Large Scale Central

Shelf layout

Today I wired up a simple back-n-forth shelf “layout”, just to liven things up in the basement.

Half of the shelf is the beautiful viaduct Bruce Chandler made for his layout, and gave me a couple months ago when he closed down operations. Thanks again Bruce!

Also from Bruce are the four nicely detailed logging cars, which he built from Don Winter kits. Bruce also invented the magnetic chains (chains with a magnet at each end), which allow a load to be cinched up very easily.

A quick vid of the action…

As you can see, the control isn’t sophisticated. Gaps near each end (where the loco stops) have diodes bridging them, and an old “Rev 1A” unit from P H Hobbies handles the pause and polarity reversal.

If you have something like a shelf layout, feel free to post about it here.


What a great way to preserve a piece of “largescale” history. Really looks good!

Thanks very much, Ric!

The wood supports under the feet of the arches look very nice. Bridge is still doing its spanning work with its own structural integrity, though now in a vertical dimension.

As for elevated shelf empires, with my experience it starts as a simple long straight display shelf with stud-found-and-screwed supports.

Then as soon as curiosity makes you add power to see something move on it, a door to expansion is opened that you can’t easily back out of.

It only grows into more, and eventually ends up going full circle.

The suspended span over the doorway gains attention very swiftly and easily as an engineering and design focal point. All-thread, painted square tubing, washers and several types of nuts.

All but one locomotive on the roster have navigated the line for a good amount of hours. Periodic track cleaning is all that is needed to keep it going.

Hartland Dunkirk #7 is the real motive power muscle, navigating R1 curves with ease and twin-motor gusto.

Solo and shuttle operations with various 0-4-0s works well too, running in either direction with no switches and lots of mixed sized equipment. The shaft of brightness behind is a later addition of an LED rope light from Home Depot, creating a low-sunset silhouette effect, and becoming a curious way to light the room.

Then when the lights go down in the evening, things get interesting.

Looks great Nick. Nice touch with the light rope.

Cliff Jennings said:

Looks great Nick. Nice touch with the light rope.

Thank you. It has brought lots of enjoyment to me and others, and being low cost and low maintenance is a boon. Being up high also means it remains out of the way regardless of what’s going on in the room, either with occupants or furniture.

Had I bought two of the rope lengths, they would have neatly encompassed the entire length of the shelving along the walls. Haven’t gotten around to that for whatever reason but have contemplated it several times. As it is, only 2 of 4 walls are illuminated.

Here’s the viaduct with some “moon light”. It’s just a blue LED tape, soon to be run off another motion switch.

I like that set up Cliff especially the way you reused Bruce’s bridge.

I’m interested in learning more about the magnetic chain method for holding the loads on the log cars. I did a search here but came up empty. Can anyone help me?

Thanks, Tom

Nice “preservation” project, Cliff. I really like the moonlight.

Nick, that doorway span looks like a spot begging for an inverted truss bridge (

Tom Bowdler said:

I like that set up Cliff especially the way you reused Bruce’s bridge.

I’m interested in learning more about the magnetic chain method for holding the loads on the log cars. I did a search here but came up empty. Can anyone help me?

Thanks, Tom

Tom, I’m pretty sure I saw an article by Bruce in GR, but can’t find it. Maybe someone else knows?

However, Bruce did describe the process in an MLS thread:

DefaultMaking log loads removable

I have a bunch of log skeleton cars that I made from Don Winter kits awhile back. Up until now, the skeletons have either been loaded or empty.

However, when I operate, I want them to either be loaded or empty - and I didn’t want to swap out loaded cars for empties; or vice versa.

What I needed was a way to securely hold the logs in place. Of course I already had chains to do this, but I needed a connection that would be not only strong, but also easy to connect and unconnect. And, if the chain falls off the empty, there IS a danger of it catching on a switch or something else that will derail the car. Ask me how I know. Wink

Back when I was working on operating gladhands (…ic.php?id=8589), I ordered lots of different magnet types from One of the types that didn’t work for gladhands looked like it could work for connecting the chains.

I had some 1/8" diameter x 1/4" long cylinder magnets. What makes these interesting is that they are diametrically magnetized. They stick to the sides of the cylinders rather than the ends.
Another interesting thing I discovered is that my “brass” chain was magnetic! Perfect.

I first tried some epoxy to hold the magnets to the end of the chain, but this wasn’t very secure.

So, I tried some 1/8" ID aluminum tube cut into short sections and glued the magnet inside that.

When I punched the cylinder for drilling, it squished the ends which further helps to hold the magnet in place.

I drilled a small hole and routed some “S” hooks through them.

So, two chains, with a magnet on the end of each. I put the logs in place and pull the chains tight and place the magnet against the chain.

When it’s empty, I can just coil up the chain on top and it sticks to the magnets.

It works great. When it’s loaded, I can pick up the car by just the logs and there is no slipping at all.


And here’s a pic of one of his log cars on my shelf. Both sides have their own chains, so 4 chains total, each with its own magnet. They lace up and snug the logs together perfectly.

Thanks Mick and Cliff,

That looks like a great solution so I’ll check my chain when I get home in a couple of days to see if it’s magnetic. I have some dump cars that I will adapt that technique to as well.

I met Bruce at an operations session in Canada some years back and have always enjoyed his articles in Garden Railways.