Friday, July 8, 2016

Accommodating Operators: West End Staging Box/Work Table

One of the many things operating sessions will make apparent is that you can never anticipate all the myriad ways your operators will approach their work. Though I guess I should have anticipated this...

I last covered - literally and figuratively - the West End Staging Yard here (click here, here, and here for the construction process and photos). In case you aren't familiar with the West End Staging Box Yard and don't click on the links, the very short story is that I attached an 8' long 4 track wide staging yard off the front of one of the Air Line modules, as you can see below:

I supported it on L-brackets attached to the module legs, and screwed its back side to the front edge of the module.

Completed staging box/yard

And here it is open
What I didn't anticipate was that my operators would find the "box top" such an ideal workspace. Looking at the photo above, I can certainly see why. Now.

Problem is, that lid is actually pretty heavy and only attached to the side of the staging yard via a piano hinge and some screws - into a 1x3. Yeah, when you put any pressure on this "handy dandy" lid/desktop, the whole thing flexes. I wouldn't want to imagine what would happen if somebody actually leaned on it (as operators may be tempted to do).

So, I figured I had two choices: 1) forbid use of that lid as a desktop (and discourage its use as such by NOT providing any lip at the bottom edge to keep things from rolling/sliding off) - perhaps put it in the Bulletin Order so operators know I Really Mean It; or 2) acknowledge that option "1" is likely unrealistic and embrace the use of the lid as a desktop.

As you might have guessed, I chose option 2 - and it turned out to be a pretty easy fix.

All I ended up doing was adding "support wires" to the top edge of the "wall" of the box, as you see above. Any pressure/pull from using the lid as a workspace will now get transferred not only to the screws (and the all-too-narrow-for-this-application 1x3s), but to the module as well.

Here's a closer view:

The little L brackets were already there as "stops" for the lid to rest on when closed. All I needed was a couple of cuphooks and some picture hanger wire. Drill a couple holes, attach the wire, and screw the hooks down until the wire is nice and tight (and your wall is - and remains - vertical). Just make sure the wire clears your rolling stock, of course.

While using the lid as a desk dramatically cuts down on the space in an already-tight aisle, I figure it'll only be used at the start of the session by 4 guys (two crews) at most: Air Line Local and PDX-1. Actually, only PDX-1 should be necessary at this point since they're the only local in this staging yard at the beginning of the session (The Air Line Local is staged in the corner of the room). But we'll see how it goes. In any event, those 4 guys have no reason to pass each other in that aisle when the box is open.

Now I suppose they're gonna want a lip along the bottom of "their desk" to keep their pencils and paperwork from rolling/sliding off. We'll see about that. While it's important to accommodate your operators, it's also fun every once in a while to remind them who's boss.

But, yeah, I'll probably add that lip at some point. Soon.

Hope you're able to get some modeling done this weekend! I, for one, hope to get further along on my GTW boxcar (glossed it last night so it's ready for decaling) and, hopefully, finish detailing my DERS-2b (RS-2).

Happy Friday!

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