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Lift Out or Up Section For Pass Through

Max wants advice from others and asks:

“My plan was to construct a duck-under to make my way to the inner track walkway. The benchwork is approx. 42 inches above the floor, which sounds ok, but right now I have my foot in cast (I won’t bore you with what happened… and you’ll probably only laugh when you hear my stupidity). It made me think though, I am not getting any younger so I should try and make access as easy as possible for an old codger like me, so a duck-under might not be the best option. I thought of using a rolling stool but that’s not great.

Thinking it through, I probably will need to have a hinged section that I could swing or lift up. It will need to be wide enough so I can easily squeeze my way through and past the benchwork some 4 ft. Without reveal my stomach size I will probably need about 14 inches to get by.

The particular portion of track will have 4 tracks so I will need to work out the electrics and make sure the tracks properly align. Obviously I don’t want to mess things up with constant use upsetting the electrics or track alignment. If someone has done something similar I would be interested in any advise – tips?”

Add your comments below to assist Max. Your question can also be published – see below.

11 Responses to Lift Out or Up Section For Pass Through

  • J E Wilsonsays:

    Hi Max: I am a 71 yr. young Retired Veteran with a 9′ by 11′ layout in an L shape with HO, HOn3, HOn2 1/2. It has a 3 level helix at both ends. I have a lift out at the top of one of the helix’s (I have below benchwork for the other) and I have the other in the middle and part of one of the Towns. I have brackets on the wall above to rest the pullouts on when I need the access to work on the layout. I also have a hinged portion, which is my Control Panel. I stayed in areas without track to avoid any running problems and I can access them and at the same time run the trains, which works well for cleaning track & Scenery I built my benchwork in 4 completely separate sections that are joined together with placement pins and screws in case we ever move (it will fit out the window – with the window frame and all removed. I know that it has been done and hopefully someone here can give you good pointers. I am always amazed at what I find there. Keep the enjoyment going and have a blessed day.

  • Richard E Aubelsays:

    I can appreciate your thoughts about not wanting to use a duckunder. Our model railroad club builds FreeMo modules and after setting up the complete oval layout we need to duck under the modules to get in or out. These modules have a standard track level at 50 inches and it’s not easy crawling under even that height.

  • Kevin Bridgersays:

    Hi, I had a layout in the past that was hinged and folded up into the wall cavity. The three problems that I came across was that the hinged point needed to be strong with little to none flexible movement up and down or sideways, if not you were constantly trying to realign tracks every time it opened.
    The second problem was that when opening or closing the tracks would rub as I was trying to keep the ends as close as possible. I raised the butt hinges about an inch above the track level, this allowed an instant large break between the ends with minimal movement.
    The last thing I did was putting a round metal post protruding slightly from the track base end on one side that fitted in to a hole on the other side. This allowed for an alignment guide as well as firming up the joint as the section was raised or lowered, The larger the height of the butt hinges are will allow for a longer guide,. The section hinged was 4′ x 8′ with three raised hinge points, due to the weight I had a motorised pully system to raise and lower it.

  • Stephansays:

    Having jump wires connecting the movable segment with the layout rails may be something to consider. The lengths should be long enough to stretch the distance when the flip-up segment is tilted up. As for the line up, a shelf-lip and centering sides on the opposite side would work well.

    As with the proverbial skinning of the cat, there are a lot of variations available.

  • David Stokessays:

    A lift up has issues if the hinges are at “grade”. When you try to lift, the rails on each side of the join WILL bind, the hinges need to be higher than the rails.

    An alternative is a drop down leaf. The hinges can be at “grade” and the rails part rather than bind, however the thickness of the dropleaf needs to be factored in. The trackbed (and landscape) at the join should extend beyond the cross beams supporting them by the thickness of the dropleaf if you want it to hand 90 degrees to the floor. If space is no object this may not bother you.

    The dropleaf must be connected electrically to the layout to run locos. Most modellers have long leads from the hinge end to the leaf in a loop to protect against breakage, others use proprietory connectors.

    I have corridors of both types on the Norwest Bend layout to allow upright access to all parts of the layout.

  • Randall Styxsays:

    Whether tip up, swing to the side, or lift out, don’t rely on the hinges to keep things lined up. Design the ends of the removable section (yes, both ends) so that it always goes back in exactly the same position, whether with wedges, key ways, pins (into metal sleeves), or whatever. Then lay your track. If your tolerances are close, you might get by without track joiners. (As noted above, have jump wires – you can coil them to work like a spring.) There are layout joiners for modular layouts that might work. Note, too, that for tip ups and swings square corners don’t work. The side that leads the tip or swing must be a little longer than the side that follows away from running position. On the end closer to the hinge, the leading corner needs to be closer to the hinge point than the trailing edge, and on the end farther from the hinge the leading corner needs to be farther from the hinge point than the trailing corner. (Having leading and trailing corners exactly the same distance from the hinge point would work but is difficult to accomplish.)

  • nelson t stahlsays:

    I have a double layer layout. I build a box that runs up and down on a wooden frame like a window. with 6 tracks crossing this no problems. One thing I learnt quick put a cut off switch so when open it shuts down everything. At full speed trains will coast 10 plus feet.

  • Sheldon Clarksays:

    My brother has a stool on castors that he sits on & scoots under his layout, using heels for propulsion. No electrical or alignment problems – “Simples!”

  • Tim Morloksays:

    Hi Max; I would search the net for the pros/cons of the many kinds movable sections on how to construct them. Good luck with you project.

  • JR Edwardssays:

    Age is always a concern for modellers, crawling around under layouts is never going to be fun and working inverted almost impossible for some.

    This may not be relevant to this post, I have already seen several answers that solve the issue posted already but it may be of help to some in the future to bear in mind this general solution to a lot of layout issues.

    A client asked me to build a layout that she, and yes there are a lot of female model builders out there, could have in a small box room, but still be able to use the room if required for visitors to stay over, gave me the dimensions, the plan I came up with was a simple counterbalanced layout board that pivoted on two uprights, it could just as easily have been to fixed points on the opposing walls, once stowed is coild be pushed almost flush with the wall and so took up little space and was easy enough to deploy when required.

    This had the additional advantage of allowing underside wirework and maintenance to take place with the board in the vertical position, no creeping around under the layout as everything was direct to hand accessible, Several years later it is still in operation and still enjoyed by the family.

    Just a thought.

  • Peter Bayley-Blighsays:

    My lift out has big brass 5″ hinges fitted on top of 2 x 5″x 2″ wood blocks . It has a ‘V’ section in the middle of the station platform that fits into the main platform and on both sides of the drop-down section are metal strips that tightly cover the main station board. In five years I have needed no further adjustment. A road bridge section goes over the hinges when in operation and the track clears easily.

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