Benchwork question

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by spitfire, Feb 14, 2003.

  1. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    Hi Val:

    I wouldn’t use ½ bolts to level the legs. Our club tried ¼-inch bolts and these bent. The 3/8-inch bolts have held up to use at 12 shows so far with no deformation. There’s two kinds of bolts that work well. Carriage bolts and elevator bolts. The elevator bolts are best as they have a flat “bottom” to sit upon the floor and this is what they are made for, leveling things. Carriage bolts have round heads. Get either one in about a 3-inch length so you have +/- 1-inch adjustment and still will have 1-inch bite. Drill a 7/16-inch hole in the bottom of your 2x 2 legs and insert a “tee” nut into this. Some of these nuts come with holes in the flange so you can secure them into the leg with nails or screws. Be sure you cut the bottom of the leg square, drill the hole square into the leg and insert the tee nut square into the hole or when you screw in the bolt it will rub on the inside of the hole and be very difficult to adjust for a very long time.

    Of course, if you’re not planning to move this layout often you can chuck the expense and effort for the above and just stick a matchbook under the wobbly legs! We can’t do this for shows; we’d have to buy a whole box of matchbooks for each show! But for a home layout it’s what I’d do. Well, actually, I’d probably get a cedar shim pack and use them to level any trouble spots.

    Regards,
    Ted
  2. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    Hi Val:
    One more thing, feeling long winded this morning. The type of bench work you diagrammed, butt joint, is what we use on our modules. The reason being is it's shallow and so you can stack up more modules in the back of your car to get them to shows. We use 1x 4s around the edge and 1x 3s for all cross bracing so the cross bracing doesn't crush the track of the module below, when they're stacked up for travel. We use 3/8 ply to the tops to keep the weight down.

    This construction method is prone to warpage. The 1x 3s and 1x 4s just don't have a lot of stability. Since we run "S" gauge it's not real critical. If need be we can just let a section of track "float" over a warped section of benchwork and the trains don't care, they just run right over it. (Some of the members have trouble with this situation though! Track work is SUPPOSED to be spiked to the roadbed) Anyway,….

    The l-girder method will convert a 1x3 into a fairly rigid support member that will span a goodly distance, as some of the folks have noted above. You can probably use 3/8 ply over this type of construction which will be easlier to bend for up and down transitions than 5/8”. I used a similar method on my backyard fence. I used a 5/4 by 6 with a 2x 4 as the top “L” in the l-girder top rail for my picket fence. Also ripped a large radius curve into the 5/4x 6 so it’s actually only 3-inches deep at mid span. Posts are 8-feet apart and you can walk on the top rail no problem.

    If you decide to use butt joint, make sure the boards are straight, and the grain is uniform. Oh, my apologies for the above detail (and “tellin ya what you already know”) if you’re an old wood dog like me.

    Regards,
    Ted
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Hi Ted! Be as "long-winded" as you want - I'm an information junkie! Thanks for all the info on attaching the levelling devices.

    Does the L-girder you're talking about span the length of the benchwork? If a 1x4 is not adequate support would a 2x4 work better? Or is the L-girder best of all?

    Thanks Ima for that drawing - wish I had CAD! Thanks also to David and Andrew for your advice.

    Is this what you mean Ted?

    :D Val

    Attached Files:

  4. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    Hi Val:
    Been taking down my Christmas layout so hadn't seen your note.

    I'm gonna try adn post a pic i just drew. Don't know how it'll come out. I draw in Autocad and save it as a .bmp. Then transfer it to Paint so i can save it as a .jpg. The size thing is still iffy.
    Here goes.

    Attached Files:

  5. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    Well, shrinking it 1/12 isn't enough, i'll try 1/18th next time. ANyway,

    I think this is what most people here mean when they say "L-girders w/ joists" This gives you a lot of flexibility, spacing of joists, overhangs, leg placement. The joists don't have to be parallel, they could follow each side of a "canyon".

    You ought to pick up "How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork" by Linn Westcott. Model RRer publishes it. It will pay for it's $10.00 cost by the time you do two layouts. Maybe one. A lot of the benchwork discussions here on the gauge are covered in the book.

    Regards,
    Ted
  6. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

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    Cool!

    Thanks Ted - now that is something I can really understand - a picture being worth 1000 words to someone like me!
    Just one problem with that type of construction for my purposes. I am going to have to take this whole thing down someday and get it up the basement stairs. I will need to be able to take the leg assemblies off the "table-top" to accomplish this.
    I was thinking of building "self-contained" leg assemblies that would bolt on to the 1x4 cross supports of the top. Something like the attached pic. What do you think?

    :D Val

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  7. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    "Last thoughts" You can tell i'm having trouble working up any enthusiasm for taking down my layout.

    I wouldn't use 2x 4s for a train table. The L-girders should be plenty strong even if you decide you have to step on it for a minute, provided you're using 1/2 ply tops and your legs are sturdy, ah - the tables legs not yours. I wouldn't trust 1/4 or 3/8 ply to stand upon. I use 2x 4s with 3/4 or 2 layers of 1/2 ply for my work benches but i'm dropping transmissions on 'em, beating things into submission with a hammer on them, clamping stuff in the vice and yanking the $#*()!%)($* out of it, etc.

    Regards,
    Ted
  8. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Ok,but we get to see the pics :D :D :D
  9. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    "Last Thoughts 2"
    In answer to your question.

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  10. TR-Flyer

    TR-Flyer Member

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    Hey Val:

    The diagonal bracing runs up, away from you in this view, and is bolted to the L-girder and the leg. You can unbolt the brace at the leg, loosen the one leg bolt at the "L", and fold them both up under the table. 'Course, you can always unbolt them using the other scheme as well. You may want to add one diagonal brace between the legs, i sketched this in using "paint", if the wall doesn't provide enough support.

    I think once you bolt or c-clamp your 3 modules together you'll find they're plenty sturdy. Our individual 2x 4 modules wobble like a one year old's legs, but c-clamp 'em together and they firm up pretty good.

    Regards,
    Ted
  11. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

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    I deleted my first reply to your question Val cause I realized it did'nt have a darn thing to with what you wanted to know :)
    Just felt like I needed to defend the mighty 2x4 and the reason's it was the weapon of choice for me :D

    Like Tyson and some others say I would move the legs in from the ends or add more to the middle. Better safe than sorry. they will definetly need bracing along the 8' length as it would be wobbly with out them. Unless the section will be secured to a wall.

    There! this reply was to the point in half the space as my other. hehe.

    Btw. I really like Pete's "I" beam construction

    t.
  12. Donn Welton

    Donn Welton Member

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    One problem with your 1/2" shelf is that it makes access to the underside of the layout almost impossible. And you will need this no matter how much you construction you do in advance of putting the top in its legs. If you need the storage, as I do with mine, you might tryin dropping your shelf down to the floor and putting swivel wheel on the four corners. You will not only increase the amount you can store but you will also have a shelf that can be rolled out of the way when you work on the underside the layout.