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BENCHWORK

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  • Member since
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  • From: Northern Michigan
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BENCHWORK
Posted by BNENGR on Saturday, August 15, 2009 12:25 PM

Hi group, It's been awhile since I've posted because I've been building a new model railroad building in my back yard. It's 24x32 feet.

Now, the question I have for you is how many of you prefer "L girder" construction and how many "Open - grid" benchwork? I have been considering both. Can you mix them?

Thank you.

Paulie Smile

The Burlington Northern Lives On!
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Posted by BATMAN on Saturday, August 15, 2009 1:04 PM

 I would say mix and match and do whatever it takes to suit your own needs. Just build it sturdy. By the time we add on bits and bobs to mount this and that it usually is a dogs breakfast anyway. Just myMy 2 cents

     

                                                                    Brent

Brent


It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by cuyama on Saturday, August 15, 2009 1:33 PM

BNENGR

Now, the question I have for you is how many of you prefer "L girder" construction and how many "Open - grid" benchwork? I have been considering both. Can you mix them?

Yes you can certainly mix them, and usually you should mix-and-match depending on specific situations in different parts of the layout. IMHO, far more time is wasted in agonizing over benchwork than it would take to build it.

How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork, Second Edition by Linn Westcott and Rick Selby is a great resource.

Tags: benchwork
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Posted by tgindy on Saturday, August 15, 2009 5:37 PM

Project your railroad's operations within the city and/or countryside scenery, and then plan your benchwork to augment what you need to do for those specific railroad operations.

N Scale CR&T is multi-level with dogbone-style track planning on each level.

The U-Shaped layout's outer dimensions are 9' along the back wall (including an extra 1'x5' notchback section used by the helix) and 6' on each side.  The helix will have at least 2 tracks (for coming & going).

CR&T combines (4) types of benchwork:  L-Girder, cookie-cutter, box/grid, and shelf brackets.

Lower level is the layout benchwork base...

Combination of L-Girder benchwork, and two neighborhood locations with cookie-cutter (and box/grid).

Upper level benchwork -- to eliminate 'lower level view-blocking' vertical wooden supports...

Shelf-brackets with box/grid benchwork construction on either side of the top-summit helix tunnel portals,   With shelf brackets, you can construct an 'L-Girder equivalent' for height, rivers, etc., by using the adjustment built into the shelf bracket supports.

The helix actually serves as a benchwork anchor to either side of the helix regardless of upper level or lower level.

Plan in terms of what your railroad will be doing...

Lower Level -- a city & industrial concentration focused on the CR&T traction system.

Upper Level -- a 2-track Pennsy mainline to also make a helix run down to the lower level to surround the CR&T with freight & passenger interchanges.

Potential Staging Level -- stlll working on this to shoot out of the helix -- more than likely box/grid on shelf brackets.

ASK:  What is it you are to accomplish with operations?  Adapt benchwork accordingly, and wIth some patience, by taking your good 'ole time planning, the answers do come.

Conemaugh Road & Traction circa 1956

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, August 15, 2009 5:56 PM

I have used open grid got eh last several layouts, although I do use L girder when it makes sense.  For example I use it to form the "blob" on the end of a peninsula.  Since my room is narrow and the benchwork is essentially uniformly deep and only 18" at that, an open grid makes sense.  If I had a larger area and wanted flowing edges to the aisles, I would go with L girder.

Dave H. Painted side goes up.

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Posted by nbrodar on Saturday, August 15, 2009 9:04 PM

 I use sectional open grid benchwork, ala Dominoes.  Although, mine are constructed differently then Mr. Barrow's.  Some of the sections are 15 years old, and supporting their fourth layout.

 

Nick

Take a Ride on the Reading with the: Reading Company Technical & Historical Society http://www.readingrailroad.org/

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Posted by mobilman44 on Sunday, August 16, 2009 12:23 PM

Hi!

Excellent question, and I'm in the middle of it as I write......

I'm building a replacement layout for my recently torn down 11x15 HO two level layout.  It fills a spare room, and the original was built in 1993.  I'm using some of the same benchwork techniques as I did then, for they worked just fine over all those years.

The legs (about 50) are 2x2s, with 1/2 horizontal bracing on the bottom and mid height as needed.  The new layout then uses 1x4s as a gridwork for the main level.  I've also got some cookie cutter in use where the incline (from lower level) blends in with the main.  Most all of the main will be 1/2 inch 4 ply B/C plywood.  This is what I'm going with, and as I'm 65 its probably my last layout, so I gave it a lot of thought.

