Approaching the deadline I set myself to have my layout completed, I finally did a major project I had been putting off since the beginning. I added the clear perspex panel to the front of my layout.
|The custom-cut sheet of clear perspex came covered in protective paper.|
For some reason or other, I had imagined that the cost of having a 1.83 metre long 3 mm thick piece of clear acrylic panel custom cut to order would come as a shock to the system. As it turned out, thanks to the boys at ASAP Plastics in Caloundra, it only cost me $25.
|I first test-fitted the perspex panel before removing the protective paper.|
Getting it home and up the 5 flights of stairs to my apartment, the next thing I was worried about was my own measurements. Although I had triple-checked the height and length required with my wife patiently holding the other end of the measuring tape, I was unsure about the actual depth of the channels that I had built to hold my reversible backdrop in place almost 12 months earlier. As I discovered when adding the painted sky blue backdrop, the combination of 5 coats of stain and varnish to the layout base, plus the sky blue acrylic paint used on the backdrop lessens the amount of play to slide the panels into place. So before removing the protective paper film from the perspex, I slid the panel into position to test it. It had been cut millimetre perfect!
|The perspex is held in place within the stained timber channel frame I built into the layout frame.|
As you can see in the above photo, the 3 mm perspex panel is held in place by a 5 mm wide timber channel frame that was built into place when constructing my bookshelf layout. Finally, almost 12 months later, the channels now hold the clear perspex in place, and my layout is finally dust-free!
|The reflectivity causes problems with photography, but will keep my model railway safe and dust-free.|
In person, the layout now resembles a museum quality display cabinet. However, I immediately noticed the reflective problems it presents when it comes to photography. While the perspex can easily be slid up and removed when I want to work on a model, clean the track or indulge in some rather complicated shunting operations, the bank-teller-like safety-screen I envisioned this being when it comes to taking it to model train shows, is going to cause viewing problems to the general public. So I dare say when on display, the perspex is going to have to be removed, leaving my expensive models at the mercy of over-inquisitive hands. At home however, especially in an ocean-side apartment overlooking the sea in Caloundra, at least my layout is going to be protected from dust, nosey visitors who want to poke at everything with their fingers, and that awful fine salt spray that seems to build up on our windows and even the TV screen. My track can now stay cleaner longer, and I finally feel safe to leave my models sitting on the track at the station, and proudly on display rather than tucked away in their boxes when they're not being 'played with' as my wife likes to call it.
What the clear perspex front does bring into question, is the top lid. Maybe once my staging tracks that will disappear through the mouse-hole door are complete, I may revisit the lid and see if I can replace it with a more durable varnished timber piano-style top. But for now, I'm happy to know that my small layout is now completely dust-free and almost finished.
See also; Replacing legs with panels and Let's build reversible backdrops