Shunting into Summer

Shunting 15

The lighter nights are arriving, the cold finally thawing out – spring is here, even in the north.

We last left this story at the point where both main tracks were running and we had two trains using them at the same time – a major milestone in the construction!

On the buildings front the unpainted mine is ready for a headstock (the tower with wheels on top that run the lifts), and the town is pretty much constructed and boards tidied up.

The advent of the clocks going forwards, along with easing of restrictions by our kind and most gracious government, allowing people to sit in your garden has meant my focus has moved to outside tasks – extending the paving that was done last year and getting the garden ready for summer.

With the combination of milestone passed – a natural break in activities – and the onset of spring, it is now time to pack the layout away for summer. It was always meant to be a winter pastime, recalling years ago of Christmas present additions, and was designed to go into a cupboard for storage – not only as a nod to Mrs. SD but also to protect it from dust and carelessly thrown coats, junk or anything else cast off by kids. As you can see it is already starting to attract rubbish, so best move it before it becomes a full dumping ground and things get broken.

The ‘before’ – starting to attract rubbish.
© Sweaty Dave, Going Postal 2021.

There is lots yet to do with the layout – paint when I can buy it, fix the sidings, scenery and ballast, more in the town, fettle that three way point once and for all. A few snags also became visible – where the inner line goes onto the bridge is slightly twisted, meaning the more unforgiving coal wagons tend to end up on three wheels and derail. The gaps in some of the line joins are too open – again a derailing hazard, particularly on the curves. In effect plenty of stuff for another time.

I started by putting all the rolling stock back into their boxes (always keep them, they retain the value). Adding any tools and handy items to the store helped clean down the things going away.

Breaking it down into sections should be easy – just unbolt it all right? Well yes, that is how it should be, but for this first time, a lot of the track needed cutting – every point at which it crosses from one board to another needing to be cut, with a way to be found to ensure they line up exactly in the future. Those places where the track was straight were easy enough, but on a curve, the question is, do you cut straight across the track – having some poking over the gap or cut in a staggered way, right on the join? The latter makes a mess of the sleepers, so I opted for the former. I have ordered more fishplates to rejoin these all in the future, but it did highlight where the track wasn’t fully glued – with many small spurs of track springing to a new direction. This is not something that will easily go back together!

Cut lines spring apart – challenge to fix next time.
© Sweaty Dave, Going Postal 2021.

Once they were all cut it was simply a case of unbolting the sections and ensuring there were enough lats in the cupboard to place them all on. One or two sections had very little on them, one in particular simply being flat track, so I was able to put the town on top of it. The smaller open sections fitted together to go onto the bottom shelf, though track sticking out did mean they couldn’t go in quite as hoped.

When we started all of this, the sections were particularly made to one size that would fit into the cupboard – 40in x 20in. Screwing offcut 2x4s left over from making the sections to the wooden sides, gave the support needed to hold them. It is an internal carcass so not visible or particularly precious. All the banging and crashing of cutting and fixing lats stirred the middle son to enquire what was going on – ‘shall I get a bucket for you Dad, for your tears?’ – sarky git!

One of the biggest challenges to getting the sections into the cupboard was self-inflicted. That massive pine wardrobe I had dragged over to the side of the room was now in the way. As it was completely full of ‘someone’s coats and jackets, it now weighed a ton and could not be just pushed along. I thought about using a car trolley jack, but that was too tall to fit under the base. I ended up lifting the wardrobe, using a spade to raise it, one end at a time onto a couple of skateboards – that lifted it just enough to allow it to be pushed along a foot or two and give me the room needed to store things away.

All packed away.
© Sweaty Dave, Going Postal 2021.

Once there was room, they slid away pretty easily, just those odd snags of track to watch. Amazing how much sawdust and other rubbish was underneath the layout, but in the end we have a large space that will be generally ignored for the next few months until the nights start to draw in once more!

The door closes, even if the camera makes it look wonky.
© Sweaty Dave, Going Postal 2021.

‘After’ – only the original cyclists still around.
© Sweaty Dave, Going Postal 2021.


© Sweaty Dave 2021

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