Building the frame

So, first thing that had to be built: the frame. I decided on wood, as it's much easier to work with "at home" than metal/aluminium supports. I went for 12mm thick high-quality birch plywood, as that was the best I could get from my local retailer Migros DoIt. I wanted resistant, heavy wood, so as to avoid deformations. The construction is carried by five thick (7cm) slats, each with a wheel on the underside, so that the whole frame can be moved around the room, and it's thus easily possible to access the backside of the whole layout, which also means I can actually use that space. I early on decided to add a fifth slat in the center, to help support the weigth and avoid any deformation of the cross-bars. Every cross-bar (4-5cm thick) is connected to the main slats as well as each-other through steel angle brackets or T brackets. First, I had to smooth all the wood I bought; especially the slats were very raw. It just looks better, and splinters are always unwelcome. Given that we don't have any public space here to do this kind of work, I did it inside the room. It worked out fine by covering everything and leaving the windows open, but still turned out to be a little bit more of a mess than initially thought. I so wish apartment buildings would have communal spaces with work benches and air filtration for handcraft, like you have communal washing rooms or cellars. Maybe new constructions way outside my price range do have that. I then assembled the cross-bars for the first two levels, as well as the five vertical slats, and then put everything together. Had to put a lot of thought into the length of the screws, so that they wouldn't touch each-other inside of the wood. The battery-powered drill with screw setting proved to be incredibly useful. Each level's base is made up of two plywood planes (1.20 x 1.15 m), as having one big plane would have been impossible to transport and get into the elevator. They are screwed onto the supporting cross-bars. The level 1 plane has, as you can see, a circular hole; that's to hold the turntable. The lowest level sits at 80cm from the floor, allowing easy access from below. Level 2 is 39cm above it to allow a nice view into it, with Level 3 another 14cm up. The much smaller height between levels 2 and 3 is because you don't need an expansive view of level 2, only the front-most part with the replica of the S-Bahn Z├╝rich station is of any interest, the back two thirds are only there to allow the trains to go round and round. For now only the full planes for level 1 are attached. Once level 1 is complete, including the spiral going from level to level, the planes for level 2 can be inserted. And once level 2 is done, the cross-bars for level 3 and its planes can finally be added too. Level after level, going upwards, seemed like the natural way to build this over time.

Posted by Luca Longinotti on 04 Oct 2016 at 18:00
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