Narrow shelf layout in HO benchwork progress

zaulden Nov 13, 2018

  1. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    Last night the wife took the kids to an extracurricular activity and I had the house to myself. I used the time to begin benchwork for my planned shelf layout in HO. It will be an Inglenook-inspired switching layout with some room for other sidings / spurs.

    It's 16" by 8'.

    Here are some photos of the construction. I still have not decided if I want to build legs for it or if I want it to be tabletop (a bit too long for that) or wall-mounted with shelf L brackets. What do you all think? Leaning toward legs because I could move it easily if I need to (if this spare bedroom becomes not spare).

    Also, what do you all think of the best, most attractive way to add a small shelf for the power pack?

     
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  2. Avel

    Avel TrainBoard Member

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    Nice wood.
    It looks like you are pretty good with wood. Do you have a preferred way to operate? Standing up, sitting down?
    Will you be putting anything over the wood before laying down the track?
    You should drill a hole through the middle brace pieces so that you can run your wiring through.
     
  3. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Benchwork looks very nice. For the power pack/control panel, you might consider a pullout shelf or drawer of sorts much like you would find for the keyboard on a lot of computer desks.
     
  4. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    1/2 inch maple plywood and 2.5x1 poplar boards.

    I know enough to build some basic things and fix a few things around the house. An older family friend from who worked in the Navy taught me some tricks when I was younger, including the phrase when measuring, "Eh, it's good enough for government work."

    I'm not very able to do complicated joinery, though. For one, I don't have the jigs or tools for it. I plan to eventually put a thin veneer around the border of the wood to hide some seams.

    Sitting down, sometimes with one of my kids in my lap. However, I think I plan to have it at least at workbench height (41"). I can use a stool for that.

    I am not sure. If anything, I may put down a layer of blue board foam insulation. I would like to do whatever is necessary to make it quiet... I have experience in Z scale with unitrack screwed directly into plywood resulting in lots of road noise. But I also had noise just running on unitrack glued to blue board (no ply underneath). Maybe unitrack glued to blue board glued to plywood would be quiet?? Right now I'm loving how quiet it all runs with the unitrack not affixed. I know affixing it makes everything resonate so much more... Any advice?

    Good advice on the holes for wires underneath! Thanks! Won't be much wires, hopefully, since my turnouts will be manual.
     
  5. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    This is a great idea!

    The major decision remaining for me is whether to mount it to the wall with angle brackets or attach 2x2 legs and keep it freestanding. I could use carriage bolts to make the legs removeable.

    The wall mount could also be done in such a way that I would be able to set the layout onto a shelf framework and take it elsewhere if I needed.

    Making legs means I won't have to deal with drilling into my wall. However, legs means it could be somewhat unstable since it's long and narrow (8' by 16"). Or maybe the legs could give enough support that it wouldn't wobble. The legs could be designed in a way to facilitate some more storage.

    Any insight?

    Decisions can be difficult!
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2018
  6. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I would go for the combo wall mount and moveable layout.

    A small switching layout is most easily used if it is at a higher level. So evn of you need to host a guest or move furniture around, if it is up higher so you stand while running, then it should be fine.
     
  7. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

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    Some extra shelves under the layout would add strength. Being able to secure to a wall would help also.
     
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  8. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    At this point, I am leaning toward this approach. The final decision, then, will have to be height. I really don't want it too high because I have kids, but a bit higher than table height probably. Maybe I could base it on some of the double-stack shelf layouts. Then I could add a second tier if I ever wanted...

    Hmm.
     
  9. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Depending on the ages of your kids, do you want kids playing with the highly detailed switching layout when you are not there?
     
  10. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, I wouldn't really want that. But they do know to leave Dad's stuff alone if I'm not with them.

    I still want the thing low enough that they could sit in a lap while I operated it and watch. That's currently happening while it sits low on a banquet table.

    I once put an old z scale layout at eye height (recommended by many) and it seemed really impractical for me personally. Ended up chopping the benchwork's legs to make it shorter.
     
  11. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    The option of having the shelf layout moveable, but up higher might be the way to go. The wall shelf being more of a dad's display and operating session layout. And then moving it down for monitored running wit the kids.

    I like operating while standing because anything longer than about 5 feet requires one to reach switches and couplers at both ends of the layout.

