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Building Lift-Outs, or Removeable Sections of Benchwork



This large lift-out section is removeable if necessary for major construction. Eventually, the panel will hold a large bridge scene. It is simply too large to be made into a lift or swing bridge.

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Offering slightly more flexibility than a duck-under, are lift-outs or removeable sections of benchwork. Although relatively easy to construct, a removeable section of railroad does offer some design challenges:

  • How to connect power to the tracks.
  • How to align the tracks.
  • Where to store the section when not in place.

As with all moveable sections, size and weight are also important issues. Lift-outs are well suited for locations that won't require frequent opening / closing. It may only need to be in place when you need to run trains, or it may stay in place most of the time and only be removed to allow access for railroad maintenance or storage spaces. Scenery-only lift-outs are also possible.

Compared to lift or swing bridges, lift-outs are more cumbersome and the routine of removing and replacing the section can become an annoyance quickly.

Construction Considerations

  • Strength: A lift-out should be sturdy enough to prevent warping or damage on or off the layout. Provisions may also be made to hang the section on the wall or benchwork when not in use.
  • Handling: Because it is removeable, the lift-out must be light and small enough to be handled safely and easily and stored when not in use.
  • Alignment: When in place, the lift-out needs to stay lined with the permanent layout. Model trains need good track alignment to run smoothly. Expansion and contraction due to seasonal temperature and humidity changes may be more noticeable with removeable sections.
  • Power: Power can be transferred to the lift-out with a plug -in connection. Several varieties are available at electronic supply stores. Another option, especially if the number of electrical connections is few, is to use conductive plates on the benchwork that will transmit power when in contact. These must of course be kept clean and remain in alignment.
  • Safety: A kill-switch to protect your trains from falling to the floor when the lift-out is removed is always a good idea with any movable section.
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