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Metal Benchwork

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Metal Benchwork
Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 09, 2017 8:49 AM

This particular idea of mine was born in an evolutionary manner while figuring out how I was going to construct the shelves for my double-deck layout.

 

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/264616.aspx

 

I have been considering both 1) thick foam,.... and 2) sheet plywood for the subroadbed on the bottom deck.

 

The one thing I was certain of is that I wanted to utilize these nice stiff, strong brackets to hold up that bottom deck. With these brackets screwed in firmly to the 2x4 wall studs on 24 inch centers would surely be strong enough. And either the 2” foam or sheet plywood could easily span the 24” center distance without distorting.

 


Everbilt bracket

 

The question then became one of how much cantilevered strength would those brackets provide, and how much cantilevered strength would the 'sheet' of subroadbed material itself provide??

 

What might I consider to enhance the properties of both without adding lots of bulky, weighty materials?

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 09, 2017 8:52 AM

Shelf/Deck Material Choice

I've seen many photos and descriptions of benchwork constructed of ¾ inch plywood, or 2” foam, backed up with 1x3 or 1x4's laid on the edge. Certainly strong enough, but what might be the alternatives for shelf type layouts?

1) Plywood Subroadbed Shelf
That 3/4” plywood is just too heavy for my liking. I think in some cases it is chosen to try and prevent warpage over time. Of course in many instances it is so well supported by the eggshell framework under it, that you question the use of such a thick plywood anyway.

Rather I prefer a good quality plywood to try and prevent warpage. I like the furniture grade ½ inch plywood. And it is plenty strong enough to span 24” center supports.

2) Foam Subroadbed Shelf
Its pretty well confirmed that 2” good quality foam insulation board is strong enough to span those 24 inch center supports as well.

One concern that arose was how best to provide the best interface between the subroadbed material and those metal brackets. If I was utilizing the plywood I don't think there is any need to provide for addition area of support. But if I am utilizing foam, I can easily see a need for a broader (bigger) support interface between that narrow steel bracket face and the underside of the foam sheet. This can be accomplished by inserting an additional piece of material between the bracket face and the foam. (see photos in subsequent discussion).

Another concern became that of the cantilevered outer edge of the deck/shelf. Particularly in my case where I had made the lower level shelves deeper to accommodate some track loops, a freight yard, etc. Not only did the shelf have to support the track and structures, but it might be called upon to occasionally support more weight as we leaned on it to work on the upper decks.

What method/material might I add to those wall brackets to gain the additional support I was seeking? Of course one of the first things that comes to mind is wood beams (2x2, 2x4, 1x3) attached to those steel brackets.,...something like this...

 

But wait a minute, how about a piece of steel angle iron. A friend had an old metal shelf he was getting rid of and the four corner uprights were HD angle iron. I could lay those onto the one arm of the wall bracket and get a good strong support all the way to the outer edge of the shelf. And as a plus, the surface area of the one face of that angle iron could be bigger than that of the bracket face depending on the shape of that angle iron cross section.,....good for supporting foam deck alternatives (note in this case the face of the angle iron is not that much bigger that the bracket face)...

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 09, 2017 9:15 AM

Additional Width to Bracket

 

 

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 09, 2017 9:45 AM

Here is an interesting illustration of what I have in mind, except this example utilizes wood extensions to the wall brackets.

I want stronger metal extensions to support my shelves, particularly my big blobs and peninsula.

 

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 09, 2017 11:04 AM

Stronger, lighter weight metal extensions to my wall brackets....

Alum Deck & Step Railing components

Nothing fancy, this alum railing is used everywhere. Its 3/4 inch square hollow alum tubing. Its plenty stiff and generally in 3 foot lengths as it is in prefab deck and stair hand-rails. I also saw longer lengths of this same section alum in the 'metal tubing section' at Lowes.

