Layout entry point - hinged/removable sections

I'm getting close to finishing the benchwork for my layout and I need to figure out what to do about the entry corridor. It is an around the wall layout and I want to avoid a duck-under. So, that means a hinged or lift-out section. I'm interested in how others have solved the nuts and bolts problems of building the movable section - how wide, hinge or removable, how to align it with the track, and if hinged, how to make it mate up with the fixed section opposite and how to keep the track sections from interfering with each other. 


I need to minimize the width of the entry in order to make room for accessories to the left of it. After some experiments with an old 16x20 picture frame, and rolling my tool box next to the table saw and varying the distance, I am thinking that the minimum width is around 14", 16 is adequate, and 18 is more than generous. Comments?


Here is a picture of what I am building. I laid the benchwork and track out on the floor so I could see it full-size rather than try to work from a paper plan. The plan has changed a bit during construction, mainly by adding 10" to the right hand side so that I will not have the lift-out or hinged section directly adjacent to a curve. The layout is a 13-foot square. The actual room size is 16x13; the outside entrance is to the right and the doorway to the workshop is on the left, giving a three-foot-wide corridor between the outside and the shop.  The inner loop is 042 or 054 and the outer loop is 072. Not shown because I didn't have track at the time is a loop of STD-87 track around the outside of the 0 gauge. The entry on this mock-up is 24" wide, so adding 10" to the right side leaves 14" for the entry if I don't move the left side. 


As I see it, my options are a lift-out, a hinged section, or some kind of individual bridge for each track. What do you all think, and how have you solved this problem on your own layouts? Let the games begin.




Here are a couple of photos of the benchwork to date. The angle of the photos isn't wide enough to show how it fits into the room, but it gives an idea how the layout is being built. Obviously I will have to do something about relocating a lot of my collection before laying track!


3 corners done[1a)

3 corners done[2a)



Photos (3)
Original Post

I guess the question is how wide are you? Less than 18" is pretty narrow for basically walking sideways for what looks like to be 6' or so. Even if you can fit it is really easy to snag clothes on scenery or whack things with your arms regardless of how careful you are. I had a 16" access aisle once and that's what I did a lot.


Since you will need to go in and out sideways, if you do a hinged section it should be hinged up as down will take a few inches in width. Even better, would be a gate that swings out into the rest of your room.  A lift out could work, but you will literally have to twist to put the section back in and if its of any weight or awkward size (basically keep it small) and that is always a risk for a lower back injury. If you absolutely need to keep the narrow entrance, you can always sit on a castered chair and scoot yourself in and out.



TCA 07-61694 "The faster you go, the longer you'll wait"

Whatever you decide, I'd strongly encourage a wider access.  Having to squeeze in now will get old later.  Also, as much as you don't want to believe it, you will probably get bigger and it could become very difficult for you to squeeze through.  There are also visitors to consider and it could embarass someone who is too big to fit comfortably through the opening.


Gates are good but I really like a lift out section.  It only needs to be as wide as the right of way for both tracks.  It keeps the weight and bulk down and should be pretty easy to handle.  This approach also allows you to get fancy and substitute a staging yard module for the bridge if you want.


I also wanted to comment on the train room pictures.  Isn't it amazing how fast a flat surface becomes a storage shelf?   Nice benchwork, by the way.



Eric S.

Saline, MI

I use a drop section on my little round-the-room 9x16 attic layout which is still in a raw stage. The drop section has been recycled and used for the second time from my large dismantled layouts. The span length is 26" and width[depth] 20". Clearance is only 22" since I have added bridge rails in an effort to sort of disguise it as a thru plate girder bridge[20" is about the minimun walk-thru space I suggest].


It is hinged on a piano hinge and secures on the "strike side" by adjustable keepers, to maintain even rail tops, which receive the spring-loaded catches or "strikes"[components like on your household doors except adjustable to align rail tops]. The piano hinge holds the section very rigid which enables stable rail alignment side to side and for rail tops. Parts to build it, as Jim Barrett illustrates, are easily available.


My "Dropgate" is installed on an end curve, just inside the room entrance, supporting a dual 072/084 mainline. Hopefully I can get a photo up.


I suggest viewing Jim Barrett's "Backshop DVD #11", available from OGR,which illustrates how to build and install both "Dropgates"and Lift Bridges. [an o-gauge aquaintance in Arizona built his layout in a back yard construction trailer and installed both a drop section [lower level tracks] and lift bridge[upper level]. The 7' trailer ceiling was the "stop" for the lift on his bridge. His entrance door opened outward of course,]. A lift bridge is a very viable alternative if used in the straight section.



A&Y RY[NC's Southern/N&W connector].


Photos (2)

Your photo does not show how much room you have on the "front" side of your entrance, you may have enough.....but you have plenty inside for this:


Why not put the removable section on legs like the rest of the layout, with casters on the legs? You can then roll it in or out depending upon you space.


It should be no problem to secure it to the layout when in place, unhook it and roll it when entering or leaving, and wires can be looped so you have room to move.


You could make it as wide as you wanted to, though you would have to watch for loose scenery items that may fall if moved much. I am sure you could figure out how to solve any problems using this method. I may use it this fall when I put up my Christmas garden, now that I have seen your plan. I like the "around the room" layout, just never put one in the shop over the holiday.



This same question was brought up over on the other forum concerning a lift out/ up section.
For a lift up to be anything less than aggravation it needs flanged bearings and a metal cross shaft not nuts and bolts . Nuts and bolts won't give you the precision you need so it'll line up every time. Line up is usually a V over V done by using angle iron
One piece on the stop for your lift up ,one piece on the lift up itself.
When they come together the two V's will lay the same way every time.

The frame should be heavy enough that you moving it won't knock it out of place and held together with screws and glue.
If the lift out is fairly wide/long a counter weight should be used for ease of use and to insure you don't knock it out of alignment trying to heft it.

A heavy duty momentary switch should be incorporated into the design so that when the lift up is in the up position it kills 10 feet of track on both sides of the lift up.
This is so when your wife comes into the room to talk to about something , the new topic won't be your thousand dollar engine laying in the floor.

The lift up can have power up and down if you desire . You can use something called a linear actuator (Google It) It's basically a motorized piston that extends out a certain amount and come in various sizes with load ratings up to ten thousand pounds.
A simple double pole double throw center off momentary switch will give you up and down operation.

I know this sounds like overkill to some but if you'll take the time to do it right now,
It'll pay off down the road.



I have two entry points on my layout.

First is 30" wide and uses a "bascule" type of bridge.

Second is for a door to an outside patio and uses two simple 44" lift-out bridges.

 If you plan on having visitors inside your layout, I don't recommend an opening less than 30"...






Pete in Williamsburg, VA


Photos (5)

Very impressive!


All of the spans that either lift up, drop down or are removable from the main permanent layout leaves me asking a few questions:


How does the track on the movable section connect to the permanent track? Is there no physical connection between the tracks? Do they simply perfectly align and yet have a miniscule "gap" between the adjacent rails?

Likes (2)

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