Tuesday, July 11, 2023

A New Addition to the Layout: Part 1

Part 1: Dismantling the Northern SNE:

As I mentioned in my post "Farewell to the Northern SNE" (if you missed that post you can find it HERE) I planned to take some of Jason and Pam Fontaine's wonderful layout off their hands as they prepared to relocate down south. 

I just realized something - with Jason moving the Florida, does that mean the Northern SNE will now become the Southern SNE - and my SNE which was the Southern SNE is now the Northern SNE??? .... ugh, I'm giving myself a headache ...

To summarize the events of the last week: I flew up to Connecticut from Dulles early Friday morning. After hearing horror stories all last week about airport delays the flight was on time (technically we landed a few minutes early) and I found myself in a cab, driven by a pleasant and talkative chap named Khan (no relation to the Star Trek villain of the same name) on the way to the Budget rental truck outlet in Enfield.

The truck was - let's say it was 16 feet long as promised and leave it at that. 

Before heading up north Jason and I came to an arrangement and I would take the Charlton Branch (essentially an approximately two foot wide and 9-10 foot long section of layout with several very nicely done structures and scenery, as well as "Fenton Mountain" - a large - and extremely heavy - mountain with a three lap helix inside. 

I drove to Charlton Mass, to find Jason and Derek (who's taking several other sections of the layout) already starting the process of disassembly. After some considerable discussion of the best place to cut through the Envirotex river we concluded the more "water" we could leave in place the better. 

Since the pieces I was taking were essentially the cork in the bottle, basically blocking everything else from getting through the layout room door, we had to start with them. So after cutting along the base of the mountain that served as one "end" of the Charlton Branch, Jason turned the Saws all on the river. 

Halfway through the first cut into the base of the mountain alongside the riverbank. 

The area of the river that looks like rapids is plaster dust! 

I realize Jason started work on this layout in 1990 - and having tore layouts down in the past I know how painful the process can be. 

The biggest challenge we faced in getting things out of the layout room with minimal damage was the width of the door opening - 31" or so of clearance - and the mountain was almost 45" tall from base of the L girders to the peak. The solution was to cut off the top portion of the mountain. The plan for moving the mountain was to remove the side braces that held the helix baseboard inside the mountain, letting the helix collapse like a slinky, add 2x4 bracing to the underside of the helix framework so we could remove the helix essentially intact, but collapsed, inside the mountain, and then take it out in three pieces - the benchwork holding the mountain and helix up, the mountain section with the helix inside, and the top of the mountain. 

There was one side of the helix that had a weak spot that was especially noticeable when the section was tilted. But we managed to get the pieces onto a dolly, turned 90 degrees, and moved into the garage. 

The (second) worst part of the disassembly process was moving the mountain out of the layout room into the garage. The worst part of the move is still to come! 
After a long day of cutting, bracing, and moving the two sections of the layout I was taking, along with a section containing a lumberyard that Stic Harris wanted, all the pieces that were coming with me were sitting on Jason's garage floor. We retired for a well deserved pizza dinner. 

Next Step: Part 2: A New Home

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