Yes, I’m still unpacking. The boxes of stuff have slowed my modeling progress as I often need to find some part or reference to keep moving forward. Most of those items remain in moving boxes. My frustration levels grow each time I need to find something. Remember that final scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? Yeah. You get it.

I needed to unpack boxes, but where do I put the stuff? I decided to build shelf units that will fit under the future layout benchwork.

I sketched out a unit with basic dimensions. I reused studs we removed from a wall in a recent dining room and kitchen project. The studs were sanded and cut for the 42-inch tall legs. The shelf 1x4s came from wood crates that were made to move our glass table tops. Enough pieces were 22-inches long for a shelf width. Many more were 24-inches or longer for a wider unit.

The 2×2 supporting the shelf levels came from light poles I made for the last time the layout was set up. The only purchased parts are the aluminum bar stock used as X bracing on the back side and plastic sliders under the legs.

The first unit assembled easily. My trusty Craftsman mitre saw came back into action for the cutting work.

As expected, the first unit filled quickly. A second shelf unit was built to similar specs. That one has also filled and I have enough remaining salvaged lumber to build a third. These type of projects take away from modeling time but have long term benefits.

Now I need to focus on improving the workbench organization. The flat area filled up with stuff as I opened boxes and built some models. Time to mop it up.

All through these projects, I kept hearing my father’s voice. He used the expression, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place” over the years. It’s one of those things that stays with you.

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11 thoughts on “Organizing”

  1. Neat to be able to use salvaged material and that is a good point about the time taken now having long term benefits.

  2. Eric, I feel your pain, I have moved 24 times since I got out of the Navy back in ’68 and each time has been an adventure. Of course the early moves up until 1980 or so were smaller and easier to pack and un pack. The move in 2007 no one wanted the layout so I had to pay a guy to put it on his truck and take it to the dump for over a $300 dump fee. That was the last sizable layout.
    Keep building and thanks for sharing.

  3. Looks familiar! I’m a textbook case for the “Save-it, I think I could use it someday, maybe… if I can still find it” Syndrome. Fortunately, the space beneath the layout can store a lot of… stuff!

  4. For model railroad cars and locomotives (kit or assembled), I have used “Banker Box” paper records storage boxes for storage. They can be stacked on top of each other. Since they have lids rather than flaps for closing the top, access is easy (no folding one flap inside another flap for closure). This concept works for things for which frequent access is not a factor.

    These boxes come in different structural strengths. For car kits, the minimum strength boxes have served me well for over 30 years. For assembled cars with added weights, you may want to consider a medium or strong strength box because of the added weight of the individual models. For locomotives, consider using the strong strength boxes.- to handle the weight of individual locomotives.

    Currently, because I have sorted kits by manufacturer, I have taped labels of the contents on the side of the box that is visible when stacked.

    I am in the process of numbering all of the boxes and putting on spreadsheets, inventory programs or database programs (locomotives, passenger cars. freight cars) or in a a description of each kit or assembled model and in which box the item is stored. The same approach can be used to capture data on model railroad parts.

    There are several existing inventory or database software products that can be used for this purpose instead of using a spreadsheet, and these products generally permit capturing additional information about each model than most of us would initially consider doing. Check to see if
    — The software is compatible with your computer software (Apple vs. PC, etc.)
    — Cost (initial and updates)
    — Instruction manuals
    — there is any vendor support
    — if the contents can be downloaded into a spreadsheet (in case the vendor goes out of business, etc.)

    There may be other considerations in selecting software, but I have not explored this matter in any depth.

  5. After my wife’s death in Apri, I accepted an offer from my oldest son to buid a guest house on acreage in Hico Texas. At the beginning of June I sold our home in Delaware in 3 days and moved out when the deal closed on July 14. As I was downsizing,I had to sort through almost 54 years of stuff. A local thrift shop and an annual. Summer church bazaar benefitted mightly as did the local waste transfer station and recycling operation.

    I had previously invested in 4′ tall Ikea Ivar shelf units to support sectional layout units and provide storage under the layout – they are much like what you have built and the lumber material quality exceeds anything at the big box stores.
    A new layout will emerge from all the boxes that have been in storage in a new RR layout room in 2024.
    I am looking forward to the task and rediscovering what is in the boxes some of which were packed 10 years ago.
    Model on!

  6. Hi Eric,

    Best of luck with finishing your move and setting up a new layout. The new shelves look as nice as my Ikea units, in fact your hand made units look even better. As for storage boxes, since I am mostly an armchair modeler these days -although I have some benchwork up along two walls in the spare bedroom- I decided a few years back to make a data base of everything I own. In addition, I also began printing out a 8×10 full paper labels listing everything within each specific box and taping them on accordingly. This does not include every box but about 60% of them. I started with boxes including high end brass, resin kits, steam locomotives, specific tools, C&O detail kits or C&O rolling stock… all of which are now easy to find and also easy to pack up again.

    Sadly I still have 6-10 boxes -including two larger rolling stock boxes- just filled with Intermountain, Proto2000, Rapido, etc.. -mostly tank cars- but with other assorted other types of 1944 era specific rolling stock. It took a fair bit of time to put everything into the computer and also make up the box signs but it made life easier going forward. Let me note I do not have alot of equipment ccompared to other hobbyists and the larger your collection the more work this type of approach will entail.

    For the record, when I go looking in the railroad closet these days I think I have too much stuff for my next shelf layout.

  7. If you use boxes, number the boxes. Inventory your stuff on a spreadsheet. One column should indicate the storage box number where (hopefully) you can locate what you are looking for. I keep three inventory spreadsheets. 1) rolling stock, 2) structures, 3) books, dvds, etc. You could also just tape a contents list to the outside of the box, but an electronic inventory is easier to keep updated. This approach makes it easier for your heirs and for the insurance company if any of these unfortunate disasters come your way.

  8. ‘Good discussion. Beneath one’s layout indeed provides vast opportunity for storage, but it is then a hassle when one needs to get to some wiring or other layout modification. I finally installed layout shirting (using landscape burlap) using Gerry Leone’s clothespin method, but that too is a hassle in order to remove to get at stuff.

    I understand space can be at a premium, but accessible shelves near the workbench are much preferred and (hopefully) the inventory of unbuilt kits will eventually be reduced.

    1. Phil, you got it on keeping things close to the workbench. References and parts are key for my model work to keep moving forward. Except for a few kits that I want to build next, all the others are in marked boxes. Those can stay stored until I finished a kit or two and need to pick a couple for the pending pile! – Eric H.

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