Edwin's 4th Birthday ("E4N") Model Train Layout

This layout was built for Edwin, so that he had a layout he could use himself for his N-scale rolling stock. It was designed in WinRail6 to fit on a 2'x4' baseplate, but is designed for light weight and complete self containment, yet offers a siding, a branch line, tunnels and bridges. It has self-contained electronics for feedback speed regulation of the locomotives, and powered capacitor-discharge point/switch control.

The design area limits what is possible. For a base that is barely more than that required for two side-by-side circles of minimum turn radius, this is high packing density.

The grid shows 1-inch squares. The outline track is in tunnel.

The layout photographed from above.
Comparison of this image with the plan makes it easier to visualise. Note the pond and stream running under the truss bridge at the North edge (not shown on plan). You may also be able to make out the three hinges along the southern edge. The lid attaches to these. The two black-topped "mountains" at the SE and SW corners house the input and control panels as shown below.

The layout in a perspective view.

This is the control panel. It is accessed from one end of the layout, the SE corner as viewed above. There is a yellow LED (glowing in the picture) to indicate power available, and a green one for power to the tracks. This blinks slowly when a load is connected. The left-right toggle below the knob sets direction, and the knob the speed. The other two toggles switch the points, the upper one controls the platform siding, the lower one controls both points to select upper or lower branch route.

This is the power input panel. It is accessed from the other end of the layout, the SW corner as viewed above. It allows connection of mains power via an IEC receptacle (note a power cord connected in the photo). One switch selects 110/220V, the other switches to allow power to be applied through the terminals from a transformer or 12V battery, rather than making 15VAC available. A miniature toroidal power transformer mounted inside the tunnels keeps weight down.

Here you can see two tunnel portals near the control panel.

For strength and durability the basic structure is wood, but the base is made of 0.5" ply that has large holes cut in it under the mountains. The bottom is a thin sheet of craftwood screwed onto the plywood skeleton. This makes it very light, and the base can be removed for repair access. You can just make out the structure if you look at the edge of the layout in this picture.

The mountains are made of plaster-impregnated cloth, with the formwork removed through the baseplate holes, again for lightness. The tunnel portanls are home plaster-cast, thinned with plasterboard abrasive, and hand painted by Jonathan and Merinda.

Like other layouts with lots of tunnel, access hatches are provided. Here you are looking in through the rear access hatch near the point that is in a tunnel, out of the double tunnel below the main bridge, at Edwin's eye.

Some pictures of the finished layout in action. All the people are also hand painted by J&M. Edwin tells us that the person on the church steps is Mr Green's friend Janine.

As with all my designs, the layout becomes a box that is light and easy to carry. Measuring 5"x24"x48" and weighing less than 14kg (about 30lb), the layout packs into a secure case that has a removable lid. It is held together by simple latches like a suitcase.

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