base building

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by wlee, Apr 22, 2001.

  1. wlee

    wlee New Member

    can anyone offer some ideas on building a base for a model railroad.i'm after ideas on the complete base ie legs,frames,supports etc any help would be appreciated
  2. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    wlee,

    Sounds like your off and running! I have just started a small layout (2.4m X 1.2m) HO. I used pine particle chipboard 10mm (3/8") Good strong and easy to work with. This is supported by a pine 20mm X 70mm (3/4" X 3") screwed and glued to the under edge of the board. To ensure I can easily move the thing, I have not fixed any legs supports, however purchased some pine "bookshelves" from Ikea (el cheapo kits) 1.2M high. (4') and just rest the board on the tops, creating a "table" This give the layout some movability, also some storgage, and also a decent workable height. Make sure your layout is at a good working height, or....... bad back guaranteed!

    TOOT!
  3. wlee

    wlee New Member

    Woodie,thanks very much,appreciate your ideas....Wayne
  4. George

    George Member

    Wlee,

    Make it as strong as you can so you can lean on it with your weight. I went with all solid 2"X4" benchwork with a support every two feet.

    At two corners, the legs are screwed into the sides of book cases which really anchor the structure firmly. You can bump into the side and not knock figures over. That was one major accomplishment with this layout I planned on after years of frustration from minor nudges.

    Depending on your height, try and put the average deck level with your armpit, or four feet from floor to flat surface.

    George.
  5. wlee

    wlee New Member

    George,thanks for your input.It's great to get a "board" where people are simply there to help and not knock each other.Restores the faith in human nature.Thankyou.

    Wayne
  6. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Wayne, welcome to the Gauge.
    All wood used in the making of a baseboard has got to last for years, so get the best wood possible. Seasoned wood is the best, as it will not warp. The size of the wood is also important, I, like most other enthusiasts, use 3" or 4" by 1" for all main frames. 2" by 2" I use for the legs . The meaning of open grid baseboards means just that. If your baseboard size is an 8' by 4' your open framing will be every foot. This allows you to build below as well as above the baseboards for scenic details.
    Once the baseboards have been made, you must now make a decision on what material you are going to use for the track bed. I personally use ½" chipboard with ½" insulation board on the top. One reason is for strength (The chipboard) and the other (Insulation) for easy pinning of track pins when laying the track.
    Once the chipboard and insulation is in place, now is a good time to paint the insulation board an earth colour. Apart from anything else, the insulation board will be sealed and easier to cut and it looks nice also.
    Here are two photo's, one showing my open baseboards, and the other the layout finished.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Hope this will help you on your way.

    Shamus
    http://www.badger-creek.co.uk
  7. George

    George Member

    Wayne,

    Shamus's method is the best way to replicate rolling scenery. I've always started with a flat world and worked from there. Ranges are easy, it's that ravine you wanted that's hard to make if you don't do it Shamus' way!

    Shamus also brings up a good point in using seasoned wood, and let me take it one step further. Don't buy the wood when there's $$$ and no time. Buy when you're ready to work and put it together.

    I purchased a small load that ended up in the garage for several months when project time was diverted to other things. When the cheapo developer built my house, instead of venting the clothes dryer outside, he put the vent inside the garage! I suppose this was a poor-man's way of heating an unheated garage instead of venting the hot, moist air outside. Even though the wood was seasoned, it warped to uselessness. This event made me re-evaluate what I stored in the garage, and I learned the hard way only buy wood when I was ready to work with it.

    My deck is 1/2" plywood sheets topped with 1/2" sheets of Homasote. Now we've had a lot of screams here, and in other sites that Homasote isn't readily available in most parts of the country. But if you can get it, I swear by it. It doesn't warp, and it's great for driving track nails into with ease and it holds up great. When working with moist/wet scenery materials, it absorbs and dries without repercussions.

    One last thing that comes to mind, if you're doing an "island" type of layout, I gave myself four feet of clearance from the layout edge to the wall. This way, people can get by each other without incident and you can get back far enough to enjoy the view yourself. I would have prefered an around the wall type, but the room I have this time prohibits it. I've tried two and three foot clearances in the past and they make life miserable.

    What size are you working with, and are you going for an island or around the wall?

    George.
  8. wlee

    wlee New Member

    George,

    I am undecided as yet whether it will be an island layout or around the wall.More than likely a combination of the two.The "room" is actually my workshop which is half of a four bay garage.It may end up being a case of reclaiming the other half of the garage.

    After digesting the good advice so far on bases,i think the answer is staring me in the face.I have two "shop counters" that currently hold up tool boxes etc.These are solid as,with shelving underneath,probably just a matter of putting on a top deck and i'll be on my way.

    Once again,i am appreciative of any advice.

