Lift Outs; Help, How Do I Make One?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by TruckLover, Mar 27, 2008.

  1. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Hi guys, I need some help on how to make a lift out for my shelf layout. The layout is going to run all the way around the room on shelfs that are 15-18" wide. I think the smaller width on the lift out the better so it would be 15" wide. The gap it needs to span is 47" long (The gap is the walkin hallway to my room)

    How do i go about making a Lift Out? I want to be able to simply drop it in some pins on either side of the shelf layout and run a train across it. Where do i start? what do i need to do? So many questions lol.

    Im going to store the lift out on the wall right next to where it goes on the layout so i can simply lift it off the wall and drop it right in place when the layout is in use (running trains) and when not in use it can be up and out of the way.

    Any and all help, suggestions, pics....... will be greatly appreciated.
  2. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    There are many ways to accomplish an accurate placement each time.

    One is a post on the base and a hole on the lift out.
    Another would be alignment clamps like you can see here
    My favorite would be a hole in each with the bottom covered and dropin a a perfectly fitted dowel through both
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Mount 2 1x4 inch boards on the bottom of your shelves on either side of the door way sticking out 1-2 inches to allow the lift out section to sit on the 1x4 boars for support at each end. Whatever you use for the lift out bridge, it will probably need some support in the center to keep it from sagging. Cut a 1x3 or a 1x2 about 6 inches shorter than the bridge, and screw and glue it down the center of the bridge to make a long "T" section for support. The center board should be short enough that it doesn't interfere with the 1x4 at the end of each shelf when you install the lift out section. Now put the lift out section in place and get 4 door hinges with the pins that will knock out. You install 2 hinges on each end with one side of each hinge bolted to the lift out bridge, and the other side of each hinge bolted to the 1x4 support. When you want to lift out the bridge and store it, pull the pins and lift out the section and store it. The pins can be put in either end that is convenient for storage to keep from loosing them. When the lift out bridge is installed in the layout, the pins will locate it so it cannot move in any direction maintaining track alignment. Cut your rails right over the gaps, or cut them about 1/2 inch back from the edges, and install 1 inch atlas Snap Track sections for joiners. If you use the short joiner tracks and keep your rails back from the edge of the layout and the bridge, you will not be as likely to damage the ends of the rail when you handle the bridge or have the bridge removed and people moving in and out of the room.
  4. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    Maybe you could make the length with the track stay in place with magnets?
  5. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    As others have said, a "tray" to set each end into is very helpful. I basically have a U-shaped channel female (plug) that I set each end into. Metal pins into sockets keep it in place and transfer electrical power.

    I have a 60" window to span with my liftout. I limited width to 8" to reduce weight and storage problems. The liftout is built pretty much as a deck bridge for weight and reasonable handling. Sides are 1x3, with a 1/4" plywood bottom rabbeted into the sides 1/4" for a stronger joint. A strip of 2" blue foam is glued to the sides and the bottom. The foam is notched and a 1x3 piece glued in as a backing plate where the pin sockets go. Then a 1/4" plywood top is glued to the sides (notched again) and the foam. Result is an 8" wide by 3.5" deep box that is reasonably light and very rigid. Track and roadbed are laid on top of of the top plywood piece.

    The liftout is normally stored on a shelf above the layout which has lighting under.

    This is all in the ready-to-build stage, but I have used similar construction to support rain gutters full of water (for Cub Scout derby) between 2 saw horses. The box beam works well (an I beam would work too), with the foam providing extra structural rigidity. Easy to build for my rough carpentry skills.

    my thoughts, your choices
  6. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    Limiting the bridge to 8" wide is a great suggestion as well PG
  7. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Because of the length of the lift-out section, I think that the suggestions to keep it narrow are probably a good idea. You could use a 1"x4" or 1"x6" for the roadbed, although 3/4" plywood would be even better. Screw a couple of 1"x2"s along the edges, either below or above the roadbed surface (above would be easier to accommodate in the fixed support brackets) to keep it from sagging. Cut your support brackets from the same 3/4" plywood, then screw them to the layout facia. Drop the lift-out into position, then lay the track as a continuous length, from the layout on one side, across the lift-out, and onto the other side. If your track is straight, cut the rails, about 1/2" back from the lift-out, on the fixed portion of the layout and on both sides of the entrance. Before removing the lift-out, spike two or three ties on both sides of all cuts, to ensure that nothing will move. You can power the liftout with a simple 3-prong plug and socket (the "ground" prong is simply to keep the track polarity straight), or use a 5-prong plug and socket (I got mine at Radio Shack a long time ago, but electronic discount stores should have something similar) to cut the track power on either side of the abyss when the "bridge is out".
    The pictures below are pretty self-explanatory, although not the original intent of the pictures. The black circle to the right of the support bracket is the female receptacle for the 5-prong plug.

