Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Slow Down, Get Organized

For those that have read this blog since it's early days probably figured out I like to do something then think about what I just did and adjust or hem and haw about what I did not ready to jump into something else. With that in mind and my relative inactivity in the basement, not just for the railroad, but woodworking projects also, I searched for the reason why.

One reason was that it's pretty dark on the woorkshop side. Nobody likes to work in darkened conditions (hear that people who insist on doing black for fascia and valences and ceilings?). I have 3 older T12 shop lights on the layout side of the basement and had 2 T12 on the workshop side. Since the HVAC ducts are on that side, it tended to appear darker, especially with storage and the like on it. Well, I had that problem solved by one of the ballasts blowing up in front of me. Sparks went everywhere, I hit the power switch and then proceeded to go, now what!? I replaced this shop light and another one with plugged in shop lights suspended from the floor joists (the old ones were hardwired) and then bought 2 separate types of T8 bulbs and wired up 3 outlets in the ceiling to plug them into. One was normal and the other daylight. I will be going back for daylight and may just try to find T12 daylight bulbs as well for the other lights and/or replace those hard-wired lights as well. The light output is so different and actually makes it enjoyable on that side of the basement that I've been doing more stuff down there in the 4 weeks since this occurred.

Another reason is that it was usually muggy down there. I had a dehumidifier but it was old and didn't run half the time. I bought a new one in August. When I plugged it in to run, it read 81% humidity in our basement. As of last week, we're at 40% which is a recommended level (35-50 for summer, 30-40 for winter). I can say this, our electric went up tremendously as the humidity decreased. It was worth it though. It's an automatic 70 gallon one with auto-shutoff and a pump that we drain into our sump. I will also say this, I've noticed a dramatic decrease in my family having the sniffles or coughs, etc., since putting this in. If you don't have in your basement, get one, you'd be surprised at how much it can help the rest of the house.

With those two out of the way, it's time to tackle the other issue. One many modelers face on a regular basis. Get your railroad room and workspaces organized and de-cluttered. This by far has been my biggest issue since I put up the center peninsula. All of a sudden, this 30'x22' basement I had with a smattering of utilities became a semi-enclosed room that was further divided with benchwork and everything that was not railroad related got dumped on the other side and what was got thrown under or on top of the benchwork. When the other side got so cluttered, I put more stuff on the benchwork itself and then put stuff on top of it when we had the threats of Irene and Sandy. Simply put, I still haven't recovered and/or cleaned up stuff since those two events or even gotten rid of stuff that has been down there and unused since we moved in 6 years ago.

With all of that, my #1 goal for the winter is to clean up and get organized. This means putting in shelving beneath the shelf part of the layout. I got 2 sheets of plywood ripped into 1' wide units. I'll be able to put 5 of these under the layout, totalling 40' of shelving. The other 3 will go above where I'm going to be putting the staging (more on that in another post), with essentially 24' of shelving space above it. I've also got 2x4s and more plywood as I'm going to finally build the workbench I should've built 4 years ago. It's going to be a modified version of this one from Family Handyman. With it being made of 2x4s and plywood, it won't cost that much and it should be quick to put together.

The bottom line is my message to anyone starting out in this hobby, slow down and get organized first. This doesn't just mean put together ideas for your layout on paper or doing Givens and Druthers or concepts and the like, but also get the space for the layout and any adjacent space organized, cleaned, with everything you might need to get started. Get your storage solutions settled on early in the process because shoehorning them around built benchwork will be harder then you think. Overall, you'll be better off for it and not waste 4+ years of work and get no farther then having just big, lumbering shelving instead of running trains. If your space is chaotic, your efforts will be chaotic, unorganized, and, ultimately, unproductive.


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Welcome to the my Conrail Model Railroad site. I will document the research, design, construction and operations of my N-scale model railroad based on Conrail's Ft. Wayne Line in Ohio.

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