Who can help Palmer?

I got this in from Palmer, and I started flicking through the posts to help him.

And then I thought, this would probably make a good post on its own. So here you go:

“Dear Al: I am 84 and a combat vet of somewhat limited mobility. Therefore I have elected to avoid crawling under my 6″ by 10” layout by going to “deadrail” (battery powered in lieu of DC or DCC.

I enjoy your tips emails and would appreciate any info you could give me as to what components to buy as to reliability.

Thank you: Palmer”

Who can help with components? And then there’s the business side of a layout:

The first thing that popped in to my head was the chair Roger cobbled together. It’s at the bottom of this post.

Then, I thought if Palmer does want to have a tinker with some live track, you can always turn the table upside down, like they’ve done here.

And Rob proves that battery powered trains still make a great layout – his looks great.

When it comes to tips in general, there are hundreds and hundreds on the site, just like these, and these and these. (There are some real gems in the comments.)

But do you know what? The one tip I wanted to include, I can’t find. It’s this: to save yourself dropping parts in your lap, or on the floor, turn a large box on its side – place this on your table and work in that. This way no parts can ping off and be lost forever on the floor. Clear plastic box is best obviously…

Well, that’s my lot. Can anybody else help Palmer? Please post below and let’s so what we come up with.

That’s all this time folks.

Please do keep ’em coming. And thanks to everyone for the comments on the Beginner’s Guide.

Best

Al

PS Latest Ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS I do know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. Honest. But sometimes I’m just in a hurry. Other times I’m just half asleep. And sometimes both, like today.

21 responses to “Who can help Palmer?”

  1. Dennis says:

    Hi Palmer,
    Perhaps you could consider this.

    I am building my layout at something approaching eye level for a couple of reasons: –

    1) I think that the best way to view a model railway is from that height. (When people go to exhibitions they tend to crouch to get that realistic viewpoint).

    2) This affords easier access for wiring underneath the layout. I use a chair on castors (computer chair) to manoeuvre along the layout.

    You would of course have to use a small platform whilst you position your layout above. I use a light weight 2 tread ladder/platform that works well.

    Good luck with your project and best wishes.
    Dennis.

  2. Mike says:

    Heart surgery has left it very difficult for me to bend over. In building a new layout I simply drop the wires down through the board, hook it with a coat hanger and bring it to the edge of the board where I terminate in chocolate block (Terminal Block to those west of the Atlantic. I simply wire from the blocks to controllers, switches etc. Or to each other.

    No need to crawl around attaching drops to busses.

  3. Peter says:

    A lot of railway modellers in the UK use battery power with radio control, in fact I have seen r/c model actuators being used to change points, lot cheaper that purpose built point motors. I have seen one layout where the re-chargeable batteries were charged up on the layout, so need to remove them to re-charge.
    No track cleaning, no wiring, must be the way forward!

  4. Ralph Berry says:

    I saw a great idea for saving small parts from dropping on the floor but I cannot find the link again. It comprised an apron with the bottom attached to the edge of the bench with Velcro. When you drop that vital little spring it falls into the fold of the apron instead of bouncing into oblivium.

  5. Dan Foltz says:

    Palmer,

    David Barrow had several articles a few years ago in Model Railroader about building Dominoes. There are two advantages that I see/saw in his design. One, it by default makes a more linear layout (good for operations) and two, you can work on each domino at the workbench for all the wiring and everything like that with the Domino turned upside down. I have built my layout that way and do like the results. However, it does become more difficult to remove a Domino to work on it if you make changes down the road. Not impossible but just takes a bit of time.

    If you are interested, I have copied most of the articles and could send them to you as PDF files. Or I could provide the Dates of the MR Editions where the articles appear. Just let me know. That way you would get a feel for the technique before making any decision. If you already have your layout built this will not apply of course!

    I have also see articles where the wiring was put on the font side of the legs of the table. Then do as the second reply suggests, run your wires down from the top, keeping them long, reach them with a coat hanger or some sort of hook, bring them to the front, and put your terminal blocks and things on the front. You can mount the terminal strips on the legs or you could actually build boards that went from leg to leg to use for mounting. This technique does not help if you are installing under the table switch machines. If I were to start over I would run all of my Buss wires on the front of my legs or table structure so that I could sit in a chair and do all of my connections right in front of me,. No looking up and under!

    All for now,
    Dan Foltz

    NOTE: It indicates that e-mail addresses are not published. If interested perhaps Al can get us connected “offline”.

