Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Came First?

Many times I have read the advice to prospective layout builders-"prepare the room before you start building the layout." Confession-I have violated this rule, by what I have done and by what I have left undone. Hopefully this post will serve as an example to those who come after me, saving them the frustration of trying to do finishing work on the layout room AFTER having spent a good deal of time a-building.

It all starts out so (seemingly) harmelessly. You tell yourself "With all these cool models, I just have to get some track laid so they can be seen running." After all, that's the point. The thing that sets model railroading apart from many other hobbies is the dynamism-the fact that in addition to being cool to look at, the trains actually move on scale-size track. And so you knock together some benchwork, glue or nail down some track, hook up a set of wires, and shazaam, the trains are off and running.

At this point, you are past the point of no return. One thing leads to another, and before you realize it the layout has grown like a well-fertilized weed. More models are acquired, which requires expansion. One of the rules of model railroading is that the layout will grow to fill all available space.

Then you start to realize what still needs doing. In my case it was a ceiling, to rectify the dungeon-like atmosphere that the floor joists project. It's all dark, and dusty, requiring massive amounts of light and sifting a light coating of fine dust all over everything that no amount of sweeping and vacuuming can ever overcome. Next thing you know you are wheeling a cart through a Menards with a full load of ceiling tile and giant bundle of 1 x 2's along with things like screws and staples, and shortly thereafter this sight greets you when you walk into the train room.


With the investment made, the administrator of the household may begin to ask for anticipated completion dates for this latest project. In my case I use a scientific formula to determine this date, with inputs like how long I think it will take (multiply this by 3 to enter into the formula), how long can the completion date be pushed out without causing a confrontation (this value becomes easier to determine after 30+ years of marriage), and what my real work schedule looks like.

Then I make up a number, throw it out, and see how it is received. I tried 3 weeks in this case, for the first 5 cases of ceiling tile. The total project will take about 12 cases. After a reminder that neat workmanship that will NOT NEGATIVELY IMPACT RESALE VALUE is exptected, an acceptable date is negotiated.

It's usually right after this agreement is made that you remember how much will have to be done to actually complete the job, things like wiring to accomodate lighting and trim to make the job acceptable to non-modelers. Can't see any need for trim, myself, who would look at anything other than the trains anyway?

And so, having never installed ceiling tile before, you set out from one corner. Yes, I measured the room, and hopefully won't have to do any major trimming of the tiles, so up go the 1 x 2's, and immediately following that, the first few tiles. Here's how it looks just after starting.


With 15 tiles now installed, the work is underway. Heck, only 465 or so more to go. However, there seems to be a holdup, since now work has to turn to installing outlets for lighting, so the tile installation has come to a halt and the electrician's hat has come out.

Makes me tired just to think about it. Well, at least I might be rested up when I get home Friday and make some more progress over the weekend. I hope.

1 comment:

andieclark said...

Tiled ceilings are so nice looking. I saw some new homes in Maryland wherein the ceilings are installed with wonderful colored tiles making the the rooms look so elegant.