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Metal Benchwork

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  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 24,900 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, October 21, 2017 9:24 AM

 Yes, but extra heavy duty shelf brackets plus all sorts of metal supporting structure isn't building adequate benchwork, it's building a bomb shelter. Foam, supported on brackets at every stud, with NO horizontal members is plenty strong enough. Add a thin wood frame, 1x3's, and it's stronger still. There's a lot of people seem to claim you need to use 2x4's and inch thick plywood and support it every 8 inches or it will sag - no way! 1x4's, 2 foot centers - no sag! Those that say they had sag with such construction probably didn;t have sag - they had moisture problems contracting the frame members and causing the sheet material to bow up or down, or something similar. 

 Look at the ulta lightweight benchwork used by the S&SS of NC. Yes, a bit more complex construction but not one heavy piece of lumber in it anywhere - I've seen their construction demo, their modules are incredibly light weight. Even our club modules tend to use 1x3 framing members and no more than 1/2" plywood. Yet they stand up easily to constant handling in and out of shows and being loaded on trailers and in the backs of pickup trucks for transport. You don't need a house for benchwork. Especially where there is a space concern - every extra inch taken up by thicker framing is an inch less space for the track in an already constrained situation. Thin and lightweight is the way to go, unless you have a gymnasium to fill and expect huge public traffic. 

 Even in public shows - we don't set up a 'moat' around our layout, visitors can walk right up to the edge - there has never been a problem of someone falling into the layout. To build with the idea that you need to do chinups on the layout, or use it for a dance flooor - why? WHat are you making, a train layout or a dance club? It's ooonce thing to build up a raised floor for a mushrooom style layout - that FLOOR needs to be built to proper flooring standards to make it safe and stable, but that doesn't mean the rest of the benchwork ALSO has to support a huge static load. I haven't climbed on my layout since I was a little kid and couldn't read the middle of the 4x8. With a shelf style layout, it shouldn;t be so wide that you can't reach in with minimal leaning. Even my previous realtively lightweight layout - more than once I put a hand on the layout to help get myself up off the floor. It didn't break. It didn't rattle cars off the track. 

 Especially is the inside studs are exposed - a simple wood bracket cut from 3/4 plywood, maybe with a bit of a radius on the inside but not a solid triangle, on every stud, will easily hold shelves 24" wide and less. No legs, no supports dropping down from the ceiling, and no long diagonal braces to get in the way. That will easily support a layoout, and not collapse if you need some help getting up and lean on it a bit. With support every stud, even 1/2" plywood won't sag. Add a layer of foam to carve rolling hills in, and you have a thin, stable layer for trains. Design and use of these plywood brackets have appeared in various model press over the years, all similar.

 I've even seen plain box benchwork, 1x3 or 1x4 box frames, hung right on the walls as an upper deck, to minimize intrusion on the lower deck. The horizontal part of the box against the wall is screwed to the wall, and this is reinforced using 4" L brackets - not the fancy diagonally braced ones, the cheap 90 degree brackets. Plenty strong.

                           --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
    February, 2009
  • 918 posts
Posted by railandsail on Saturday, October 21, 2017 9:59 AM

Randy, I agree with you mostly. I also think many layouts are 'overbuilt' in strength.
 

Yes Carl, I do realize that I am extending those cantilivered beams out quite a bit,...and that is why I intend on having vertical leg supports available when I suspect that lower deck will need them,....such as when I intend to rest my weight on it to gain acess to the upper deck, or work on it. They will be nice solid legs supporting the cantilivered ends of those metal beams.

I also believe that I do not want any 'fragile' roadbed edges out there, and for that reason I will chose to use plywood for the lower deck rather than foam. 

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,495 posts
Posted by carl425 on Saturday, October 21, 2017 1:25 PM

rrinker
Especially where there is a space concern - every extra inch taken up by thicker framing is an inch less space for the track in an already constrained situation. Thin and lightweight is the way to go, unless you have a gymnasium to fill and expect huge public traffic.

It doesn't matter if the roadbed is supported by 4x6's or floating on air the amount of track you can have on top of it is the same.

If you want to build your railroad on 4x8 sheets of 1" foam supported by cheap TV trays, go for it.  I'll stick with the tried and true methods developed by guys like Linn Wescott (and the three little pigs Smile)

I have known people who have regretted building too weak.  I have never met anyone that regretted building too strong. (portable layouts excluded of course)

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
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 24,900 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, October 21, 2017 7:31 PM

 If you read the benchwork books, you'll see there are lots of ways recommended by the 'experts'. There's a lot of pooh-poohing of foam methods buit it seems to be serving Bill Darnaby just fine, multiple decks and all. And plenty of 'serious' operation.

 Particularly Linn's L girder method - the basic design uses a 1x2 and a 1x3, not bigger lumber, and gets quite a distance between legs - and no intermediate legs.

 Building a framework of balsa wood = not a great idea. Building a frame with 2x4's = overkill. 

 Consider foam - the Owens-Corning pink products, the number indicates the crush strength is PSI. The 2" stuff is usually Foamular 250, 25 PSI compressive strength. If I lean a good portion of my body weight on 1 finger, I will dent the foam. If I lean over and place my whole palm down to support my weight, nothing happens. Stuff is a lot stronger than you think.

