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Finally, layout space

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  • Member since
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Finally, layout space
Posted by cats think well of me on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 5:03 PM

Hi all,

Yesterday, my dad and I cleared out a room in the house, and I'm thinking it could be used for layout space. Here's a picture, but I'll post more overtime. 

We're thinking of moving out summer of next year, but I'd like to have something to at least run some trains. I'm thinking of putting all around the walls a 16" or maybe even 20" - 24" shelving along the walls so I can have wide curves, like over 30" or more and plenty of room for some scenicked sections. The track will be double tracked so I can run more than one train and of course have a friend or two run. The room is about 12x12 square. I'll post more pics. For lighting, I'd like to see about some kind of plug in track lighting, LED, florescent, or incandescents, I'll try a variety. 

Any thoughts? The height will be about 54" to 56" as I'm about 5' 10", and that should be okay to work comfortably. I'll post more pics and any words about progress soon. 

Alvie

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 5:23 PM

Well, let's get going. Sounds like a plan to me.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 5:31 PM

I agree.  A solid plan, a comprehensive one so that you can estimate materials and costs, and then start making noise. Git 'er dun.

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Posted by cats think well of me on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 5:59 PM

I'll pick up 1x4s, for a frame, some 1/2" 4x8 AC plywood, and I'm thinking 2" foam to put track and scenery on top of that. I'll start acquiring materials soon. I have plenty of trains, just need a place to run them. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 6:36 PM

I've got 12x12 approximately but with a big corner closet intruding into the space and I'm still working on a viable shelf layout. I'm running outside curves around the protrusion. Mine layout is at around 40" baseline height rising 4" for an over under crossover. 

When setting the baseline height remember to allow for the highest (or lowest as the case may be) elevation you plan to have above (or below) that baseline. A flat layout at 50" may be very good but add a mountainside to that and it maybe will get a bit high.

Get ready to be shocked at lumber prices. If you're using 2" thick foam you probably don't need 1/2" thick plywood under it. You should find that 1/4" or max 3/8" when glued under the foam sheet is rigid enough. That's especially true if you also use 1"x4" benchwork or under layout supporting framework.  

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by cats think well of me on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 6:52 PM

Agreed about lumber prices, even a few sheets of plywood will be expensive, plus the 1x4s. I like the suggestion to do 1/4" or 3/8" plywood instead of 1/2" as that'd save some money and still be quite sturdy. I'll pick up lumber soon, but I'm going to let it sit in there for a month or more. Also, I'll get a good dehumidifier as it's in the basement of a 126-year old house.  

Alvie

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 7:00 PM

Congratualtions Alvie. It sounds like you can have some fun in this space.

-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 cowman on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 7:34 PM

If you are thinking that you will be moving in a few years, think of modular construction so that when the time comes you can take it down and move it fairly easily.  You may need to change a bit for a new space, but your basic layout will be welll started.

Good luck,

Richard

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Posted by Pruitt on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 8:58 PM

Sounds like you're set to go!

Benchwork suggestions:

  • Go with grid construction for ease of moving later.
  • Spend the money and buy a sheet of 3/4" oak plywood, then have the entire sheet ripped into 3" wide X 8' long strips (easy to do at home if you have a circular saw and a Kreg saw guide). What you'll get is 120' of 3" lumber (15 strips X 8'. The 16th strip will be narrow because of losses to the saw blade) to make your benchwork. It's very strong and straight, and cheaper than the equivalent in dimensional lumber - even the pretzel wood at the big box stores.
  • I'd also use 2X2s (or 2X4s) for legs, and for attaching the joists to the stringers. Oak plywood is strong, but using the 2X2 or 2X4 as corner blocks avoids screwing into the end grain of the joists. See the picture below - you can see the corner blocks on the far side of the joists. Just pilot all your screw holes so you don't split the corner blocks!
  • You can use that narrow strip of oak plywood as diagonal braces on the legs.
  • No problem with 2" foam, but it's overkill. 1 1/2" foam is sufficient. That's what I used for my yard, and it's plenty strong and stiff.
  • If you space your joists 16 - 18" apart, you won't need any plywood underlayment. This also is from my own experience. I didn't use any underlayment under my 1 1/2" foam.

