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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,
I currently have a "plywood central" layout in the basement that is only being used to store junk. It is in the way and I have decided I want to take it down and redo it into a portable layout so that it can be used more often (and out in public) and not take up so much space in our small house. I have many ideas of how to build it but am stuck right now on two dimmensions. First the track diameter, it will be either 8' or 10' diameter. I will eventually (hopefully soon) being running an ebt mikado and maybe some day in the future a k27, will they run on 8' track or should I go with 10'? (8' would be a lot easier but I prefer smooth operation)
The other question is height, right now my plans call for somewhere between 24" and 36" is that too low? I thought steaming up might a little tough at that height but if the operator was sitting then it would not be an issue? What about viewing at those heights... It would be easier for kids but what about adults?
any tips or advice would be great!
thanks,
Matt
 

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A friend and I co-built a small portable several years ago and I feel it came out quite servicable, though there were some lessons learned. All we needed was a small loop to take to exhibitions to show off live steam, primarily in its entry level form. We felt that a good size for us was 8'x 12' which is obviously too small for what you want. The tops are made of I believe 1/2" marine grade plywood and each panel is framed using pressure treated fence pickets. We used folding table legs as we felt this would be the easiest system when quick setup and teardown times came up. It was here that we made the single biggest mistake. We did not make some of the tabletops wide enough to allow the legs to completely nest. This has two consequences, the first of which is somewhat awkward stacking for storage and transport. The other issue is that the legs protrude slightly from the outside edge and can trip an unsuspecting steamer. It was a fun project that created a very useful layout. Enjoy your layout build.

Paul
 

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I built a portable track back in '04 Matt. Several threads are still in the archives showing how I went about it. My criteria were...

1 - it had to fit in my small back yard.

2 - it had to be as light as possible without sacrificing strength.

3 - It had to be self-contained - no bucket of bolts and leveling shims to drag around.

4 - I wanted the legs to be infinitely adjustable instead of adjustable in steps.

Overall, I succeeded in accomplishing what I set out to do. Here are links to the archived topics. I hope they'll give you some ideas. :)

Link #1

Link #2

Link #3

Link #4

Link #5

Others have also built tracks and posted photos etc. Search the live steam archives for "portable track" and you should come up with quite a few threads. :)
 

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Matt,
Some guy in western New York state has built two portable layouts and taken them to lots of meets near and far, maybe you've see them. They are light, easy to setup/take down with no tools and run lots of sizes of locomotives. I just can't seem to remember his name......
Happy building,
Tom
 

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For the steamies who run the small 2 axle lokies dont forget Aristo now offers the 31" diameter circle of track, which would be usefull for a small very portable tabletop layout for venues where theres no room for a more typical portable modular layout or even for a standard R1 circle. I mention it because its a tabletop size, and as such easiley fits into almost any small size display booth, so running a Ruby or similar small engine on top of a typical folding table is now easy to do.

Just a thought...
 

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If you would go to the forum at the bottom of the page, at "MSSLS Huckleberry RR Railfan Week end Event", You will see photos of the club's new portable track, and also a discussion of what materials were used. The track is light as a feather, and very strong, and the inaugural run was a resounding success! Alex
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone for all the tips. I have a pretty good idea of my construction method and it may be something totally new or it may be a huge flop - time will tell...
I have decided to use the 10' diameter track but still would like some input on the height issue. Is 24" - 36" too low or will it still work? I am currently leaning toward a height of roughly 36" is that a good height to work with?
Tom, I know the guy you are talking about. He is a pretty good guy but the problem is, he always seems to be out gallivanting across the country:rolleyes:/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/tongue2.gif. (what height is your layout usually set at?)
thanks again everyone
Matt
 

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Dwight
What did you use for the legs. Did not see detail in you links. Looks like what i need. I just removed a ground level layout thiis past month and almost killed myself in the heat.
 
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