Birth of an Accidental HO Layout: The Boston & Maine in NH

Jim Wiggin Jan 7, 2018

  1. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    With the module base finished it was time to think about the legs. The original City Job employed simple 2 x 2-inch square legs that were 54-inches long with a 1/4-inch thick plywood cross members, top and bottom that made the two end legs a unit, essentially looking like the letter H. Those legs were attached by inserting 1/4 bolts into the legs and subsequently into the module base into some previously installed T-nuts. This process had many down falls. For one, the legs did warp after some time and it wasn’t uncommon to cross thread a bolt into one of the T-Nuts, causing loose legs and a multitude of re-work. Not only were those problems a constant threat, since the legs were separate in transport, needed space was taken up in the vehicle, extra trips to the vehicle to the show and even forgetting the very bolts to secure the legs had happened at one time. For this variation, I wanted the legs and modules to be one unit.

    The new legs would not only be made of lightweight Baltic Birch plywood, but they would fold into the module itself for transport, thereby gaining valuable transport space and the risk of leaving hardware behind a thing of the past. The layout height would suffer a bit with a rail to floor distance of 50-inches versus the previous incarnation of 54-inches. I concluded however that the advantages far out weighed the disadvantages and I could easily attach a 4-inch “booster” to the legs to adjust to Bill’s already finished modules. With both 3/4-inch and 1/4-inch ply left over, I started in on working on the next design of the modules.

    After a few nights of experimentation I concluded on a staggered leg design that would easily allow both sets of legs to fold up into the modules and be flush with the module bottom, much like the retractable landing gear on an aircraft. I then set the table saw up and cut the following Plywood strips.
    • 3-inch wide (3/4-inch sheet)
    • 2-inch wide (1/4-inch sheet X 4)
    • 1.25-inch wide (3/4-inch sheet X 4)
    The 3-inch wide 3/4-inch piece was then cut into four pieces that will end up as the leg mounts. The leg mounts are 5.75 inches tall and 3-inches wide. Next I cut the parts that would be the legs, the 2-inch wide 1/4-inch strip was cut to a length of 42 inches and the 1.25-inch strip cut down to 45.5 inches long. Lastly, I cut from the scrap 3/4-inch ply, four squares, and each 1.75 x 1.25-inch square. Next I set up my drill press and measured the leg mounts so it would receive a 1/4-inch hole exactly 2 inches down from the bottom and 1.5-inch from either side. Two of these leg mount blocks would also receive a 1-inch boring countersink to later accept a T-Nut. All four of the 3/4-inch leg stock also received 1-inch hole centered 1-inch from the top and centered within either side. Also, two of these legs received a 1-inch boring countersink of only a 1/8-inch. Finally, all four blocks of 2 x 2-inch plywood received a 1-inch hole exactly centered and a T-Nut was firmly inserted into each one.

    With everything cut and drilled properly, it was time for assembly. The 2-inch wide plywood was then glued to the edge of the 3/4-inch leg stock with the bottom being flush and the shorter stock falling short of the leg mount. This was all glued together using many clamps as I choose not to use screws here. Be sure to make a left and right leg! Next I glued the small 1.75 x 1.25-inch blocks flush with the end and clamped securely. These will be the leveling feet.
    Module 006.JPG While these items were drying, I carefully placed the leg mounts inside the module. Two of the mounts will be flush with the inside of the sideboard. I used the countersunk versions here and pressed a T-nut into each one. With the T-Nut hardware facing the inside of the sideboard, I carefully made sure the upper portion of the leg mounts was flush with the top of the module. I then clamped the mounts to the module and drilled two pilot holes from the end panel into the mount, 1-inch below the top and 1-inch above the bottom. The leg mounts are secured with #8 3-inch wood screws.

    Module 007.JPG
    The next two leg mounts are mounted the same way except there is no T-Nut and the leg mounts are centered at exactly 3 inches away from the sideboard. They need to be staggered like this so the legs will fold up into the module.

    Module 009.JPG
     
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  2. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Module 005.JPG Once the legs were dry, I used carriage bolts in the leveling blocks and installed the necessary hardware within the leg mounts. This consists of four shank style bolts 2.5 inches long, 8 washers, two standard nuts and two wing nuts.

    Module 008.jpg
    I next carefully placed the module up on its new legs and with a torpedo level in hand, slowly leveled and tightened the nuts so that the legs are straight. At this point, cross members will need to be installed to make set up and take down easier and keep warp age at a minimum. Using 1/4-inch plywood, I cut four pieces each at 13.5 inches long by 2 inches wide. One set of two braces will be glued to the inside of the legs while the opposite side will be glued to the other side. The top cross members are 8 inches from the top of the legs and the bottom cross member is 12.5 inches from the bottom. All the cross members were glued on and secured with clamps.

    With the legs done it was time for me to install the plywood top. This was a simple affair, as I carefully spread carpenter’s glue to the top of the modules end plates, side boards and cross members. Try to avoid any glue to come into contact with the four leg mounts. I designed the leg mounts to be easily removable should something happen to one in transport. The top was clamped to the module and allowed to dry.

    That's all for now. We are supposed to get temps as high as 50 degrees next weekend so my plan is to pick up enough Baltic Birch to build two more modules next weekend. It should go faster now that I have an established plan.

    More to come.
     
  3. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Small update for those following along. I’ve edited my first post on the general construction of the modules on page 1 by adding more images. I hope to post images of the few jigs I have made to make drilling holes in the leg mounts, legs and feet easier soon.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I envy your obvious woodworking skills. You must also have a few nice tools. :)
     
  5. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

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    Looking good Jim.
     
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  6. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Your too kind Ken. My "skills" are so far mainly self taught by watching youtube videos and reading a lot. One of the reasons why it has taken me so long to build the first prototype module is because for each stage, I would test the process with scrap wood before using the pricey Baltic Birch. Tools are something I watch for, be it sales or even yard sales. I'm always on the look out for new tools and I'm slowly getting there. My dream is to someday have a dedicated building just for wood working.
     
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  7. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Small update on these modules. I'm now building the complete Galesburg City Job, both Burlington and Santa Fe track. It will be my home layout and portions of it will go on the road to Galesburg RR Days and other shows I have committed to. The modules here will end up being a HO switching/FreeMo layout. Because the Galesburg City Job is growing in size, I've committed on to a different modular standard that many will recognize. Look for the build thread soon!
     
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  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Can't think of any particular HO scale modular concept. HOtrak? FreeMo-HO? Or?
     
  9. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    NMRA.
     
  10. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ken, these particular modules will be my HO B&M switching layout with adapter ends to allow me to couple onto FreeMo standards. The New City Job will be using module kits designed for N scale.
     
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  11. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    For those who have followed this far, I've moved the thread over to the HO forum and will continue this as my home and FreeMo HO layout based on the B&M, specifically in my home state of New Hampshire and the era of 1975 to 1983. If your interested in my City Job layout, it will be in with the N scale forum as soon as the redesign starts up.
     
  12. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, a real opus, this one. A former resident of Spofford (near Keene) I have a particular weak spot for anything NH or
    the grand old B&M.
     
  13. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thanks Chops, I know where Spofford is! I go through Keene every time I drive back to Concord from Illinois.
     

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