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So much for that benchwork idea

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So much for that benchwork idea
Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:50 PM

Made a mockup of what I was planning to mount the benchwork, vertical pieces that would be lagged to the studs, horizontal pieces of 3/4" birch plywood attached to the verticals with right angle brackets.

 While my horizontal piece is a full 4' long and the longest on the layout will be 2', there seems to be too much deflection. I don;t have any way to attach a vertical right now, so I actually tested it by placing the vertical ont he floor and standing on it. Still, when applying force no more than 2 feet up, there was what I would consider too much defelection. It seems to be in the brackets. Perhaps I need to find something thicker.

This is what I used:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/USP-1-7-16-in-18-Gauge-Wood-to-Wood-G90-Galvanized-Framing-Angle/3692070

 

With just one, there was deflection and twisting. Putting on the second one stopped the twisting.

Seems like maybe if I drive some screws in from the back it would help.

Or maybe I just need to use a different sort of bracket.

I do NOT want any sort of bracket that sits above or below the horizontal piece like a shelf - I do not want to half to cut and fit the backdrop every 16" to clear the brackets. And while an occasional leg might be acceptable on the lower level, this won;t work for the upper deck. The top cap, I see no problem, there won;t be much weight in there, just the light strips to light the upper deck.

On the plus side - I pushed pretty hard at the full 4 foot end of the horizontal piece and the screrws did not pull out, nor did I hear any ominous cracking of the wood. so short of an elephant standing on it, it should be plenty strong enough, I just have to get the deflection under control.

                                --Randy

 


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Posted by BMMECNYC on Sunday, February 16, 2020 9:10 PM

Put a 1" stand off on either side of the bracket for the backdrop, that way you dont need to make cuts.  

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Posted by Don Z on Sunday, February 16, 2020 11:17 PM

Randy,

First, I want to make sure I understand what you're trying to solve. Are you talking about your upper deck only when you say you want no brackets above or below the deck?
What type of walls are you working with? Open studs? Sheetrock? How deep do you want to build the upper deck if that's what we're trying to solve?

I have an idea for you but I'll hold it until I make sure I'm on the same page as you...
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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, February 17, 2020 5:03 AM

Randy, I am not sure that I am visualizing your construction method correctly, but what about using angle irons for the 2' horizontals?

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 17, 2020 7:02 AM

 See my thread on basement rebuilding - I'm working with studs covered with sheetrock. Yes, all those nice new walls and I'm going to put holes in them.

2 decks of approximately equal depth, plus a top valence for lighting for the upper deck. I don't want shelf breackets for the upper deck, ala Tony Koester, who then had to notch his backdrop to fit around said brackets. I'll do it if I have to, if no other way really presents itself. Most of it is 18" deep or less, but the yard is going to be 24" deep (yard is on the lower level).

 I wanted to avoid legs on the lower level, but if needed, I can put some in on the wider parts.

 What I put together to test is one piece of 3/4" plywood which would get bolted to the studs, and a second piece attached sticking out horizontally- much the same as any number of benchwork pictures that are out there. Since fasteners into the end grain of even 11 and 13 ply birch (the real stuff, no cheap cores with a thin birch veneer on the outer layers) are not going to have much holding power, I used some right angle brackets to that all screws go into the face of the two pieces of plywood.

I did have an idea that if I make the vertical an L shape with 2 pieces of plywood, I will remove the flex. Perhaps screwing the horizontal to the flange of the L with a bracket on the open side would be sturdier.

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, February 17, 2020 7:18 AM

Having thought about this.  That middle wall you built will likely come down in the event of reselling your house.  You seem conscious of that, and a prospective buyer would likely want the basement to be more open rather than having a wall bisecting the big space.  You might want to think of that wall as being a bit disposable if/when you ever dispose of the layout.

Can you simply cut out a ribbon of drywall, horizontally on each side of the wall, say, 3.5 inches tall, enough to slide through and attach horizontal 1xs to each stud?  Making sort of a T if looking at the wall studs.

