the baseboards of County Gate

Construction is of 1/2" plywood with a 1/4" ply track base and cross members. The baseboards have fixed aluminium backdrops. The backdrops are higher than is usual as we feel this gives greater realism. The drawing below shows the design process we undertook to develop the topography.

click on image to enlarge

Always easiest to lay it out on the floor. The station and main line was laid out at an angle across the board. We felt that this made the presentation more dynamic.

We find that we can design a baseboard as often as we like, but when we start to actually build it there are always a lot of changes. It just seems that this kind of thing is a bit organic. We also have 3 dimensional chess problems with some of the boards. It may be helpful to make a small scale model using foam and Modrock with a sample backdrop to ensure that viewing angles give an acceptable interface between the backdrops and baseboard.

section 1 baseboard

the baseboard fully wired up

The track and basic structures are installed

The units are easily demountable for transport. We carry them in a specially adapted trailer and our baseboards are up to 7 ft 6ins long X 30ins wide. This for me is important as I wished to minimise the unsightly joints between baseboards.


joining boards

We use mould makers' register pins and sockets which are often advertised in the magazines to align boards.


To fix the boards together, we first opted for Securit toggle catches which attach one board to the next. When erecting at an exhibition, each stand is first assembled, (about 2 minutes each), the lights are then added before the baseboards are fitted. The stands can then be easily rolled into the hall and the railway joined together in situ.

We found that  the Securit toggles were not sufficiently strong to completely pull the boards together. They were also not adjustable.

We have now installed heavy duty adjustable toggles which do an amazing job. They can be obtained from Wixroyd


First fitting of section 1 and 2. The new exhibition stand is away for powder coating so we made do. One can see the white plaster section that has just been laid to ensure accurate continuity between boards. The backboard is actually temporary,, the final board being taller and made in aluminium. A photographic sky background is then fastened onto the board. The original traverser can be seen under the hotel.

The early catches can be clearly seen. After cling-wrapping the scenery on section one, we can then make up the scenery in plaster up to 1/16" of the surface.

The original wooden traverser can be seen. Despite early promise, too much play developed in the wood slides, and some movement in the plywood resulted in poor track register. This was then replaced with a 3/16" thick aluminium plate mounted on Accuride ball race drawer slides (type 0201).These slides are good value and absolutely dead accurate with no side play whatsoever. The traverser ran as smooth as a 7 series BMW until there were temperature changes when it would move up and down a little and trip up trains! It has now been removed.

Here the finished hotel section can be seen. The backdrop was based on a high resolution 360 degree panoramic we took when there was a good 'moody' sky without contrails. Details such as hills and trees were added where required using Photoshop. This process took a lot more time than one would think. The printing was done on self adhesive vinyl then laminated with a mat surface vinyl film. This last process is essential as it gives the sky some depth and luminosity and the delicate inks are protected. The corner of the backdrop behind the hotel is bent into a 6" radius curve. With the correct lighting it is indiscernible.

protecting our 'back passage'

County gate is actually a 'rabbit warren' layout that poses as an end to end. There are over 33 ft of hidden tracks.

the County Gate 'back passages'

There is always the fear that something dreadful will happen and valuable rolling stock plunge to the floor. The passage is now protected by 2mm clear plastic acrylic which is hinged with self adhesive book binders hinge tape and fastened by Velcro.

'back passage' protection - keeps spiders out too!