Thursday, June 30, 2011

APA'n there's an idea blooming

For those of you who are not Gnatterboxers I've been messing around with the APA box just to see what fits in there. The items featured here are from my Gnine stockpile. Many will say "Gnine? What the devil is Gnine?" I think I coined the term so you'd better visit here to find out more. Lots of G scale bits and pieces and 9mm gauge track for a bit of fun.
Above: overall view
Above and below: the two ends of the "layout" close up. The LNER concrete platelayers hut is really too big for the cabinet. I don't like the brick wall in the background too much either. Even though in its day it was quite famed in the Gn15 world. I have collected a considerable amount of coffee stirring stick and would like to knock up a wooden fence somewhere on the model.
Quite what the subject of the layout would be is unknown to me. Real 9" gauge railways have been used in the most unusual places. A Lavender farm springs quickly to mind. My first Gnine layout was a mushroom farm I know of at least one apple orchard that has a miniature railway running through it. Some kind of agricultural subject then. We'll see. It certainly gives me food for thought.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Those of you who know me will know that I am totally and utterly useless at baseboard construction. My woodworking abilities know no beginning. Indeed, I was once beaten into last place in a school woodworking exam by two girls. That was a good 30 years ago now...
So, I look for any excuse to hide from baseboard woodworking. Pink insulation foam, White expanded polystyrene sheet, Cork faced notice boards even foamcore display board has been subject to my baseboard building experiments. All have been reasonably successful to a degree. Layouts have been built on all these substrates.
In the previous post on this blog you heard me mention the new APA storage cabinet from IKEA and my desire to experiment with it. Well, yesterday I popped into IKEA and purchased one said APA box.
As with most IKEA stuff it comes flat packed in a quiet unassuming box. With all the fixings equipment and instructions to enable you to assemble it.
The package contains 10 parts:
The two ends come ready assembled as does the lid. There are 4 pine rails that are screwed between the ends and then a base and two end pieces that go into place as you assemble the rails. It all goes together very easily and in a matter of 10 minutes I had a storage box.
The box would indeed serve admirably as a stock box. It is remarkably rigid despite how light it is. You'd get quite a bit of stock in most any scale in there. But I was not interested in its rolling stock carrying abilities. Not yet anyway.
The next stage was to remove a front panel and see how it would look as a cabinet for a small diorama style layout.
Ooooo... Look at that. I can feel the schemes building up inside my head right now. The interior dimensions are officially 27.5 " long x 14" deep x 11" tall. The proportions really are very nice with regards to a cabinet style layout. The box did not loose any of its rigidity in having a front removed. I might just pop a bit of woodworking glue in the screwed joins but to be honest I don't feel it needs it.
One thing you can notice is that the base sits a good half inch below the tops of the rails, where you'd expect to run the tracks on top of. So some infill in there would be needed to bring the track up to that height.
Now here's a look at the lid. This too, is an excellent fit into the box and it got me thinking about the possibilities of fitting lighting into the lid to illuminate your scene. Hinging the lid would allow for easy access to change a blown bulb or get access to an awkward spot in the display.
All in all then, this is a superb little box with lots of potential for the woodworking challenged modeller. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ian's Alive!...

For some strange reason this site has been picking up a lot of visitors lately. Even though I haven't posted anything constructive since the passing of my/our good friend Carl Arendt. It's not for want of trying but in that time I put together a fun Z scale layout for a local train show and then went into training for a marathon which eats up all your spare time You can't begin to know how much time it takes up until you do it).
Now the marathon is done and I have a few weeks of recovery before training starts for the next one. So I'll try and put some ideas up for you all.
This concept, called Sheffield Peake Street after my old friend Colin Peake, has been down on paper since 2007 (5 years! I don't believe it). It was designed as a layout to fit in a couple of IKEA "SNACK" boxes. It was to be a model in P4 (English 4mm finescale using 18.83mm gauge track). For some reason it never got built even though I had locos, rolling stock and trackwork. I think there was a concern with the snack boxes only being about 16" long that there would have been too many track joins in a small area for the typically short 4 wheeled British Railways stock. Though you will notice I did make an effort to circumvent that by removing any pointwork (switches) from the design. All the switching around of stock would be done offstage on traversers.
This was how I described the original vision on an earlier incarnation of RMWeb:
"At the right we have a road overbridge with the very end of a platform ramp poking out from underneath (Probably an island platform) the 2 lines of the island platform head to the left before disappearing behind something, retaining walls maybe. Perhaps a signal box that straddles the line, homage to days when the line was much busier. Now it's just a rundown twig of a branch. Kept open because of rush hour commuters and the factory/warehouse sited just across from the platform end that sees several wagons delivered every day..."
So the idea lay dormant for 5 years until recently, when it jumped to the forefront of my mind having joined the Micro layouts design group over at RMWeb and been fired up by some of the links posted therein.
So I looked up on the IKEA website to check the availability of the Snack box, and lo and behold, it seems to have gone!
But not to worry, I found a newer, seemingly better box. The APA, this baby is almost 28" long x 14" deep and 11" wide. A really tempting size for a small layout. At 28" long it's almost twice the length of a Snack box so less baseboard joins for the stock to navigate. The depth of 14" is more than adequate and gives you plenty of scenic opportunities. The 11" width would make a very attractive picture frame/proscenium arch to show off the model when finished.
Though the idea is presented here as UK outline there no reason why the basic themes of the concept couldn't be translated to any other country with an intensive suburban passenger service to counter act the quiet leisurely shunting at the factory. For US outline modellers a Budd RDC always provides good passenger service and the freight duties could be covered by an SW-1200 or an MP15, switching whatever kind of car is deemed necessary by the industry.
These boxes are only $14.99 each, so even if the idea doesn't work it could still make a very good sized stock box don't you think?