They would serve as joists for the upper decks.  Two 18 inch deep decks would take a 39.5 inch 1x4...placed 16 inches apart on each wall stud.   Four screws should keep them stable, especially if there is one on each stud, and the decks would also be in balance.  The drywalled wall would serve as the backdrop, at least along the straight parts.  Attach facia to the end of each 1x.  Seems like easy construction.

If 1x4 is too tall, I'd wager that 1x3s would be sufficient to hold the decks without sagging.  Even 1x2s.  Having one on each 16 inch spaced stud spreads out the weight, and keeping the decks shallow would also help.  Maybe ripped plywood would be more stable.

Or aluminum or steel boxed channel that RailandSail used on parts of his layout.

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, February 17, 2020 8:03 AM

rrinker

 See my thread on basement rebuilding - I'm working with studs covered with sheetrock. Yes, all those nice new walls and I'm going to put holes in them.

rrinker

Made a mockup of what I was planning to mount the benchwork, vertical pieces that would be lagged to the studs, horizontal pieces of 3/4" birch plywood attached to the verticals with right angle brackets.

So, if the walls have sheetrock over the studs, your lagging method would involve screwing those right angle plates through the sheetrock into the backing stud and then a vertical piece would be screwed into the other side of the right angle bracket?

Rich

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Posted by gregc on Monday, February 17, 2020 9:25 AM

what about using shelf brackets?

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 17, 2020 10:10 AM

richhotrain

 

 
rrinker

 See my thread on basement rebuilding - I'm working with studs covered with sheetrock. Yes, all those nice new walls and I'm going to put holes in them.

 

 

 

 
rrinker

Made a mockup of what I was planning to mount the benchwork, vertical pieces that would be lagged to the studs, horizontal pieces of 3/4" birch plywood attached to the verticals with right angle brackets.

 

 

So, if the walls have sheetrock over the studs, your lagging method would involve screwing those right angle plates through the sheetrock into the backing stud and then a vertical piece would be screwed into the other side of the right angle bracket?

 

Rich

 

 No, the vertical piece would be screwed into the studs, and then the horizontals are attached to the vertical using the right angle brackets. Like ribs to a backbone.

                         --Randy

 


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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 17, 2020 10:16 AM

Doughless

Having thought about this.  That middle wall you built will likely come down in the event of reselling your house.  You seem conscious of that, and a prospective buyer would likely want the basement to be more open rather than having a wall bisecting the big space.  You might want to think of that wall as being a bit disposable if/when you ever dispose of the layout.

Can you simply cut out a ribbon of drywall, horizontally on each side of the wall, say, 3.5 inches tall, enough to slide through and attach horizontal 1xs to each stud?  Making sort of a T if looking at the wall studs.

They would serve as joists for the upper decks.  Two 18 inch deep decks would take a 39.5 inch 1x4...placed 16 inches apart on each wall stud.   Four screws should keep them stable, especially if there is one on each stud, and the decks would also be in balance.  The drywalled wall would serve as the backdrop, at least along the straight parts.  Attach facia to the end of each 1x.  Seems like easy construction.

If 1x4 is too tall, I'd wager that 1x3s would be sufficient to hold the decks without sagging.  Even 1x2s.  Having one on each 16 inch spaced stud spreads out the weight, and keeping the decks shallow would also help.  Maybe ripped plywood would be more stable.

Or aluminum or steel boxed channel that RailandSail used on parts of his layout.

 

 Funny thing is, that extra wall is the one palce where there will NOT be layout on both sides, at the same level. So running something straight through would not work. Plus along one side of that, the enclosed side, it will be 18" or less, on the outside, by the stairs it will be a small branch line, barely more than 12" wide benchwork. And only one deck, for the branch, so shelf brackets underneath for the track deck, and simply screwing frames to the studs for supporting the light strips (LED strips, very little weight), for the upper section.

 The part that will be 24" wide with the yard, is along the exterior wall to the bottom of my plan. 

 It might be torn out - after the wall got built, it actually would make a nice little theater room if not used for trains. So maybe future owners wouldn;t want to tear it out.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 17, 2020 10:18 AM

gregc

what about using shelf brackets?