  6. William Schart says:

    When I was a kid, my Dad fixed up a 4×8 setup for MU Lionel train that was hinged to fold up on my bed. Of course, the one problem with that was the train and everything loose had to be removed to fold it fold it up. But you could rig up a system of ropes and pulleys to raise your layout up to a convient height to work underneath.

  7. Ken says:

    I also am a disabled vet and have had had trouble moving around, When I got out of the service I was a mechanic and moved along the floor on what the called a creeper. I still use that same idea today to move along my boards to get underneath.
    I thought that this might give you an idea of what might help you get around underneath with more mobility.

  8. Will Landers says:

    I’m going threw the same thing with limited mobility it’s gonna be a hard one to figure out!!!

  9. Kenneth L Cline says:

    I feel your pain I to am a military vet with limited mobility and what I did was put my whole layout on a lift. The whole layout is Frame and all goes up and down by a cable system.. I will send in some photos when I get a chance

  10. Ben Taul says:

    hinge it on one side and use hyd. lifts likes those used on the hood (bonnet on the east side of the Atlantic) to help lift it.
    Ben
    Nebraska USA

  11. Bernard Schainholtz -Still Plays says:

    Harborf Freight tools has a bicycle lift for $7 US. You could hook up 2 of em to lift your table.Bernie

  12. Dr Bob says:

    Palmer you are one in a million! As a physician helping combat vets here in the United States, it is a pleasure to see these young warriors overcome many obstacles many of us take for granted. Our bodies and brains are very flexible when it comes to mobility. We often stop doing things because of pain or because we feel it’s too much trouble. Never give up Palmer. Do not let your body pain control your inabilities and the things you love to do. As explained earlier to a young gentleman (Jim) who was 78 years old. We make excuses not to do things in our lives which contribute to many of us not to do anything at all. But your mind says ‘You love doing these things or if I were younger I could do it.’ You have to push the boundaries of everyday living to the point where you are comfortable doing what you love to do and then maintain those levels of flexibility. The pain will go away and you will certainly feel much better. Whether your an athlete competing or getting up there in your golden years, the competition never stops for survival. Thank you for your service!

  13. Wayne Bonnett says:

    i have my layout on a 12 volt winch system. I just raise it up wen i need to get under it for wiring etc.
    Hope this helps

  14. A jewelers apron it pretty easy to make. I bought a white kitchen apron and sewed the loop portion of the velcro about 2/3 of the way down the side and then placed the hook portion on the bottom of the table. Adjust the location of the velcro depending on how much of a “basket” you want in front of yourself. This has saved me a LOT of time on my knees searching through the rug for that little spring I dropped. And the screw, and, well you get the idea.

  15. Jim says:

    For the physician above, thank you very much for that article. I’m early retired do to disability. Nothing major, just constant pain in arms & legs. In a sling right now, from surgery. But I have been putting off starting a layout for years. Your article really hit home for me. Thanks again.
    Palmer, keep moving forward!

    Al, I’m glad you aloud me to stay part of this group!

  16. David Murray says:

    I built my layout in the former attic bedroom of my cottage 28 years ago. At that time I was very fit and agile at 40 years old. My baseboard is 39 inches (1 metre) high. The room is 25′ x15′ and although not continuous, the branch line runs all around the room. There is a chimney breast that protrudes into the room and my boards go across it. So there’s a small space, 36″ x 14″ for me to squeeze up into to change scenery items etc. As the years have progressed, I make sure I have my mobile phone on me in case I get stuck. Each year I get stiffer and crawling about gets harder, but I would not sacrifice the Elmton Branch Line.

  17. don ward says:

    I’d personally help if he’s in the Milwaukee , Wisconsin area.

  18. Joe says:

    small size is not good for HO scale cuz too curve on tracks unless it is trolley.. Bigger room is best for high speed train or passenger cars can handle better in less curve tacks.. You agrees ??

  19. terry witkowski says:

    84yrs? i’ll be lucky if i get that far. palmer i really can’t be of much help. i put my layout 30″ high. i’m 70 and 5’1″ my layout is that low because i want to see at bird’ eye view and can reach cars in case of a de-railment. i’m disabled too, from ‘nam. what i use is an auto creaper. works for me. i also use a “headlight” or hanging worklight. legally blind don’t help much neither. but try what i suggested. might work for you. i model HO. what works really good too, is micro-marks magnifying viser. multiple magnifications with lights. terry

  20. use a “headlight”, hanging shoplight, or micro-marks magnifying visor w/lights. floor creeper. i’m 5’1″ legally blind. 30 ” high works with my 20″ long arms. terry

  21. They are all very good tips. I hope they help palmer.

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