"ANtique" Coffee Table Layout

See 2023 update at end...

This is a picture of the loungeroom where we typically sit for coffee or to read a book.

This in contrast is the loungeroom after the addition of my new microlayout. Spot the train.

Yep, the table has grown a new level. This (oak?) coffee table was inherited from my mother, I remember it as a child so it is at least as old as I am, probably much more, maybe 1940s vintage. It had met with an accident some time in the past, and two of the legs had been broken off and roughly repaired. This Christmas (2013) I spent some time doing a more careful repair, took the picture at the top of the page, and then set about designing an addition that could carry an oval of Fleischmann track I had left over from Newbury.

Here is a view of it working courtesy of YouTube:

The layout is powered by rechargeable batteries. One of my PWM controllers is embedded in the centre console, along with the battery and a charger. From below you can see the control panel and the point for connection of the charger.

This bug's-eye view is taken with a very wide-angle lens looking up from the floor at the underside of the table, with me operating the controls. The orange panel is a P684SV controller, the red panel has the receptacle for a power cord, a switch to turn the controller on to battery operation, and an indicator to show that the charger is working.

It is harder than you might think to get used to operating the controller effectively "from below". It is hard to turn the knob the right way, and even harder to find and throw the correct switches in the correct direction.

An end-on view, showing more detail.

These photographs show the side from a low angle. This one allows you to see the center console that holds the rail platform and around which the train circles. Note that the added platform does not connect with the legs, but rather it is attached to the ribs underneath the top of the table. (This means the railway could be removed if you want to return the table to its original condition.) The electronics and batteries are inside the console.

At this point the railway is undecorated, no station, buildings, grass, trees, etc. The layout works very well without any decoration. It blends into furniture. The train runs on the very edge of the shelf, so there is no room for decoration outside the oval of track in any case.

Another possibility is to decorate the shelf with wooden pieces designed to produce an atmosphere of place. Here I have used pieces from a Cathedral set, imagining the centre console to be a walled city past which the branch line runs. Gates and buildings about the wall are represented by the pieces.

The original installation included a 2.5Ah sealed lead-acid battery. As of April 2023, this has been replaced with 6 400F supercapacitors.

This is an "inside" view of the central pillar of the undercarriage of the table. It shows the supercapacitors at the far end, and the power supply in the foreground.

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