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Layout design, new to the hobby

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Layout design, new to the hobby
Posted by johnvosh on Saturday, February 8, 2020 6:37 PM

Hello from Stony Plain, Alberta everyone!

New to the forum and to the hobby. I have been interested in trains ever since I was a kid. At one point growing up we did live by the main CP Rail tracks going thru Athalmer, BC. We would always go walking along the tracks, finding spikes and stuff. I really wished I would of kept them. The trains that would go thru the area are generally coal trains. Watched the trains change thruout the years. I grew up in the 90's and watched as they changed locomotive type, how they distributed the power thru the train, how the coal cars changed, the disappearance of the caboose.

I personally love the CP Rail Multimark paint scheme.

I am going to be starting my own model layout in HO scale. I have moved a whole bunch of stuff to make room for it. I have attached an image to scale of basically the type of layout I will be creating. I still need to figure out the best way to do the entrance into the room, any suggestions would be awesome.

I want to eventually get at least one of each type of rail car (not passenger). I will probably be going the NCE DCC route as I was watching a couple video's and I think I prefer it over the Digitrax.

On one part of the layout I want to have an area where they can load LPG cars, one area that grain cars are loaded, and one area that is more industrail (think box cars and gondola's).

I have been watching a few video's on YouTube about how to make scenery.

I work at a lumber yard, so have easy access to lumber. The frames I am making out of 2x4's (cheaper than 1x4) and then I will have 1x4 for the cross members and then 1x3/1x2 T legs and then I will top it with 1.5 inch rigid foam. I am going to make the benches probably 44" tall as I am 6 feet tall. I will eventually be cutting a tunnel thru into the closet with a 32" wide by 5 foot long stagging yard.

 

HO scale Railroad layout, 1st step

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Posted by ROCK MILW on Monday, February 10, 2020 11:28 AM

You might check out the Montreal Harbour Ry. in the MRR Track Plan Database.  The dimensions are similar to your room.

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Posted by cowman on Monday, February 10, 2020 5:29 PM

Welcome to the forums.  Your posts will be moderated for a brief period of time, so you may experience a delay in seeing them.

First, I would consider changing the length of 1 & 2 so that you could put a gate in the opening.  There are lift outs (if you have a place to store them), swing gates (which it appears could swing in to the right, but it would be crowded), drop gates that hinge down (but if you plan much scenery it it is in danger of getting knocked off) and my preference a tip up gate.  The hinges do have to be on top of the layout for them to work peoperly, but they can ge disguised in several ways.  You could also make your gate not as wide as the rest of the benchwork, which would make it lighter and easier to handle.

I have an NCE set up and like it.  Others that have other brands will swear by their brand.  The advice I was given was to find out what others in your area have, especially if there is a club, then get that brand so that you cnn participate in group activities and run on other layouts with your controller and they can come to yours.  Also, if you have questions you have a group of people close by that are familiar with the setup.

I would suggest a selector plate for your staging yard, so as  not to eat up too much space with switches.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, February 10, 2020 6:14 PM

Welcome to the forum. 

Personally I'd make it higher.  The chart is 2 different threads on layout height.  I made some arbitrary judgements.  If someone said their layout was 50 - 52" I entered that a s 51".  If they said there were levels at 42 and 55, I entered both.

Mine is at 48.

You are younger and more nimble than most of us, but a crawling on your hands knees gets old in a hurry.  I would have a swing down or lift out section.  There are a couple videos in the MRVP subscription service which show how to do that so that power is cut off before and engine falls in the abyss (if the gate is lowered) and the rail to rail connection lines up correctly.

Henry

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Posted by johnvosh on Monday, February 10, 2020 8:19 PM

ROCK MILW

You might check out the Montreal Harbour Ry. in the MRR Track Plan Database.  The dimensions are similar to your room.

 

Thank you for the suggestion. I had a look at that plan and it is similar in size to my current room. I could actually make that plan a foot wider, but then the only problem I have is the walk in closet at the bottom right. It does give me some good ideas though, thank you.

Right now I have 6 feet of space in the middle of the layout, but I could probably easily get away with reducing that to 4 feet I'm guessing?