I found mine at the metal scrap yard here in Florida. I'm sure a lot of it got damaged in the storms we had last year, and this year. Or if there is a remodel job on some commercial property, I'm sure they just pull the old stuff out and throw it away. Awhile back I suggested I was going to utilize some of this stuff as the upright post for my helix structure. Well now I have acquired another whole section of this railing, and cut it up into individual lengths. Its white in color this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've got multiple ideas for this stuff:
1) For narrow shelf decks (less deep) I can use a single piece added onto the wall bracket to support the shelf if need be
2) For deeper shelf deck areas I can double it up side by side.
3) I still have it in mind for the uprights on my helix....plus
4) Diagonal pieces to rigidify my box frame surrounding the helix structure

 

5) *** To support my upper deck benchwork !!
I have in mine placing a small receptacle on the 2x4 shed wall stud that will hold onto the inner end of this alum railing tube (perhaps just a small steel angle bracket).  The outer end could then be held up with something like fishing-line leader wire tied to the ceiling. The 'railing tube beam' would then support the 1/2" plywood roadbed for the upper deck. It would be soooo unobtrusive, both top and bottom of that upper shelf. No wall brackets required,....just hanging from the ceiling with a very thin wire.

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, October 09, 2017 12:56 PM

They worked well for me where I've needed them.

I used a few at the end of the line to form a self-supporting benchwork in conjunction with 3/4" plywood subroadbed and a shelf rail on the wall.

The front fascia is about 4.5". It could be less, but I needed to conceal the controls for my manual switch machines.

 

 

Mike Lehman

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, October 09, 2017 1:28 PM

 Those metal brackets are more than strong enough to support a layout without adding additional metal. The option shown in the post with the wood attached to make a wider flange is perfect for using foam as a base as it gives a wider surface for the foam to be bonded - and caulk and other adhesives will bond foam to wood better than foam to metal. 

 Don;t go overboard. ANd also nothign says both decks need to be built the same way. The bottom deck can use traditional L girder, meaning a lot fewer supports - on an 8 or 12 foot wall, just having 2 supports is not out of the question. The upper deck though, can't use really thick benchwork, as it will compromise the distnace between decks. a simple steel right angle reinforcing a wood joint is actually enough, depending on how deep the shelf is. Unless you're trying to cantilever the thing out more than 2 feet, you don;t even need braces that have diagonals, which are just somethign else you need to figure out how to hide from view.

                                --Randy

 


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Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 09, 2017 2:57 PM

rrinker

 Those metal brackets are more than strong enough to support a layout without adding additional metal. The option shown in the post with the wood attached to make a wider flange is perfect for using foam as a base as it gives a wider surface for the foam to be bonded - and caulk and other adhesives will bond foam to wood better than foam to metal.


But in the area of my big loops on the lower level, the foam or plywood subroadbed cantilevers out quite a bit. It needs addition support out at that distance, particularly if I am trying to make it self supporting (without, or with minimual support 'legs').

In my case I have now decided to use 1/2" furniture grade plywood (rather than 3/4', and over time that sheet's outer edge if left unsupported would sag. Or if I had to climb or lean on it, I feel much more confident if the subroadbed sheet had a metal brace under it,...all the way to the edge.

rrinker
Don't go overboard. ANd also nothign says both decks need to be built the same way. The bottom deck can use traditional L girder, meaning a lot fewer supports - on an 8 or 12 foot wall, just having 2 supports is not out of the question.


I don't want to use L-girder benchwork because it is too 'thick'. I want to put some staging tracks below that freight yard side of the layout,..so I would like for those tracks to be close up under the lower deck so their climb to the top surface of the lower deck is reduced. My lower deck should only be something like 1.5 inches 'thick' rather than 3 or 4 or 5 inches thick.

 

rrinker
The upper deck though, can't use really thick benchwork, as it will compromise the distnace between decks. a simple steel right angle reinforcing a wood joint is actually enough, depending on how deep the shelf is. Unless you're trying to cantilever the thing out more than 2 feet, you don;t even need braces that have diagonals, which are just somethign else you need to figure out how to hide from view.

                                --Randy

I'm suggesting that my 1/2' plywood roadbed could be supported by those skinny, thin 3/4 'square beams' of alum extending out from the wall studs at every 24" spacing. At the back wall end the beams would hang on these little 90 degree angle braces mounted internal to the hollow end of the beam....

