Benchwork

mtaylor Apr 5, 2000

  1. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It's the foundation of all that we build. Share your design, wishes and lessons learned from your benchwork. Or better yet, give me some ideas. Here is what I am currently planning for my new monster (first time N scale and 13 years away from the hobby). I am modeling the BNSF with it being heavy on the BN portion. Also included will be the CN and UP. The setting is modern somewhre in the greater midwest (I live in Minnesota). the room is 138" x 185" (11.5' x 15.42') I am planning on at least two levels and considering a third. I want the lowest level to include large staging yards and switching capacity. This will probably be an industrial scene. The lower level will have a large city located on it, but only the rail yard will be modeld. The lowest level will not have a whole lot of detail compard to the other two levels. The middle level will consist of small towns/cities and rural lands and rural industry. The top level will have a large city with a rail yard and downtown area.

    Industries Coal mine and power plant, Grain (elevators and mills) Steel mills, brewery and misc. (not sure if I will have room for more.

    Well that is what is inside my brain from 50,000 feet. I am working on a usable benchwork and track plan that will give me both operation capability and the ability to just run some trains (hehehe) I WILL be using DCC and play with computer control as well.

    OK, that is enough from me (for now).

    What are your ideas and experience.

    P.S. This is my first time with N, the potential is exciting! [​IMG]
     
  2. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like you are going to build a monster. Do you think you will be able to cpmplete such a layout. I have documented my layout on my website. It may show you what us little guys can achieve.
    Good luck with your layout

    Paul

    ------------------
    http://members.optusnet.com.au/~pcassar/index
     
  3. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My goal for making it a large layout is one, I hope to be working on it for at least the next ten years and two, I want a large mix of operationg options. My bigest question though is how do I design and construct a multielevel layout that is not "around the walls" I have some ideas like using wood pillars in scenery division areas to support the upper levels). Just the benchwork will take a few more moths to design. I hoppe to be able to start laying roadbed and base board by September. I do want this system to be a monster and to provide years (I am still very young, under 30) of building potential. Back to the topic though, Does any one have any experience or ideas on building a free standing multiple level leayout?

    Thanks
    Matt
     
  4. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Colonel:
    Sounds like you are going to build a monster. Do you think you will be able to cpmplete such a layout. I have documented my layout on my website. It may show you what us little guys can achieve.
    Good luck with your layout

    Paul

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Actually,
    I have been to your website before and yes, I even have it bookmarked! You have a great looking layout and website. I will visit often.


    [This message has been edited by mtaylor (edited 13 April 2000).]
     
  5. JohnC

    JohnC TrainBoard Member

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    Why such a large layout? I found a 4x8 plus an awfull large amount of realestate to handle.

    Good Luck

    John
     
  6. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JohnC:
    Why such a large layout? I found a 4x8 plus an awfull large amount of realestate to handle.

    Good Luck

    John
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    For one I am sick [​IMG] but we won't talk about that now. I want to operate multiple large trains and have transitions between one level to the next. My wife and I have moved several times over the last eight years and prior to that I was in the Marines. I have 13 years of built up modeling in my head [​IMG] . I am designing this layout with the idea that I will be working on this layout for a very long time. I like long "play trains" and realistic operations as well. A layout of this size will give the best (and worst) of both worlds. Also, this layout size will provide an a sense of realism by building a consist on the lower level, switching cars on the second level, and then arriving on the third level. This layout will be the monster layout that has been in hy head for 13 years. My challenge is that I did not plan for the monster layout to be multilevel. The house we bought (I never want to move again!!) is a double split level meaning my basement is split up and not really a basement at all. With the blessing of my lovely wife, I have control of the top floor living room. This space used to be my office (I am a computer geek by trade [​IMG] ) This room is now the rail room and currently undergoing a new flooring project in preperation of the new layout. Another reason (excuse?) to have such a large layout is the use of DCC. DCC and the combinaton of computer control/effects helped draw me back to the hobby like a bullet. The result, mass insanity. I have a complete computer network in the house with ten computers up and running (includes three servers [​IMG] ) DCC and various software add huge dimension to the hobby. I can auto run the entire layout, or let the computer do half, or it could be human ran. I am on a beta design (sorry for the computer lingo, habbit) of the benchwork.....My beta design has four levels [​IMG]


    [This message has been edited by mtaylor (edited 15 April 2000).]
     
