Friday, August 28, 2015

Liftout Finished (just about)

Since getting the liftout started, my approach to building it has evolved somewhat. As I'd mentioned, I'd considered a hinged-drop leaf but decided to keep it simple and have just a plain ol' liftout. I'd also considered various latches, hooks/eyes, and such to secure it. But, again, I kept it simple.

What follows are photos of what's turned out to be a pretty, um, simple solution to the problem of bridging the gap.  Did I happen to mention the approach I ended up taking is "simple?"

Here's where we left off last time. I was going to just do cookie-cutter subroadbed, along the lines of that blue template, but wasn't happy how it was going to be supported.

So I decided to go a more simple traditional route - full plywood. I had it on hand, it gives me flexibility on where to actually position the track, and - most importantly - it makes the whole assembly much more rigid. I was worried - given this is supposed to be a liftout - that all that plywood would make things too heavy. But it turns out that it's still pretty light.

To provide some additional support to the "outboard" plywood, and to dress things up a bit, I decided to add a couple of pieces of 1x3 after the fact. As you can see, they're screwed in at one end (which has been mitered down to fit the pre-existing angled girder more closely), and screwed in from the top.

Two short 1x3s on either side of the curved plywood will provide plenty of backing for a narrow strip of curved masonite fascia. That'll dress things up really nice and tie everything together visually.

And here's the underside, to give you a better view of how it all went together:

I still need to add the masonite fascia

So a (simple) liftout is just built-to-fit as I described earlier. The tricky part is how you insure that it lines up perfectly every time and secure it once it's in. Again, I opted for a simple solution.

For alignment, I used L-shaped shelf pins, like this:

Image copied from here
and for securing, I opted for Quick Clamps, like this:

You can see both parts together here - shelf pin attached to L-girder support and clamp holding things together.

It's not as elegant a solution as I'd hoped for, but it's easy and bulletproof. Luggage clasps, hooks & eyes, deadbolts - I tried them all. And this is by far the simplest solution I've found. To attach the pins, I lined them up to be centered under a liftout girder, rubbed graphite/pencil on top of the pin, then lowered the liftout onto the pin. The graphite makes an impression on the girder so you know where to drill the hole that the pin will go in.

Once the pins are attached to the supports (as you see above), putting in the liftout is just a matter of lining it up with the pins and dropping/pressing into place.

The pins aren't perfect though - you can still conceivably shift the liftout slightly and thus put your track out of alignment. That's where the clamps come in. Once you have the rails lined up, just clamp down each end to keep everything secure.


I still have some things left to do on the liftout before it's really done. Track (of course) is first and foremost. Then wiring (including some sort of socket arrangement so the wiring will connect and disconnect quickly and easily). Then fascia and a little scenery.

But for all intents and purposes, the liftout is done for now. Which means I can rush headlong into the Next Big Step - Trackwork for Essex! Yes, I'm trying to get "North" from Saybrook to East Haddam as quickly as I can so I can have my Golden Spike ceremony sometime in October - or at least by November 1st. With a week's vacation down south to visit family, along with all the fun field trips we tend to make during the fall, it'll be tough to meet that deadline. But at least I've got some (self-imposed) motivation!

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