    This is the opposite side of the entryway, with the lift-out section leaning against the layout. The plug can be seen on the wire extending from the bottom side of it. Mine doesn't have a safety interlock, as I only run a train off the end of the track once in a while. ;):-D Power for this side of the layout is provided via the rails as they snake around the room, and I've also provided a feed over the top of the doorway, hidden behind the backdrop.

    This is very simple to use, cheap to build, and very reliable. Keep it simple.

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've made this wiring suggestion: The one rail is powered on the left side of the main layout. This power runs through the liftout and powers a short section on the right side which is isolated by a plastic rail joiner. The other rail is powered on the right side and power goes through the liftout to a short isolated section on the left side.
    This means that you have a dead spot both sides when the section is lifted out.
  9. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Thanks guys for all your help and ideas and how-2's

    I think that Wayne's would be the easyist to do. I will be keeping the lift-out to a minimum width, prolly 8" like you guys have suggested.

    Wayne can you give me some close-ups of where the tracks go from the layout to the lift-out both when the lift-out is in place and when it is not in place? I still dont quite understand how the tracks connect when the lift-out is in place.

    I also like David's idea of having either side wired with one rail. That would make it so the train could not go off the edge if i run trains without the lift-out in place right?

    Again thanks for everyone who has posted ideas for making the lift-out. I know im going to have many more questions, im hopeing this wont be a complicated process lol
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Josh, if the tracks go right to the end of the lift out or the layout, they will tend to get damaged when the lift out is removed. All it takes is a little bump to knock the rails off the ties and bend them. If you set them back 1/2 inch from the end of the road bed on both the lift out section and the mainline, then the rail ends will be protected. You can get an Atlas Snap Track shorty section 1 inch long for each end. Using an Exacto knife, cut off the spike detail for the last 3 or so ties on both the mainline approach tracks and the lift out tracks so that a rail joiner can be slid all the way onto the rails. Now when you install the lift our section, you can drop in the 1 inch joiner track and slide the rail joiners into place to locate the joiner track in relation the both the mainline and the bridge.
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The tracks don't physically connect: as long as they're properly aligned, the train will pass right over the slight gap.

    You can do the same with the 5-prong plug, too. Gap the rails on the fixed portions of the layout (back from the lift-out - one foot, ten feet, whatever suits your needs) then drop leads from the two "hot" rails. Run these wires to two of the contacts on the female receptacle, mounted on the facia. Drop two more leads from the rails in the gapped track, on the same side of the liftout, and run them to another two contacts on the female. Drop two leads from the rails on the lift-out, and run them to the two contacts on the male plug that correspond to the first two wires on the female receptacle - make sure to keep the polarity straight. Drop another two leads from the rails on the lift-out, then connect them to the other two contacts on the male plug which correspond to the contacts for the gapped track, again minding the polarity. Finally, drop two more wires from the gapped track, run them over the doorway, then connect them to the gapped track on this side, keeping the polarity straight. When the lift-out is in place and the plug inserted, both gapped sections and the lift-out will be "live". As soon as you disconnect the plug, the two gapped sections and the lift-out will be "dead", even with the lift-out in place.

    While Russ' suggestion will certainly ensure that the protruding ends of the rails won't get caught on anything (no protruding rails) :-D, it also adds another two spots where you'll be depending on the rail joiners for the power feed. The more that you slide those 8 rail joiners, the more chance that you're going to end up with a dead spot.
    I cut the rails on the fixed portions of the layout short of the edge (so nobody walking through when the lift-out is removed will catch their clothing), but left the rails on the lift-out correspondingly long. It requires a conscious effort, every time the lift-out is inserted or removed, to ensure that the rail ends don't get damaged. So far (15 or 16 years, I think), no problem. ;):-D:-D Bear in mind, too, my track on both sides of and through the lift-out is curved. I cut several ties on the bias where the rails were cut, then spiked the individual tie segments and the rail, too. I'll try to post some pictures later.

