Help Me Dream

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by RobL, Apr 29, 2008.

  1. RobL

    RobL New Member

    That drawing is awesome... better than my hand drawn, scanned to TIF version for sure! :) ...

    I am thinking that is probably close to the bench plan I will be implementing... I am tossing around the idea of adding a spur in the middle to either add some additional industry or another yard area... again, I need to temper my habit of using too much floor space.

    We signed the home equity papers today, so the builder can get started very soon... of course, the "train room" will be the last to be finished on the project (after master bedroom / bath), but it's almost summer here outside of Buffalo, and since it will probably start snowing, in oh, 3 weeks or so (just kidding!), I am going to take summer in and build towards the anticipation of train season :)

    I have decided to use the "L-girder" benchwork methodology... I bought the Linn Wescott book and it seems to be a very flexible, yet easy to build system.

    I have also decided that for the first time in my model railroading life I am going to use flex track rather than sectional track... I am thinking it will give me more flexibility (ugh!) when designing the track plan.

    The one thing that hit me as I was trying to get a handle on what the size of the room will be is that it is a lot bigger than I thought it would be! Of course, there is never enough room, but I think I am going to be able to build something very nice in that amount of space.

  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Rob, one thing to think about is that you don't need straight bench work. In most switching areas, other than rail yards, you only need the bench work to be 12-18 inches wide. Where the track is at the back of the bench work, you can "dent" the front of the bench to allow easier access. Just remember to leave minimum aisle widths to allow you to maneuver around the layout as needed.
    The other thing to keep in mind is that scenery can be out of reach without causing any problems. If you need to reach the back when it is a bit too far for some routine maintenance, install hand holds in the ceiling, and use a step ladder.
  3. RobL

    RobL New Member

    Wow... I was trying to forget how long the construction on my house was taking, but my contractor is *finally* finishing my basement (I have heard stories about the speed, or lack thereof, of builders, but holy cow!)... anyways, I anticipate being able to start my benchwork within a week or two and I am looking to the group for some help on benchwork height... I am 5' 6" short and plan to use an open L girder style of construction... in your opinions, what would be the best height for the top of the benchwork (bottom of risers)?


    (I cannot wait to get going and post some pictures of a real layout rather than talking dreams!)
  4. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Rob: I don't know about the top of the L-girders, but I think that your arm held in front of you should clear at least all your rolling stock, probably the buildings near the front of the layout, and maybe all the telegraph poles with wire strung between them. You don't have to clear the mountains at the back.
    Mine is slightly too high by this standard. My sleeves catch on rolling stock and I'm always pushing buildings around. I have a couple of plastic step stools that I need for working on track that's more than 6" into the layout. For my wife it's at eye level and I think she enjoys it. My layout height was determined by the storage shelving under it.

    Could you stand (pun) operating from a chair? Put the layout at eye level (or just below) when sitting and you have loads of access when standing.
  5. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    I've had a few thoughts reading through this thread, and here they are in no particular order. Keep in mind these aren't meant to discourage you, just talking/thinking points.

    1. New England in Autumn doesn't conjure images of double tracked railroading in my mind. Yes, the B&A was double-tracked, the NYNH&H was double-tracked for much of its length as well, but really, when I think New England railroading, I'm thinking single-tracked light rail snaking through small towns and woods. (Think Rutland, Bangor & Aroostock, B&M, Central Vermont).

    If you really want two trains running at the same time, why not plan 2 separate loops that interchange (not necessarily at grade) in a town? That way you can still have 2 trains running - they won't be chasing each other slotcar style, and you get the fun of interchange operation as well.

    2. It sounds like although you've built several layouts, your experience has been limited in terms of construction and tracklaying. If you've never used flextrack before, you're in for a treat. The -ahem- flexibility it gives you in track planning and creating sweeping curves and easements rather than ruler-straight and compass-sharp track alignments is a joy. That said, maybe tackling a big layout like this could be more of a frustration than a relaxation... perhaps you should consider something a bit more modest, which leads me to the next point...

    3. You don't want duckunders, long reaches and lots of hidden track. Why not build a smaller island-style layout in the middle of the room? You'd have complete access all the way around it, if it were 4' deep side to side you'd still be able to reach all the way in, and you wouldn't need to have much hidden track if you didn't want to.
  6. RobL

    RobL New Member

    I am looking for the double track not to be 100% prototypical, but more about what I want on my layout using the real world as a "guide", and then using my own creativity to say, "yeah, but what if..."

    I have used flex track in the past, and I hear exactly what you are saying... gotta be careful with the track laying else some serious frustration followed by diving locomotive repairs may ensue :)

    Part of the reason of building the size addition we did was so I could finally in my lifetime build the railroad I always wanted to build... I *know* there will be some frustration, but as my real world job has shown me (I am a software engineer), that little frustrations along the way lend themselves to opportunities to learn and experiment and make a better product in the end... I actually am looking forward to this modeling challenge and accept the potential frustrations with open arms...

    That all said, I certainly appreciate your "bring me down to earth" comments, but I hope understanding a little about my personality will show you I am not the type of person that runs from a challenge nor is afraid of failure and setback.

    A little story: this past summer at the age of 38, I took up ice hockey... at the start I could barely stand on my skates, and now 6 months later, I am playing in a novice league... things I "cant" do today present a challenge, and I refuse to take the easy way out... failing matched with persistence to get past the failure leads to success, and I expect my railroad to be nothing less in the end.

  7. nw-fan

    nw-fan New Member

    Really, really, really consider an around the walls, shelf layout that is set at about shoulder height. It would be quite easy to step under. If you keep much or some of the shelf to 1 foot deep, you can have desks under the layout and they will not be dark at all, nor will you feel claustrophobic underneath them. You could put a florescent light under the layout/over the desk to make things seem nice and bright.

    I had my layout at this height and (actually it was a double decked layout) in my last house. It was GREAT to run trains at just about eye level. And the room seemed very clear and open. If you are concerned about working on the layout at this level, don't worry. Just keep a plastic step stool or two in the room. You won't need it very often, but it will be there when you do (like ballasting, etc...) And you won't ever need it when running trains.

    I build mine on lightweight L-shelf brackets supporting 2 layers of 1 inch styrofoam. It was very rigid and very lightweight, so you don't have to ruin your walls. To give an idea of how strong it was, I made finish trim by making 1 x 3's into an L shape, and then screwing down through the styro into the bottom L piece(horizontal). I also put a little liquid nails on it. And used drywall screws, with a washer. I had this set-up for approx 5 years.

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