I did a combination of grid on top of L-girder for my yard. Made it very easy to move across country 18 months ago.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 8:31 AM

Ripped plywood is a good idea but "oak" plywood won't be. Being an amateur carpenter myself I baulk at slicing up high quality wood for construction purposes. Those good quality face veneers are getting rare. 

The choice is between cabinet grade and construction grade. All wood products have more or less quadrupled in price since the pandemic began due to supply problems in sawmills, ply and panel plants and especially shipping. 

Cabinet grade ply is far more expensive and is usually a good quality face veneer on one or both sides with a "hardwood" core often of birch or similar cheaper stock. Just use the cheapest face veneer stuff you can find. The core of all types is just made of the same stuff.  Factory seconds with blemished or excessively filled face veneers are the sheets to use for benchwork, if you are prepared to pay for the convenience of using nice flat easy to work with ply.

Baltic birch ply coming out of Russia can be cheap and nasty stuff but ideal for sawing up for benchwork or modular framing. The best stuff from the Baltic is still Finnish but Russian stuff is cheaper. The manufacture of this Baltic ply is very good in terms of structural strength but the face veneers leave a lot to be desired. 

I'd use construction grade ply and force it square and straight with framing design rather than spend the bucks on good quality straight cabinet grade but certainly that would be a lot more work.

For a shelf layout built from 18" x 36" or 2'x4' modules I'd use just foam or foam supported by 1/4" ply frames or even 1/4" or 3/8" hardboard "framing". Modular shelf units benefit from being light and supported on shelf supports that provide most of the rigidity.

Hardboard is surprisingly strong and when laminated onto foam with glue makes a light but rigid platform. Hardboard takes screws to mount switch motors and switches if you're careful. It also takes paint better than foam will.

Even 1/4" ply makes very sturdy framing compared to nominal 1"x4" if you build conventional open frame with it instead of the much weaker solid pine lumber (our "pine" is usually spruce). 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 8:38 AM

Hey, that's a great space!   But for 12 months, do you really want to get into complicated benchwork??

A shelf layout, or even a 4X8, is difficult to carry with you. If I were you, I would do a small 4X6 and focus on things you can bring with you when you move, like working on rolling stock, learning more about DCC and building small structures (keep them small, you don't know what your next layout will look like). You can bring your 4X6 with you when you move, and use it as a temporary layout until you build something else. You can't really plan in advance because you don't know what space you will have. So you will need some planning time at the other end - and play on your 4X6 while you do that.

So take it easy for 12 months and have some fun... That's my two cents anyway.

Simon

 

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 10:17 AM

Many layout planners advise against double track mains first because they eat up precious space and second because they inherently remove one source of operation session fun and that is the planning for and execution of meets and passes.  Passing sidings yes for sure.  Another factor these days is the cost and availability of the track!   

Not knowing how many friends would be operating at the same time, assuming someone is making up trains as yard master and needs crews, let's assume two train crews either solo (through freight or passenger train) or two people working together (engineer and brakeman on the local) a double track main might be overkill and use up space better dedicated to local industries and switching opportunities (and the above mentioned passing sidings).  

