I have come to some decisions

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ntg, May 28, 2005.

  1. ntg

    ntg New Member

    Some things I thought about while I was mowing the grass tonight:

    1. I am going to do H.O. scale.

    2. I'm going to try to build my own 4'x8' bench. I think I can get my brother-in-law to help me. My own carpentry skills are pretty light.

    3. Instead of buying a set, I'm going to buy some track and buy the train seperate.

    4. And this one was already a given, but try to include my wife and kids in all of it as much as possible.

    So, as far as building my own bench, is there any advice that you can give that you wish you had had when you were making yours. I have plenty of room in my basement for the layout, its just a matter of getting the materials purchased and getting it built.

    I'm starting to get excited, and I haven't even gotten started yet. I think I'm hooked.

    One more question. How did you, if you had to,sell your wifes on getting and building and train set. My wife is a little reluctant, knowing that I have gone through phases like this before with other hobbies, but I think this is different. This looks like somethng the whole family can enjoy.

  2. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    I'd just tell her what you told us. Sounds great to me.

    And besides, how can she expect you to learn anything if you don't try???? I told my wife that shortly after we were married, and she hasn't stopped me on any project since. Oh yeah, in two weeks we'll be married 45 years.:wave:
  3. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    There are lots of ways to build benchwork, and there's a highly regarded book by Linn Westcott titled "How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork." His method may be the least expensive.

    But here's how I built mine. I built a 4'x8' box out of 2x4s, then I put one more 2x4 cut to length in the center. Some people put two 2x4s inside, spaced two feet apart. I screwed everything together with deck screws. Some people use glue in addition to screws but I didn't. Then I turned the box up on its side, made legs out of 2x4s and attached them inside the box. Drive the screws diagonally from each other for extra strength and rigidity. I put a leg in each corner and two in the middle, for six legs total. Then set the whole assembly on its legs and screw your sheet of plywood to the top. 3/4-inch plywood is best but I've used half-inch and gotten away with it.

    My tables are strong enough to support my weight, but I only weigh 140 pounds. If I were designing the tables to support someone else's weight, I'd have definitely put in two 2x4s in the middle spaced a couple of feet apart. I'm told that 1x2s would have been more than sufficient for the legs but I had lots of scrap 2x4s that were close to the right length for legs, so I used what I had. You won't find yourself having to walk on your 4x8 often, if at all, but if you ever expand it you may find the only easy way to lay track and get it right is to hoist yourself up on the table and sit down and do it.

    As far as time required... My first table took me about four hours to build because I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't have the best of tools. A second table, built with the help of a friend and better tools, probably took a little over an hour.

    As far as a selling point, model railroading is a very multifaceted hobby. You're going to find there are elements that you just don't like very much. Maybe you'll hate assembling bulding kits (solution: buy pre-built kits), maybe you'll hate painting (solution: buy pre-painted stuff) or maybe you'll find you enjoy the modeling more than you enjoy the trains themselves. Maybe you'll be forever content to watch your trains go around in circles, or maybe you'll need to simulate real railroad operations to enjoy it. Maybe you'll forever buy already-built rolling stock or maybe you'll find you enjoy researching and building good models of them from scratch. Staying interested in it is mostly about finding the facets you enjoy and finding workarounds to any facets of it that you don't.

    I definitely recommend you hit the library and get as many books on the subject as you can. Try to find a book with some 4x8 track plans in HO (don't just blindly lay track using whatever you have--that's a temptation but I guarantee you'll get bored with whatever you come up with) and pick up any other book that catches your eye. You'll probably want a book on scenery at the very least. If you go in with good benchwork and a good track plan from the start, you'll have a great foundation to build on. You can spend months on the scenery, and then you can spend years populating the little world with buildings and people and vehicles and all the other reasons for the train to be there in the first place. And like you say, involve your kids. Help them to discover the facets of it they enjoy most. Hopefully there'll be some overlap with your interests but hopefully they'll each enjoy some element you don't.
  4. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

  5. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

  6. cabdriver

    cabdriver Member

    We were exactly where you are about 6-9 months ago (well, except for the wife concerns :cool: -- mine was quite supportive already :D ). The whole family has truly been involved in the railroad -- some more than others, and some in cycles, but we've consistently had fun. Every once in a while one of the kids who hasn't been too involved in a while will walk in to see the layout and will say "Wow, that looks great. I didn't know you had done that...." and then they are right back involved.

