Friday, June 19, 2015

Micro-improvements to the O-Gauge Zen Garden

The  Lionel microwave tower
was ideal for the small space
I had for it.
One of the challenges with my O-gauge Zen garden is its size. Most basic O-gauge layouts are at least 4' x 8' -- the standard size of a wood panel.

I'm not sure why my childhood layout was built on a 3' x 5' piece. Perhaps it was left over from some other home improvement job? But whatever the reason, it left very little space for track, and especially for scenery.

I'm not complaining. The bigger the layout, the bigger the time and money commitment. Having something very small suits my needs just fine. And I actually like the closeness of the layout. Like real-world industrial rail yards, real estate is at a premium and buildings are as close together as they can be. 

I'm always looking for ways to add to the layout, though. And right now, the only way to go is up. And so I started looking for tall, skinny things to add.

Now there are already a water tower and an aircraft beacon on the layout, so whatever I found had to complement rather than compete with those structures. At a recent train show, I found the ideal addition -- a microwave tower.

Lionel/MPC created the microwave tower in the 1970's. Not only is it tall with a small footprint, but it lights up as well. I placed it in a roughly diagonal line with the water tower and the beacon. The microwave tower is the shorter of the three, so visually there's a nice progression in height as one looks across the layout.

And because this is a relay tower, I was careful to orient it in a way that kept the parabolic reflectors parallel to the mountain. In the real world, having such a relay tower facing a mountain wouldn't make any sense (unless there was another tower at the base of it -- which isn't the case here).. 

It's a minor detail, but one that was important to me.

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