Sunday, January 13, 2013

036 The Augusta Railway - Benchwork Install #2

Today is Sunday.  It is around 8 degrees outside and the snow is deep.  The sun is out so I enjoyed breakfast with the family at Cracker Barrel along with running a few errands.  The wife finally left to go somewhere, so I headed down to the basement to try to finish the benchwork.

Here is the view of the layout from my Lazy Boy, next to the fireplace.  I may never get back up.  I must decide today:  legs or angled supports.  We are going with angled supports, mainly because it allows me to keep the room cleaner and keeps me from banging my shins on the legs.  It takes longer to install, and requires more wood, but it is worth it.  Keith Williams taught me how to do thanks Keith!  He helped me do the benchwork on my previous Swamp layout.

I kinda like sitting here, looking at the layout.  Seeing it in my head.  Running imaginary trains.  Wiring it up.  It is good to sit and plan...but not for long!  I have some friends that make a hobby out of it.

Guess I haven't shown you the mess behind the layout.  I keep two CF flood lamps for photography in the back, a stool to sit on, and a work table.  Daily I clean up and try to keep the dust and tools at bay.

Several years ago I switched to this handy tool bag.  It is easy to carry and access the tools.  Its hard to see here, but there is a lot of stuff in that bag.  I move it all around the layout, wherever I'm working.

You can always tell how long I've been here by the glasses of water or diet soda are laying around.  Being diabetic I'm always thirsty.

The first thing we need to install is the foot plate for the angled supports.  This is a plain 1x3 board screwed into the studs.  It is 8 feet long, so no cutting was necessary.

I'll need some angle plates to secure the angled supports to on the foot plate.  Using the benchwork as a workbench, I make a glued and screwed L-girder.

Two screws were placed in a section three inches long, and then I marked and cut them with a chop saw.

 They don't look very good.  My wood choice must not be right.

No kidding, they weren't right.  Listen to your hunches.  I tried using them and they were splitting.  Bad wood.  Thanks Home Depot.  Let's try again.

I found the remaining L-girder that I made for the wall.  It had very good timber.  This time I made the L-brackets 5" long.  Let's try it again.

The angled supports attach to the foot plate with two screws each and no glue for easy disassembly.  There are eight of them, although there are nine open grid girders.  One girder is very close to the other, so I didn't put one there.  Just put what you need.  These supports are VERY strong.

I used clamps to test the length and angle of the board cuts.  Once I had one measured, I cut the rest using the same dimensions except for the one on the end, which is a bit smaller.

Next I cut some angled supports to fit.  Using two screws I mounted these at a 45 degree angle, leaving the top unmounted.

The work with a good chop saw goes very quickly.  I only banged my head twice.  Three times, actually.

Here is where two sections of the layout join.  There is one on each side for more strength and easy disassembly.

Nothing like the look and feel of wood.  Still, one day I'm going to give metal studs a try.

Using several level and clamp sets, I checked every area of the layout to make sure it was level.  I adjusted the 2x2 temporary legs to make sure everything was in place.  Then, I mounted the other end of the angled supports.

Done!  While it looks like a quick process, it took me about five hours to do all the work, including remanufacturing the L-brackets.  The orange paint was sprayed on the screws that hold the frame sections together.  On the end I did leave two legs.  The area was just too big for the angled supports, and I need to get back in there for derailments so I'm leaving the two legs.  I'll reinforce them later.

This is a very strong design.  I can put my weight on the layout.  The end is very shallow, so I'm not sure I need a support here.  It doesn't move.  I'll keep this under surveillance and see if I need some smaller supports here or not.

Double checking the level...everything is O.K.   It is ready for some track!

The two legs need reinforcement, but I want to keep it minimal.  I'll do that next weekend.

Orange paint is fun!  Except when it drips on the carpet.  Think I'll use craft paint and a brush next time.

The floor is easily accessible, so I'll probably need to vacuum.

 There!  With the exceptions of a little leg bracing, we are done with the benchwork.  Tonight I'm going to dig out the track and get ready to lay!


  1. Impressive bench work, Scott! Can't wait to see the layout diagram! I'll continue to follow!

  2. I really should make the track plan more available! Didn't realize it was hard to find. Will fix that tonight. Here is a link.

  3. Congratulations on the milestone Scott! It looks good and I commend you for taking care of the backdrop first.


  4. Hi Scott,
    I really like the no legs thing. Good idea.
    I should have done that when I was building the layout when I lived in Arkansas.

  5. Scott, as usual,x great work. I'm inspired from your progress.


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