 

 

 I will as a last resort. Under the bottom deck, I can definitely do that. The reason I don't want to for the second deck and the top cover are because then I have to cut notches for every bracket when trying to fit in a backdrop.

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Posted by Pruitt on Monday, February 17, 2020 10:35 AM

The basic problem appears to be that the bracket is way too flimsy to counteract the moment arm generated by the weight on the pieces normal to the wall. Essentially you've got a distributed load over two feet which the bracket is trying react out over a fastener spacing of a bit more than an inch. The 18 gauge thickness of the bent-up sheet metal bracket is deforming from the twisting load. 

Replace it with an extruded angle cut and drilled to fit. Something like this:

which you can make at home. The corner of the extruded angle has far more resistance to deformation than the bent-up sheet metal corner. The extrusion would most likely break before it would deform significantly.

For even more strength and deflection resistance, something like is shown on this page:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32383132751.html

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Posted by gregc on Monday, February 17, 2020 11:07 AM

i'm curious about the constraints.

what about steel pins (long nails, threaded rod) that can be driven into the stubs thru the sheetrock (use level).   the plywood rests on top (even notched).

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Posted by carl425 on Monday, February 17, 2020 11:17 AM

I doubt that it is the bracket that's responsible for the deflection.  It's more likely that the drywall behind the bottom of the bracket is being compressed.

I've built (at least up through the benchwork and track laying stage) three multi-deck layouts.  I was always obsessed with trying to make the thinnest, most rigid benchwork for the upper level possible without obstructing the view of the level below it.

The best I came up with that didn't involve angle braces for the upper deck was a 2x2 lag screwed to the stud from the floor to the top of the backdrop of the upper level.  The lower benchwork was supported by a traditional angle brace.  The upper level had a 2x2 coming off the vertical braced by 6" T-brackets on both sides.

On another layout, I used angle braces above the grid attached about 1/3 of the way out from the wall every 4 feet or so.  These were easy for me to hide since I model WV where there's always a hill sloping up away from the track.

You were talking about making "C" braces out of plywood a while back.  That or something like I did is going to be your best bet.

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, February 17, 2020 11:35 AM

rrinker

Made a mockup of what I was planning to mount the benchwork, vertical pieces that would be lagged to the studs, horizontal pieces of 3/4" birch plywood attached to the verticals with right angle brackets.

While my horizontal piece is a full 4' long and the longest on the layout will be 2', there seems to be too much deflection. 

So, the horizontal pieces will be 3/4" birch plywood, 2' long. What about the third dimension. How wide will the horizontal pieces be?

Rich

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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, February 17, 2020 2:09 PM

You could make a 1" angle iron basket as I did. I have cement board sitting in there, however, you could string ribs across or lay in plywood or whatever. Angle iron does not flex and you would just have to attach it at each end. I bought it at the scrapyard for real cheap. Once painted it looked good.

I have other ideas as well so I will follow along. What are the dimensions of the stringers/joist?

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Posted by hornblower on Monday, February 17, 2020 3:46 PM

It sounds like you want to assemble benchwork the way I did.  I have included a couple of pictures to help me describe my approach. The first photo shows how I attached the benchwork stringers to the wall and well as how I attached the crossmembers to the stringers.  I first cut 4" wide stringers from 1/2" hardwood plywood.  I then laid out the wall stud and crossmember locations on the stringers.  Before attaching the stringers to the walls, I glued and screwed 2" by 4" blocks to the stringers at each crossmember location (screws go in from the back side of the stringers).  With all the glue blocks in place, I screwed the stringers to the wall studs using deck screws with large fender washers to spread the load over a significantly larger area than just the screw head.  I then glued and screwed a 24" long crossmember (more 1/2" plywood) to each glue block using a 48" long level to ensure that each crossmember was at the correct height.  At this point, I did a little weight testing and found that the stringers were a little thin, twisting a bit when weight was applied to the aisle end of a crossmember.  Thus, I cut additional pieces of 1/2" plywood to double the stringers between each crossmember.  You'll likely not need to do this with 3/4" plywood.  Finally, I made the 1/2" plywood fascia double as a structural member gluing and screwing it to to the aisle ends of the crossmembers using glue blocks at each joint.  I then placed 150 pounds of barbell weights mid-span on the fascia and noticed little deflection!  I probably would not have worried about the stringers twisting had I started with the idea to make the fascia panels structural members.  

