While this imaginative O-gauge layout might be very small indeed, its trolley run takes it through all four seasons of one colorful year. In addition, there are two operating, unique, hand made accessories that make this tiny layout realistic and exciting to watch, especially in a darkened room. All of it is encased within a coffee table with glass side panels and a glass top (Picture 1).
The entire layout, only 30 inches wide and 60 inches long, I divided into four separate seasonal territories; the glass top sits only 16 inches from the floor. Picture 1 is an end view which clearly shows the four sections. The dark mahogany finished wood table fits well into the decor of our den and truly functions as a table. It rolls on large hidden casters which sit inside the 6 inch frame supporting the layout board.
The 6 side panes are double strength glass while the two top panels are one quarter inch thick with beveled edges. These can be lifted off to access the tiny layout or the entire top can be removed if necessary (Picture 2).
Referring to Picture 3, there is a top frame, a middle section, and a bottom frame. Picture 4 shows how the top frame was made; two pieces of 1/4″ rounded edge glass sit atop this frame on tiny rubber nubs to keep the glass from sliding. I used dowels and glue to hold the 5 top pieces together. Inserting long screws through predrilled holes could be equally effective and a bit easier to assemble. The screws would be countersunk and then the holes filled with small round dowel caps found in any hardware store.
Below the top frame (Picture 4) you can see how I built the very bottom framework. The rectangular 5 and 1/2″ support foundation, which holds the casters, was made so it would just slide inside of the 1 and 1/2″ bottom frame. Once again, I used dowels but screws could be used. The dotted line shows where the 1/2″ layout board itself sits.
The middle section that holds the 6 pieces of double strength window glass I assembled according to Picture 5. Using a regular table saw, I grooved all of the 1 & 1/2″ wood for the glass panes. If assembled according to the diagram, none of the groves in any of the pieces can be seen because both the bottom and the top frames overlap to cover them.
The entire top with its glass can be lifted down and over the layout after you’ve finished detailing whatever scenery you wish to build (Picture 2). Since this top it is not permanently connected to the bottom the layout is very accessible. You can see this middle section sitting behind the bottom foundation frame if you look closely.
Look for the rest of this article shortly. It will be titled Trolley Layout in a Glass Coffee Table-2.