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If you need one, it might reduce your stress too.

I will now share my experience which illustrates the importance, if necessary, of having some form of an access hatch.

If my memory serves  me correctly, I built most of my layout in or about 1998. Assuming that is accurate, my layout is now about 24 years old.

For the 1st 23 years, I needed no access hatch. That is because I had an around the walls layout between 3 to 4 feet wide, enabling me to reach everything with the help of a foot stool and an approximately 6 foot long grabber. And, where the layout is 4 feet wide, I left 9 inches of space between the back of the plywood board and the wall, so I could crawl under the table and squeeze through that 9 inches of space. [Fortunately, I am relatively flexible and not overweight.]

However, last year I went boat and barge crazy, water modeling crazy and Plasticville crazy. In doing so, I added a substantial layout addition/extension to accommodate this craziness. What used to be an aisle has become what I thought would be a removable river. I needed the river to be removable so I could reach otherwise impossible to reach places on the layout.

In essence, my plan was a good one because the removableness of the river was going to be my access hatch.

For about 10 to 12 months, there was no urgent need to remove the removable river, but in the back of my mind, I was thinking that with all the scenicking and decorating I have done on the river, it was going to be a big PIA to remove it.

Today, I found out I was right about that.

Although my plan or idea of a removable river was good, the execution of that idea was not so good.

The photos I will share in a few minutes will illustrate the above.

The good news is I managed, after a couple of hours of hard work under the train table. to move the river enough to create a workable access hatch. The bad news is I created a huge mess in doing so, and to move that river was, indeed, one big PIA!

Next, I will post a few photos, after which I will continue this saga. LOL, Arnold

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Today, part of the removable river was moved about 20 inches, creating a temporarily access hatch together with a huge mess:

20220807_144615

There is much work to be done to figure out a way to hide the hatch, make it reasonably accessible so it is not as much of a PIA as my original hard to move, removable river, and to add the finishing scenery and decorating.

As usual, I will report back to you folks as I continue with this saga. Arnold

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Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari

For those contemplating a new layout, this discussion raises the importance of considering the pros and cons of a walkaround layout vs a duck-under style. I won't get into specifics of the advantages and disadvantages of the two. But in my case, aging by 30 years since I got into the hobby, I would now have picked a walkaround (with a swinging bridge) rather than the duck-under style.

@Bruce Brown posted:

For those contemplating a new layout, this discussion raises the importance of considering the pros and cons of a walkaround layout vs a duck-under style. I won't get into specifics of the advantages and disadvantages of the two. But in my case, aging by 30 years since I got into the hobby, I would now have picked a walkaround (with a swinging bridge) rather than the duck-under style.

Bruce, I think you make a very good point.  Funny thing is that I started out with an around the walls walk around and now it's a hybrid: walk around and duck under.

The hybrid works me because I don't mind a little duck under with an access hatch. Arnold

I started building my layout in 2003, it started as a 4 feet by 8 feet. Now it’s an L shaped. One leg of L is now 17 feet and the other leg of L is 16 feet and the of layout is 8 feet wide. So I just put in two removable hatches. And probably should put third one in. Huge job , had to move wiring , change and fix scenery and buildings. We sometimes learn the hard way. I’m 73 but fortunately I’m in good shape. I recently have spent many hours under layout rewiring etc.Had to cut thru three quarter inch plywood and the one  inch foam on top of plywood. It works great now. I can easily drop down hatches and access layout without trying to climb up or stretch to reach. Like I said I could use a third hatch when I get ambitious.

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