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Posted by johnvosh on Monday, February 10, 2020 8:27 PM

cowman

Welcome to the forums.  Your posts will be moderated for a brief period of time, so you may experience a delay in seeing them.

How long are they moderated for?

cowman

First, I would consider changing the length of 1 & 2 so that you could put a gate in the opening.  There are lift outs (if you have a place to store them), swing gates (which it appears could swing in to the right, but it would be crowded), drop gates that hinge down (but if you plan much scenery it it is in danger of getting knocked off) and my preference a tip up gate.  The hinges do have to be on top of the layout for them to work peoperly, but they can ge disguised in several ways.  You could also make your gate not as wide as the rest of the benchwork, which would make it lighter and easier to handle.

I was thinking of making the gate a bit narrower than the rest of the layout and have it be more of a corner type piece with just 1-2 tracks running over it, not exactly sure yet. I think the door is in an awkward place (I'm removing the actual door) and wish it was to the left about 12 inches.

cowman

I have an NCE set up and like it.  Others that have other brands will swear by their brand.  The advice I was given was to find out what others in your area have, especially if there is a club, then get that brand so that you cnn participate in group activities and run on other layouts with your controller and they can come to yours.

I watched a couple video's on YouTube about NCE and Digitrax, which I think is what most clubs around here are using, and I personally like the NCE one better from what I saw in the video's. I also probably won't be going to any of the local clubs as I'm really new to this. I think the hardest part for me will be the scenery. My dad is making a layout in his garage as well, so we will try and go with the same DCC system in the end.

cowman

I would suggest a selector plate for your staging yard, so as  not to eat up too much space with switches.

I just looked that up and it seems like a really good idea. Then I can have one track going thru the wall and have way more space available for the staging yard instead of a bunch of switches.

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Posted by johnvosh on Monday, February 10, 2020 8:33 PM

BigDaddy

Welcome to the forum. 

Personally I'd make it higher.  Mine is at 48.

You are younger and more nimble than most of us, but a crawling on your hands knees gets old in a hurry. 

Ya, I wasn't exactly sure how tall to make it. I was thinking 44" because I have my nieces that will come over and want to be able to see it and they are 3-9 years old right now (4 of them!), but being as I am 6 feet tall, I think 48" would probably be a lot easier on my back. I just turned 34 and having to crawl underneath, really isn't too much of a hassle and later on I could always take and change it out to something where I could walk thru, but am still taking suggestions and ideas on the best way for at least the main entrance into the room. Basically I am removing the door and there is only a couple of inches from the door edge to the wall, but I probably only need a 1.5-2 foot path thru.....

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, February 10, 2020 9:05 PM

Don't make the mistake of building bench work first and then trying to fit track onto it.  That usually doesn't go well.  Instead design a track plan and the make the bench work to fit it.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:58 AM

Hi johnvosh from a fellow Canadian!

Welcome to the hobby and to the forums!   Welcome

I would agree with what Richard said about changing some of the benchwork parts. I would change parts 1, 2 & 3 so that you have a natural gap at the entrance to the room. To be specific, shorten #1 so that it lines up with the door opening, eliminate #2 entirely, and extend #3 to fill in the gap left by #2. That will give you two solid benchwork edges on either side of the doorway to mount your removable span to.

As far as how to bridge the gap across the door opening, there are many viable possibilities. My old club used a lift out anchored in place by using 3" door hinges with removable hinge pins. It worked reasonably well but getting the hinge pins into place was fussy, and as the seasons changed it wasn't possible to get the second pin into place at all. It still worked but the rail gap at the end where the pin wouldn't go in became considerable.

You might want to consider using a system that doesn't require quite as much fiddling to get it into place. I'm sure others will offer advice on how to cover the gap at the door.

Dave

 

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Posted by johnvosh on Thursday, February 13, 2020 7:36 AM

Here is my 3rd revision to my layout plans. The track example on the layout is not to the scale, just roughly on there to get an idea.

 

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:11 AM

A "not to scale track plan sketch" gives you a start, but, it can lead to disappointment come time to lay track.