....and then the outer ends of these beams could be hung from the ceiling by a very thin, strong line, like a fishing line or leader wire. (perhaps in some areas the outer ends would not even need addition 'hanging support')

The total thickness of my upper deck would then be as little as 1/2" plywood roadbed, plus 3/4" alum beam. 

 

 

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Posted by cuyama on Monday, October 09, 2017 3:49 PM

railandsail
I don't want to use L-girder benchwork because it is too 'thick'. I want to put some staging tracks below that freight yard side of the layout,..so I would like for those tracks to be close up under the lower deck so their climb to the top surface of the lower deck is reduced.

L-girders or open grids usually go below the staging deck. Many people fail to appreciate this.

This maximizes the clearance, reducing the length and grade of ramp needed.

railandsail
....and then the outer ends of these beams could be hung from the ceiling by a very thin, strong line, like a fishing line or leader wire.

Sounds like a bad idea from a visibility and inadvertent "snagging" standpoint. Not to mention the bounce after bumping.

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Posted by GraniteRailroader on Monday, October 09, 2017 7:36 PM

railandsail

The total thickness of my upper deck would then be as little as 1/2" plywood roadbed, plus 3/4" alum beam.

Consider that you may want a valance, lighting, and other bits and pieces under the deck on the upper level.

A simple 1x3 frame, with the plywood dado'd into the frame boards would suffice and be sufficiently strong. 

1/2" furniture grade plywood will be total overkill and unnecessary weight. 3/8th plywood will be just fine. 

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, October 12, 2017 11:06 AM

GraniteRailroader
1/2" furniture grade plywood will be total overkill and unnecessary weight. 3/8th plywood will be just fine. 
 

I've experienced 3/8 plywood on the Atlas 'central midland' layout I once had....
http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/31007

...and the 3/8" subroadbed plywood was all warped.  I figured on having the layout for maybe 6 months as a learning exercise.

First off I managed to get a lot of the warpage out of the subroadbed by gluing Heckengers wood paint stirring strips on their edge to stabilize and straighten out the plywood.

I have said 'furniture grade plywood' as I am hoping to get plywood with less voids, multiply layers, and good glue, & at least one good flat side finish. I'd be willing to pay a little extra for these qualities. And with these qualities I would hope that 1/2" stuff would less prone to warpage when backed up by square tubes of alum bracing every 24" span, and out to their tips.

GraniteRailroader
A simple 1x3 frame, with the plywood dado'd into the frame boards would suffice and be sufficiently strong.

I'm looking to avoid that relatively 'thick framing' by considering the metal framing that I have acquired.
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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, October 12, 2017 11:19 AM

Let me restate this. I like this nice clean looking frame work on this example,

and particularly the lack of bulky frame work of this more conventional construction.

 

I simply want to substitute my stiff, relatively thin metal tubes for the wood beams they utilized,.....and that is the case whether I utilize plywood for the roadbed OR foam.

In fact I am leaning towards plywood shelf/decks on the lower level, and foam on the upper level. There are some other considerations when making these choices, and I will try to explain those after I get some more photos posted on the internet so I can link them here.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, October 12, 2017 12:02 PM

Metal L brackets to support benchwork from below makes total sense to me, but metal benchwork - not so much.  I like working with wood and have decent carpentry skills.  Metal skills, not as much.

One "downside" to the nice clean supports as shown in the top photo above is keeping everything aligned.  But maybe thats not a big deal if you use risers for the track.  But there is another issue, rigidity.  If you build a framework and support it with L brackets, it has some rigidty built in.  The above less so.

Of course if you want to be a "trail blazer" and experiment with new techniques, thats up to you.  Personally I'm risk averses and prefer to go with more long term proven methods.

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Posted by railandsail on Sunday, October 15, 2017 11:05 PM

Upper Deck/Shelf of my Layout

 

They are applicable whether utilizing foam or plywood subroadbed shelf material. They are stiff enough on their own to be utilized in a cantilevered manner, or certainly in a supporting beam manner.

 

I started out considering how I might 'attach' those square tube beams to the wall studs. I've come up with several alternatives. The most minimal method might just be utilizing these small steel corner brackets with one arm inserted into the hollow tube's end. If more strength might be required, these small brackets can be doubled up like shown....

