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Shelf test track[s]

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 Recently, I was very taken by Tullygrainy's fully scenic shelf test track. Such a splendid idea to combine the chance to run in locos while enjoying seeing them do so in a proper setting. Plus, as the man said at the time, having such a thing next to your workbench makes an ideal foil for those times when building projects are not going as well as they might, because seeing your models trundle back and forth has to be good for the soul. In addition, I feel for those on this forum who have collections of locos [large and small], but nowhere to run them and dislike the thought of so many models sitting on shelves, not doing what they are meant to. So this is now a bit of a mission to get a few more engines running, because I really can't see why everyone shouldn't have space for one of these!

 My own needs are for 21mm [3 foot gauge] and 36.75mm [5'3] track in 7mm scale. My workbench sits against a blank wall, with about 5 feet of space available. Hence, my design will form a piece of dual gauge track, inset into a quayside, looking out across a sea inlet to low lying land on the other side - a blend of places like Wexford, Cork, Sligo and so on.

 The aim is for it to be as simple as possible, using a 6 inch/15cm wide bit of shelving as the 'baseboard'. This will be fixed to the wall with a couple of shelf brackets, but will sit about an inch out from the wall, with a gap to the back scene  - probably a sheet of painted hardboard - fixed to the wall, so that the inner edge can represent a quayside, complete with a few mooring bollards. Track will be code 100 flatbottomed rail, soldered to a minimum of copper clad sleepers. Ground surface can then be built up close to rail level to represent a quayside road, with edging stones on the inner face [next to the wall]. Narrow wings each end should help to frame the picture, which will hopefully provide a nice backdrop to photograph my models.




 As for operation, without any hidden sections are each end, it makes sense to consider a shuttle unit that incorporates a gentle start and gradual slow down, rather than a sudden start/stop. I do have one of these, but couldn't get it to work; however our Club electrics wizard as said it should do and [hopefully] will work on a completely isolated piece of track. We will see - eventually...

 The chances of this little project getting started any time soon are fairly slim, but I would love to see others take up the challenge, even if it is only via suggestions for other themes - eg multiple tracks or different settings.

 Food for thought? I hope so!


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I find test tracks to be useful, and have built one for my work areas.  They provide a nice backdrop for running, photos, and just appreciate work done to date.

First one was built for my old work area and has subsequently been incorporated into the Coat's Bridge layout. 


Many models ran for the first time on this layout and photos posted here at the time.


When I built my current workspace, the layout above was too big to fit into the space available so a new mini layout was built.  This one represents a section of the Murrough Station looking from the sea side.  Not hugely developed in scenic terms & I had intended to put in some trees etc - still waiting for that to happen!  Ah maybe one day.


I'm not in a position to put in a shuttle system as my models are all RC, so unless I sit there with the controllers, they aren't going anywhere.  Still nice to see them when you are working away, although, it can remind you of what you haven't completed....

Well worth doing if you have the space.

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  • 4 weeks later...
30 minutes ago, David Holman said:

Excellent! Though credit must go to Alan and Ken for the idea in the first place. Personally, I'm waiting for the woodwork muse before I begin mine...

I have it just at eye level for when I'm sitting at the workstation, I will use it to see what my weathering is like etc, once I take the plunge! It will make a change from the gaudy curtain 🫣😅

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