The MegaDrawer

(a.k.a. The Bakersfield Staging Yard)

A wise model railroader once said You can never have too much staging!

Eric Eggel, one of our most productive members had a bright idea one work night shortly after helping Dave Griffy put together some steel benchwork.

Realizing that the C-channel was was a bit like an Erector set for grown-ups, Eric started planning a movable staging yard to expand the car storage at the club below the lower level. Dubbed the MegaDrawer, as in Godzilla vs. MegaDrawer, this project got started in the summer of 2002.

CLICK HERE to see a video of the MegaDrawer in action!

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of Eric’s PCR Spring 2003 MiniMeet presentation.

Below is a quick photo of the staging drawer in action. This photo was taken during the March 2003 PCR NMRA MiniMeet. As you can see, it is very easy to spot cars in staging when the drawer is open. The SVL folks in the background should probably have waited until the drawer is closed to spot cars in the upper level yard.

Building the MegaDrawer

Eric started by building a free rolling table using some B-Line C-channel and brackets, nuts, bolts, and miscellaneous collection parts acquired at the Home Depot.

After the table was assembled, his mind turned to coming up with a way to MOVE the yard in and out underneath the layout. Another Member brought down a spare electric winch one night, and the wheels began to turn (literally) inside Eric’s head.

Using a set of carefully placed pulleys inside the drawer, Eric created a system which allowed the winch, those pulleys, a set of springs to move the megadrawer in and out. Eric’s family is from Switzerland, and now doubt his boyhood experiences riding gondolas into the mountains had something to do with the design.

After much trials and tribulation, the drawer was wired up and was able to be easily controlled by a single rocking switch. Getting the drawer to always return “home” was the next problem Eric had to face. The unmodified mechanism may have been strong enough to move the heavy benchwork around, but it lacked the precision alignment Eric wanted.

Eric solved the problem by creating a system which used large metal rods to pull the mechanism into alignment when it was within a centimeter or so of being fully lined up.

Finally, after tuning the mechanism a plywood top was added and many feet of recycled Atlas Code 100 flextrack was installed. Turnouts in this yard are controlled using stall motors and mechanical linkages salvaged from the previous SVL layout.

As you can see by some of the construction photos, Eric was not the only SVL member who worked on the megadrawer. Chris Erickson spent a great deal of time intertwined with the machine, and David Griffy offered sage advice when it came to selecting limit switches and electrical equipment. Chris, Eric, and Josh installed the trackwork.

Today, the Bakersfield staging area is the largest storage area for rolling stock on the SVL system.

Gifted Engineer or Evil Genius?