  7. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JohnC:
    Why such a large layout? I found a 4x8 plus an awfull large amount of realestate to handle.

    Good Luck

    John
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    The lowest level (1) is only half the layout space and is mainly used for staging. with the potential for some limited scenry (overkill ya know [​IMG] )

    Level 2 - has a large consisting yard and industial base with a city as the base. No tall building here but there will be backdrops indicating the city. There will also be some "open" area with a river and other various small to medium industries. there will also be two additional "normal" sized towns.

    Level 3 - will be mainly rural with a coulple of medium towns and medium idustries. There will be a couple of grain elevators on this level as well as feed and livestock industries. Major idustries include a coal mine, logging and sawmill and as mentioned agriculture.

    Level 4 - The "MACK DADDY" level. This level will be home to a very large city name "Taylor River" on the shores of the ....Taylor River [​IMG] (I really am not shallow, just like my name [​IMG] There will be a large rail yard on this level and various industries including a paper mill (not in the city) coal power plant, large brewing operation, flour mills and more grain elevators plus other industries.

    There is still allot of planning on what exactly will go where. I'm sure it will change a billion times. I change my location some and have gone more freelance. The layout will now include mountains and large hills. These areas for the most part will be on the "ends" of the layout to facilitate track spiral to the next level. These will not be a helix but will be open track with some tunnels. This idea was inspired by the M.A.T. by eddelozier. I really like the idea of the "The Pass of The Seven Sisters".

    Geeez, I am writing a book [​IMG] sorry (as I continue [​IMG] ).

    The benchwork will be support by outside wood pillars thin steel support arms going the inside to provide support for the upper frames. The walkaround arm in the middle of the room will either be supported by additioal pillars on the outside or a large sturdy pillar in the end center of the arm. The center of the arm will have a backdrop to seperate the scene. If a large pillar in the end center is used, scenerey will be needed to help hide the pillar. This part is still up in the air. The acutual frame is currently designed to be Butt-Joint for all levels with a undecided base. The base may end up being plywood but I am concerned about weight and further investigation on this is required. Woodland Scenics will be used to form the model base ontop of the base board (whatever that turnsout to be). My criteria on the base board is that I want to be able to moisture seal it to help prevent any warping over time. I am building this to last a long time. Again, this area is a little new to me so additional reasearch is required. I am also investigating foam for the true base as well. I am not sure on this yet though.

    I am not yet including real dimensions and other hard facts since there is still some refining that needs to be done. Just the bechwork will take me a couple of months to complete. Hey, I'm only 28 and I am done moving unless there is a fire, flood, plauge, locust infestation...etc. I am sick, but boy is it good to be back in the hobby [​IMG]

    any comments are welcomed and even those that think I am insane for planning a monster layout. Hey!!! I've seen bigger sites on the net that were not club layouts so TAKE THAT Y'ALL [​IMG]
     
  8. porkypine52

    porkypine52 TrainBoard Member

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    Have you done your design with a good Model Railroad design program? There are several out there. Check the past several issues of MODEL RAILROADER (don't remember which month)to see the different programs compared to each other.
    Still don't get too carried away with your layout. One step at a time. YOU WILL NOT GET EVERYTHING RIGHT ON THE FIRST TRY. Don't burn yourself out trying to build the super layout at first. Take it from somebody that almost did a grand flameout, trying to build a "Knock 'em Dead" layout.

    Just remember to keep it fun, enjoy yourself!

