Benchwork Progress & the question of height

XcaliburNick Jan 29, 2021

  1. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

    Hi all, I know this is discussed a lot (and subjective) but I'm looking for some advice and possibly encouragement here as I solo this build. I've watched a lot of videos and read a lot of blogs/posts about layouts. I've chosen to make L girders, but I'm building them in 4x2 and 6x2 sections so I can experiment with track and move it all around when I make mistakes.

    I'm overall basically happy with my basic cuts and the benchwork overall, but I have 2 things I'm unsure of:

    1) Layout Height: This is ~44" to the top of the joist, and there's enough space under the girders that this will fit over a set of drawers (~37" tall) I have for storage. I've read that this is generally considered a good target (I'm 5'11" tall) and seems decent from seated position. HOWEVER I'm a tabletop wargamer of many years, and so used to seeing waist height tables this seems ridiculously tall... any input?

    2) Due to some experimentation with leaving the ends of the girders open and having the legs supported by the outer joists like I've seen in some videos, the middle joist is 18" on center from the outer ones, not 16". This seems pretty solid and is a small 4' area, so it should be ok?

  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

    My layout surface will be 43-1/4" off the floor and elevated track will be 45-5/8" off the floor, so we're closely matched. My previous layout was an inch lower and it served me well for 30 years. I'm 6' and an N Scaler. I too arrived at a height based on existing furniture and shelving I wanted to clear underneath. We have to live with what we build, right? (y)

    Your spanning of 18" should be perfectly fine.
    XcaliburNick and BNSF FAN like this.
  3. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    I'm aiming for about 36" as I am 5'4" and 71 years of age with some movement disabilities. Now it will be which scale to use. I have two 'HO' steamers (DCC), old style passenger cars, box cars and flat beds to haul logs. And one early diesel in 'N'. And a 10'x10' bed room.
    Hardcoaler and XcaliburNick like this.
  4. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

    Thanks! I thought about it more last night, and I’m going to drop it down to 37.5” to the joist top, which will match with the height of the existing furniture to the surface. I can slide a plywood board over top of the drawers for now and secure it to the benchwork on either side while I experiment with track. My wife is shorter and seems interested to help with some scenery, so lower is better.

    @Shortround that's the same debate I had recently. I decided to double down on HO with the theory that if I get any older my eyesight will be glad I stayed larger in scale ;) There are some cool 10x8 or 10x10 walk-in "water wing" layouts I've been looking at myself (my space is 6-8' x 13').
  5. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

    I think it depends on how you want to look at your layout. Some people like building at eye-level so they see their models in the way they see real trains, like they are standing on the ground. If you have a multi-deck layout, of course this is out of the question. Most people would probably want their layout lower to make access easier to areas in the back. If the layout is at true-eye level, you would need a ladder or step to work on practically any part of it.

    I have visited layouts that have step-stools for the upper level, which I feel was a design mistake. I think having the trains up high provides for some dramatic views as they come around curves and such, but you need a higher vantage point to do switching and operations. Depending on how you uncouple cars, you may need to reach into the scene with an uncoupling tool. I like to think of this as the 'yard tower' vantage point. A high layout may be good for train watching, but operations need to be lower so you can see the track plan and interact with the rolling stock.

    If you are building modules, you could do both. Most module designs I have seen use folding legs, but if you use removable legs, you could experiment with which one looks best or even have two sets of legs for different heights.
    Hardcoaler and XcaliburNick like this.
  6. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

    Mine starts out at 54" and reaches a 74" max height where you walk under it at the entry door. There are elevated walkways with ramps going up and down. It was worth it to me as I wanted real grades, with operational challenges.
  7. dalebaker

    dalebaker TrainBoard Member

    I run an approx. 50” rail height above the floor. It’s nice that it’s close to look at everything. Added bonus is if I need to work under the layout, I can roll under it with a small office chair to access it.
    XcaliburNick and Hardcoaler like this.
  8. XcaliburNick

    XcaliburNick TrainBoard Member

    Thanks all! For now I’ve cut mine down to a 37.5” height (before adding levelling t-nuts). I’ll add some height with foam and railbed, and once I start making major structural progress I’ll consider raising it.

Share This Page