My Second Attempt

After an initial try at doing a Z-Scale coffee table on a simple piece of plywood with legs, I realized that the coffee table was, indeed, a piece of furniture which had two components.  It now seems obvious, but I had given little consideration to the fact that there was both a model railroad layout and a piece of furniture required for a successful project.

I found an H0 track plan that I liked:

As with so much else, I had a track plan first, long before any consideration was given to the structures, such as stations, factories, engine facilities and houses which would be placed on this railroad. Upon reflection it’s almost easier to place the structures first and then connect things with track, but by this time, it was a little late for that.  In any case, I had a track plan and the track was in place on a piece of 2’ by 4’ plywood

This plan was a “runner”, which means that the general spirit of the track layout is that trains will be running all the time.  No car switching, a bit of a problem in Z anyway. At the same time, this design already had the seeds of problems in it.  Note that there are two reverse loops.  Also note that there are track switches located underneath other trackage; remember the guideline “Keep it Accessible”? But these are things that I had yet to discover.

In any case, the table design had an elegant simplicity:

The layout itself rested on small pieces of 1/4 round which were located inside the corners of the plywood frame corners.  The glass top would be placed onto a frame that was fitted to the top of each corner.

There were a number of other issues with the execution of the design.  Most notable was that the wood frame was made of largely of AB-grade plywood, so the edges of the plywood were raw and unfinished. Likewise, the glass top frame would prove to be a problem, since it severely limited access to the railroad.  I had planned to mount the glass-top frame with threaded metal inserts; screws would run through the wood glass frame into these inserts.

Ultimately, this design reached a dead-end, largely because of problems with access to the tracks.  There also was no provision for locating the transformers and controls. I kept this layout table around for several years, trying to work through the design issues.  Ultimately, moving to smaller quarters led to scrapping this idea. I recovered the expensive Z-Scale track and the woodwork went to the curb.

I sat on the coffee table idea for several years.

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