Third Try

My third effort at train layouts in coffee tables was a modest success.  I built it for a client, who had also dreamed of model trains in tables. He wanted Z-Scale, too, because it was the smallest operating model train at that time. Because it was to be located in his office, the table had to be of comparable quality to his office furnishings. So it was made of mahogany wood.

This project was a delight, since the client respected my knowledge on the subject.  I was also fortunate to have a relationship with a cabinet maker who understood the issues with model trains. The table itself would serve both as a home for model trains and as a work surface. This work surface was a matching lap-top that was removed when the client wanted to display the trains.  This top was hardwood plywood with shaped hardwood edges which extended downward. When the top was in place, these edges kept the top in alignment with the table.

When the wooden work top was removed, a second wood top was exposed. This top was made of shaped hardwood with a tempered glass insert. This top had a piano hinge along the back edge of the table, with a lock for security.  It also had a chest hinge, which held the top in the open position when accessing the layout. 

The transformers and track switch controls were located in a drawer underneath the layout. The client insisted on a tunnel, and this was accessed by a hinged door on one side of the table.

The layout itself was two ovals of track, with a few side tracks that served as display areas for Märklin Z freight cars.  It also had overhead catenary wire, an impediment for track maintenance and such, but the client insisted. 

Overall, a successful and pleasurable project. I remained unhappy with the fact that the layout was not visible from the sides. In this application, the tunnel made this impractical, but I kept looking for a way to have the railroad more open and visible.

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