PM »

I have seen them but waiting for them to come down in price. That is what I should have said.
I see them for less at with free shipping over $25.00. They will drop in price.

I find and buy a lot of stuff from Amazon. Excellent return policy if the item is not correct when I get it.

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