Dave Nelson

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Posted by cats think well of me on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 12:40 PM

I've been thinking about a mainly single track setup, as again, not a lot of space, and it'd be interesting having passing trains like that. Also with track prices as they are, saving a bit on track here and there is a good plan. For track I'm planning on using Code-83, like Atlas and Walthers, as it's not a long term layout. Again, this is not a long-term prospect. I'd like to do shelves with wider curves as I have 80' passenger cars, numerous 60' to 65' freight cars, larger steam engines, including a 4-8-2, and a 4-8-4. Always just liked the shelf layout approach too. I'm thinking 1x3s for framing into "boxes" of 16" between 1x3 joists, and 1.5" foam on top, though think maybe the hardboard would be a good base to work off of and help bolster the foam. Lowes only had 1/2", 1" and 2" foam in sheets when I dropped by today. I looked at I think 1/4" hardboard at Lowes today, and it's certainly light. Also be what I use for back-drops. I'd build up the layout into short sections for when I do move. To get a sense of how this would go, I took a 16" shelf board, white one, put some track and a couple buildings on it to get a sense of everything and I like it so far. I think in some places, 20" shelves would be better. I'll keep thinking it over, draw up some plans, and at some point, build a test section. One corner is more conventional drywall on 2x4 framing, another is I think the concrete foundation, so for attaching benchwork I'm thinking of using something more like the prior example with L-girder or similar construction and not try to attach it to the concrete, I think it's concrete, work there. 

Alvie

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Posted by NorthBrit on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 2:20 PM

Just my My 2 Cents  Alvie.

Whatever plan you do ensure it is operable by one person.  Off course it is great when friends are around, but there will be times when you are by yourself.

Because of Covid I have been running my layout alone.   Roll on next week  there will be two or three of us.

 

David

To the world you are someone.    To someone you are the world

I cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 2:32 PM

snjroy

Hey, that's a great space!   But for 12 months, do you really want to get into complicated benchwork??

A shelf layout, or even a 4X8, is difficult to carry with you. If I were you, I would do a small 4X6 and focus on things you can bring with you when you move, like working on rolling stock, learning more about DCC and building small structures (keep them small, you don't know what your next layout will look like). You can bring your 4X6 with you when you move, and use it as a temporary layout until you build something else. You can't really plan in advance because you don't know what space you will have. So you will need some planning time at the other end - and play on your 4X6 while you do that.

So take it easy for 12 months and have some fun... That's my two cents anyway.

Simon

 

 

I agree with this perspective. Running trains asap is a good thing, 

I add that 6'x5' allows for 24" radius curves which is also a good thing. You can also just use 4'x6' as a footprint and add on the small extensions you need to accommodate the tiny extra bit of space needed to fit those 24" curves you know you want. 

Try to imagine how this small sample layout might fit into your grander plan and allow for easy connections to more benchwork, maybe even fitting in turnouts to nowhere....

Alyth Yard

Canada

  • Member since
    January 2011
  • From: Lancaster city
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Posted by cats think well of me on Thursday, May 13, 2021 4:37 PM

Hi guys,

Thanks for the feedback. I think I'm going with a shelf design as I've always wanted one. I think I'll do just one 12' x 16" section, or even 12' x 24" and not completely around the walls. The 4x6 or 5x6 is a good idea, but I've always wanted to do something around the walls, even if I can't have it for very long. The section with the concrete, I'm thinking of just not working on, although I like the idea of a loop, even a single track, no scenery, just to permit continuous running. 

Alvie

  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: Wyoming, where men are men, and sheep are nervous!
  • 2,958 posts
Posted by Pruitt on Thursday, May 13, 2021 6:35 PM

Lastspikemike
Ripped plywood is a good idea but "oak" plywood won't be. Being an amateur carpenter myself I baulk at slicing up high quality wood for construction purposes. Those good quality face veneers are getting rare. 

The choice is between cabinet grade and construction grade. All wood products have more or less quadrupled in price since the pandemic began due to supply problems in sawmills, ply and panel plants and especially shipping. 

Cabinet grade ply is far more expensive and is usually a good quality face veneer on one or both sides with a "hardwood" core often of birch or similar cheaper stock. Just use the cheapest face veneer stuff you can find. The core of all types is just made of the same stuff.  Factory seconds with blemished or excessively filled face veneers are the sheets to use for benchwork, if you are prepared to pay for the convenience of using nice flat easy to work with ply.