As you can see in the second photo, my benchwork has clear spans as much as 13 feet long with no sagging occuring during the 12 years the layout has been up.

The glue is the real key to benchwork strength as a good glue joint is actually stronger than the wood itself.  Screws and brackets will always allow movement, especially as the wood shrinks over time. Yes, this benchwork is a little more permanent (harder to modify) than many would like, but it is strong and rigid.  When the time comes, the benchwork can be removed simply by removing the screws holding the stringers to the wall studs. The small holes in the drywall caused by the deck screws will also be eaiser to fill than holes caused by lag bolts.

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, February 17, 2020 4:02 PM

rrinker
...The reason I don't want to for the second deck and the top cover are because then I have to cut notches for every bracket when trying to fit in a backdrop.

Randy, when I added a partial second level to my layout, I had brackets made out of angle iron, welded together.  The uprights are 1.5"x1.5", about 7" long, with the horizontal members 1"x1". 

The aisle to the right, in the photo below...

...is about 15' long and 25" deep , with the far end fastened to an adjoining wall, as shown below, before the fascia was installed...

Here's a view from the opposite end,showing the two brackets supporting it, both with horizontal members 25" long.  The 7" upright of the near one is lag-bolted to the wall stud, while the one at the corner in the distance is compound, with a horizontal member 25" long in this aisle and 31" long in the adjacent aisle.  The upright is also lag-bolted to the wall studs at that corner, but is about 2' long...

Here's the aisle to the left (from the first photo)...

...and the compound bracket, with an arm in each aisle...

...from the near end to the where the fascia turns left in the distance is 18'.  In addition to the compound bracket at the corner, there are three brackets supporting it, and it's also being  supported by the portion of the layout across the end of the aisle.  The layout here is 31" deep, as it is across the aisle....

The portion of the layout across the aisle is also supported by the layout at the end of the aisle, and by two 7"x 31" brackets,  with the near end supported by the benchwork of the peninsula which forms the grade from the main level to the partial upper level...

As you can see, there are not a lot of supports required.  The upper level benchwork uses 1"x2"s for both the rear members (screwed to the wall studs) and to the intermediate crossmembers, while 1"x4"s were used for the end crossmembers and the aisle-side longitudinals, the latter mainly to facilitate installation of control switches for track and turnouts.

If you were to use similar welded-brackets and reasonably sturdy benchwork for your upper level, you could put the brackets on 6' centres (perhaps even more widely-spaced if the layout's not too deep), then simply use 2"x2"s to fur all of the wall studs between lower and upper levels (skipping, of course, the ones with brackets bolted to them) which would facilitate mounting your backdrop - no fiddling around with notching anything.

The welded brackets do not deflect when I lean on the upper level in order to reach something, and while I'm uncertain if they would support my full weight (I'm certainly no Hugh Jass), they're definitely more solid than most shelf brackets.
(I have, however, been completely on the upper level at the end of this aisle, as it was the only way to reach in order to brush-paint the rails.  The layout there is 38" deep.

Wayne

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 17, 2020 4:32 PM

Carl: Definitely not the drywall felxing. It's not attached to the drywall. I was standing on it, making it more secure than it would be if screwed to the drywall, the flexing was around the brackets. Which I think are probably the wrong type.

Rich: The pieces I have on hand are 3" wise. So 1/2" short of being a 1x4. But I can cut any width that I might need.

I think Hornblower has what I need - that's the sort of thing I'm looking for. Doubled up 1/2" plywood - hmmm, perhaps 3/4" will be fine. Mine's not even goign to be consistently 2' deep - only one part will be that deep, maybe another corner to allow for some industries. Most will be 18" deep.