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Should some still like even more strength I found these solid steel shelf brackets (with no obtrusive diagonal brace) at a store called Tractor Supply..... (new ones were label as Stanley brand)

 

 

 


 

 

With thoughts of keeping the deck/shelf bracket support structure at a minimum visually, I considered the idea of some hanging supports from the ceiling. I was thinking of some sort of fishing line, or fishing leader wire attached to the outer ends of those small box alum beams and up to small eyelet hooks screwed into the ceiling studs. I wonder if this upper deck/shelf was reasonably rigid 'plate wise', ....then maybe only every other beam need be attached to the ceiling?

Sounds like a bad idea from a visibility and inadvertent "snagging" standpoint. Not to mention the bounce after bumping


Have to think some more about this

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, October 16, 2017 7:08 AM

 Unless the upper deck is extremely deep (more than 24") or you plan to do chin-ups on it, those brackets should be MORE than sturdy enough to not need any sort of front support hanging fromt he ceiling, be that regular structural members or (yes, this is a bad idea and potentially dangerous) fishing line.

                         --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by carl425 on Monday, October 16, 2017 11:10 AM

railandsail
With thoughts of keeping the deck/shelf bracket support structure at a minimum visually

Have you considered a bracket with a diagonal brace mounted "upside down" so the diagonal is above the the upper level?  This works very well in areas where the scenery slopes up toward the back of the shelf.  It's also often easy to hide the brace in a building.

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Posted by railandsail on Monday, October 16, 2017 4:06 PM

carl425

Have you considered a bracket with a diagonal brace mounted "upside down" so the diagonal is above the the upper level?  This works very well in areas where the scenery slopes up toward the back of the shelf.  It's also often easy to hide the brace in a building

Interesting idea. I did think at one time about such an arrangement where the 'upside down bracket(s)' might be each camouflaged as a row of container cranes painted on the backdrop of a container ship scene.
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Posted by nealknows on Monday, October 16, 2017 9:45 PM

The Everbilt brackets that the OP shows in the pics are what I intend to use on the layout I'm building in So. Florida. The house has steel studs. I'm using the large 18"x16" bracket that has a capacity of 1200 lbs. About $10 each at the local HD. The lower level will be 24" in depth and the upper level will have an 18" deck. These brackets, as long as secured to the studs, will hold up my 1"x3" frames which will have 1/2" AC plywood as the subroadbed. I don't want any legs around the wall, although I may run a couple pieces of 1"x3" from the front of the frame down to the floor just above the molding. I'll use the 16"x10" brackets on the upper level. Wish I would have discovered these back in 2012 when I built my present layout. 

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 8:42 AM

nealknows
The Everbilt brackets that the OP shows in the pics are what I intend to use on the layout I'm building in So. Florida....

One note of caution,...a posting on these subject brackets that I am going to pay extra attention to:

I have used those brackets for some other projects around the house and garage and have had two different kind of failures with them, but innocent human error was the cause. Once you get some weight on them, make sure you don't bump or push anything against the angled support leg. I bumped one out in the garage once and the flat diagonal support folded and the shelf and contents hit the floor. The other failure was from standing up under a different shelf and hitting it with my shoulder. When that happened, the fabulous spot weld on the diagonal popped loose and allowed the little inset square to come out of the wall portion. Needless to say, that hit the floor too. As model railroaders, we are under our layouts often and also store things under our layouts so both scenarios are very possible. Just a heads up.



I sought more claification in some follow up questions here:
http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?40565-Metal-Benchwork/page3

BTW I still believe in these brackets, but I'm going to be more careful in my adaptation, particularly since I intend to have deeper shelves at several locations.

(don't know why that link I provided did not work at first?)

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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 11:36 AM

Brian, if these are secured properly, and once you put your frames and subroadbed on it, you shouldn't have any issues. The way I'm building my layout, it will probably be over-built. I build my frames on 12" centers. Add to that the frames will not only be secured to the brackets, but to the walls as well. Adding a few braces from the front of the layout to the floor molding (just above it), will make this layout solid. The key is to get them anchored properly to the studs, just like you would with any type of bracket. 

