Refurbish Project – Sluice

One of the facts of life is that things need to be cleaned and maintained if you expect to get continued use out of them. Our train layouts, indoors or in the garden, are not exempt from this odious fact.

1-ACoutsideunitSo while I acknowledge this need for layout maintenance I often neglect the “doing” part until other circumstances force me to take action. In this case, the annual maintenance on my split system air conditioner, the outside part of same sits right in the corner of my layout. I needed to clear out the accumulation of dead leaves and remove the condensation drain line.

Here you see a picture from 2006 showing the AC unit and the PVC pipe that carries the condensation line from the house to a yard drain.

2-original_afterIn 2007 I “hid” that PVC pipe inside a sluice so it appeared that water from an abandoned mine was flowing under the trestle. See Hiding Things in Plain Sight. Here you can see the sluice running from the fake mine mountain and emptying into the yard drain. When the AC unit is running there’s a solid trickle of water flowing into the drain.

To properly service and perform maintenance on the outside AC unit requires that the mine mountain be removed as well as the PVC pipe that is hidden/disguised as a sluice. The once small camphor tree (which grows several feet a year) now inundates the trestle area with leaves and I had neglected raking them out.  And as long as I was removing the sluice I figured it was time for some long overdue refurbishing of the sluice itself.


Here you see the before picture. The sluice was made from common redwood fence boards and left unpainted or treated in any way. It naturally weathered and grayed over about 18 months.



5-movablemountainFirst, I removed the windmill and mine platform, then lifted out the mine mountain itself.





Next I removed all the supports that had broken off and starting at the drain end started removing the sluice sections. The sluice is sectional and slides over the half-inch PVC pipe.




Here you see the sections with their supports stacked on a table. Several bits and pieces have worked loose and/or come unglued over the last few years so some refurbishing will need to be done in the shop before reinstalling the sluice.





With the sluice removed the PVC pipe can be removed and the area can be raked clear of the leaves. Clearing old leaves from the trestle can be tricky and time consuming. Here you see the cleared area with the pipe reinstalled so water does not collect next to the house.


As often happens, when performing this maintenance another problem was discovered. The camphor tree roots have shifted the base that the trestle nearest the tree is attached to and raised it nearly a half inch. This has caused an uneven track surface that is threatening to derail trains as they come off the turn and onto the truss bridge. Refurbishing the trestle is a topic for another time. –TJ

(Originally posted 7/13/2012)

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