An Interesting Experiment

Fresh off my work on the mahogany office table, this same client also wanted a smaller layout for his son to use at home. Unlike the office layout, this layout would be more informal and less expensive.  So, both the train table and the layout itself would be of simpler construction.

The layout was built with Märklin Z-Scale, with the structures mostly from Faller and Kibri.

In keeping with the lower cost perspective, fancy woodworking was also out of the question.  The table was made with plywood underlayment and plastic laminate.  The legs were Parson’s style.  The table had a lip to support a clear Plexiglas™ case.

In some ways, the table was a success. In particular, there was a transformer alcove which held the power supply and controls. The layout itself has proven to be quite reliable.

On the downside, the Plexiglas™ case proved to be a problem. First, because the case was comprised of four sides and a top which were glued together, it was relatively heavy and thus hard to remove for track and train maintenance.  Also, because this case was glued together and had no mechanical connections, it tended to “rack” when it was being handled.  This racking eventually led to the glue joints breaking.  Another odd problem was that because the scenery materials were not allowed to completely dry before the case was added, the inside of the Plexiglas™ had moisture forming on it, resulting in a terrarium like appearance.

The net effect is that I consider this layout to be a successful experiment, one that showed that there was need for improvement in a couple areas.  Looking back, the plastic case was both heavy and unreliable.  So, too, you had to be careful when cleaning Plexiglas™.  This material scratches easily, and if ammonia based cleaners are used on it, discoloration eventually results.  In looking back at this project, there’s nothing like tempered glass.  And, say what you will, plastic laminate just isn’t the material for model train tables.  I still use similar materials for the side skirts of the scenery, but if you want a piece of quality furniture, then wood is the best approach.

And, these observations will show up in my later design.

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