I have an N-scale model train (N-scale is about half the size of HO scale). It's so small I could set up an entire layout on something the size of a coffee table. Put a glass top over it and I could use it as a coffee table. Problem is that people bump into coffee tables and whenever they do, the train will jump off the track, and I'll have to take the lid back off in order to put the train back on the track. So I'm wondering if I could make a shockproof mounting for this small model train layout.

  • $\begingroup$ Springs? Pendulum? Electric fence around the table? Magnets? What kind of restrictions do you have? $\endgroup$
    – hazzey
    Nov 7, 2016 at 0:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ best bet may be simply to make the table really heavy $\endgroup$
    – agentp
    Nov 7, 2016 at 1:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Building on @agentp's idea, float the train platform in a pool of mercury, held in alignment by weak springs at the corners. What could possibly go wrong? $\endgroup$
    – Dave Tweed
    Nov 7, 2016 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ Is there no concern of the glass breaking if someone bumps it hard enough to derail the train? I vote for @hazzey 's idea, or maybe barbed wire. $\endgroup$
    – Chuck
    Nov 7, 2016 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ A pool of mercury! Brilliant! And shiny! $\endgroup$ Dec 4, 2016 at 16:56

2 Answers 2


Build two tables. The outer table will have a hole in the middle and only hold the glass plate. There should be about 10 cm of free space between the tables. The train will be placed on the inner table:

  ================== <-- glass plate
   ||   ______   ||
   ||  ||    ||  ||  <-- train platform
   ||  ||    ||  ||

This way people won't bump the inner table directly, and hitting the outer table will serve as an early warning. Then after a bump, you just have to move the outer table a bit to re-center it.


How much money do you have? You could buy, for example, an air-suspension table such as those sold for optical lab work.

You could make the table out of half-inch forged iron and bolt it thru the floor to the foundation, and then isolate the train/track setup with some rubber pads.

But if you want a "sensible" coffeetable and don't want to mortgage your house to do the isolation, there's not much you can do. Us old folks remember going thru this to keep our Thorens or KLH turntables from skipping when someone jumped up and down. The problem is that stereo turntable arms, like HO-gauge railroad cars, are extremely light and have a very small acceptable range of motion before jumping the groove or track.


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