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STRATTON AND GILLETTE Project 2: Benchwork Experimentation: Updated 22/JUL/2019

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STRATTON AND GILLETTE Project 2: Benchwork Experimentation: Updated 22/JUL/2019
Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, December 21, 2018 2:47 PM

This is what the project look like as of July 14th, 2019. Read through the thread to see how this was built from the ground up.

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Day 1, Post 1

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This is my second major project proving the design and ideas for my last lifetime layout. I am going to spend the next couple of weeks building a "proof of concept" section of my benchwork design I am going to use on my next layout.

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The first project was over a year ago, and was a 1:1 (full scale) mockup of the entire layout. It can be seen here:

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http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/88/t/262808.aspx

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I will take pictures of the process and progress and keep the updates coming.

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Step 1: I went to Grainger and puchased a pair of steel workbench legs to use as the support. I love the beginning of a new project. I am in for a fun couple of weeks.

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-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by middleman on Friday, December 21, 2018 3:54 PM

I enjoyed your layout mock-up thread,Kevin. Looking forward to your posts on this.

Mike

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, December 22, 2018 9:00 AM

Day 2 Post 1:

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middleman
I enjoyed your layout mock-up thread,Kevin. Looking forward to your posts on this

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Thank you Mike. I really could call this "Project 3", with the house remodel being "Project 2", but that is much less fun and more frustrating.

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This is a sketch of the basic structural part cross section. The steel legs will support two "L girders" fabricated from 1 by X premium lumber. The front L girder will have two additional tiers of lumber to become the fascia.

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I hope to get this much done today... off to the lumber yard.

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-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, December 22, 2018 6:04 PM

Day 2, Post 2:

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Failure to post this earlier, nor sure what happened. Sorry if this is a duplicate post.

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I did not think this through as well as I could have. It is three days until Christmas, and the whole garage is full of stuff that does not belong there.

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It looks like I will need to do this job in the driveway. One more good reason to live in Florida! I can work in the driveway in December in shorts and a T shirt.

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-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, December 22, 2018 6:23 PM

SeeYou190
the whole garage is full of stuff that does not belong there.

Hey Kevin! I'll take those tool chests off your hands any time, that is if they are free and you will deliver them.... to Canada..... in the winter.... Oh, I guess not eh?Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

By the way, my garage looks pretty much like that too!Whistling

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, December 22, 2018 6:24 PM

Day 2, Post 3:

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For this experiment I am using inexpensive low quality builder grade wood. When I build the actual layout I will use premium wood. This experiment is destined for the landfill, so I see no reason to spend funds on the premium wood.

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I am using biscuits and wood glue for as many of the joints as possible. I opted for #10 biscuits.

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C clamps are great for holding the L girder together during assembly. Until a few countersunk wood screws are installed.

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I am going to stagger the joints between the horizontal and vertical parts of the L girder. I use biscuits at the butt joints also.

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The steel leg assemblies are rated at 2,000 pounds each, or 4,000 pounds for the pair. I believe that is more than enough to support the weight if a section of HO scale railroad layout. Whistling

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The legs have an adjustable height feature. I did some measuring, and I think the second hole is where I want to set the height.

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At the locations where the legs attach, or where there is a joint in the L girder, I chose to install a support block made from two by four.

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I fastened the legs to the L girders with 1/4 inch lag screws. I thought I would need diagonal bracing, but the assembly is remarkably rigid. I do not think cross bracing will be necessary for this project.

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I will continue work tomorrow.

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-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, December 22, 2018 6:33 PM

Kevin,

That "low grade" wood looks pretty decent to me. If it works, why scrap it. The weathering won't hurt anything and it won't be seen, so why not just use it? You can send me the money that you save, along with those tool chests you promised me!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughClown

Excellent work, by the way.

Dave

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, December 22, 2018 6:45 PM

hon30critter
If it works, why scrap it.