    ------------------
     
  9. Robin Matthysen

    Robin Matthysen Passed Away October 17, 2005 In Memoriam

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    Good for you, go for the layout of your dreams. Going large certainly has benefits. My M.A.T. is two level in a basement room that is 11 feet wide and 26 feet long. No duck unders for me so the layout starts at one end goes around the wall then up the centre and back and up the other side. At no point is the depth of the layout more than 2 feet. Being large I did not fill all the spaces I had with track but rather just have a single track with sidings and whatever but it looks like the trains are going somewhere and don't come back along the same track until they have turned around at the end of the layout. This creates a number of viewpoints. If I was doing it again, I would try to avoid the two levels and only have track at a height that suits me.
    Robin
    http://members.xoom.com/Matthyro/index.html
     
  10. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks for sharing in with my maddness. While I do have very grand dreams I too realize that it will take time. I am still in the design stage and like any good design, it will change several times from now to layout completion (if there is such a thing). I am planning the entire benchwork and basic track plan for the entire layout now. I have made some basic changes since my last posting. The reason for the grand desing is to allow room and a method to grow to the next phase of the layout. I will start at the lower levels with the benchwork and lay track before advancing to the next level. Benchwork and track will be my main focus points for 2000 and will more than likely flow into 2001. I may do some scenery in 2000 and I may not. It does not matter. It also does not matter if I never "finish" the layout. Afterall, it is a hobby and suppose to be fun. I love doing things in grand ways (my selection of N scale may then be ironic?). A portion of the layout will be functional this year. How much of it is uncertain. For myself, I would rather spend the next 20 to 30 years building my "super" layout and evolving it than building 15 differn't layouts. That's just my feeling. It's not right or wrong it just is [​IMG] . I will post my latest plans soon on the web site forming for the "Taylor River Division".

    Thanks
    Matt
     
  11. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by porkypine52:
    Have you done your design with a good Model Railroad design program? There are several out there. Check the past several issues of MODEL RAILROADER (don't remember which month)to see the different programs compared to each other.
    Still don't get too carried away with your layout. One step at a time. YOU WILL NOT GET EVERYTHING RIGHT ON THE FIRST TRY. Don't burn yourself out trying to build the super layout at first. Take it from somebody that almost did a grand flameout, trying to build a "Knock 'em Dead" layout.

    Just remember to keep it fun, enjoy yourself!

    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Good advice for any project! It was the Jan 2000 issue. I have been using 3D RailRoad Concepts and Design from Abracadata software ( http://www.abracadata.com ) . This is a very nice piece of software. I also have been using old fashion graph paper as well. I use the graph paper for my quick rough drafts (using each suare as 5 square inches). I would then transfer that rough design to the computer. and start playing with track position and models, etc. The software still takes some time to learn and I am still learning many featues of the software. It is nice to help visualize the layout concept before actual trial and error. Of course nothing can compare to real life.

    Thanks
    Matt
     
  12. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Robin Matthysen:
    Good for you, go for the layout of your dreams. Going large certainly has benefits. My M.A.T. is two level in a basement room that is 11 feet wide and 26 feet long. No duck unders for me so the layout starts at one end goes around the wall then up the centre and back and up the other side. At no point is the depth of the layout more than 2 feet. Being large I did not fill all the spaces I had with track but rather just have a single track with sidings and whatever but it looks like the trains are going somewhere and don't come back along the same track until they have turned around at the end of the layout. This creates a number of viewpoints. If I was doing it again, I would try to avoid the two levels and only have track at a height that suits me.
    Robin
    http://members.xoom.com/Matthyro/index.html
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Robin,
    First of all, I really enjoyed your website and layout. It really has a unique personal touch and shows off your imagination. Ok, enough kissing up [​IMG]. In your opinion, what are the drawbacks of building a multilevl layout and what are the benefits?

    For me, the benefits is the massive increased modeling space. The potential drawbacks: pain in the keester to design and build proper support (but fun at the same time if that makes sense [​IMG] ). And top levels may "rob" the visual appeal of the lower levels.

