Now, I think I've got the ideal location for my layout. It's secure, it has power and has pretty good natural lighting which is always good for modelling and has electric lighting as well. It would also be ideal for spray painting models which I'd like to do for some of the things I have planned for this layout.
The shed in my garden where I plan to put my layout
Well, actually, it isn't ideal yet but, with a little work, it will be an ideal location. As you can see from the photo to the left, there's a nice brick shed in my garden but it's only about 6'x6'. I'd like a layout between 12' and 14' long to allow for scale length trains and the amount of operational variety I want. So that means extending the shed. Luckily I know a bloke who's a builder, I've known him for 20 years and he just happens to be a railway modeller himself. Ideal.
Unfortunately, he won't be able to do the work until the New Year at the earliest and I can't afford to have the work done until around Easter as I'm off work waiting for an operation to my knee. It might not be the smartest idea in the world to spend a 4-figure sum on making the perfect location for a model layout if I find that I'm unable to carry on working due to medical problems and have a drop in income as a result. Still, on the plus side, it means I have a bit of time to put a track plan together rather than throw one together in a hurry like I normally do. Every cloud, as they say.
I have been given a date for my operation and it's only a few weeks away so that doesn't leave much time to get the work done. Otherwise I'll have to book the time off of work. I've already planned most of my year's entitlement and, if the building work takes too long, I may have to wait until 2007 before I have a place that I can put my layout! No! That would be unbearable. Now that I've got the project under way finally, a delay like that would be almost too much to take.
The inside of the shed. The layout will go against the wall shown
I've also had time to have a major clear out in the shed. It took 5 car trips to the local household waste recycling facility to get rid of all the junk that was in there but it's in some sort of order now. There's still stuff to sort out but it doesn't fill me with horror whenever I open the shed door any more!
Some structural work, apart from the extension, needs doing.
I have fears that the roof may be asbestos-based so that would need replacing
if it is. The door frame is rotting so will need to be replaced too. Some
of the mortar is also showing problems in one corner but it's where the
extension will join the shed so can be sorted out when that's done.
Time for a rethink
OK, I think I've got a little fixated with the idea of putting a layout in my shed in the garden even to the stage of looking to pay a builder to extend it to the length required to get a "decent" sized layout. I realised that I've got a better solution to hand. Put the layout in my loft. The reason that I thought the shed would be a perfect location for my layout is because I was planning on converting my loft into a bedroom. I'm not likely to have the time or money to have that done for at least 4 years and, more likely, 9. In the meantime, the space is going to waste. I've been up in the loft recently and I could fit an L-shaped layout that's 14'x2.5' with a 12-14' spur running off of it. That's nearly twice the running space.
Some of the rubbish that needs clearing out of the loft
It's indoors so is more secure and I wouldn't need to keep going outside to get to my layout, already has lighting and is also partially floorboarded. It just needs some power points, the rest of the loft floorboarded and access to it installed. It would cost a lot less to bring it up to standard than the major building work that is needed to make the shed useable. I've also noticed that there are some substantial joists in the centre of the loft, too, that could have some shelving fitted to that would give me quite a bit of convenient storage. The loft it is.
Like the shed, it needs some sorting out as years of accumulated rubbish is up there. Once that's done I'll get a quote of having it turned into a hobby room and then get to work on the layout! Just to give you an idea of what I'm up against in terms of getting the loft fit for a layout, I took a few photos today. There's 18 years of accumulated debris, rubbish and other stuff up there. I even found clothes strewn in 1 corner from the previous tenants before we bought the house off of the local council.
Then there's the pipework from the central heating system that the previous tenants had installed. For some unknown reason they had the pipes going up into the loft when they should have gone nowhere near it! When a plumber came in to sort it out he couldn't believe it. I swear his jaw dropped when he went up in the loft. He told me that the loft was so warm we could have grown tomatoes in there. While the rest of the house was an icebox!
Some of the unnecessary pipework that will need to be removed before the loft can be floorboarded
The floor of the loft seems to be on different levels and part of it has been floored with chipboard which I would like to remove. The boarding of the loft seems to have been done in a very unplanned haphazard way too where you find that the centre of the loft is pretty much floorboarded but round the edges you'll find a gap that you've got to step over to get to a bit that has been boarded that you can only reach by going over an unboarded bit! It's such a mess it's staggering.
It also doesn't help that the water tank is right in the middle of the loft and is on top of the previous water tank which I am reliably informed by a plumber will be an absolute pain to remove! Someone, somewhere does not want my project to get off of the ground I swear.