Cornering

There’s no such thing as the perfect layout space, and our basement proves that as fact time and time again. Over the lifetime of The Hills Line, as well as other layouts I’ve built in that space, I’ve made what I feel are significant compromises to make a model railroad fit in our lower level. In that time I’ve come to learn what does and does not work… and how to plan for those compromises.

Case in point, the entrance to the mechanical room. An open passageway connects the front part of the basement (where the layout lives) with the back (where the utilities and laundry live). Keeping that path open and unobstructed is essential in the basic functionality of our home, and also necessary for the inevitable appliance repair or replacement that’s been known to occur.

The issue then becomes how to handle a layout design that approaches or even crosses in front of the passageway. I’ve previously mentioned how I span the gaps so that the railroad and the space can coexist from an operating standpoint. But there are also scenic needs that need to be addressed.

Since either side of the layout comes right to the edge of the opening, I have to be aware of what I place on these corners, less they be struck by an elbow each time we do a load of laundry. For the left (north) corner, the area is part of the Ralston Creek watercourse. I made sure to keep trees and other fragile items well back from the edge.

However, the right (south) corner features a portion of the Surroundings Interiors warehouse and can’t either be pushed back or left out. The remaining option is to stiffen the outside corner so that if and when it takes a glancing blow, it will survive.

To start, I built a set of fascia extensions to cover the two exposed sides of the warehouse. They were constructed using the same 1/4-inch underlayment plywood that I’ve used for the rest of the fascia on the layout. The stability and thickness of the plywood provides decent protection on its own.

The extensions were trimmed to the general shape of the warehouse so that I didn’t have an unwanted viewblock at the scene. I prepainted the segments using my standard fascia green (Behr’s Wild Rice) color to prevent any paint from getting on the completed structure. Touchups will be done after the extension is in place.

Construction adhesive and brad nails were used to adhere the pieces to the existing warehouse. One of the advantages of using a wood or PVC core for such structures is that the fascia extensions can be securely attached using a variety of methods. Wood filler was used to close the seams and nail holes.

To reinforce the corner itself, a complete corner-trim piece was attached to connect the existing fascia, the extension, and the warehouse structure. The corner trim also adds a finished look to the fascia, which is why I use it on all of the corners as well as the bottom edge.

Paint touchups were done once all the filler was dry, putting the finishing touches on an edge of the layout that’s designed to clearly mark the edge of the world as I know it.

5 thoughts on “Cornering

  1. I also have a real world space that needs to be crossed. In this case it’s a door into the hallway and needs to be open for excursions to the bathroom (kitchen, etc.). We solved the problem by turning that door into a “dutch” door (cutting it about two-thirds up) and attaching slide latch locks so no one could open the top portion against the filler portion bridging the gap.

    I do indeed find myself busting a shoulder or upper back against the side where the staging yard lives but it’s a minor inconvenience. I have given some thought to turning that corner into a 45 degree by six inch section but so far I’m leaving it alone.

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  2. OK, James, a query. What are the metal hangers you’re using to hold the bridge section? I haven’t seen those little thingies (dummies tech term) before (or maybe just don’t remember seeing them). Those are perfect and I’d be using them, too.

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