    When we started, we went to the hobby store and bought a DVD put out by THe Worlds Greatest Hobby. http://www.greatesthobby.com It walks you through the creation of an entire 4 x 8 layout, including making the benchwork. We're not the most skilled when it comes to wood working, :p but we were able to make the benchwork without any problems. The video shows clearly how to do it. The table is very stable and sturdy without being too heavy -- the kids and I can easily move it around. One nice trick they used was to put an adjustable footing on the bottom of each leg so the benchwork can be leveled, if needed (which we needed in our garage). :thumb:

    Even if you chose to not use the layout modeled in the video, its a great learning tool to see benchwork, track layout, scenery, etc. We modeled our layout after it, but have made many modifications to it to make it fit what we wanted. Having this experience under our belts, we'll be better set for our next layout. You can see our thread in the HO section titled "Come along on our adventure" if you care to take a look.:wave:
  7. ntg

    ntg New Member

    Thanks for all the info. I'm going to research further and then let everybody know when we get started

  8. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    One thing: Normally, except for train sets which include track, controller, etcetera, individual parts of a train (locomotive, cars, caboose, etc.) are sold and purchased separately. Sometimes a group of passenger cars intended to go together will be sold as a set, or numbered bunches of freight cars, but normally you'll have to buy the engine separately. This is a good thing, because you can decide exactly what locomotive you want, as well as exactly what cars.

    A word about locating your layout: 4x8 layouts need access from all sides in order to be able to reach anything--you can put the 4-foot width against a wall, but if you put the long side against the wall you won't be able to reach the back half of the layout.
  9. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    A few things to help you along the way. This hobby can (optionally, of course) include may aspects you may not have thought of. Everything from, not only watching your trains go round, but things like electronics, (making flashing crossing signals etc), Photography (setting up and staging photos on your layout), carpentry (building the framework), computers (for controlling your trains) and most important of all, which can include the family, is research. You can even include your wife, by borrowing everything from the kitchen.... bowls to mix plaster, the blender to munch up your own ground cover, that colander or strainer for sprinkling it around, or that spoon, or pins and cotton from her sewing box!!! I mean... that'll include your wife!! :eek:
    For the family? Sunday drives, or when on holidays, taking photo's of the trains and landscape you want to model, riding that special train, and then getting a model of it running.

    So it's a bit more than just nailing a circle of track on a board, putting any old loco on it, with a couple of carraiges, and watching them go around, and around, and around, and around, and around and around, and around, and around, and around, and around and around, and around, and around, and around, and around and.......

    So before you get started, do some research. Maybe from your local library, or 2nd hand book shop for a book on How To Build A Model Railroad, or some railroading magazines, and some photography of the real thing (prototype) of what you wanna do, making some notes on what the track looks like, what is growing beside the track, fences, signs and particular colourings of the area. Research that includes what locos were seen with what types of carraiges etc.

    I built my first layout (4 X 8) with the full intention of chucking it out. Learn from my mistakes, so to speak, and one thing I can confirm, that's exactly what I did. You will make mistakes. We all did, and still do.

    So good luck, and keep us informed on how things go. :D :thumb:
  10. jasbourre

    jasbourre Member

    Nail on the head, "This looks like somethng the whole family can enjoy." is exactly what I told my wife, mind you she has'nt helped yet, but my 11 year old loves to get her hand dirty with her dad.
  11. joeymanko

    joeymanko New Member

    Dear Mike:

    I am not sure if it was mentioned before, but I would not advise putting your track directly on the plywood. Buy the pink insulation sheets. They work awesome, and you can even gouge it out for rivers, lakes, etc. I did one in N scale and it looks great.

  12. Pitchwife

    Pitchwife Dreamer

    Mike, just tell her that with a hobby like this it will keep you home and out of the bars chasing loose women. :D :D :D :D
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A freind of mine asked his wife if she would rather he stuffed money into stripper's g strings? She doesn't mind model railroading at all!
  14. Big_Al73

    Big_Al73 New Member

    My wife and I started dating 6 years before we got married, and she knew that we would a layout of some sort. Its great, because she help do the scenery, and picks out some of the rolling stock, but just rember, if she has a hobby, respect her hobbies also.
  15. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Mike,
    The 1st dwg shows a 4 x 8 with 18 and 15 radius curves.
    It shows a walking space all around of 18" which is
    about the minimum to get around in, really too tight.
    It has only 32 sq ft of real estate.

    The 2nd dwg shows a layout which uses exactly the same
    floor space, has 22 and 19 radius curves, 56 sq ft of real estate,
    and a comfortable operating bay.

    Dave's advice on construction is about as good as you're gonna get.
    Get a screwdriver bit for your 3/8 drill and use those long drywall
    screws. You & yer bro will have that bench up in no time. Put your
    table top 44-48" off the floor, I know that seems high, but you will
    see a ton more realism in your layout. And like Woodie said, read all
    you can find before you get too far down the road!!

    (Atlas Code 83 Flex Track :thumb: :thumb: )

    Best of Luck,

    Attached Files:

  16. Chris Beard

    Chris Beard Member

    There are many of us out there who wish we had a basement. While doing your'e research you might also want to take look at a 2' to 3' shelf along a wall or two. While a 4x8 table is a nice starting point I think you will soon bore of going around and around and around.

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