There are pluses and minuses to what I am doing.  The layout weight is reasonable (no 2x4 or 3/4 ply), yet it will hold my 225 lbs easily.  The layout main level surface is very smooth, so roadbed and track laying will go nicely.  My previous layout had a lot of grades and mountains/tunnels and I am looking to the new layout to be more of a showplace for trains and structures.

The downsides are primarily that grades or cuts are much more difficult to do with gridwork.  And, I'm probably using more lumber than with straight L girder - but I do want a layout that can easily support me anywhere I go on it.  The other downside is underneath access.  I can get pretty much wherever I need to go, but I sure have to crawl and gyrate and bend unnaturally.  This is much more of a problem than the previous layout 15 years ago.

The call on this is yours, and frankly I think a mix and match of techniques is probably best for most.

ENJOY,

Mobilman44 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by donhalshanks on Sunday, August 16, 2009 3:07 PM

I used L-girder when faced with the same tough question as you when starting the permanent layout.  I have yet to find any limitations with it, and endorse it completely.  Flexible, easily wired, open for all types of scenery, can support flat wood at any level for towns,etc., minimum wood.

Have fun building, Hal 

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Posted by ChrisNH on Monday, August 17, 2009 10:58 AM

I like classic L-girder. Its not very fussy about how perfect you are with your dimensions and its easy to run wires and such. However, the down side is it is a bit "thick". Fine for a single deck or lower deck of a permenant layout but not so hot for an upper deck or portable layout.

I use a plywood sub-roadbed with cardboard strip formed scenery.. so I think if you are going the foam slab style then maybe the classic L-girder may not be the best choice.

I say "classic L-girder" in reference to what Linn Wescott popularized in his benchwork book. You can still use L-girders in other kinds of construction to give it strength if you desire.

In the end, as long as it is rigid and reasonably sturdy (the former more important then the latter, IMHO, building model railroad benchwork not furniture..)  and you are comfortable putting it together then its all good. In the end, nobody will see it under scenery and fascia.

Chris

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Posted by gregc on Monday, August 17, 2009 6:47 PM

ChrisNH
I like classic L-girder. Its not very fussy about how perfect you are with your dimensions and its easy to run wires and such. However, the down side is it is a bit "thick".

 

has anyone considered using aluminum angle iron in place of wescott's wooden L-girders?   thinner and can be drilled for screws.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by West Coast S on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:52 PM

gregc

ChrisNH
I like classic L-girder. Its not very fussy about how perfect you are with your dimensions and its easy to run wires and such. However, the down side is it is a bit "thick".

 

has anyone considered using aluminum angle iron in place of wescott's wooden L-girders?   thinner and can be drilled for screws.

Not quite, my new benchwork standards are dominos made up of 1 inch steel channel that require  welding. I have some thoughts on eliminating wooden risers as well, this technique employs the use of  identical steel stock in conjunction with PVC tubing.

Dave

SP the way it was in S scale
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Posted by tomikawaTT on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:38 PM

gregc

ChrisNH
I like classic L-girder. Its not very fussy about how perfect you are with your dimensions and its easy to run wires and such. However, the down side is it is a bit "thick".

 

has anyone considered using aluminum angle iron in place of wescott's wooden L-girders?   thinner and can be drilled for screws.

I agree with Chris that L-girder is a better choice if you want to have a nicely curved, sinuous fascia.  Pure box framing can't handle concave fascia lines worth a darn.

I don't use aluminum angle, but I DO use steel studs, both for 'C act like L' girders and for every other structural member except cookie-cut plywood sub-roadbed.  I've even put hidden tangent track into steel studs laid like rain gutters, and bridged several joists without needing risers every sixteen inches.

Why do I like steel in places where most people use wood?  Here in the dessicated desert high temperatures and almost nonexistent humidity combine to make perfectly straight wood assume strange shapes.  My steel studs have never converted themselves into corkscrews or compound bows,  but some originally straight wood planks have.  The plywood sub-roadbed isn't immune, but it's thin enough to be beaten into submission with a few lengths of steel angle iron.

Chuck (Modeling Central Japan in September, 1964 - on steel stud benchwork)

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Posted by Scarpia on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 9:25 PM

Steel studs work pretty darn well.

 

but may not be necessary for all environments.

Note the wooden bases work in this case as wood doesn't move along it's length with humidity changes, and the steel girders rest on end-grain.