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 1:05 PM

 If each bracket can support 1200 pounds, the wall will collapse long before the bracket gives way, especially ig you have a bracket in every other stud. Attaching such things to steel stud walls, be careful. Steel studs are not meant to support cantilevered loads like that.

                          --Randy

 


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Posted by nealknows on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 2:29 PM

Randy,

No way would I even come close to putting that much weight on it. Also, i'm supporting the frames with cross sections from the front of the layout frames to a piece of wood above the floor molding. We may be talking about 25-30 lbs. on any given area?

This won't go anywhere...

Neal

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Posted by carl425 on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 2:32 PM

rrinker
Steel studs are not meant to support cantilevered loads like that.

I was thinking the same thing.  The sheet metal screws will pull out WAY before 1200 lbs. 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6:06 PM

Rail and Sail,

Were you planning on having a fascia on your layout (like in the photo you posted) and if so how were you planning on attaching it to your aluminum box tubes?

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 6:09 PM

nealknows
We may be talking about 25-30 lbs. on any given area?

Assuming that you or anyone else never falls into/onto or attempts to catch yourself/themselves with the edge of the layout... probably.

But there are formulae that you can apply to calculate the effect of force applied to a lever.

Rule 108: In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken.

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 10:21 PM

BMMECNYC

Rail and Sail,
Were you planning on having a fascia on your layout (like in the photo you posted) and if so how were you planning on attaching it to your aluminum box tubes?


Had not worked that out yet.

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, October 20, 2017 8:57 AM

Metal Bracket Loads
I've been thinking about those load claims by Everbilt brackets. I consider them inflated, particularly being a Chinese product. But even then they should be plenty strong for our RR shelf purposes.

I am going to try and inspect the 'spot welds' they utilize to attach the diagonals. If those are faulty or weak its entirely possible they could detach themselves if a nice big bump occured from underneath the shelf. I might even have a welder simply add an extra spot to those locations?

As concerns the sideways bumps that might occur on some occassions I think having the brackets attached to the plywood shelf/roadbed by several fasteners each, and subsequently the shelfs constrained by the walls of the room, will have a significant restraining force to any individual wall bracket being distorted by a sideways force. Mutiplicity of brackets will also have a stabilizing effect.

 

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, October 20, 2017 6:21 PM

 I think you are WAY overthinking this. Even the simple 90 degree brackets are strong enough to handle the occasonal bumping or leaning on the benchwork. The ones with the diagonals welded in - even if the weld should fail on one, there are the two on either side, plus the actual 90 degree part. When you're talking about something rated to support 1200 pounds - EACH, if you lean agains a section of benchwork, the horizontal members are going to spread that load across more than one bracket. Even going 50% lower due to the width of the benchwork, that's still 600 pounds per bracket. Assuming the bolts and the structure you've attached the brackets to can hold such weight, 600 pounds is more than even me climbinf on the benchwork plus the weight of the benchwork, scenery, and trains - by a LOT - and again that's ONE bracket but the weight would be spread out over several. 

                            --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, October 20, 2017 10:12 PM

BTW Randy, the ratings being quoted are 'per pair'...not per bracket.

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Posted by carl425 on Friday, October 20, 2017 10:59 PM

When deciding if these brackets will meet your needs, you have to account for the leverage - not just the advertised capacity. While they claim to support 1200 pounds per pair, I doubt very seriously that assumes all 1200 pounds is at the very end of the bracket away from the wall.  If you applied all the weight to the end, as would be the case with somebody falling against the layout, they wouldn't support anywhere near 1200 pounds.

I would guess that the best case is that the rating is based on an even distribution weight across the shelf which would make the capacity at the tip about 1/2 the total.

So, considering just one bracket (it's not going to get much help from its neighbors in a falling model railroader scenario) the max it can support at its farthest point from the wall would be about 300 lbs.  Then you have to account for the fact that (based on your pictures) you are extending them to more than twice their length.  At 2x, you're now at 150 lbs which is less than most model railroaders.

Skimping on benchwork is the classic case of "penny wise and pound foolish".  A benchwork failure could result in hundreds of hours of work ruined and thousands of dollars worth of models hitting the floor.

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