Baltic birch ply coming out of Russia can be cheap and nasty stuff but ideal for sawing up for benchwork or modular framing. The best stuff from the Baltic is still Finnish but Russian stuff is cheaper. The manufacture of this Baltic ply is very good in terms of structural strength but the face veneers leave a lot to be desired. 

I'd use construction grade ply and force it square and straight with framing design rather than spend the bucks on good quality straight cabinet grade but certainly that would be a lot more work.

For a shelf layout built from 18" x 36" or 2'x4' modules I'd use just foam or foam supported by 1/4" ply frames or even 1/4" or 3/8" hardboard "framing". Modular shelf units benefit from being light and supported on shelf supports that provide most of the rigidity.

Hardboard is surprisingly strong and when laminated onto foam with glue makes a light but rigid platform. Hardboard takes screws to mount switch motors and switches if you're careful. It also takes paint better than foam will.

Even 1/4" ply makes very sturdy framing compared to nominal 1"x4" if you build conventional open frame with it instead of the much weaker solid pine lumber (our "pine" is usually spruce). 

I'm afraid your facts are not totally accurate on several points.

Oak veneer plywood is not at all rare. Nor is it a disappearing resource. The faces are generally made of cultured oak these days. The particular stuff I use is described here: 3-4 inch B2 Red Oak VC - 125-1793.cdr (menardc.com). Lowes' oak plywood is similar, and so, I believe, is Home Despot's (though I didn't check theirs).

Two years ago the 3/4" Oak plywood at Lowes was $52 and change. Now it's listed as $62.90. Quadrupled? Not by the arithmetic I learned in school. More like about a 20% increase in cost.

You mentioned using factory seconds if you can find them. I consider pretty much any wood from the big box stores as factory seconds. They're usually the lowest cost and quality possible that will still get the certifications.

Hardboard is not a good choice to support foam. The foam will actually wind up supporting the hardboard over time. All hardboards share one trait - when laid flat as in a shelf or table top, they sag over time, even just under their own weight. While the severity of sag varies depending on the particular hardboard type, they all do sag. In this regard they're similar to particle board, though the sag usually takes longer to appear. Hardboard is strong, but it needs a lot of underlying supporting structure to remain flat over time. Or did I misunderstand how you were suggesting to use it?

I've never tried using the Baltic birch plywood you talk about. It certainly may be a viable, or even superior, alternative to the oak. When I was pricing out hardwood plywoods at Lowes two years ago, the birch plywood was several dollars more a sheet than oak plywood. So I went with the oak. Right now the birch plywood is significantly cheaper than the oak - about $15 less a sheet. But it's out of stock according to Lowes' website.

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Posted by speedybee on Thursday, May 13, 2021 7:03 PM

Yeah, skip the hardboard. In addition to sagging, hardboard will expand and contract with humidity, but the foam won't. If the two are glued together that may cause the layout to warp. 1.5 to 2" foam is pretty firm stuff on its own anyways.

I'm in the process of building 18" by 4ft shelf modules. I'm using 1.5" foam with the edges reinforced with metal trim. The result is very rigid, it can be supported only at each end and does not bend at all, even when bearing weight.

To keep things light and strong I am skipping plaster cloth and instead using polyester fleece soaked in glue water. It forms shapes like plaster cloth, but is very light and can flex a bit without cracking.

My point is, building portable modules is pretty easy, and will let you move your layout(s) around with you

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, May 13, 2021 9:34 PM

Laminating the hardboard onto the foam will prevent sagging.  There are commercial products that do exactly this. 

As for plywood pricing changes I've not checked myself but up here these products have substantially increased in price just recently. We can't get any online pricing. 

 Also, I very much doubt that even red oak plywood is also red oak cored but who knows what local production provides. 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by richhotrain on Thursday, May 13, 2021 11:54 PM

Pruitt
 
Lastspikemike
Ripped plywood is a good idea but "oak" plywood won't be. Being an amateur carpenter myself I baulk at slicing up high quality wood for construction purposes. Those good quality face veneers are getting rare. 