So far in my very variable humidity basement, this has worked as designed - no movement.  In reality, given my environment, I don't know how necessary it is.

For the future, I intend on going with the domino method, in that the layout will be created module style, with all complicated trackwork, wiring, and throws done at the workbench, and than joined to it's mates permanently.

Cheers!

I'm trying to model 1956, not live in it.

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Posted by mobilman44 on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:31 AM

Hi again,

  As I wrote earlier, a lot of layouts end up with a mix of benchwork types & techniques.  I've been exposed to most of them over the years and can say that each has their place. 

One thing I would like to bring up, is that no matter what benchwork you use, the key is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN ahead of time so you don't end up having to redo or compromise the end results.  Ha, I KNOW what I'm talking about here, for I'm now going to remove a section of grid type benchwork to make room for a "gully" that I forgot (ignored really) to include in the original plans.  What would have taken an extra half hour to install in the beginning will now take me about 3-5 hours to implement the gully and restore trackage and wiring.

ENJOY,

Mobilman44

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by ChrisNH on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 3:15 PM

mobilman44
emove a section of grid type benchwork to make room for a "gully"

 

This is a wonderful example of where the openness of the classic L-girder construction really shines. In this case, if you had to do anything, you would only need to unscrew a joist and move it out of the way. If risers were involved you would need to move and reattach those. Less then 30 min work.

Grid benchwork gets in the way of below track scenery and requires more planning if you build right on top of it.

A compromise is to build a grid then use risers with sufficient space between the grid and the roadbed for any scenic after-thoughts. This will, of course, give you the same "thick" profile as classic L-girder.

Didn't mean to single you out Mobilman44, but you gave the perfect straight line..

Chris

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Posted by Marc_Magnus on Monday, August 24, 2009 2:59 AM

Hi from Belgium,

I use the two togheter with a plywood roabed of 18mm or a little more of a 3/4inch. All the benchwork construction is plywood of 18mm cut to size.

All benchwork in plywood is cheaper than in plain wood; it's easy to work with it and when screwed and glued it's very strong.

Where I differ from classic construction, it's because I put all the benchwork on a steel rigid frame; I am a craftsman in wrought iron by work, so I buid a frame with tube of 40/40mmm (1.5inch)  solder togheter were the benchwork is screwed underneath. The legs are also steel.

The advantage is a very rigid frame with legs only all the two or three meters; it also permit to move the layout without bending the benchwork.

I am now near a future move for my Nscale Maclau River and all you see on the picture is on one frame of 1.40meters by 2.50meters.

Future construction will follow the same method with a dominoes like frame of piece of 2.5 meters by 1meters.

Marc

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Posted by ChrisNH on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 10:00 AM

 

Marc_Magnus
; I am a craftsman in wrought iron by work,

 

I think that highlights a good point in all this. We all have different skills and different materials we may be more comfortable with. As long as you meet the needs of building a model railroad (a rigid frame, provision for wiring and scenery, etc) then the best bench work method and materials are  going to be the ones you are most comfortable working with. Its probably worthwhile learning about different methods and materials so you can make sure you will be able to accomplish what you need.. but at the end of the day.. its all hidden and who really cares how you did it as long as it works?

Chris

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Posted by Allegheny2-6-6-6 on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 5:11 PM

 There is no rule that says you can't do what ever you want, it's what ever works for you. I think you may want to consider this though, being as your not joining the subterranean railroading fraternity but rather building a railroad the better way in my opinion if your building a stick built or wood framed structure you may want to consider attaching L girder directly to the studs, but make them out of plywood rather then the normally uses 1x4, 1x3 etc. If you have the opportunity check out Ken McCrory's Conrail layout he used this method for his bench work which results in super strong bench work that you can actually stand on and it's very cost effective as well

Just my 2 cents worth, I spent the rest on trains. If you choked a Smurf what color would he turn?
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Posted by iowacentral on Friday, August 28, 2009 8:15 AM

I started with the classic L-girder almost 30 years ago, but found it too flexible when moving. As I move often this became an important factor. I now build my benchwork with an open grid frame of 1x4's, topped with 2" extruded styrene foam, in a style now known as dominos. Note that module layouts are built with open grid for the same reason, easy to move.

Ability to move the layout became the top given for me, thus open grid benchwork with restrictions in the size of each section so it could go through a doorway and up a stairway. Your situation may be different. Either style of benchwork  will work. Just make sure it is stable and meets your needs.

Doug Harding

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