Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ian Plett's layout in a truck

   Winnipeg Model Railroad Club members have built some remarkable layouts throughout the years. But there is truly none so unique as the one built by Ian Plett. Ian, a long distance truck driver, built a layout in the bunk area of his truck!

    By Ian Plett
    When someone says that they have a model railroad, the image that comes to mind is: what type, how big, is it steam or modern diesel? Where is it located? Is it one of those basement empires or up in the attic, or a shelf layout in a spare bedroom?

     Not all of us have the time or the space to work on such a layout. My job doesn’t give me a lot of home time. I’m a long distance truck driver and I’ve found the way to incorporate my job and my love for model railroading into one. With the kind permission of my boss, I built a shelf layout in the bunk area of the truck that I drive.

     I first got this idea about 8 years ago when I joined the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club. The idea came from one of the members, who had built a John Allen Time Saver module.  Since then the idea has grown from a switching layout to a full loop with sidings. In planning the layout, I used Bachman E-Z Track. I measured the space available in my bunk area, then started laying out different track arrangements on my living room floor. I had the plywood secured and Styrofoam glued down, then I laid the Bachman E-Z Track in place. I traced the outer edge onto the Styrofoam to give me a edge for laying down the cork roadbed. When laying down my track I glued it down and then soldered the track joints to give them strength. 

    The truck I drive has brackets for a second bunk, which is where I bolted down my shelf layout. The basic construction is a 2'x4' frame bolted to the truck's upper bunk brackets. I laid down 3/4" plywood to give the layout some strength, as the truck bounces and vibrates a lot. The layout had to be built for easy removal. I used L-Brackets to secure the plywood to the 2'x4's. I built it in two L-shaped pieces, plus a ridge piece which I secure using C-clamps.  I also used c-clamps to hold the bridge span to the rest of the shelf.    

 I take the bridge down when I’m driving. I made a special space on the front of the layout to hold the bridge span so I wouldn’t have to move it every time I needed to get to the lower bunk. If I kept the bridge in place it would bounce up and down as I drove. The noise would drive me crazy, and the truck's vibrations would cause it to break eventually.         

  Prior to building this layout, I hated to do scenery. When I attended the TLR's "Steam on the Prairies" convention in 2010, I went to a scenery building clinic. I was surprised at how easy it was! Now I enjoy making scenery.
 I’m modeling the north central plains of North Dakota. The layout is pretty flat, except for a few hills in the back corners. The scenery includes a pond, cuts through hills, trees, roads, buildings, and a parking lot. I use Digitrax DCC or DC depending on what type of engines I bring along. Wiring is pretty basic. My turnouts are manual.  Operation is also basic. I have only one siding.

  I haven’t done much exhibiting, but I've shown the layout at the No. 1 Northern Division's first train meet, held in Winnipeg in November 2011. I also exhibited at "Steam on the Prairies", but at that time it was still a “Plywood Empire”.  
   This layout it gives me the opportunity to run my trains away from home. It’s a good way to relax after along day behind the wheel. And who knows, I might be rolling through your town soon!

     Ian has since sold his truck layout. He's now working on a N scale version, as the truck he presently drives doesn’t have much space to build anything larger than 2’x3’. Below are some images of Ian's layout. More images will be presented in future posts.

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