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This whole thing is also serving double-duty as a diorama for a few railroad shots. It will be fully scenicked and photo-ready when I am done, but it will not fit into the layout plan anywhere. Along with benchwork testing, it is also a test of a few ideas in other areas too.

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If I can make the scene look good enough, and get a good enough picture, I will submit it to Trackside Photos in Model Railroader.

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Once it has served all these puposes, the only parts I plan to save are the legs.

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hon30critter
Excellent work, by the way.

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Thank you for the compliment. I am doing my best!

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I am also open to ideas for improvement... I never claimed to be a carpenter.

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-Kevin

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, December 22, 2018 6:58 PM

SeeYou190
This whole thing is also serving double-duty as a diorama for a few railroad shots. It will be fully scenicked and photo-ready when I am done, but it will not fit into the layout plan anywhere. Along with benchwork testing, it is also a test of a few ideas in other areas too.

Okay, I understand.

SeeYou190
I am also open to ideas for improvement... I never claimed to be a carpenter.

If I may suggest, I think the heavy duty steel legs are a bit of overkill. You could make 'L' shaped legs from 1x2s and 1x3s that would support far more weight than they will ever need to. Heck, you could just use 2x4s. That's what we did at the club. Not pretty, but they work.

I'm not being critical. I suspect that you get a lot of pleasure from building things very solidly. I overbuild things too. Like I have mentioned in other threads, I built a $4000 deck for $7000 and I was very proud of myself. You should be too.

Dave

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, December 22, 2018 7:14 PM

hon30critter
I think the heavy duty steel legs are a bit of overkill. You could make 'L' shaped legs from 1x2s and 1x3s that would support far more weight than they will ever need to.

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Absolutely true.

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I am very familiar with these steel legs. These are the same legs I use on my workbench in the house for model building:

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And on my workbench in the garage, which has also been taken over by models.

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These legs, while a bit much for model railroad benchwork, have some amazing features. The electrical receptical knock-out is a great feature. Having outlets all along the fron of the layout will be a huge convenience. 

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The legs are only 2 3/4" wide, which saves all kind of space under the layout. There will hardly be a spot I need to get to where a supporting piece will be in the way.

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There is also no way the legs will ever twist, warp, or deform. In the Florida tropical humidity, this is always a concern.

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With my pricing consideration at Grainger, the legs are only about $30.00 each, so the added expense is not all that much.

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-Kevin

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, December 22, 2018 7:52 PM

SeeYou190
the legs are only about $30.00 each, so the added expense is not all that much.

Ok, I'm sold! You obviously know what you are doing.

I'm looking forward to watching your progress.

Dave

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 23, 2018 12:01 PM

Day 3, Post 1:

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I got a late start today.

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I added the 2 by 4 bottom pieces below the legs. On the actual layout this is where the leveling shims will be placed, in between the leg bottom and the 2 by 4.

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Now onto the electrical outlets.

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-Kevin

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 23, 2018 1:14 PM

I am a carpenter, and I am watching and waiting before commenting too much.

The steel legs are fine idea, if they suit the height and depth requirements if your layout. Not sure they would work for me.

Not sure your really need all those biscuits and such? But I really don't yet understand how the layout surface will attach to all this?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 23, 2018 1:29 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
The steel legs are fine idea, if they suit the height and depth requirements if your layout. Not sure they would work for me. Not sure your really need all those biscuits and such? But I really don't yet understand how the layout surface will attach to all this?

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The layout will be significantly lower than what the "experts" in this hobby are building. 

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The layout will be operable from a seated position or a wheelchair. I do not want to give up my layout because of mobility issues 20 years down the road.

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My last two layouts have been much higher, and I really did not like all the inconvenience this caused.

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I have used biscuits only a couple of times before. For joining "one by" lumber on the thin side they work great.

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-Kevin

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 23, 2018 1:41 PM

I have no issue with building a layout lower than what most are doing, I am working on that choice right now myself.

But unlike the current trend, most of my layout will have deep scenery, 3-4 feet in many places. Visable trackage will be up front in easy reach, but scenes with have depth.

