My layout is a bit more than a typical "switching"(only) type layout, but it definitely qualifies as a shelf layout. It is based on an old (January & February 1977) Model Railroader Magazine article titled "Bookshelf Railroads."
Hi Traction Fan, Thanks for posting pictures of your layout. I plan on covering my switching layout also, to install blue lighting for night time switching.
Your idea of adding a top to support lighting is a good one. Many larger layouts have lighting hidden behind a "valence" board running along the ceiling. My own smaller layout has a miniature valence at the front of the top. The top on my layout supports a lot more than lights. The original design was based on using that top as a shelf to support many books. My collection of train books & magazines, some video tapes, a VCR (yes I still have one! :smilie_auslachen: ) and a TV set (the old style with a picture tube!) are all on that shelf. That's a whole lot of weight, which is the reason for the arches shown in the first photo of my earlier response. They make the top super strong.
Nighttime operation can add a lot of interest, and blue "night" lighting is a good idea. Actually I have blue "nighttime" and white "daytime" LED lighting behind the valence on each of my layout sections. It doesn't show in the photos I sent last time, but the first one below does show one of several strips of LEDs that light one of my end loop sections. It's at the top left, directly above the lighthouse and cottage.
I used several coats of Tamiya clear blue model paint as a glass stain on the LED strips for "night" lighting. I mounted alternating day, and night, light strips along the valence.
The high intensity LED strips I used were taken from a 14" round ceiling light fixture made by a company called "Lights of America" I bought several of these fixtures at my local Costco store. They haven't been seen in the store for quite awhile, but they may be available online. The LED strips from this particular lighting fixture are ideal for model railroad lighting. They're small, very bright, and produce little heat. I mounted the LED strip circuit boards on pieces of aluminum angle that I straightened from 90 degrees, to approx. 45 degrees, by beating it with a hammer against a vise. I used thermal compound between the LED circuit board and the aluminum angle, so it serves as a heat sink as well as a physical mount and light reflector.
If you decide to do this, make sure you get the same make of ceiling fixture. Home Depot sells a similar size and price fixture that does not produce anything like the same amount of light. It uses different LEDs which are not mounted in strips, or on circuit boards. In short, it won't work for layout lighting.
The photos below show the box the ceiling fixture comes in, the LED strip circuit board, a section of modified aluminum angle, and the round white plastic-cased "driver" from the ceiling fixture. This driver converts 120vac house current to the 50vdc used to power the LED strip arrays. One driver powers four strips wired in series. I use 120v light dimmer wall switches to power the drivers. Two dimmer switches mechanically linked, knob-to-knob, let me dim the white day strips while simultaneously bringing up the blue night strips. Perhaps I should have used more blue light for the "nighttime" view of the lighthouse. That photo's pretty dark. Although if I had powered up the lights in the structures then it might look OK. I considered orange sunset/sunrise lights, but decided that was a bit too much, at least for now.
Good luck, Have fun!
Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos: