Catching Up, Part One

For the past ten months, I’ve written about The Hills Line at my blog on the Model Railroad Hobbyist website. Rather than completely rehash what I’ve already posted, I want to bring this site up to speed with where the layout stands today in a three-part series highlighting the progress made so far.


Following the rebuild of our basement and a few months of noodling on design concepts, construction officially began in August 2018 with the arrival of the Ikea Ivar shelving units. Bernard Kempinski and Marty McGuirk had already used the shelves to great effect on their own layouts, and I felt the product would work well in our space.


When compared to other styles of benchwork, the Ikea components are more expensive when evaluated exclusively by the square-footage covered. However, the Ivar system is considerably more stable, adaptable, and of a higher quality build than comparable dimensional lumber. Besides, how many layout benchwork setups include adjustable shelving underneath?


Each leg piece was painted and the shelves stained. Custom-length units were built out of panel boards to wrap around the literature organizers I already had on hand. No matter the state of the layout, I wanted the shelving to blend into the space and provide a warm and welcoming environment for my family, for my guests, and for me.


On top of the shelves I built a modified L-girder frame to support the layout. This arrangement provides a stable spot to support the foam roadbed, a firm front for the fascia, and has the added advantage of creating a trough to run wiring.


The outcome of these efforts is, in effect, a second family space in our home. The basement will not replace our living room, but does offer an alternate retreat we never knew we had.

Come back for Part Two, when seamless blue skies arrive and we trim out the edges of the layout.

9 thoughts on “Catching Up, Part One

  1. How deep is your layout surface? (Front edge to backdrop)

    How far apart are the ikea legs? Are they adaptable between closer and farther?


    1. Layout surface is 16 inches front to back. I used the 12-inch deep Ivar cabinets throughout, then offset the benchwork so there was a 4-inch toespace around the front of the layout.

      The legs are either 17 inches or 33 inches apart, which is the standard spacing of the Ivar shelves. You could obviously go narrower or wider, but would need to modify or not use the standard shelf sizes.

      Liked by 1 person

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