 No, I would not cantilever a frame out over 4' from a single bracket with no additional support. Not unless it also went 4' out the opposite side of the wall. And even then, something that deep I would want some diagonals. For 12 to 18" wide benchwork - just the basic brackets will be plenty strong.

                                         --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
    July, 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 8,707 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 5:07 PM

Brian, I sent you a PM in response to your request about 3rd PlanIt.

Dave

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 918 posts
Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 5:12 PM

Yes David, I got it,...thanks
I've got a little medical procedure I have to go thru tomorrow, then I thought I might offer a reply

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 8,707 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 4:08 AM

railandsail
've got a little medical procedure I have to go thru tomorrow,

Best of luck on the medical front Brian!

Please understand that I wasn't trying to send you away. If you can't make things fit I will be happy to help. Tonight I was working on a fellow club member's layout plan. What he started out with was totally undoable, but after a few hours I was able to come up with a plan that solved almost all of his issues. Quite frankly, I was suprised at what would fit into his very limited space.

Dave

By the way, all my friends call me 'Dave'. Some of my family members still insist on calling me 'David' but they are too elderly to try to change their habits. If somebody outside of the family calls me 'David' I immediately think that I'm in trouble for doing something wrong!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaughLaugh

  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 918 posts
Posted by railandsail on Thursday, August 23, 2018 10:02 AM

Over the past year I have been thinking and experimenting with ideas for my benchwork for my new layout in a shed.

I was over at my local metal scrap yard this past Fri and noticed some hollow square steel tubing they use to mount street signs with. Its 2" square verses my flanged 1-1.25" bed rails, and its really strong, and its galvanized. So now I am definitely considering this stuff.

 

I was originally considering making vertical brackets at each of the wall stud location to support the plywood shelves. then I ran across these steel square tubing at the local metal scrap yard.

My contractor friend. who was going to weld up the considerable number of vertical brackets I had sketched up, came back with an interesting idea. Why not lay these square tube 'beams' horizontally along the walls and lag them into the wall studs. Then the plywood shelves (decks) could be attached along their wall edge and cantilevered out. And where the shelf/deck is of a substantial depth, the outer edge might also be supported primarily by another long piece of this horizontal square tubing with only an ocassional vertical support.

I am now planing on utilizing this 'horizontal framing' idea on my staging track level and my lower primary deck. I may even utilize the idea for my upper deck, particularly as they will be more shallow than the primary deck. I will definitely utilize the larger 2" square tubing to support the lower primary deck. For the staging level (relatively shallow), and the upper deck I may utilize my 'bed frame angle iron'. I'll document this more thoroughly as I get to building it.

Quick update,....the first piece of horizontal steel tube framing along the back wall of the shed. The large size square tubing is the type that will be utilized to support the edge of the plywood deck next to the walls.. This will be selectively placed around the perimeter of the shed. There will also be central pieces at the inner edges of the shelf somewhat like shown on this preliminary dwg.
 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Member since
    August, 2013
  • From: Richmond, VA
  • 1,495 posts
Posted by carl425 on Friday, August 24, 2018 10:47 AM

Really?  Why would you use something so heavy and hard to work with for a job that can be easily done by a pine 1x2?  

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
    February, 2009
  • 918 posts
Posted by railandsail on Friday, August 24, 2018 1:14 PM

carl425

Really?  Why would you use something so heavy and hard to work with for a job that can be easily done by a pine 1x2?  

 

It's really not as heavy as it looks. And it really is STIFF and strong enough to bolt my 3/4 plywood to and maybe just cantiliver it out with very little other support. I will have virtually no need for multiple vertical post. I have no need for plank-on-edge stringers under the plywood/foam subroadbed.

This also allowed me to put my staging tracks relatively close up under the lower main deck, which in turn probably saved me adding an extra loop in my helix down to staging.

I admit it looks heavy duty/overdone, but it has saved me extra heights and lots of extra materials, and will likely give me a pretty clear space underneath for storage/access.
 
Not so hard to work with,...cut with a chop saw with metal blade...not much drilling as it already had MULTIPLE holes. Just lag bolt to the studs behind the wall. Not really that much material in total

Had I not gotten that used 'highway sign post' material from my local scrap yard, I was considering using old bed from metal, or old channel iron from used metal shelfing. I have some of that as well that I might use selectively in other areas (upper deck??). We'll see.
  • Member since
    February, 2009
  • 918 posts
Posted by railandsail on Saturday, October 06, 2018 6:19 PM

Update on my Metal Benchwork

I have discovered a detail that needs to be cautioned against. When you look at this particular photo you will see a piece of galvanized channel being used to support the staging level plywood (that bottom piece).

I have discovered it is too flexible in twist to span the 24" of stud spacing it is attached to.


If one is going to use 'channel/angle' material of that shape it needs to be considerable thicker steel that resist twisting. I have some much better steel angle iron that came from a nice HD shelf storage rack.

The full box metal piece of steel resist twisting to a much greater degree (almost non existant), just by its configuration, and likely even it was a made of a thinner steel.

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