Still waiting to see how the layout will attach to what you have so far.

I gave up on L girder theory after just one layout built with it in the 70's. I plan to make the most of storage space under the layout and have considered building some level of custom casework for the front of the benchwork.

I have 1700 record albums, 900 music CD's, and complete sets of RMC and MR back into the 1940's that I want to also store/catalog in the train room. As well as making it my primary listening room.

This is why almost all of the hidden staging will actually be accessed from above, not below.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 23, 2018 2:15 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Still waiting to see how the layout will attach to what you have so far.

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I do not have anything so far. This is just an experiment of the structural / scenic / trackwork design I would like to use.

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-Kevin

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 23, 2018 4:25 PM

Day 3, Post 2:

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Electrical....

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My electrician is going to install a dedicated 20 amp circuit breaker just for the layout. The layout will plug into this circuit at only one point. The layout will all be wired for 110 VAC.

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The electrician said to use 12 Guage wire for all connections in the layout since it is a 20 amp circuit, but use 15 amp recepticals in the legs. He said that since no singe load would exceed even 2 amps, there was no reason to use 20 amp recepticals.

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I found a very neat product on Home Depot that is a life saver. It is an eight foot section of 12 guage wire already installed in a flexible metal conduit. This saves countless hours of messing with rigid conduit.

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This comes with pre-assembled end fittings that snap into the 1/2" knock outs in the elecrtrical boxes. This snap in fitting is very tight and secure. There is also a plastic bushing in the connection so there can be no wire abrasion. 

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The knock out covers in the legs are not easy to remove in these items. I have found it is much less frustrating if a 1/8" hole is drilled in four locations to weaken the joint.

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Then I knock the covers off with a pin punch and large hammer. The opening will still need to be cleaned up a bit with a half round mill file.

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I have always found it to be very helpful to tap the holes in all metal electrical boxes before I use them. The manufacturing process for these parts usually results in poorly formed threads. This is a huge headache saver.

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I did use rigid metal conduit for the front-to-back electrical connection. This requires no bends, just a 20 inch piece of straight tubing.

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I always check continuity between the ground prong on the plug and the metal legs. There should be less than 1 ohm resistance. Grounding all metal components is very importants, so I always verify it is good.

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I also check groud continuity to the metal conduit and electrical boxes.

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Then I hooked up power, and verified the electrical recepticals were wired correctly with this simple testing tool.

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This is what the finished base segment looks like:

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I decided that segment is the correct term for this. It is not a module or section. The layout will continue in both directions, this is just a portion of the benchwork.

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The L Girders are in place, this is pretty much the structural element that the layout will be supported by.

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The next steps will be the fascia extension, then the backdrop and trackbed.

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Fun fun fun.

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-Kevin

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, December 23, 2018 5:46 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I gave up on L girder theory after just one layout built with it in the 70's.

Why? 

I saved the L-griders from my 1980's layout torn down in 1999, until 7 months before I got back into model railroading in 2015

Henry

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 23, 2018 6:18 PM

Yes, it needes to be #12 wire, but why conduit or armored cable?

Some local code in your world?

As long as proper bushings are used thru metal, and wire is property routed, ROMEX would be fine.

And, it is normal practice to use 15 amp outlets on a 20 amp circuit, actually outlined and explained in the NEC.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, December 23, 2018 7:09 PM

BigDaddy

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I gave up on L girder theory after just one layout built with it in the 70's.

 

Why? 

I saved the L-griders from my 1980's layout torn down in 1999, until 7 months before I got back into model railroading in 2015

 

One, I lost interest in the free form fasica idea

Two, I did not like the deep "depth" from the top of the stringers to the bottom of the L girders. I found the "dramic" scenery effects L girder was designed for to not really be too my liking, and effects below track level just as easily built with flat open grid.

Then I tried my hand at multi decks, where benchwork thickness was even more of an issue. I have since rejected multi decks, but L gider would offer no benefits on the new layout.