Take the time to do a track plan to scale.  There are templates you can use for turnouts, etc., to get the size and spacing right.

I also like the fact that you include a staging/storage space.  Just make sure it fits it's purpose, as far as train lengths, and has access from both directions of your layout.

Mike.

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Posted by johnvosh on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:39 AM

mbinsewi

A "not to scale track plan sketch" gives you a start, but, it can lead to disappointment come time to lay track.

Take the time to do a track plan to scale.  There are templates you can use for turnouts, etc., to get the size and spacing right.

I also like the fact that you include a staging/storage space.  Just make sure it fits it's purpose, as far as train lengths, and has access from both directions of your layout.

 

What free software would you recommend? I downloaded SCARM, but am having trouble figuring it out.

My model layout is based loosely on rev 5.11 Heart of Georgia, that I have expanded and changed a bit to suit my layout size, and then adding the staging yard in the other area.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:46 AM

I'm the wrong guy to ask for track planning software, as I did mine "old school", paper, pencil, and scale rulers.

I'm sure others will jump in and advise to what programs are good.  I do understand that most programs have the sizes of things like turnouts all figured out, as far as manufacturers, but I'm not sure.

Mike.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:04 AM

johnvosh
What free software would you recommend? I downloaded SCARM, but am having trouble figuring it out.

While I have used WinRail as well as SCARM, which I very much like, I cannot recommend any track planning software. Each has quite a learning curve to, just like any CAD program. While track planning software helps you draw your track plan, it does not design it. For that process, you need to know how railroads operate, what type of operation you want to emulate, and last but not least, some basic knowledge of how to wire a layout, because that may influence your choice of layout design.

My best recommendation to you is to get the Armstrong´s book on how to plan a layout for realistic operation, available through our host.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, February 13, 2020 4:11 PM

mbinsewi
A "not to scale track plan sketch" gives you a start, but, it can lead to disappointment come time to lay track.

+1. There are a number of areas of the Original Poster's sketch which won't work the way they are drawn. This is especially true in the staging area, where the frog angles and curve radii are much too sharp to actually be built. Both the number and the length of the staging tracks in the clear will be much less than drawn.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:12 AM

You could also go old school and get a pad of 11x17" graph paper and use a compass to draw your curves.  If you draw a scale on the plan, you can set the compass to certain radii and draw in curves and be sure everything fits as intended.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by johnvosh on Friday, February 14, 2020 7:26 AM

This is the plan that I am roughly basing my layout on, but expanding it. It has all the turnouts and radius' on it and I am really just making it longer and wider and adding/changing a couple of things.

 

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:54 AM

I designed my own layout after reading lots from various sources, including Armstrong's book. I also used pen and paper - I'm too busy to start learning about new software for designing just one layout. The key thing about paper is that you need to calculate the squares for switches and curves. Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines. Anyway, if you aim for say 28'' radius, that means that a quarter of  circle will eat up 28'' by 28'' on your layout, plus a few inches for ballast and side-play. For the switches, as mentioned by others, you need to measure at the very least the proper length for the switch itself, and then calculate the space for the outgoing track. Mine was a bit off when I actually got down to laying track, but give yourself some wiggle room and it should be fine.

About the plan itself, if you really like to run trains, I would consider having a double mainline. A single mainline will look 'longer' and have more visual appeal. It also leaves more space for scenery and buildings. But if you want to run trains, especially with others, a double line is a lot more fun.  

One last point. Duck unders are a pain, especially if you need to carry things to the other side, like cars to a staging area. I installed a hinged liftout and never regretted it. Do a search on google and you will find a few good threads on this forum on how to build one.

Simon

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 14, 2020 5:02 PM

snjroy

I designed my own layout after reading lots from various sources, including Armstrong's book. I also used pen and paper - I'm too busy to start learning about new software for designing just one layout. The key thing about paper is that you need to calculate the squares for switches and curves.

John Armstrongs "squares" discussion is the only part of his book that I didn't work with my brain, so I tossed it out but everything else was very helpful.

Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines.