    Thanks for your thoughts
    Matt

    P.S. I think I will shutup for awhile [​IMG] I am starting to run a monopoly on this thread! [​IMG]



    [This message has been edited by mtaylor (edited 15 April 2000).]
     
  13. Alan

    Alan Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  14. Robin Matthysen

    Robin Matthysen Passed Away October 17, 2005 In Memoriam

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    Here goes Matt, from my perspective, I went to 2 levels to get double the space a single level provides. It also gave me the opportunity to create the Seven Sisters pass which is based on the spiral tunnels and the Connaught tunnel of the actual Canadian Pacific through the mountain ranges that make up this challenging barriers. The 2 levels provide long train abilities and it takes a reasonable time for running too.
    It is natural for a sea port to be lower than the central parts of the country. Just about all continents have mountain barriers on the west side. Enough rambling. The disadvantage as I see it is to get enough vertical space between levels makes the upper level too high unless you are over 6 feet tall, and the lower level looks like you are flying over instead of viewing from normal eyelevel. The gains outweigh the penalties but if space was not an issue then my choice would be one level. I have no regrets for what I have done though so am sure you will find multi levels beneficial. Just be prepared by having stepstools for working on the top level and a chair with wheels for scooting around the lower levels.
    Hope this helps.
    Robin
     
  15. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Robin Matthysen:
    Here goes Matt, from my perspective, I went to 2 levels to get double the space a single level provides. It also gave me the opportunity to create the Seven Sisters pass which is based on the spiral tunnels and the Connaught tunnel of the actual Canadian Pacific through the mountain ranges that make up this challenging barriers. The 2 levels provide long train abilities and it takes a reasonable time for running too.
    It is natural for a sea port to be lower than the central parts of the country. Just about all continents have mountain barriers on the west side. Enough rambling. The disadvantage as I see it is to get enough vertical space between levels makes the upper level too high unless you are over 6 feet tall, and the lower level looks like you are flying over instead of viewing from normal eyelevel. The gains outweigh the penalties but if space was not an issue then my choice would be one level. I have no regrets for what I have done though so am sure you will find multi levels beneficial. Just be prepared by having stepstools for working on the top level and a chair with wheels for scooting around the lower levels.
    Hope this helps.
    Robin
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It helps a great deal. I am not completely new at model railroading but it has been such a long time and N scale is new to me. It is nice to compare one's thouht with other's experience. The size of my planned layout may seem daunting. However, as mentioned before, it will not be built overnight or over a few years for that matter [​IMG]. The planning and long term build process is half the fun. Plus much of the track will be operational, so I will still be able to play some when time permits.

    Thanks again,
    Matt
     
  16. eddelozier

    eddelozier TrainBoard Member

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    Robin,

    You noted that 'step stools' are needed for a multi level layout. Your correct. I have a multi level layout and I'm on a stool most of the time.
    There was a article in the March, 1999 issue of 'Model Railroader' which detailed the building of a 'porter's stool'. It's the stool the passenger porter's use to help you get on the train. I had my son build be one with a little higher height than diagram stated. I painted and decaled it for my favorate railroad. It adds interest to the layout room. I added a storage area under the top step to hold small needed items and a detachable 1' x 6' pole, which supports my electrical extension cords while working at high levels.


    ...eddelozier

    ------------------
    Eddie Delozier
     
  17. Catt

    Catt Permanently dispatched

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    Having a desire to enlarge both my N scale and HO layouts my current thoughts are to basically stack the N scale layout above the HO on a shelf above the HO.

    The benifits of this would be I would have two layouts that measure out to 8 1/2 ft. by 24 ft. by 27 1/2 ft.The downside of this would be all new bench(shelf?) work for the N scale.

    Another benifit(?) would be that at 65 in. from the floor I would have the view point of being right at track side.At this height I can run the N all the way around the basment which would enlarge it even more [​IMG].

    If I keep this up I will talk myself right into doing this [​IMG]




    ------------------
    Catt!
     
