Train layout table

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wayles3

Member
I have been kicking around an idea for months. I need your help or ideas.
I am looking at building my HO or N scale railroad layout on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. Fine and dandy. I want it to be hinged like a trap door, that way when you work on the underside it is facing up (you are not crawling underneath to work on it.) I would like to add 1 or 3 power actuators to move it into place, (lifting it). When you get old it is hard on your back and need something easy.
Any ideas??? Where can I buy this??? Is there anything out there?
 

Smudge617

Well-Known Member
I have been kicking around an idea for months. I need your help or ideas.
I am looking at building my HO or N scale railroad layout on a 4' x 8' sheet of plywood. Fine and dandy. I want it to be hinged like a trap door, that way when you work on the underside it is facing up (you are not crawling underneath to work on it.) I would like to add 1 or 3 power actuators to move it into place, (lifting it). When you get old it is hard on your back and need something easy.
Any ideas??? Where can I buy this??? Is there anything out there?
I have something similar, but hinged against the wall with fold down legs, I just chopped mine in half, so I can have either or both up to work underneath it when I need to. (2 X 3'6"X4') I'm disabled and manage it quite easily.
 

wayles3

Member
On this 4' x 8' layout table, I need to work on all sides. the power actuators will help lift the table (with all the weight (scenery, buildings, etc..)).
I took the plywood and cut it into 3 Pices, that worked and using 1 actuator became a problem, too much weight on the tabletop. and I had to cut the track and roadbed. Not so good.
 

Smudge617

Well-Known Member
On this 4' x 8' layout table, I need to work on all sides. the power actuators will help lift the table (with all the weight (scenery, buildings, etc..)).
I took the plywood and cut it into 3 Pices, that worked and using 1 actuator became a problem, too much weight on the tabletop. and I had to cut the track and roadbed. Not so good.
Cutting the track and roadbed is to me, the least of your problems, as long as you have a method to re-align them.

OK, this is gonna sound like the dumbest idea you've ever heard, and feel free to laugh, coz even this crazy Brit knows this is a dumb idea, but it could work, admittedly, depending on your engineering skills.

Why lift it ?

Why not rotate the table 90 or even180 degrees on it's center axis, the opposite side of the table would become it's own counterweight, so an actuator or even a pulley would easily lift/hold it in place while working on it.

Please feel free with the rofl 🤣
 

D. Soppy

Member
Cutting the track and roadbed is to me, the least of your problems, as long as you have a method to re-align them.

OK, this is gonna sound like the dumbest idea you've ever heard, and feel free to laugh, coz even this crazy Brit knows this is a dumb idea, but it could work, admittedly, depending on your engineering skills.

Why lift it ?

Why not rotate the table 90 or even180 degrees on it's center axis, the opposite side of the table would become it's own counterweight, so an actuator or even a pulley would easily lift/hold it in place while working on it.

Please feel free with the rofl 🤣
Rotating the table is a much better idea. They do the same idea for rotating automobile chassis when restoring vintage vehicles. The advantage of rotating is you can work on it from both sides so depending on which way it is flipped , it will be at a good working height.
 

Smudge617

Well-Known Member
Rotating the table is a much better idea. They do the same idea for rotating automobile chassis when restoring vintage vehicles. The advantage of rotating is you can work on it from both sides so depending on which way it is flipped , it will be at a good working height.
As long as you make sure everything is well screwed/glued down, it could work, but heaven help the Loco you left on the track by accident.
 

JeffH

Well-Known Member
MAybe something like this adjustable welding table from HArbor Freight? It may not be the perfect solution.... a 4'x8' sheet of plywood may be too large for a "stand" like this?

welding table
 

JeffH

Well-Known Member
I've also seen people fabricate their own automobile frame rotisserie using a couple of Harbor Freight engine stands.
 

Smudge617

Well-Known Member
I've also seen people fabricate their own automobile frame rotisserie using a couple of Harbor Freight engine stands.
Yeah you could, but they would be extremely heavy, and you would have to use some pretty hefty timber to support the width of the table.
 

freescopesdad

New Member
I started on a 4x8 n scale layout in my garage last winter. My garage is only 20Dx18W, so 1.5 cars plus workbench and storage. I also have a race car (Miata) that needs to be in there for maintenance for (sometimes) extended periods. I decided to hinge my layout to a side wall.

I built a very rugged 12"x96" shelf on a side wall and attached a pair of liftoff hinges to both it and a long edge of the train table. The table is on folding legs with casters, and adjusted to the same height as the hinges. For storage I slide the table and the shelf together and tilt it parallel to the wall. It it secured with brackets at the top. The width of the shelf gives me a standoff of about 12" of space for buildings and scenery. Of course the usual caveats apply. Everything must be secure on the table top. I use Kato n scale Unitrack. My layout will be a single level, and in my case it is attached directly to the 5/8" plywood that comprises the table's surface. I know this limits the scenicing possibilities, but we all have to live with the limits tossed at us. In my case, I have no basement and my wife, who is pretty tolerant of my hobbies (trains and racing) firmly told me no trains in the house except the old Lionel around the Christmas tree in December. :)

