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Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 27 ) – Fiddle Yards

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project – Fiddle Yard Boards

Part Twenty Seven

Following on from part twenty six of this series, in which we looked at scenic details LX165-OO Cardboard boxes kit & one of the pallets kit, we now move on to Fiddle Yards. To add more operating capability to the layout in this articl,e we look at adding a pair of removable fiddle yard boards to our micro layout project. As some of you will already know, we’re planning to produce a number of different Fiddle Yard Boards into the micro baseboard range. We’ll be updating further news on these via our newsletter in due course.

So for our ‘Micro Layout In A Box’ project, we are going to scratch build a pair of fiddleyard boards. First of all, we had to decide upon what sort of length fiddle yard boards we needed. To give us a wider variety of train lengths, we thought best to have the fiddle yards the same length or there abouts as the BB017 baseboard, which is about 3 foot long. This allows for an example train such as a class 66 diesel & say six MEA open wagons, long enough to pass through the complete length of the BB017 baseboard. It also allows the fiddle yard boards to also fit inside the box for transportation too!

Fiddle yard board one will have two tracks at the factory end, whilst fiddle yard board two which is for the station end of the layout will have one track. The tracks will be positioned in such away, that the whole fiddle yard board can be turned around & the tracks will always align up with the tracks on the main BB017 baseboard.

The fiddle yard will be built using the same thickness MDF board as the BB017. It’ll comprise of a top board, two side board pieces, two end board pieces & one internal supporting brace piece. The pieces will be gluded together using Mitre Fast Glue which is the same glue we used in part one of this series for gluing the BB017 baseboard. The exploded diagram below shows how the parts will assemble.

Mark out the pieces on the MDF sheet material using a pen or pencil, steel ruler/tape measure to mark out the cut lines The old saying of measure twice & cut once comes into play here. Make sure the cut mark lines are straight. Use an electric jigsaw or circular saw to cut the board material. Tip to cutting a straight line is to, clamp a some form of a straight edge to the material, so you can use it as a straight edge cutting guide. You can however, if not confident in cutting straight lines, get your local DIY supplier or timber merchants to cut the material for you. For the two end pieces & internal center brace pieces you’ll need to knock off the total thickness of the two side pieces off the width measurement.

To assemble, start off by gluing the two end pieces to the top board. Use a 90 degree set sqaure to help position the end board pieces true & square to the top board. Once happy both pieces are square & true, glue both the inside of the joint. as shown in the diagram below.

Next, position & glue one of the long sides into place. Again using the 90 degree set sqaure to help position the long side wall piece to make sure it sits square to the top board. Once happy both pieces are square & true, glue both the edge & inside of the joint. As shown in the diagram below.

Now, position the center support piece in some where around the middle of the board. Again using the 90 degree set sqaure to help position the long side wall piece to make sure it sits square to the top board & side board sections. Once happy it’s square & true, glue both the edges & along inside of the joints. As shown in the diagram below.

Next glue & fit the remaining long side piece to complete the box. Again, make sure that the piece sits true flush & square to the the other parts of the fiddle yard board. The two photos below, show the completed board viewed from both the under side & top side.

Like the BB017 baseboard, we’re again using Gaugemaster GM251 corksheet underlay. This raises the track to match the same height as the the track already laid on the BB017 baseboard.

As before, apply glue such as PVA glue to the rear side of the cork strip & place into position upon the fiddle yard board as shown in the photo below. Place some heavy items on to the cork strip to hold it flat against the baseboard whilst the glue sets. Once the glue has set, remove the heavy items. The cork strip should be flat with no bumps.

As we are laying more or less a straight track run, we’ll again be using a Tracksetta track laying tool, this time the TAOOT10 straight track track template. Available here (if out of stock give our telesales a call to place an order):

This track laying tool is one item that we’ve used on countless layout projects over the years & highly recommend it for your track laying tool kit. Tracksetta also offer various range of curved track teemplates too!