  18. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Catt:
    Having a desire to enlarge both my N scale and HO layouts my current thoughts are to basically stack the N scale layout above the HO on a shelf above the HO.

    The benifits of this would be I would have two layouts that measure out to 8 1/2 ft. by 24 ft. by 27 1/2 ft.The downside of this would be all new bench(shelf?) work for the N scale.

    Another benifit(?) would be that at 65 in. from the floor I would have the view point of being right at track side.At this height I can run the N all the way around the basment which would enlarge it even more [​IMG].

    If I keep this up I will talk myself right into doing this [​IMG]




    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Tell me about it! A year ago I was thinking a much much smaller layout in a smaller room (then the unused dining room.) Then the bug bit me and I started thinking (never a safe thing to do [​IMG]). Now a year later, I moved my computer office (four server, one workstation and all the network connections for the house) to the dining room and made the larger ex computer room the rail room. Remodeling is still underway (flooring and painting the walls). Actual benchwork should start late spring early summer hopefully.

    I say go all the way! [​IMG]

    Matt
    Taylor River Division
    BNSF & UP
     
  19. JohnC

    JohnC TrainBoard Member

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    Matt,

    I wish you all the luck.
    I've got a couple of questions, though you answered many of my others. (It's not like I had thought of doing something like this my self).

    Are you going to have help (physical not... [​IMG] ) ?

    I tried a 4 x 8 with two 3 x 4 wings. I spent most of the time "fixing" things than running. Perhaps it had to do with the basement location of the layout...

    With your renovations, are you removing carpet? I found that carpet is a pain... dusty and static charged.

    How about lighting?
    Are you able to use skylights? I would use skylights for the center of the room and track lighting over the layout.

    I feel that the natural light will help the lighting and remove some of the unatural shadows that occurr with lamp and florecent lights.

    Benchwork...
    Did you think of using architectural foam?
    Modeler builders use this for building basework for displays. Check Charrette. They are a supplier of this stuff.

    John
     
  20. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JohnC:
    Matt,

    I wish you all the luck.
    I've got a couple of questions, though you answered many of my others. (It's not like I had thought of doing something like this my self).

    Are you going to have help (physical not... [​IMG] ) ?

    I tried a 4 x 8 with two 3 x 4 wings. I spent most of the time "fixing" things than running. Perhaps it had to do with the basement location of the layout...

    With your renovations, are you removing carpet? I found that carpet is a pain... dusty and static charged.

    How about lighting?
    Are you able to use skylights? I would use skylights for the center of the room and track lighting over the layout.

    I feel that the natural light will help the lighting and remove some of the unatural shadows that occurr with lamp and florecent lights.

    Benchwork...
    Did you think of using architectural foam?
    Modeler builders use this for building basework for displays. Check Charrette. They are a supplier of this stuff.

    John
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    I love it when we start to climb into each other's headds [​IMG] Anyways, I am seeking help for my state of mind, but besides that I will have some help from my son who has some interest in what I do. (he is getting to the age when other things seem more important [​IMG] ). Yes, I am pulling out all the carpet and puting in tile flooring that looks like hardwood floor. I still have not purchased the new flooring so I may still change the actual type and brand of flooring.

    Benchwork, I know I will use butt to joint with a plywood top for the bottom level (level 0). Again, this level will mainly be a large staging yard based on a large consist yard in a city. I have been thinking about using foam as the basboard for the upper levels because it is easy to use and does not weigh allot. I have reaed an article on how to do this where you make a frame with "bed slats" to hold the foam in place. I am still researching this.

    I have not figured out what ligting I will use. I would reccomned not using the sky lightng as the sun could cause heat damage to the layout. I am also thinking about using track lighting. I will end up with shadows and have decided to live with it. I can get in natural light from a large patioi door from time to time. Having a layout in the basement can caused warping due to humdity and temp changes. My railroom is actually a living room area on the top floor of my home. I will post another update here once I get more details completed.

    Thanks
    Matt
     

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