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How to build multi-level (tier) modular bench work?

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  • Member since
    December, 2008
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How to build multi-level (tier) modular bench work?
Posted by brimckay on Saturday, December 20, 2008 1:51 PM

Hi all,

I've looked for an answer to this and only met with limited success.  I need to build modular bench work in the 24 - 30" width range that will not be fastened to any walls.  I'd also like to have more than my current 8' x 12' space has to offer, so I'd like I'd like to have two levels or tiers, connected using a spiral or very long hidden perimeter climb at about 2.5-3%.

My challenge is to build bench work that will support the second tier without sagging or obstructing the view of the first tier.  I've not yet settled on the vertical separation of the two tiers.

I would greatly appreciate ideas and insight in meeting this most important phase of constructing my layout!

Thanks,

BM

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  • From: Fort Worth, Texas
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Posted by JWARNELL on Saturday, December 20, 2008 4:28 PM

  For my benchwork, I built 2x4 moduals and bolted them together with carriage bolts. I could not find any straight lumber, so I cut all of mine from 3/4" plywood. The legs are also made from the same material. If I was to add a second level as you want to, I would bolt 2x4s to the backs of the benches to attach shelves for the upper layer. The 2x4s should be turned with the 2" side facing out so the wider side supports the weight without bending. You might even use two 2x4s side by side for further strength. The 2x4s should run at least four feet down the back of the benches, and be attatched at the top and bottom. For the upper shelves, I would build a box like structure like David Barrows did for the tops of his modular benchwork. I would attach the upper shelves with carriage bolts as well. If you made the back edge of the shelf wider so you can spread the load over a wider area it should be strong enough without any additional supports. I would also keep the upper shelf to about 18" wide. Somebody else may have a better idea, and I admit that I tend to over engineer everthing I build. Hope this helps, or at least gives you some ideas.

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Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, December 20, 2008 5:48 PM

BM,

I would suggest you buy and read the new book Kalmbach recently released on the subject. It has answers to most all multi-deck questions you can think of and problems it creates. The photos are worth the cost alone and will answer a lot of the questions you have.

Roger Huber

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Posted by jamnest on Saturday, December 20, 2008 7:21 PM

I would highly recomend the Model Railroader book "Designing & Building Multi-deck Model Railroads" by Tony Koester.  I have a copy and find it to be a great resource.  You can purchase a copy on-line trhough this web site.  I also have Joe Fugate's DVD sets on how he built his mushroom (double deck) layout, which is a great resource too.

Jim, Modeling the Kansas City Southern Lines in HO scale.

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Posted by brimckay on Monday, December 22, 2008 8:02 AM

Thank you all.  I will take a look at the ideas in the book.  I had considered using 2x2 reinforced with H-beam or similar metal shelving material, but will read up a little more first.

Thanks again, Brian.

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Posted by crazyhippo67 on Saturday, April 20, 2013 10:21 AM

That is a great idea you have on benchwork. I am a builder and that is great. I have been trying to find info on this type of benchwork as well. I am just getting back into ho trains since I was a kid and my wife is now getting into it with me and my son as well and they just love it. They want to try the N scale as well and we will be putting a O scale on its own shelf along the ceiling. We can not wait for it to be working we are like kids in a candy store. LOL Jim

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Posted by bogp40 on Sunday, April 21, 2013 12:21 PM

With out attaching or somehow securing  the rear vertical supports, it will be difficult to gain a sturdy upper level. Is there any way to at least screw, toggle or moly those verticals?  You would almost need to construct a rear wall of 2x and brace or shelf bracket the upper level. Of coarse the upper benchwork has to quite lightweight.

Modeling B&O- Chessie  Bob K. 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:40 AM

I know this is not what you are looking for, but when I first started designing layouts, I spent a lot of time trying to get trains from one level to the next and having it look good. A helix in your space will take up half your space. A 3% grade will take 44 feet to rise 18 "  If you have a door to get in, you won't make it. 

With your space, I would suggest a well-planned single level.  


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Posted by bogp40 on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 5:08 PM

SpaceMouse

I know this is not what you are looking for, but when I first started designing layouts, I spent a lot of time trying to get trains from one level to the next and having it look good. A helix in your space will take up half your space. A 3% grade will take 44 feet to rise 18 "  If you have a door to get in, you won't make it. 

With your space, I would suggest a well-planned single level.  

Chip, i misread the initial posting at first, the proposed helix will be in an adjoining work space,  I personally would try to use to work space for staging and design a single level within the room itself. The helix is doable as long as the 48+ inches that it needs will fit in the workroom. 26-30" radius and     2 1/2% would be better.

Modeling B&O- Chessie  Bob K. 

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Posted by SpaceMouse on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 7:30 PM

That is a tight helix.  I'd love to have 8 x 12 at this point.  But I too would do one level and use the works space for tons of staging. 


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Posted by LARRY DINGMAN on Saturday, February 28, 2015 6:24 AM
Name of booklet, please thanks
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Posted by 60YOKID on Saturday, February 28, 2015 7:39 PM

The main issue will be getting trains from one level to the next.  A 3% grade requires 100 inches of track to ascend 3 inches. You have enough length (144 inches) to make that grade in one pass from end to end. A second pass could gain another 3 inches or so.

You might consider just adding a raised section along the back half, with the main railroad closer to the front edge.  A sloped ramp could separate the two levels and serve to reach the top elevation.

Here is a link to Authur Houston's youtube videos that I have found very interesting on the subject of levels and layouts. I hope this helps! -Bill

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duQIz-fZW_A&index=8&list=PLqHQgiAJ9oRJInNUqFgXM6ZFLYx30GuH2

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Posted by carl425 on Sunday, March 01, 2015 8:34 AM

brimckay
I need to build modular bench work in the 24 - 30" width range that will not be fastened to any walls.

Just my opinion, but you need to reconsider.  24" width upper level benchwork that doesn't obstruct the lower level view is difficult even if you have a wall to attach to. Making the benchwork modular is going to make this even harder.

Why not attach to the wall?  Any room that had a model railroad in it is likely going to need to be painted before it is reused anyway.  A 3" #10 screw leaves a hole behind that is really easy to fill.  A couple hours of pre-paint prep work on the back end is going to be easier than the construction of unattached benchwork - which might not even work.  We have a pretty nice dining room in the space where I had benchwork lag screwed to the walls 20 years ago.

I have seen very few examples of two level benchwork that wasn't attached to the wall (and I've done a lot of research) except for a peninsula where the modeler effectively built their own wall and had benchwork on both sides to balance each other.  I tried to build a free standing double deck peninsula on my current layout and found it to be too wobbley.  I fixed it by attaching it to the floor and ceiling.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, March 01, 2015 9:19 AM

oops, dead topic.  Never mind.

Nothing at the moment

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Posted by carl425 on Sunday, March 01, 2015 9:44 AM

I just realized that the OP is from 6 years ago. Big Smile

I wonder what happened?  His last post to the forum was 2009.  I'll bet the result wasn't great.

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Posted by cuyama on Sunday, March 01, 2015 5:56 PM

LARRY DINGMAN
Name of booklet, please thanks

It seems the book that they are referring to is:

jamnest
"Designing & Building Multi-deck Model Railroads" by Tony Koester. 

Designing & Building Multi-Deck Model Railroads

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