Again as before we’ll be using a small hand held twist drill, small drill bit ( to make a similar size hole for the track pins), plyers, Track pins & rail joiners. As shown in the photos below. 

The track we’re using is Peco code 100 streamline flexi track. In the photo, we’ve fitted the rail joiners & have connected it to the track on the BB017 baseboard. Taking the Tracksetta straight track template tool, we’ve laid it over the track joint. This keeps the track on the fiddle yard board straight & true so it lines up with the existing track work on the BB017.

The sleeper marked by the orange arrow will be temporarily drilled & pinned to the board. It’ll be replaced later by a copper clad sleeper & the rails soldered to the sleeper for more robust strength to prevent any damage from moving the track. 


The next job is to drill a hole at a equal distance apart for the track pins. The orange arrows show which sleepers we are drilling the track pin holes in below. The track pin hole needs to be in the center of the sleeper (2nd photo below).


Using a thin nosed pair of plyers, grip the track pin & carefully push the track pin into the drilled hole till the pin head reaches the sleeper. Don’t push the track pin down that hard so it bends the the sleeper! Alternatively you can use a pin pusher tool to insert the track pin into the drilled hole in the sleeper.

The fiddle yard board for the factory end after the track had been laid & pinned.

The next job now that we’ve fitted & laid the trackwork on the fiddle yard boards, is to fit the baseboard aligment dowels. A quick search on the internet brought up various suitable baseboard alignment dowel hardware. An order duly placed, the aligment dowels arrived a few days later. For the baseboard join we need one female socket dowel & one male dowel. You can see a pair of dowels in the photo below. 

With the fiddle yard baseboard track connected up to the main baseboard, the fiddle yard baseboard is temporily clamped to the main baseboard with a pair of G clamps. Make sure that the both baseboards & track are true & sqaure to each other at this stage.

Drill a pilot hole in the centre of the baseboard end as shown in the photo below.

Having drilled a pilot hole, drill a suitable sized hole to take the dowels. Here we’re using a 1omm drill bit which is just a fraction smaller than the actual dowel, this gives us a tight friction fit hole for the dowel.

Carefully tap the female socket dowel into the hole on the BB017 baseboard untill it’s more or less flush with the baseboard side. Make sure it’s square & true to the baseboard.

Now carefully tap the male dowel into the hole on the fiddle yard baseboard until the wider shoulder is more or less flush with the baseboard side (as shown with the arrow in the image below). Make sure it’s square & true to the baseboard.

We’ve also used glue (Mitre Fast Glue) on the back of the dowels where they enter the baseboard to make sure they are permently fixed in place. The photo below shows one of the fiddle yard baseboards ready for use.

Now butt up the fiddle yard baseboard up to the BB017 baseboard. The dowel should locate straight into the socket dowel, the tracks will or should fit straight into the rail joiners. (we’ll be looking at in a future article another method of track alignment across the baseboard join.) The photo below shows the baseboard & fiddle yard connected. 

Now that we’ve got the fiddle yard boards built & connected up, time for the 1st test run as a fully working layout. In the video clip on the right can be seen the very 1st test run of the layout using the fiddle yard boards. The class 121 DMU is an old Lima model that has been converted to DCC & fitted with an Express Models lighting kit. 

At the time of writing, the layout has had it’s 1st outing as a working layout at the Stafford show. Pleased to report it ran very well across the whole weekend. It’s next outing will be the 3 day show at the Glasgow SECC at the end of Febuary 2020. If you can make it to the show we hope to see you there.


Happy Modelling 

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  1. wicky0570

    Another very informative article. Do you know if Justin has any plans to make fiddle yards as an add on product in the future? I could make some but they probably would not be that good and would definitely wobble a bit!!

    • Iain

      Thank you Martin 🙂 Yes we have ad on fiddle yard boards in the planned production of upcoming releases. We’ll update in due course via the newsletter.

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