The choice is between cabinet grade and construction grade. All wood products have more or less quadrupled in price since the pandemic began due to supply problems in sawmills, ply and panel plants and especially shipping. 

Cabinet grade ply is far more expensive and is usually a good quality face veneer on one or both sides with a "hardwood" core often of birch or similar cheaper stock. Just use the cheapest face veneer stuff you can find. The core of all types is just made of the same stuff.  Factory seconds with blemished or excessively filled face veneers are the sheets to use for benchwork, if you are prepared to pay for the convenience of using nice flat easy to work with ply.

Baltic birch ply coming out of Russia can be cheap and nasty stuff but ideal for sawing up for benchwork or modular framing. The best stuff from the Baltic is still Finnish but Russian stuff is cheaper. The manufacture of this Baltic ply is very good in terms of structural strength but the face veneers leave a lot to be desired. 

I'd use construction grade ply and force it square and straight with framing design rather than spend the bucks on good quality straight cabinet grade but certainly that would be a lot more work.

For a shelf layout built from 18" x 36" or 2'x4' modules I'd use just foam or foam supported by 1/4" ply frames or even 1/4" or 3/8" hardboard "framing". Modular shelf units benefit from being light and supported on shelf supports that provide most of the rigidity.

Hardboard is surprisingly strong and when laminated onto foam with glue makes a light but rigid platform. Hardboard takes screws to mount switch motors and switches if you're careful. It also takes paint better than foam will.

Even 1/4" ply makes very sturdy framing compared to nominal 1"x4" if you build conventional open frame with it instead of the much weaker solid pine lumber (our "pine" is usually spruce).  

I'm afraid your facts are not totally accurate on several points.

Oak veneer plywood is not at all rare. Nor is it a disappearing resource. The faces are generally made of cultured oak these days. The particular stuff I use is described here: 3-4 inch B2 Red Oak VC - 125-1793.cdr (menardc.com). Lowes' oak plywood is similar, and so, I believe, is Home Despot's (though I didn't check theirs).

Two years ago the 3/4" Oak plywood at Lowes was $52 and change. Now it's listed as $62.90. Quadrupled? Not by the arithmetic I learned in school. More like about a 20% increase in cost.

You mentioned using factory seconds if you can find them. I consider pretty much any wood from the big box stores as factory seconds. They're usually the lowest cost and quality possible that will still get the certifications.

Hardboard is not a good choice to support foam. The foam will actually wind up supporting the hardboard over time. All hardboards share one trait - when laid flat as in a shelf or table top, they sag over time, even just under their own weight. While the severity of sag varies depending on the particular hardboard type, they all do sag. In this regard they're similar to particle board, though the sag usually takes longer to appear. Hardboard is strong, but it needs a lot of underlying supporting structure to remain flat over time. Or did I misunderstand how you were suggesting to use it?

I've never tried using the Baltic birch plywood you talk about. It certainly may be a viable, or even superior, alternative to the oak. When I was pricing out hardwood plywoods at Lowes two years ago, the birch plywood was several dollars more a sheet than oak plywood. So I went with the oak. Right now the birch plywood is significantly cheaper than the oak - about $15 less a sheet. But it's out of stock according to Lowes' website. 

When I started my new layout back in early 2018, I bought 1/2" birch plywood, B2 cabinet grade, both sides with good quality face veneers, at my local lumber yard. The cost per 4x8 sheet was $45. I can only imagine what the cost might be today.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by Pruitt on Friday, May 14, 2021 9:34 AM

At Menards it's listed at $72.08 per 4X8 sheet.

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, May 14, 2021 9:48 AM

Over the years, I have noticed significant regional differences in lumber offerings. For example, spruce and particle board is the staple around here for construction, while in the US, I've heard of aspen and other types of wood being used.  Mike, I believe you are in Alberta, which probably explains why the plywood is different than in the US. I had never heard of an Russian source of wood for plywood - but I live in Eastern Canada, so this may explain that.

Simon

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