    Regards
    Wayne
  9. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Wayne,

    WOW.... half of a four bay garage! You could build half the world in there! I've just started too, so decided on something small (1.2m X 2.4m) so I can make mistakes, experiment and learn before I go onto something bigger. I've already demolished it once! and started again. I just allowed for a couple of tracks that run off the end, so I can extend or incorporate it into a much larger layout should I decide to. Allows you to change your mind on scenery, get perspectives right on realisticness (big word), wiring techniques etc. I would recommend doing this first. I was tempted to go straight into contructing the ultimate. Glad I didn't.

    TOOT!
  10. wlee

    wlee New Member

    Woodie,i've taken your advice and gone with the 1.2 x 2.4 to start with.I've rushed in a couple of pics showing the workspace and the beginnings of the layout......hope they come up o.k.......Wayne
    p.s. had to include one of my son Josh and myself.......

    http://www.q-net.net.au/~wlee/layout1.jpg
    http://www.q-net.net.au/~wlee/layout2.jpg
    http://www.q-net.net.au/~wlee/j_w.jpg
    Sorry about the links above now being dead,i've just changed isp's.



    [This message has been edited by wlee (edited 06-04-2001).]
  11. George

    George Member

    Wlee,

    Islands protruding out of an around the wall configuration is what I think is best. I'm stuck with a duckunder to get inside an island, and I have no way of avoiding it.

    Greatest advantage of having part of the layout against the wall is not having to worry about securing AC and telephone cords on floor areas to prevent tripping.

    George.
  12. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I don't have too much to add to what's already been said here in regards to layout design.
    I'm not sure if anyone mentioned this, but this was something I had to learn the hard way - Do yourself a big favor, & make sure all trackwork is within 24" of an aisleway.
  13. Biggerhammer

    Biggerhammer Member

    I've got a bit of an unconventional design of benchwork:

    3/4inch plywood surface with L-girder 1x4s underneath, with the whole thing hanging from pulleys on the ceiling. With 25lbs of counterweight on each end I can pull it to the ceiling and out of the way, for storage- vital because I am working in a fairly small workshop (which isn't even mine). It's a workable solution for now but I will freely admit that it's annoying to have the whole layout swinging as I try to work on it [​IMG]

    (dreaming of the day I can build my own house, with a basement that's dedicated to trains!)

    [This message has been edited by Biggerhammer (edited 05-02-2001).]
  14. George

    George Member

    Charlie,

    Good rule of thumb;

    NEVER DEEPER THAN YOU CAN REACH.

    George.
  15. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Wayne,

    Another opinion on materials.....

    I hate particle board / chip board. It does not hold screws well, will not take a sheer load well, and sags more than equal-thickness plywood, no matter what people say. And it is not all THAT much cheaper than plywood --- at least where I live.

    And in spite of George's bad luck storing lumber in the garage, I would maintain that the ideal is to buy your lumber as far in advance as practical, and store it (in loose, well-ventilated stacks) in the room in which it will be used. Sitting there a few months would be ideal. Allows the lumber to take on the moisture and temperature characteristics of the room, and all warping, splitting, and other nasty things will happen BEFORE layout construction, not after.

    Bill
  16. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    Shamus,

    Sure some boards will warp, but it is a lot better to have them warp before they are part of the layout, rather than after. Having them screwed or nailed in place as part of your benchwork is not going to change their minds about wanting to warp.

    I live in a relatively dry climate -- Southern California -- so perhaps that gives me an advantage. It isn't always possible, but I try to buy lumber months in advance, stack it in venilated stacks with slats between, and have had very good luck. It's when I don't do that that I have trouble.

    A friend used "fresh" 4x4s (inch measure) as interior "decorative" posts against a drywall (plaster board) wall. A couple of them have twisted nearly 3/4 inch in eight feet of length, digging right into the drywall!

    Bill
  17. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    of course the quality of timber helps too. You get what you pay for. Properly cured, and aged pine is fine for supports etc. It will not warp (cause it already has settled and absorbed what it needs to before cutting at the mill) I've used chipboard, with 1" X 4" screwed and glued supports around the edge. I have had no problem with warping swelling or support. Even with the amount of glue/plaster/water sprayed wiped painted on the surface. In fact it has hardened the support, and I can lift the layout in one corner and it's as solid as a rock! Will not twist when lifted in one corner! SO I'm satisfied with the result.

    TOOT!
  18. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bill,
    Got to disagree with you on two points,

    1 - Chipboard, if used on a proper open frame grid base will not warp, and screws will not work lose. I have used Chipboard for 50+ years, and never ever had any trouble.

    2- storing wood, no matter where you leave it will warp if not used when bought. The reason is that you buy it from a store and take it out in the air to your own home, stored in a different climate to it's original environment and starts to warp in around 3 hours.

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