Here's something I found with google (raising lowering model layout) :
There were other hits you may want to look at.
FWIW, I remember seeing an article about a suspended layout in a garage
about 25 years ago, but I can't recall where.
I recall a couple of articles, back in the 50s IIRC. I found them in
back issues which I bought in the early 60s (and which I no longer
have.) I read them carefully, as at the time the suspended layout seemed
to me a possible solution to the space problem. But I didn't build one
-- engineering a suspension and lifting mechanism that works smoothly
and reliably is not simple. The basic principle (counter balance weights
attached to cords running over pulleys and attached to the layout) is
simple. The devil is in the details.
The more obvious problems:
1) The layout framing must be stiff enough not to buckle or sag when it
is lifted or resting on its (temporary) legs. That means either extra
weight, or egg-crate style construction of the frame.
2) Layouts are not evenly balanced, so that there must be access to the
weights, to add and subtract chunks of whatever you're using.
3) Weights must move smoothly within their guides, without jamming.
4) When the layout is down, it must be stabilised, but legs must be
5) The layout must stay level as it is raised or lowered, otherwise
rolling stock will, well, roll.
6) Aesthetics: Unless the layout is in a garage, it must be finished
underneath so that it looks OK, when raised - and that adds more weight.
The weight guides may need cabinet work around them for a finished look.
The above indicate why there hasn't been much reported on suspended
layouts - very few have been built. People have found that shelf layouts
are generally a better solution - they take little space, and provide an
opportunity for storage space underneath.
Many years ago when I was a teenager we lived in a house with an
unfinished basement. I had a 4x8 HO layout on saw horses in one corner
of the basement. I bought some pulleys, attached them to the rafters and
the 4x8. I ran clothes line through the pulleys and ran the ends to one
end of the 4x8. I could then raise and lower the 4x8 from one end pretty
smooth. When it was down it rested on the saw horses and when up the saw
horses could be stacked to one side making the space useable for
something else. Worked pretty well. Obviously I didn't have any tall
structures on the layout. I could have put something about 10 inches
tall in the right place so when the table was raised the structure would
be between the rafters. If I had to do again I would not attach the
pulleys permantly to the table. I would put some eye hooks in the table
and hook the pulleys to the eye hooks. Then when down I could unhook the
pulleys and raise them up out of the way.
It is doable so go for it and have fun.
Here's an example
A friend would like some insight into how to make a suspended layout -
as in, from the ceiling, to be raised and lowered as needed.
I know I have seen this in MR but the on-line index is no help, or I
am uing the wrong keywords.
My first layout was a suspended one. Started with clothsline but quickly
found that that stuff stretches! Replaced it with some of the finest
aircraft cable (1/8") and things were a lot better after the cable got
If you wish to make the layout lift, you need to make a big drum where all
of the lifting cables can go around without layering over previous turns.
You also need to counterbalance the layout so that the forces on the drum
are not high. Seperate lifting and counterbalance cables are most
rmay at nethere.com
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http: slash /bobmay dot astronomy.net
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