I had not done any model making since I was a teenager and had not been to a model railway exhibition for a very long time. ExpoNG was fantastic and was a real eye-opener. The exhibition is about the best modelling for narrow gauge railways there is — it is not your normal Thomas the tank engine rubbish that you see at most shows but real works of modelling art. In one corner the show had a small informal competition with a few entries — the Shoebox Challenge. As I don’t have much room in my house I thought that this was a splendid idea for building a small model railway, testing out ideas and being able to actually complete something in a short space of time. Paula was delighted as she was about to get some new shoes! However the following year’s exhibition competition was not for a shoebox at all but a little bit bigger challenge — build a working model railway that would fit inside a fictitious 500mm cube. I had to have a go!
I spent months and months sketching and thinking about what I wanted on post-it notes on the train, over a cup of tea. We even went on a Trains and Gardens holiday to Wales to give me some inspiration and finally, I had a plan, mostly in my head, and work started.
I sketched out the plans on 6mm MDF (in hindsight this was way too thick) and marked out the track, points buildings and features.
The board was cut and then the framework assembled around it to produce a 500 mm box. I didn’t have to do this but I did want to frame the layout and a box seemed to the best way to do it. Part of the plan was to allow viewing into the box from two sides thereby giving the plan a diamond share rather than a square one. This then gives a wider viewpoint when looking at the model. This meant that only two sides were to be used for the backdrop so the corner posts needed to be slightly stronger than I had first anticipated.
As you can see from the second image in the gallery the lower sides, base, uprights and lid make a strong box.
More to follow… (when I gather more of the build photos and remember what I did next — the old grey cells are gathering a bit of dust).