My first thought when viewing the garage was that a neat railroad could be built. I had thought of all the structures and sidings that could be compressed into the room. Well, the first dose of reality came in the form of another measurement of the spaces and few sketches of a possible track plan. The space was smaller than what I had paced off when I bought the home. Ah, that is a minor problem. It turns out that it was a major problem since the 60″ radius curves would be difficult to lay out in the room and to achieve. I had envisioned a neat yard in the center of the room surrounded by some classic California industries like packing sheds, oil distributors and an aggregate plant much like the one that existed in Burlingame when I was living on the Peninsula (near SF airport). Sounded great but didn’t go to the next step to plan in detail. I had to get the room prepared before the benchwork started.
The room preparation took about three years to get it done along with holding down a full-time career with a lot of travel. The first step was to add lighting in the form of T8 single tube full spectrum lights around the room. Along with this, I had the 220V and another 110v line added. My stand-alone garage turned out to me a major challenge given the main breaker panel was on the other side of the house and not physically connected. After going through several contractor bids, I found a guy who came up with a simple approach that didn’t require cutting holes in the living room walls to route through the top plate of the home walls.
The next step was to insulate the metal garage doors with foam panels sold by Lowes for this application. It was easy to do. The next step was adding R39 insulation to the attic above the garage. That was an itchy experience.
Now, I went about finding the heat pump to do the job. The most efficient system I found was made by Fujitus in Japan. It ran on 220V. A wall unit which includes the fan (impeller) and an outside heat exchanger.
The units will handle about 500 square feet. They work well and are extremely quiet. A few weeks ago we had seven straight days of +105F. The system struggled with this and the room was allowed to rise to about 90F.
The last preparation was to epoxy coat the concrete floor. It keeps the dust down and more pleasing to look at than cement. Working on concrete floors is tough on my arthritis. Trade shows used to kill me when I was still working. I am using memory foam mats from Costco and a roll of non-slip walkway the came from Lowes. It has a memory foam and is easy on the feet.
The stage is set for the railroad to start. One minor problem…….. I never did any detailed design work earlier and now I need to do it quickly. I did know that the line was going around the wall and would have a drawbridge and moat to enter the room. The curves were well defined by the four corners of the room. The basic benchwork idea came from a good friend, Jim Zwernemann. He is building his Proto48 layout in a large metal garage on his property in central Texas. Jim came up with a basic idea for cantilevering the layout off the walls. This left the floor free of posts that would have been catching my size 14 shoes on the way by.
I will post the benchwork drawings in the next installment.