    Besides, nothing is permanent and you may decide to raise/lower your shelf brackets. Ah the joys of ready made drywall filler. I am sure you'll figure out what is best for you. :)
     
    flexeril likes this.
  12. astrotrain

    astrotrain TrainBoard Member

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    Its more fun to stand while running trains. People sit enough watching TV and computers all day. I would make it at least 48in high/ Keep a step stool or milk crate for the kidos to stand on. Just me opinion.
     
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  13. Ed Slanina

    Ed Slanina TrainBoard Member

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    Looks like you used your alone time nice and productive
     
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  14. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    Today was a day off work (Saturday), and I made some more progress on the benchwork. I decided on a shelf-type framework to place the 8'x16" module on. This way I could take it off and bring it elsewhere if I wanted. I settled on a height of 45" since it seemed a good height to be able to stand and operate but also have a stool for myself or my kids.

    First, though, I wanted to affix some thin lauan plywood on the back of my layout. I plan to paint this as a background. I wanted to cut and affix this now so I would have an idea of the actual depth I would be aiming for with the shelf benchwork. I cut this piece with my circular saw and just screwed it on to the back of my layout (no glue), so I could remove it later if I wanted / needed.

    Next I attached some wood (pine) on the wall in my room for the shelf support. I attached this at every 16" stud. (16" in theory.... I had quite a difficult time finding the first two studs from the corner since they were placed at non-standard distances. This is in a spare bedroom which doubles as my home office.

    The right side (corner) is supported by the studs on the second wall. The left side, however, needs some more support, so I boxed out an angled support at a stud.

    Then, I boxed out the right side as well.

    All said and done, it felt really sturdy, being affixed to the room's studs and all.

    Now it was time to try out how the layout fit on top of it. It just rests on top. It's heavy enough that I'm not worried at all about it getting knocked off. If this ever was a concern, I could add some kind of fastener (bolt through wood with washers).

    Finally, I thoroughly vacuumed the entire room.

    I am quite pleased with the result of my efforts today. It feels rock solid. The height is good for me to stand and reach everything (I'm 6'1"), but still low enough that I can sit on a stool and fiddle around, and so can the kids.

    If I would do anything differently, it would be to invest in a stud finder.

    Some remaining items I want to do:
    - paint the benchwork
    - apply some kind of trim (maybe thin strips of lauan plywood) to the removable module. Paint that the same color as the benchwork.
    - paint the stool (it's an old thing with a water stain on the top).
    - paint the background
    - figure out better lighting
    - drill holes for track power
    - figure out some kind of lower shelf / slide for my power pack. I want this designed in such a way that when I remove the module from the shelf, the power pack slide doesn't get in the way of the whole thing just sitting on a normal table.

    Finally, a photo of the benchwork with a train on it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
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  15. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Woo Hoo! Nice work!

    Now about that desk you have on the nearby wall... hmmm... a small 4 inch wide shelf for a longer lead off of the module? :p
     
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  16. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    I wish! Unfortunately there is a window on the wall of my work table about four feet in from the corner wall of my layout.

    I suppose it could be an arm that raises or lowers.

    I think I have enough to do with these eight feet for now... Since it lifts off the shelf, I think I can be fairly modular with any future expansions, even moving this whole module to another room or wall. In this current room and on this current wall, however, I think the most expansions I can do would be one or two peninsulas. I could do a 2-3.5 foot one in that corner you mentioned before it hits the window. In SCARM I kept hoping to make some kind of dogbone but 8' is just not enough to include the puzzle / industry I want in the middle. So this ends up being a pure switching layout, still pretty cool, with room to grow if needed.
     
  17. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Eh, windows. nothing you can't fix with a little bit of drywall. ;)
     
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  18. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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    Made more progress on the benchwork today.

    First I cut a piece of lauan plywood as a strip of trim for the front of the shelf layout. This will hide screws and also hide the joint between the plywood and the framing. I glued and clamped this to the framing, then I put on a bit of stain on it to make grain pop. I didn't put trim on the sides of the layout because as the layout progresses, I may add a taller piece of lauan to hide a cassette staging area or some kind of "false" exit to the broader world. Photos:


    I primed and then painted the supporting shelf benchwork white, to match the trim in the room:


    Then, while I had primer out, I primed the lauan background. This will eventually be painted sky blue with some clouds, and maybe some background scenery. Photos:
    This has been lots of fun so far. My wife even said she'd like to help paint the background.
     
  19. vince p

    vince p TrainBoard Member

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    Getting there slowly but getting there.
     
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  20. zaulden

    zaulden TrainBoard Member

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