I'd only go 24" if you are running 60' rolling stock or shorter, but that's me.  Everyone has different tolerances for curves.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by johnvosh on Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:01 PM

riogrande5761

 Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines.

I'd only go 24" if you are running 60' rolling stock or shorter, but that's me.  Everyone has different tolerances for curves.

 

I think I will probably be running 40' and 50' rolling stock for the most part, that's what I have bought for right now anyways

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Posted by johnvosh on Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:03 PM

snjroy

About the plan itself, if you really like to run trains, I would consider having a double mainline. A single mainline will look 'longer' and have more visual appeal. It also leaves more space for scenery and buildings. But if you want to run trains, especially with others, a double line is a lot more fun.  

One last point. Duck unders are a pain, especially if you need to carry things to the other side, like cars to a staging area. I installed a hinged liftout and never regretted it. Do a search on google and you will find a few good threads on this forum on how to build one.

Simon

I think, because I am doulbing the size of the layout in the plan above, I will probably have no trouble running a second mainline. I will not be having duck unders, and am going to be making two sections on hinges to make it easier. And after doing some more measuring, I think I am going to do my layout at 44 inches.

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Posted by johnvosh on Monday, February 17, 2020 6:18 PM

Here is Rev 4 sketch of my layout, showing the track. I have basically extended the layout in the above example to 10 feet by 10.5 feet and am putting a 2' X 7.5' staging area in the closet with a tunnel thru the wall. And I have made it 2' wide instead of just 1', to give me more room to work with scenery.

I plan on having a hinged lift up at the main door, which I have removed and then a hinged lift up going into the closet. The area going into the closet will have a double bridge and a nice river flowing under it.

I have also added a second mainline and another track along the 32" wide section.

This sketch is to scale, as I copied most of the track from the original layout and extended it. I think it will look good once it is all built!

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, February 17, 2020 6:37 PM

deleted:   the pic has appeared

 

Henry

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 6:03 AM

johnvosh
 
riogrande5761

 Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines.

I'd only go 24" if you are running 60' rolling stock or shorter, but that's me.  Everyone has different tolerances for curves.

 

 

 

I think I will probably be running 40' and 50' rolling stock for the most part, that's what I have bought for right now anyways. 


Here is a case for going with larger radius curves despite plans to run only 40 and 50 foot rolling stock.  In a word, "future-proof", a term I used to hear in the computer building hobby.  In otherwords, build the layout so it can handle what comes in the future, because if you get a wild hair and decide to run longer rolling stock, the layout will be able to handle it better.  And it may not impinge on running qualities of your basic track plan to increase curve radiii by a few more inches.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 9:26 AM

riogrande5761
Here is a case for going with larger radius curves despite plans to run only 40 and 50 foot rolling stock.

.

Thatb is why I test everything with an 86 foot high cube boxcar and double-stacks even though I model 1954.

.

However, all these cars must also be able to pass through a 24 inch S-Curve.

.

-Kevin

.

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 Doughless on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 7:09 PM

johnvosh

Here is Rev 4 sketch of my layout, showing the track. I have basically extended the layout in the above example to 10 feet by 10.5 feet and am putting a 2' X 7.5' staging area in the closet with a tunnel thru the wall. And I have made it 2' wide instead of just 1', to give me more room to work with scenery.

I plan on having a hinged lift up at the main door, which I have removed and then a hinged lift up going into the closet. The area going into the closet will have a double bridge and a nice river flowing under it.

I have also added a second mainline and another track along the 32" wide section.

This sketch is to scale, as I copied most of the track from the original layout and extended it. I think it will look good once it is all built!

 

 

IMO, the simplicity of the plan....and that's a compliment BTW...means you don't really have to have a precise drawing of the plan before you build the benchwork, at least the parts not by the door or the staging area (think about that area for a while).  It sometimes helps to actually see the blank canvas built and then start to position tracks to where it might catch your eye differently than what was envisioned when you drew it.  You really don't have many options to make the shape of the layout any diffierant than an around the room donut.

However, you might want to angle the benchwork near the entrance door, making the plan sort of a five-corner plan instead of 4, to be able to swing open the door or enter the room without having to worry about the position of the layout swing gate.  Swing the gate after you've opened and passed through the door.

