Monday, November 14, 2016

Weekend Construction Update - Vinyl Valence & Christmas Layout

After my last operating session - and given how far along the Saybrook Scene has developed - it was high time to think about adding a valence to frame the scene.

The typical approach to a valence is to mount masonite above the layout in much the same way as it's used as fascia to frame below the layout. But I have a finished, drywall ceiling and - as luck would have it - my ceiling joists run the wrong way, which makes it difficult to mount anything of any real weight, It's hard to screw mounting brackets into joists/studs when you a) can't find them, or b) they aren't where you need them.

So I decided to take a different approach.

First, I traced the footprint/border of the fascia onto cardboard to create templates. I then used those templates as cutting guides to cut strips of 3/4" plywood to match the fascia curves. I used 3/4" plywood a) since it'd be easy to cut into curves (it's hard to curve 1x3s), and b) the 3/4" thickness would provide a convenient surface to which I could staple the vinyl.

The pictures tell (most of the rest of) the story. . .

I was able to screw into joists at both ends, then lightly screwed into drywall just to keep the plywood from sagging at all. I was able to determine precisely where to locate it by using a plumb bob, rubbing against the face of the fascia and marking the ceiling directly above the edge of the fascia.

I needed to work the valence around the ductwork, but couldn't screw plywood into that, so I tried this heavy-duty double-sided foam tape. I wish I'd discovered it earlier - I might not have bothered using screws at all. It's good for 60lbs(!)

And here is the plywood taped to the drywall that encloses the ductwork. If I tried to remove this, it'd probably take down the drywall! It'll be more than sufficient to hold up vinyl.

Here's a view of how the plywood valence mount matches the fascia. Again, I traced the outline onto cardboard to make cutting templates.

And here it is mounted on the ceiling. Since I actually found joists here, I was able to go ahead and use screws. Again, I located the plywood on the ceiling by marking it from the fascia using a plumb bob.

I did use the tape again to mount the vertical, edge mount/backing though.

I used a piece of cardboard and a compass to trace the irregular edges I needed to cut around (primarily the door frame).

The valence itself is a 6'x9' sheet in a roll I got at Lowe's for $25-30. I used my chop saw to cut it into 16" sections, which would result in a 16" valence.

Then I used the cardboard template I'd made around the door frame to cut the end of the vinyl to fit.

As you may have noticed in the chop saw photo, there is of course a pattern and color on the "top" side of the vinyl. I plan to have this face "in" toward the layout, becoming the back of the valence, and used flat white ceiling paint to reflect as much light as possible.

After two coats of white, I flipped the valence sections over and painted the bottom (now front) side to match the fascia color. Pro Tip: you can use a section of foam as a portable painting support.
That's where things are now until I can get the Missus to help me with the actual mounting. That should be MUCH easier than mounting much-heavier masonite, but still awkward enough to make an extra set of hands pretty helpful.

So while I was literally waiting for the paint to dry, I decided to start a little Christmas module/diorama/display to put at the top of the stairs outside the Photo Library room.

First step, figure out the outline, traced on masonite.

You may recall I have/had a Christmas Layout at one point. Click here for a photo. It was 3'x4' and represented my first actual completed layout - scenery, buildings and everything! Didn't matter it was only a loop of track - it gave me a lot of joy.

But it was awkward and bulky and always seemed to be in the way. I put it on rollers at one point so I could wheel it around as needed. But it was too wide to get through a standard doorway without tipping on its side (after removing the legs), so it was trapped in one of the basement rooms. Not great for display.

So a few months ago, I dismantled it - regaining the space permanently - and decided to reconstitute it on a display that could be out for more folks to enjoy. It'll be a fun little project - just hope I can get it done in time for Christmas!

All in all, a pretty productive weekend!

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