Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Annoying tasks... and life's little victories."

There were a number of projects that I had been putting off, but absolutely had to address prior to laying track. The time had come to man-up. I wasn't looking forward to any of these because they were either frustratingly redundant, annoyingly messy or inevitably tricky... with the real chance of real damage.

The entire backdrop had taken a beating from the installation and removal of the upper deck. Patched screw holes and various marks and gouges were touched up and the result was a blotched backdrop. Attempts to feather the discolorations into a varied sky only exacerbated the issue. A new coat of the entire backdrop was required, and completed. Job one, annoying, but easy and done.

But the bigger tasks awaited. Because the bench work was built at a uniform 20" depth, it ultimately did not provide the necessary space required for one of my Layout Design Elements. But simply extending the bench work wasn't the issue. The lighting system  had to follow the edge of the bench work. So despite my earlier claims that I was never, ever again going to address the lighting assembly, there was no avoiding it. I did have a plan. In theory, it should work. Let's see.

With the freshly painted backdrop complete, the repositioning of a 12' length of lighting was taken on. Two sections of valence were carefully removed and short lengths of wiring were unclipped in each corner to create some slack.

The 12' length of 1" x 3" was disconnected at the corners from its counterparts, the ceiling clips were loosened and the entire unit was slid forward by about 5" until the clips hit a cross-member of the grid system. The now-excess  frame and rear reflective valence had to be cut in place using a circular saw, held upside down without damaging the ceiling grid.

The 1" x 3" frames were reconnected in each corner, the reflective rear valences were reinstalled, the corner light bulb was repositioned and excess wire was looped. No way was I pulling the cable tight by repositioning more than two dozen sockets. Good ee-nuff!

The bench work below was then extended by 7" along the 12' length with two identical 6' long 1" x 3" grid frames fabricated from my disassembled helix frame. They were generously screwed together to create a 27" deep foundation for the Ellicott City area.

Because there was slight deflection at the joint of the grid sections, additional 27" long 1" x 2" lengths were 'sistered' under each cross member creating a more rigid arrangement. Alas, there is no shortage of 1" x 2" lumber on hand  from the former second deck. Even with the 7" extension, the aisle is still a comfortable 32" wide opposite the end of the peninsula.
To untrained eyes, like those of my wife and daughter's, it may appear that no progress has occurred. But I can readily attest that seldom has the appearance that nothing has changed been so rewarding. As annoying as everything was, the tasks got done with no real complicating issues. No damage, no injuries and a minimal amount of cussing. The valence was trimmed and reinstalled with no need to touch it up. Victory!... but seriously, I really am so sick of sawdust.
The crew did lend moral support... while awaiting their puppy chow.


  1. Just getting caught up with the last couple posts. Boy, I just hate re-work. But, at least you are past the difficult things that may hold you up from advancing the ball. Looking good!


  2. Boy, you are tremendously patient! No way I could have benchwork up this long without some section of track just to run a a train back forth! Seriously though, the room looks great and with these necessary steps out of the way, should be fun things to tackle next!

    1. Well Mike, since patience is a virtue, we know that's not it... for these tasks it was just some practicality mixed with discipline... but overall, my timeframe has been affected by the uncertainty caused by inexperience... so many questions, so little time... but I think I have some things figured out now... if I don't, what's a little more public embarrassment?... thanks... best - JF

  3. enough of benchwork and lighting, it's time to man up and lay some track mister

    1. Hey Randy... I was wondering when you'd chime in... very tame, but unfortunately very true!... the process has had its embarrassing moments... if only I had a wing man like Sparky!... actually, if only I had a wing man, period!... stay tuned - JF

    2. don't be embarrased, we've all been thru it, much better to make it the way you want it than to live with it. everything looks great and I'm looking forward to seeing how it progresses! Keep pushing!