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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Layout Facias and Valences Lessons learned

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My newest addition to my train library is Tony Koester's new book Designing & Building Multi-Deck Model Railroads. This book is excellent and has some of the most enjoyable pictures of model railroading I've ever seen in one place. So why have I started a blog entry about layout valence and fascia additions to a model railroad with a book endorsement. Simply because Tony does a pretty nice job of covering the topic. But I've learned a few lessons that Tony didn't mention. Now some of these lessons I read about, saw on an other's layout or simply figured them out myself. So here goes:

Valences
The location of lights used with valences is very important. Locate the lights as close to the front edge of the layout as possible. This makes it harder to 'see' the bulbs either while looking at the layout or taking pictures.

I had spent a LOT of money installing modular track lighting for my layout and that was money poorly spent. I've found that cheap 48" shop lights with 1 t-8 bright or daylight florescent (never soft or cool lamps) have turned out to be a better choice. Without a valence, the track lighting certainly looked better than a bunch of shop lights would. But of course, the fascia hides the lights from view, and more importantly, it keeps the lights from glaring right into your eyes or the camera lens. If the lights are at the back of the facia cavity, it is all to easy to see and look directly into the lights. Another problem with the track lights is the shadows they create and the difficulty in obtaining even lighting over the layout.

Backdrop height
I wish I had made my backdrops go from the layout all the way to the ceiling. Instead, my 24" back drops sitting on top of a 52" layout shelf leaves about a foot of white wall show
ing. This spoils the look. See what I mean in the picture at the right?

When I visited a friend's layout recently, he had just finished installing his valences. He avoided the light issues by using translucent panels suspended in drop ceiling frames. I chose t
o do this on my peninsula where it is very easy to see the lights from the end, no matter where you put them. The big drawback with this method is the price. All of the parts are pretty cheap,but you wind up using a lot more of them than you think. Just doing the Peninsula which is about 1/4th of my layout cost more than $150.


Fascia
Originally, my facia was 6" wide and was 'smooth and straight" along the edges of my layout tables. All along, I had planned to have an uneven, sort of undulating edge with the scenery raising up to the top edge. Why I' did not do it that way to start is anyone's guess, but I ripped out the current fascia and replaced it with 12" high masonite pieces. At the bottom on the rough inside surface, I used liquid nails to attach clothes pins about every foot or so. These pins hang down below the table edge and are to be used to hold landscaping black 'fine mesh' as a curtain. his tip courtesy of NMRA Scale Rails and a friend's layout.

   

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