Wayne's idea could work as well. Guess I should buy a welder and learn to weld. Or maybe the heavy duty brackets you cna buy are good enough. Adding furring strips to space the backdrop in front of the brackets would only add an inch or two over my original idea. Of course with Hornblower's idea - I'd be back to painting the walls blue! Actually, it too would need furring strips, I need the backdrop to not be flat against the wall to allow space for wires to go up to the second deck.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 23, 2020 1:32 PM

 After trying again with much stiffer brackets - it's still too flexible. 

I see two alternatives, either do it Hornblower's way, or a method similar to that shown in the Jeff Wilson benchwork book. Making brackets like in the benchwork book would use a LOT of plywood. Hornblower's style makes more efficient use of the wood.

 The bracket style in the benchwork book are strong enough to not need one at every stud, but then I would need to increase the thickness of each level to allow for horizontal girders because a 32" span of plywood, even 3/4", will sag over time. Though with the girders, it may be possible to have a bracket only every 3rd stud instead of every other. 

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Posted by wvg_ca on Sunday, February 23, 2020 6:53 PM

the horizontal wood ran every sixteen inches, same place as the wall studs, on top i put 1/2 plywood .. strong enough for me to sit on, and im not light ... the angle braces down to the wall were every second horizontal member ... again cut from plywood , no actual dimensional lumber was harmed in the benchwork ..

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, February 23, 2020 9:46 PM

I'm ready to can the whole idea of making my own bolt on structures and just using the double track shelving brackets. It's plenty strong enough. ANd the brackets are shallow enough that you won't see them from a standing operating position, except for the ones holding the 'hat' up top above the upper deck.

 The only problem I have with this is rinning the LED strip lights. On my work bench, I attached the LEDs to the bottom shelf and then just set the shelf in place, mostly lucky that no LEDs were exactly where the bracket rested (there are some inside the bracket though). This had held up well, despite the lower shelf holding my heaviest equipment (lab power supplies) and actually sagging (it's just stock white laminated shelving boards). Heavy static load, and the distance between supports is about 32". Other two shelves with lighter loads has not had a problem. But I don;t want my layout levels to be pinched between the brackets.

 There are also some much heavier duty brackets (home made) that probably only need to go every 4th or 5th stud. Which then adds 2 problems - some sort of horizontals are needed, which makes each benchwork layer thicker, and then how to attach a backdrop. But they are way overkill to build one per stud, not only could I climb on it, I could hold a dance party with a bunch of equally large friends. The other thing is, any sort of 1 per stud arrangement effectively means I have fixed joists every 16" whether I want one there or not. The problem with a thicker benchwork is the lower deck ends up having to be too low, just to keep the upper deck at a reasonable level, and not only is this bad for viewing, it also means problems for the storage underneath. 

 So - More complex, stronger brackets every few studs, pros: easy adjust joist positions to avoid conflicts, easy to build in grades, easy to install lighting. Cons: makes each deck thicker, makes backdrop installation more difficult

or standard heavy duty shelf brackets, pros: inexpensive, easy to install backdrop, each deck is thinner for more ideal heights. Cons: harder to install lighting, effectively fixes joists at every 16".

COuld combine methods, with shelf uprights maybe very 3rd stud, makes each layer thicker, but not as thick as with the homemade brackets, but still has the issue with light strips. The lower deck where it needs to be 24" wide would probbay benefit from the shelf supprots every stud - it's mostly flat and I will probably just use  sheets of plywood there, for the yard. The 180" wide benchwork ont he wall opposite it needs at least to be open roadbed so I can have the scenery go below grade as well as above the track since through town there are spots where the track is in cuts and parts where there are sidings above street level.

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Posted by carl425 on Sunday, February 23, 2020 11:04 PM

rrinker
except for the ones holding the 'hat' up top above the upper deck.

Support those from above.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 24, 2020 7:52 AM

 I'd have to find a way to attach it all to the drop ceiling then. Plus I specifically had electrical outlets installed just under the ceiling height for the power supplies to sit on top of the 'hat'.

Some of the contraints I am working with:

Floor to base of drop ceiling is 83"

Underneath lower level has to be high enough to put plastic totes for storage. Double stacked would be great but that requires 38" minimum. Legs are fine

Bottom deck will be mostly flat, but it would be nice for areas not the yard to be on cookie cutter on risers, not just flat sheets of plywood.

