When we rebuilt the basement of our home, we had a new staircase constructed for the space. The old stairs were uneven, narrow, and as we discovered… structurally unsound. Considering we had lived in our home for the better part of a decade when we discovered this fact, it was a simple decision to tear out and replace.
Since building codes have changed significantly in the nearly 100 years since our home was first built, “normal” rise and run dimensions wouldn’t work in the space. To avoid turning our new stairs into a glorified Jacob’s ladder, but also give enough clearance so we weren’t smacking our head on the rafters, the bottom rung is slightly flared and opened into the basement.
When it came to design The Hills Line, I wanted to not block access to the stairs in anyway. Even though the IAIS Grimes Line was intentionally designed to keep a clear path from the basement entrance to the mechanical room (which came in handy when we replaced our furnace several years ago), the tear-out process exposed a lack of clearance around the corner and up the stairs.
The obvious answer was to end the benchwork well before of the bottom rung of the stairs. However when laying out the plan, I discovered I needed one more foot of track beyond the crossover north of City Carton to allow locomotive to runaround when working the spur.
Track extensions to the rescue! My friend and fellow Iowa Interstate modeler Scott Thornton had designed staging extensions for his HO scale Milan Branch layout and I felt a similar approach would work for my needs.
The design matches the other two lift-out sections on the layout in both construction methods and electrical connectivity. But since the extension is cantilevered from the benchwork, additional flush-mount hangers were added to ensure that it did not flex under the weight of a locomotive… or send it plummeting to the floor.
When not operating, the extension is removed to ensure that the stairs remain unencumbered. All in all, a simple and straightforward way to add one more foot of space to The Hills Line.