Another Micro Layout in a Box

by Richard C. Bell

I couldn't help myself. I had an empty box and I felt compelled to fill it with another micro layout. In truth, I love to design and build these little N scale layouts. This must be the seventh or eighth one that I've made. This one measures 20 inches by 14 inches and sits inside a box that I bought many years ago at an Ikea store.

This time, I wanted to build a layout with an industrial theme. I started with a simple loop of Tomix Fine Track using curves of 140 mm (5.5 inch) radius. As can be seen in the photos, the loop fits perfectly in the box. To make the grade crossing at the entrance to the plant, I used a straight section of Tomix wide track and filled in the space between it and the front edge of the box with vinyl spackling compound.

The industrial plant is made up of two kits and a few scratchbuilt pieces. The tank in the right rear corner is a cap from a shaving cream can and the pipes connecting it to the main building were made with the spues to which the kit parts were attached. The station shelter in the front right corner was knocked together with some wood from my parts box. Some people, autos, trucks, a little scenery and paint, and the project was done. It took about 3 days to complete this project.

I employed a different approach to power this layout. It's powered by AA batteries. Two AA cells are wired in series to provide 3 volts and 3 AA cells are wired in series to supply 4.5 volts. One set of batteries or the other is connected to the layout by alligator clips depending upon the voltage required by the car or train running at the time on the layout. Most Tomytec and some small Kato locomotives run nicely at an appropriate speed on either 3 or 4.5 volts. With battery power, a power pack is not needed and the layout does not have to be plugged into an electrical outlet.

The layout was displayed recently at the East Penn Traction Club 2017 Trolley Meet and it was very well received by those in attendance. Many people stopped by to examine the layout and to ask questions. One of the photos shows the layout on the table at the trolley meet. The batteries are in the green box on the left in the photo. The layout ran continuously for more than eight hours on each of two days at the trolley meet and the batteries did not need to be replaced. After all, the little motors in N scale trams and small locomotives do not generate very many amps.

One lady at the trolley meet suggested that I should acquire a chest of drawers and build a different micro layout in each drawer. She suggested that the various drawers could be pulled out to display and run the layouts. It's an idea that even I hadn't thought of. It would be one way to solve a storage problem for a compulsive micro layout builder.

As for me, this layout in a box sits on a shelf above my desk at home. When I am writing checks, dealing with paper work, or surfing the net with my laptop computer, I often hook up the batteries and enjoy watching an interurban or small freight train as it makes it's way around the loop.

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