I would make each shelf as deep as possible to maximize scene depth, keeping in mind that each far corner could be a tough reach if the shelves were more than 24 inches deep.  Still, there are ways to minimize reach problems into the corners.  Also, that new fifth side of the plan, the part by the door, should be narrow as to make it easier to build and swing a gate.

Good luck.

- Douglas

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Posted by johnvosh on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 8:52 PM

Doughless

IMO, the simplicity of the plan....and that's a compliment BTW...means you don't really have to have a precise drawing of the plan before you build the benchwork, at least the parts not by the door or the staging area (think about that area for a while).  It sometimes helps to actually see the blank canvas built and then start to position tracks to where it might catch your eye differently than what was envisioned when you drew it.  You really don't have many options to make the shape of the layout any diffierant than an around the room donut.

However, you might want to angle the benchwork near the entrance door, making the plan sort of a five-corner plan instead of 4, to be able to swing open the door or enter the room without having to worry about the position of the layout swing gate.  Swing the gate after you've opened and passed through the door.

I would make each shelf as deep as possible to maximize scene depth, keeping in mind that each far corner could be a tough reach if the shelves were more than 24 inches deep.  Still, there are ways to minimize reach problems into the corners.  Also, that new fifth side of the plan, the part by the door, should be narrow as to make it easier to build and swing a gate.

Good luck.

After doing some thinking while at work today and reading your post and a few other I've changed my shelves again....My sheets of rigid foam at work are 2 feet wide by 8 feet long. I am not going to put any plywood underneath the foam and will be going with 1.5 inches thick. I can make the bench in total 10 feet by 10 1/2 feet because of the heat register along the one wall

The left side is going to have two benches. They are going to be 5 feet long and 32 inches wide.

The back wall (without a door) will have 2 benches that will be 32 inches wide and 3 feet 11 inches long.

Where the closet entrance is, I am going to make a hinged lift up thru way. I am not sure how I will attach the hinges to the foam yet, it is going to be a narrower section and I am going to make it 16 inches wide and 2 feet long.

The next bench on this wall will be 16 inches wide by 5 feet 4 inches long. I had to take and go do some measuring. The door has been removed so I don't have to worry about swinging a door open or closed, which also gives me a couple inches extra space. If I keep a 16 inch shelf right to the door way, it still leaves with an 18 inch walkway space. I would probably just make a swing up shelf that is a bit wider than two track spacing, again with a couple of hinges.

Then the last shelf is going to be 32 inches wide by 4 feet 6 inches long.

By making most of the benches 32 inches wide instead of just 24 inches, it will maximize my room for scenery and extra track if I wanted to add it.

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 6:51 AM

I'm not experienced in building a layout using thick foam as a structural element.  Others may have done this.

Not clear why you would have an issue with setting foam on a 1/2 thick or even 1/4 inch thick plywood layer.

I'm pretty sure hinges attached directly to foam isn't going to hold up very long.  You're going to need some wood or metal as a structural component on both sides of the gate, IMO.

If you're going to access the closet rarely, you could simply forget the hinges and just build the bridge as removable.  Simply lift it in and out of place.  I think of a hinged swing as for something that's going to be used alot, like near the entrance, and wouldn't be needed to enter a seldom used closet, IMO.

- Douglas

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 7:07 AM

Doughless
Not clear why you would have an issue with setting foam on a 1/2 thick or even 1/4 inch thick plywood layer.

Or build an open grid frame with cross pieces at least every 16 inches, maybe every 12.  I would guess that would be sufficient support, but I don't use foam being old school and prefer to work with wood.

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 8:04 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
Doughless
Not clear why you would have an issue with setting foam on a 1/2 thick or even 1/4 inch thick plywood layer.

 

Or build an open grid frame with cross pieces at least every 16 inches, maybe every 12.  I would guess that would be sufficient support, but I don't use foam being old school and prefer to work with wood.

 

Agreed.  I assume he will use properly spaced joists.  Just can't figure what the aversion to setting down thin plywood would be.

- Douglas

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