(16 July: Edited to actually upload the photos)
Stic came by yesterday and after a somewhat slow start with the planned assembly of the last of the IKEA Ivar cabinets being deferred to a future date due to shortage of a unique piece of IKEA hardware best referred to as a "thing-a'mick- bob" we fell back to regroup and decided the best use of our time wasn't hanging more track lights but instead getting started on the gate that will permit access to the "interior" of the layout area.
My original intention was to simply build a lift out - but in the end we decided a hinged access gate made more sense. For one thing the problem with lift outs (as opposed to hinged access methods) are when you remove it you're standing there with a board in your hand - and you need to put it somewhere. It's also necessary to connect and reconnect the power to the track every time the liftout is removed and installed.
None of that is insurmountable, since the layout is designed to be operated "from the inside." meaning it would be a simple matter to get everybody in the layout area, put the lift out in place, and connect the wires, reversing the process at the conclusion of the op session.
But I tend to get a lot of non-railroad visitors - they will want to see the interior of the layout area, and will most certainly want to see a train run - meaning I needed a solution that would be a little less clumsy than a basic liftout would be in practice.
Hence, the swinging gate approach. And since this is such a critical element to the layout (the entire scheme hinges on it, pun intended) we decided to tackle it head on now....).
But keeping our priorities straight, we first broke for lunch.
After lunch we stopped by Lowe's and picked up an assortment of hinges, screws and the like and set to work.
Honestly, we probably spent more time noodling through how to do this than we actually spent cutting wood. There was even a point where we realized we were overthinking this thing and were in danger of an over engineered monster. Luckily we caught ourselves before we started down that path.
While we didn't finish the assembly or installation yesterday we did get the plywood bridge "surface" cut to fit, installed the "plate" that the hinges will ultimately connect to, and Stic routed a matching angled notch in the floating end of the bridge to support the bridge (and take pressure off the hinges). This will also ensure the track lines up properly.