Today, on my new layout, I woud not waste the extra space under the layout which I plan to use for storage.

And, I'm not one given to changing stuff after I build it, another virtue of L girder I have no need for.

I have never been one to salvage lumber or glued/ballasted track from old layouts.....

The new layout will be built in table top type modules just in case I ever need to move it. I have cabinet level carpentry skills.

I'm an engineering type, I plan stuff before I build, I don't need "adaptable" or "figure it out as you go" methods.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, December 23, 2018 10:17 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Yes, it needes to be #12 wire, but why conduit or armored cable? Some local code in your world? As long as proper bushings are used thru metal, and wire is property routed, ROMEX would be fine. And, it is normal practice to use 15 amp outlets on a 20 amp circuit, actually outlined and explained in the NEC.

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I come from the commercial world, I have no experience in residential. In fact, almost all my experience is in three phase.

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To me, the layout wiring is exposed, it is not inside a wall. So to me, everything should be metal jacketed and grounded.

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It might be overkill, but I will feel better about it.

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I am glad to hear my electrician's instructions sound up to par. I was uneasy about the idea of 15 amp recepticals on a 20 amp circuit, but my kitchen is hooked up like that too.

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-Kevin

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, December 24, 2018 2:06 AM

When the inspector came to check that my wiring was done properly (this was for the whole house, as at that time I was still building the house) I told him of my plan to mount receptacles on the surface of the drywall (screwed to the studs, of course) in the basement layout room, with the intention to later, when the layout was built, convert some of them to junction boxes, and then run wire from them to the receptacles mounted on the layout.  He said that that was allowable, but because the cable would be surface-mounted (on the 2"x4" supports for the layout) and because the under-layout area would be used for storage, there was a chance that regular Romex could be subject to damage, and therefore I would be required to use BX (armoured flexible cable).
It took me a while to get to that stage, but I did as instructed, and have four receptacles under the layout (only one is used, and that's for the layout power).  Another four are surface mounted on the layout framing, just below the bottom edge of the fascia....

I agree with Sheldon, that the space beneath the layout is useful for storage.  I have very little wiring under the layout, so most of it has plywood shelving about 6" above the basement floor.  It's useful for storing all sorts of the stuff most of us accumulate:  Christmas stuff in the summer, outdoor stuff in the winter, tools, toys, even furniture, and, of course, train stuff.
In the photo above, the freight car shelves are open, with four of the layout's five staging yards above.  Cars move from their box to the layout and later, from layout to box.

Most of the rest of the layout has either sliding doors or lift-off panels for access to whatever's stored there...

If I need to work under the layout, I simply empty the appropriate shelf, which puts the wiring in easy reach from the shelf, and I always have a receptacle nearby for lights and power tools.

I'm also not a fan of L-girder.  I used it in one place on a former layout, a fairly long across-the-room span, but it would have been easier to build and stronger had I done it as an open grid. 
All of my current layout is open grid, and while much of the fascia is straight, there are curves at all of the corners, both inside-type and outside-type...

... and anywhere else they're needed, too...

 

Most of the track is on risers, some perhaps only an inch in height, some almost 2'...I can have all the below-the-track-scenery I want.  The partial upper level is also an open grid framework, but it's topped with 5/8" plywood.
Doing one level in L-girder takes up enough vertical space, but using it for an upper level would be a bit more difficult.
I also used no diagonal bracing, as all of the structure supporting the open grid is secured to the wall studs with screws or lag bolts, as is the open grid.  The partial upper level's grid frame is screwed to the wall studs and also to the 1 1/2" angle iron support brackets, and the brackets are all lag-bolted to the wall studs.

None of this, as is evident, is furniture-grade construction.  I use good-quality lumber, but not for its appearance, only for its performance.

Wayne

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, December 24, 2018 3:38 AM

doctorwayne
None of this, as is evident, is furniture-grade construction. I use good-quality lumber, but not for its appearance, only for its performance.

