The layout is 12′ long by 29-1/2″ wide. The odd width is so that I can wheel the layout through doorways (we never know where life takes us).
The length is made up of three 4′ “tables, each with four legs built up with 1×3 poplar “L” beams. The upper section of the table is 1×5 poplar formed into a rectangle that also has a cross “T” beam of 1×2 & 1×3 through the centre for re-enforcing. The sub-roadbed is built up of 1/2″ thick plywood with 1-1/2″ of foamboard on top. The tracks are glued directly to the foamboard. There is a built-up rectangle of 1×2 fitting inside the legs near the bottom and it has a 1/8″ hardboard top – this forms a shelf for inside the layout. The sides are 1/8″ hardboard re-inforced with 1×2 strips. The entire table is bolted together with mainly 3/8-16UNC bolts. The tables are then bolted together with similar bolts and have two dowels between each split line for alignment. Did I say I tend to over-build?
Bolted construction allows for dismantling or even re-using the tables for another layout. It also allows the tables to be separated if I need to move to a new home (and some say, I ought to be in a “home”). To do this, the tracks spanning the table split lines would be cut with a thin cut-off wheel in my moto-tool. Then the foamboard and scenery would be cut with a knife. After the jumper wires between the tables are removed, the bolts would be undone and the tables separated.
The dowels should re-align the tables when re-assembled, but to maintain the track alignment I had to put in some extra work. At either side of the table split line, the foamboard was locally cut away and poplar beams screwed down to the main 1×5 frame. No 4 brass flathead screws were screwed into the beam where the rails cross, a pair on either side of the split line. This was done at the time of laying the flex-track (naturally, the track plan had to make sure that a turn-out was not over a split line). Ties were removed around where the brass screw head is and the rail soldered to it. The screws are great for finding the right height under the rail simply by turning them in or out. I used a somewhat larger pilot hole as brass screws can snap if the pilot hole is tight. The picture below shows this.
Then the removed ties were cut up and glued around the screws. We are ankle-deep in cinders here at Fillmore, so I could apply a good amount of this ballast to cover up any mis-alignment of ties or gaps there.
Maybe I’ll never move, but I’m glad I went to the extra trouble to solder the rails in place in case I do.