Second deck is going to be more mountain terrain, ability to run the track on rises instead of just sheets of plywood or foam are highly desireable.

Area of second deck over the yard will use the width for cosmetic curves and scenery, rather than industry which would interfere with the yard operator. Needs to be the same width though for lighting. Same with the 'hat' on top to light the upper deck. Hat will probbaly be covered over in thin plywood, like 1/4". So if the supports aren't on every stud, it will need a horizontal brace of some sort to hold up the lid.

Second deck absolute max is 60", any more and it gets too awkward for me. What worked out well was lower deck at 40" and upper desk at 58", but with 16" from the top of the bottom deck to the bottom of the upper deck, this only allows the upper deck to be 2" thick, somewhat unrealistic. Also witht he top deck much higher than 58" then having the same 16" clearance to the 'hat' gets it very close to the ceiling. ANd obscures the outlets.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, February 24, 2020 8:46 AM

rrinker
 I'd have to find a way to attach it all to the drop ceiling then. Plus I specifically had electrical outlets installed just under the ceiling height for the power supplies to sit on top of the 'hat'.

You'd want to remove some ceiling panels and attach any supports to the floor joist above, not the ceiling grid.

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Posted by rws1225 on Monday, February 24, 2020 9:05 AM

Have you thought about some kind of triangular brace (plywood or even a shelf bracket) on either side of your horizontal member to stiffen its side to side movement?  Might require a horizontal strip of wood across the studs to mount these angle pieces.  Then your vertical support attached to the studs may not be needed.  Also the idea of wood glue on the joints has always worked for me.

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Posted by carl425 on Monday, February 24, 2020 9:32 AM

rrinker
 I'd have to find a way to attach it all to the drop ceiling then. Plus I specifically had electrical outlets installed just under the ceiling height for the power supplies to sit on top of the 'hat'.

Or you could use upside-down shelf brackets.  I've done this before and it works fine.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 6,783 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Monday, February 24, 2020 10:10 AM

I've thought about a one piece bracket, made from dimensional lumber, fastened to the wall studs, with attached brackets that hold both lower and upper level.

Mike.

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 27,686 posts
Posted by rrinker on Monday, February 24, 2020 11:58 AM

 I'm probably worrying too much, in the last two layouts, I only had a crossmember in the way of a switch machine ONCE, and then just barely. And the layout before that one was using Tortoises, which compared to servos, are HUGE, and none ever impacted a crossmember even though I didn;t do anythign special to plan around it.

 I have considered a one piece plywood bracket that is angled, and taller at the attachment end. Glued and screwed to the side of a support piece. FOr adequate support, I think it would need a block on the other side to screw into - like those blocks of 2x4 in Hornblower's system. With a horizontal member attached to the wall, the plywood arm would only be attached on one side, into the block. If I used a vertical mounted to the wall, I could overlap the plywood and attach it to the vertical on oen side, and the block on the other. One problem - now where to put the screws that attach it to the wall. Abover or below the location of the actual support, and the screw will interfere with the backdrop sitting flush. ANd no countersinking here, at least if I used plywood for the vertical, I would want to use a fender washer like Hornblower to keep the screw from pulling through. If I used something thicker, say a 2x3 as my vertical, I could probably get away with countersinking the screw heads and this would work. My track plan is such that shrinking the room dimensions by the 1.5" thickness of the 2x3 plus another 1/8" for the backdrop (maybe less - I still like the idea of using the rolled aluminum so there are practically no seams, instead of MDF) will have no effect.

 This may be the way to go, gets me back to the thinnest possible deck and still allows some tracks to be at different elevations throught he use of risers. And I don't doubt that a glued and screwed attachment will not have the flexing issues I got with the corner brackets.

I will draw it up to make it easier to visualize.

                                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    September 2004
  • From: Dearborn Station
  • 18,771 posts
Posted by richhotrain on Monday, February 24, 2020 12:58 PM

rrinker

I will draw it up to make it easier to visualize.

                                   --Randy 

Looking forward to that drawing. It should make it easier to visualize.

Rich

Alton Junction

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