It looks good to me and useful. 

Just this afternoon I was installing wiring for a building from underneath.  Imagine looking up, your bifocals sliding down your nose and two bad rotator cuffs.  I'm not sure I could do that from inside your cabinetry.

However as nothing is finished, and several ongoing projects there are boxes all over my basement, with rolling stock, parts, electrical stuff, model paint and more bits and pieces.  It's a mess.

My issue with L-grider is that although I planned out the track and the grades, I didn't plan at all for trackside structures.  This was before the internet, so there was nobody to ask.   Eventurally I figured it out with cardboard and hydrocal.

Henry

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, December 24, 2018 12:44 PM

Day 4, Post 1:

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Not much is going to get done over the next couple of days. We have Christmas related family stuff to do.

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As you can see from the picture below, underneath the layout storage was taken into consideration with this design. The distance between the legs is set at 56 inches, and the height determined so that 6 of these 27 gallon tote boxes can fit underneath each segment.

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This is not as finished looking as what Doctor Wayne came up with, but when the totes are removed I have complete access to the underneath of the layout.

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-Kevin

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, December 24, 2018 1:10 PM

 That's why I am using L-girder, on my lower level. Long spans, not many legs. Lots of room for totes. EVERYTHING will be containerized and labeled. Rather than make fancy sliding foors, I will probably just use fabric of some sort, hung underneath the fascia with velcro.

                           --Randy

 


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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, December 24, 2018 1:53 PM

rrinker
...fancy sliding doors...

My "fancy sliding doors" are 1/8" or 1/4" Masonite in plastic channel from Stanley Tools, and the lift-off panels are also 1/8" Masonite.

The layout support structure is mostly 2"x4"s, but there is some heavier stuff, too, all of it excess from the house build (I sorta accidentally over-ordered).  Support posts are about 5' or 6' apart, while the 1"x4" open grid sections are mostly 8'-10' in length and of varying width. 
The upper level open grid is a combination of 1"x4" on the aisle-side and at the ends of each section, with the intermediate crossmembers and the rear longitudinal of 1"x2"s.

In most places, the open grid framework overhangs the supporting structure considerably...

...so it's easy to stand close to the layout without kicking anything if you need to reach towards the back of the layout. 
The partial second level does limit such access to the level below somewhat, but if I need to do anything major (I may install a few of those Rapido switch motors on turnouts near the back on the layout - the ground throws were easy to reach when it was single level), I'll simply temporarily remove the upper fascia.

Since we all have our own situations with which we have to deal, and our own preferences, too, whatever way works best for each individual is probably the right choice.

Wayne

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, December 24, 2018 2:36 PM

doctorwayne
we all have our own situations with which we have to deal, and our own preferences, too,

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So true.

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I would love to have the organic free flowing fascia that your layout has, but my room is just too narrow. I will have a straight fascia. One compromise after another.

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-Kevin

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, December 24, 2018 11:12 PM

Day 4, Post 2:

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I left the benchwork sitting in a stress test today. Each of those boxes of imported Spanish tile weigh more than 50 pounds, so that is 300 plus pounds centered right on the weakest point in the structure.

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After six hours, it had not even deflected 1/16 of an inch. I think that is a pass.

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-Kevin

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Posted by doctorwayne on Tuesday, December 25, 2018 1:39 AM

SeeYou190
...that is 300 plus pounds centered right on the weakest point in the structure....

So, Kevin, whatcha got in mind, an on-layout beer 'fridge? Smile, Wink & Grin  That benchwork oughta handle it!

Wayne

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, December 25, 2018 2:34 AM

SeeYou190
Each of those boxes of imported Spanish tile weigh more than 50 pounds, so that is 300 plus pounds centered right on the weakest point in the structure.

Kevin,

That's interesting. I never thought of using 300 lbs of tiles as a base for scenery before! That will make a nice mountain! 

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm as bad as Wayne! Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh

Hope you are having a Merry Christmas!

Dave

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