The only issues I have are dust (it IS an unheated, uninsulated garage) and the fact that it is fairly heavy. I'm 75 and at some point I will probably have to motorize the lifting, either on the hinges or from 4 corners, but right now this works for me.
 

ctclibby

Well-Known Member
Don't talk ur way into something just because you are 75. IE motorize the lifting stuff. Cross that bridge when you get to it. You may think about some sort of ballast to offset the layout weight and use a cable system to help with the layout storage. I will be 70 come December and have found that I have been lazy pertaining to the shape I am in. Started doing stuff on purpose to make me bend, turn and get closer to the ground to keep everything working. Sure, I am not as strong as I was but now days I can do more than just a couple of years ago. In fact I am looking to aquire a used Bowflex to help with shoulder and leg strength. I have also found that my balance is better as is my capability to walk without getting tired and I can actually do manual labor better. Can't keep up with a 45 year old, well at least not for long.
On a different ..um.. track you might consider a layout built in a coffee table to sneak your trains into the house which will give you less dust and insects to deal with; heat and air too. I have seen multiple layouts in them and they turn out quite good let alone you have a great looking piece of furniture. One was in front of an 8ft couch and was 5 1/2ft by 30 or 34in as I don't remember. Was a pretty complex layout.
 

AirbrushNo5

Active Member
I supported my 52” x 8’ layout table with a frame (attached is a pic of the unfinished frame as I needed to disassemble it to bring downstairs)
The layout is 2 sections 52” x 4’ bolted together…
At the outset, it wasn’t that heavy but now it is…
It is supported by 8 HD casters each rated for 225 lbs…
The frame box stores rolling stock…
It is high enough off the floor, it is relatively easy to work on from above and below
To get to the back of the layout I just roll it away from the wall

79D36C14-97E6-47BE-BF32-5405529C68DD.jpeg
 
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Snowman

Active Member
I think Smudge has a good idea there. Pivot at each end, roughly centered on the width, and if it's reasonably close to balanced in weight, it should tip up to vertical pretty well. Stick casters under it as Airbrush did up there^^^ and you can probably tilt it both ways, so you can bring the half you want to work on up high. Note too: The two vertical "posts" don't have to be out at the ends. You could rig pivot points inside, closer to the center, I would think.

However, if you really do want a table base that move up and down in a motorized/actuator fashion, and are willing to fork out some change for it, let me suggest you consider a powered up/down office or artists desk: https://furniwell.com/products/furniwell-electric-height-adjustable-standing-desk-home-office-workstation-t-shaped-metal-bracket-with-55-x-28-wood-tabletop?variant=37237354234023&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=bing&utm_campaign=Bing Shopping&msclkid=5f8cd0e03ede1722da08b2780a2cced0

or perhaps:


About the price of a sound equipped HO diesel locomotive

They should be well powered enough to get your table-top airborne anyway.
 
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Snowman

Active Member
I started on a 4x8 n scale layout in my garage last winter. My garage is only 20Dx18W, so 1.5 cars plus workbench and storage. I also have a race car (Miata) that needs to be in there for maintenance for (sometimes) extended periods. I decided to hinge my layout to a side wall.

I built a very rugged 12"x96" shelf on a side wall and attached a pair of liftoff hinges to both it and a long edge of the train table. The table is on folding legs with casters, and adjusted to the same height as the hinges. For storage I slide the table and the shelf together and tilt it parallel to the wall. It it secured with brackets at the top. The width of the shelf gives me a standoff of about 12" of space for buildings and scenery. Of course the usual caveats apply. Everything must be secure on the table top. I use Kato n scale Unitrack. My layout will be a single level, and in my case it is attached directly to the 5/8" plywood that comprises the table's surface. I know this limits the scenicing possibilities, but we all have to live with the limits tossed at us. In my case, I have no basement and my wife, who is pretty tolerant of my hobbies (trains and racing) firmly told me no trains in the house except the old Lionel around the Christmas tree in December. :)

The only issues I have are dust (it IS an unheated, uninsulated garage) and the fact that it is fairly heavy. I'm 75 and at some point I will probably have to motorize the lifting, either on the hinges or from 4 corners, but right now this works for me.
Aside: Mazda Spec racing? Or maybe an Autocross car?
 

Smudge617

Well-Known Member
This is how I did mine, both tables can be raised vertically, but I only do that when I'm doing electrical work, which I have to do soon as my wiring is a flipping disaster. As the right side is normally raised when not in use it's pretty bare, the TT has to come out and I have a couple of industrial building which will replace it.

20220602_121431.jpg

20220602_121334.jpg
 

regme

Member
This all depends on a few things, so assuming the following:
  • the layout flat no grades with bridges
  • the height of your scenery
  • a common wall between two rooms

So I have seen a layout at this guy's house ( I wish I had taken a photo) that folds up using a cable and winch system located in the back room. As the layout folds down the legs drop out to support it.

Now this is the best bit, as the layout is in the lounge room, he as placed sliding boards on the underside with a nice "art deco" artwork painted on it. So when the layout is up, you see the art work, there three boards that slide from one side to another giving access to the electronics under the base board.

Granted it does stick out from the wall but it does look great and you wouldn't even know that there was a model train in the room.
 




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