Years ago, we built a pretty cool 'N' gauge train set. The thing is, the building of it is the fun part, playing with it is well, dull. I decided it would be a fun project to build another, but put it in a table. I think most tables are dull, too, so this would make the table more interesting.

The first stage was to find a table, which I got at IKEA.

This table has a glass top already, so I don't have to cut it out, and a drawer that the train set can sit in. Outstanding, but it's only 3.5" deep, so I had to be careful not to make things too tall.

I then built a base out of left over IKEA laminate flooring. This just about fits in the drawer of the table, and has a tab of duct tape

on the end to allow me to lift it out :o)

I figured that it couldn't be much more complex than a basic loop, as there really isn't enough space. I decided I wanted a bridge over a river, and tunnels, so I built up the areas the track runs through to allow this. Everything was then screwed down. The gap at the back is where the bridge runs - I'd already built this, so I knew it'd fit. The uprights alongside the the raised areas will allow me to put a "roof" over these areas.

I got a fair amount done, and even glued down all of the cork that the track runs on. I put a bit of the track down, and then had a sudden thought - the cork hadn't factored into my measurements with the bridge clearing the lid of the table. I measured everything, and it didn't look like it was going to fit. I took it and tried it, and sure enough it was a teeny bit too high. Bugger. I took out all of the uprights and raised parts, and redid everything so that the bridge would rest on the base, rather than be lifted. I figured I could add the uprights when I had all of the track laid correctly. Of course, then I was out of cork, and I broke some of the track lifting it, so I needed to make another run to the modelling shop. Oh well...

This just kept getting better... Chloe was crashing around the garage, as she did, and knocked over the mountain bike. I watched it as it fell, in slow motion, onto the train set. The base was broken, the track was broken, and the built up pieces were detached. I got to more or less start over :o(

I glued the base back together, and used bungees to keep some tension on them overnight, so that hopefully they'll be strong enough.

I then glued the raised parts back on, and clamped them in place.

Once the van arrived, I lost the space to work on the train set for a while. I'd also figured that the train'd never get around the corners for the bridge, and I sort of lost interest a lot at

that point.

When Dad was over, we decided to make a new start on everything... we figured that the bridge needed to be on one of the long straights, and that we'd have a single tunnel area. Having marked out the track, we started building up the landscape using newspaper and plaster of Paris impregnated cloth - yes, the stuff they build casts out of.

We then put the track down, and some wire over the tunnel area to hold the roof up.

We then set about finishing the landscape, including the roof over the tunnel.

We added a load of little scrub bushes where the colouring is thin, and a couple of houses.

I added more landscaping, the people, and made a shelf to hold a 9.6V radio control car battery under the hill.

It lives! Then it was just a matter of putting it in the table.

The train occasionally derails on one of the corners, but I think that's due to the track join there. I'll look at smoothing the join, and it'll be finished :o)