  12. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Wow Thanks Wayne, i think i might try to do the same as you did with the connecting of the tracks, ill see how it works out for me :twisted:

    in the meantime, i think i better get a book on wiring lol, wiring the liftout sounds like a whole diffrent language to me lol
  13. CNWman

    CNWman CNW Fan

    Well, how about using conductive plates? The whole section could be wired up permentently, but the power comes through the plates. Like a battery in a tv remote in a sense
  14. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I finally took some pictures of my lift-out, although I don't know that they'll really explain much.
    Here's the fixed portion on one side of the aisle. As I said, I had the lift-out in place, then laid the track in a continuous curve from this side, over the lift-out, and on to the other side. The track and rails were spiked as shown, then the rails were cut with a cut-off disk in a Dremel. Doing the spiking of the individual rails before cutting helps to ensure that they're properly aligned.

    The fixed section on the other side of the aisle is similar, although the rail needed no additional spikes. The ties still got a few to keep them from squirming around.

    Here's a close-up of the track at the end of the lift-out section:

    The staging yard side of the aisle, with the lift-out in place:

    The opposite side of the aisle with the lift-out in place:

    And finally, a car traversing the "gap". The 3/4" plywood used for the lift-out and the aligning brackets is very stable, so the track lines up every time:

    Hope these help to explain it a little better.

  15. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    It sure does Wayne, thanks so much!!!

    Im going to print these pics out for refrence lol

    Thanks again :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

    Now i just need to learn how to wire it lol
  16. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    The wiring is actually very simple. Heck, if I can do it, anyone can.

  17. railroad guy

    railroad guy New Member

    announce1Back in 2001 I found this type of bridge and had one built by Andover Tool Company. They don't have a website nor do they have email. (go figure). Its 34" long and has been a very reliable aluminum bridge. It is equivalent to a plate girder HO bridge and weighs 2 pounds 4 ounces. I think wood be alright but with humidity it may cause warpage which might affect the ends of the rail to be unlevel with bench track. Course if you added stiffeners to the side or bottom side that would keep it straight however, it would add weight.

  18. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you want to build a lift out bridge like that aluminum one, you can get a piece of aluminum channel from any metal supply company that sells aluminum shapes. I suspect it is probably 1" x 3" or 4" aluminum channel cut to the length of your lift out.

    Wayne, the reason I suggested the 1 inch Atlas "shorty" snap track sections is that Truck Lover models modern UP with all diesels as far as I know. All diesels will easily bridge a dead 1 inch section of track as long as he has good power to the approach tracks and the bridge. It could cause a problem for steam, since they often don't have pick ups as far apart as diesels.

    Josh, for plugs to wire the lift out as Wayne suggested, pick up a set of "Cinch-Jones" connectors for each end of the bridge. They cost a bit more at Radio Shack than other places, but even at Radio Shack, I think they are around $3.50 per set. The advantage of these connectors is that the male plug has a narrow and a wide prong, and the female receptacle has a corresponding narrow and wide slot, so it is impossible to reverse polarity, if you solder the wires in correctly to start with.
  19. railroad guy

    railroad guy New Member

    The aluminum bridge is held in place with magnets on each end for verticle and side alignment. Track voltage conducts through the magnets and striker plates then through the bridge track and then into another set of magnets on the opposite end.

    Power is supplied from both ends providing a lengthy safety interlock on each end. Gaps between bridge track ends and bench track ends is a minimum of .02" so there is no problem with interference or equipment rolling over it.

    The bridge can be taken out and replaced in less than a minute and doesn't require any type of plug or pin. Secret is just keep the striker plates clean and everything will work fine. Just remember a clean room is a happy room.

    For storage, attach another set of magnets to the underside of the layout and it's out of site out of mind.

    It's a pretty well thought out simple design and almost proto typical for cross sectional properties.

  20. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    That would be REALLY cool. :mrgreen: :cool: i dont know if it would look realistic to have it span a 47" gap tho :rolleyes:

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