L-Girder to Track Laying Questions

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Shlitz, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. Shlitz

    Shlitz New Member

    I'm having a problem getting from completed benchwork to track laying phase. I have my L-girder tables built without joists at this point.

    Here are the questions I need help with:

    1. Do I secure joists every 16" at this point or is this done on a custom basis for each section of track?

    2. Do I cover the entire layout with plywood, pre-lay track, cut subroadbed with jig saw and then attach cut pieces to risers?

    Not sure how to proceed into track laying.

    Any insight would be helpful as most websites do not mention any details on this step.

    Track plan can be viewed at http://trains.acsipc.com/third_layout.htm

    Thanks in advance...

    Shlitz :wave:
  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    1: 16" centers sounds good to me.
    2: I'd precut the subroadbed, lay it in position on the "joists", and cut risers to fit the elevations. Just remember that you want the subroadbed to ease into upgrades, and downgrades, so there are no "corners", sort of the same thing as easements for curves. After subroadbed, roadbed next,(cork, homasote, foam,....your choice), then track.
  3. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Hi ;)

    What I would do is secure the cross ties at 16" centers and then add others as needed. Sometimes a small joist is added between 2 16" center joists to allow for a rizer in an odd spot.

    I would go out and find a place that sold large appliances, like fridges and stoves, and look in the back, or ask the manager for there old boxs. You should be able to get large old cardboard boxs for nothing. Cut the box open along the seam where it put together and open it up. Lay this out on your gridwork and lay out the needed road bed on the cardboard. Once laied out, cut it out of the carboard with a box knife and use the cardboard templet to transfer the design to the plywood. You can make a whole bunch of templets before you lay them out on the 1/2" plywood, this way you will make the most of your plywood, as you can juggle the templets around to get the most out of your plywood. Cardboard is lighter and easyer to weild than plywood. I would only use a sollid plywood base on the level lower bench work. Starting from the edge of the lower level, then the road bed would rize from there and I would support it as I went and as it needed it.

    One more tip. When you make your upright supports for the road bed. What you should do is not attach the road bed directly to the top of the support. There is no adjustment this way. What you should do is use a piece of 1"x2" that is just as long as the road bed is wide. This would screwed to the road bed where the upright is to attach, and the upright would be attached to the piece of 1"x2" with 2 screws. The upright should be left just short of the desired level and the remainding hight accomplished with the 1"x2" block. This way you can tilt the road bed for super elevated curves, or adjust the level of the track. Once you run a train over the tracks, you might find there is a dangerous lean one way or the other, and this can easy be fixed with this method. :thumb:

    I hope this helps. ;)
    TrainClown :wave:
  4. Shlitz

    Shlitz New Member

    Thanks for both of your answers so far. I have considered the cardboard idea before and am starting to think it makes a lot of sense. (Turns out I already have the cardboard in the garage from our move.)

    How critical do I need to be when laying track on the cardboard? Do I need to bother getting it perfect before cutting out my cardboard templates? There is a big difference between laying it out with push pins and actually laying it so a train could run on it.

    Train Clown, am I understanding correctly it is your suggestion to mount the first layer of trackbed to risers rather than directly to the joists?
  5. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    No you don't have to be perfect with your layout. You should be making the road bed at least twice a wide as the track, even more in a spot your not sure of. This will give you the latitude tomove the track about a bit when you go to lay it. You don't need to actually lay the track on the cardboard ( if your using flex track, that is) all you need to do is to figure out where you want the center of the track to run and then draw a center line. Draw 2 more lines 2" from each side of the center line, and there's your road bed.

    Sorry I was unclear. What I ment was, that your first layer, or the lowest common level, say where the yard is, or a town, I would put a piece of plywood cut to the shape of the town right onto the joists. My elevated tracks and all others would radiate from there. If the roadbed is at the first level, and didn't need a rizer, then fine. But in my experiance, it's always better to have that block to act as an adjustment in any case. The minor adjustments can make all the difference when it comes to running the trains.

    TrainClown ;)
  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I second all that TC has said, what I did was similar in concept. Although too late for you to use, here is what I did. Prior to any benchwork construction, but with a trackplan already developed, I used a roll of kraft paper and laid it on the floor. I have track templates which were sold by Arbour Models, not available now but templates made for various radius curves will do, as well as various turnout sizes. I laid the templates down on the kraft paper and when satisfied, marked the kraft paper with magic marker so I could use it as a template for cutting both plywood and homasote roadbed. I also marked the floor for where the edges of the benchwork would be. Where one track crossed others, I of course used another piece of kraft paper, but I also showed where risers would fit between tracks. (I have some rather complex staging tracks)

    One of the beautis of L girder construction is the ability to move joists. If you start with 16" centers it will be easy to move one and add another to allow for stream beds, etc. When you draw the track on paper as I did, you can know where this type element will be and install joists accordingly. Also, the most economical use of your plywood or other material may put a joint (held together with a splice plate) over a joist. While there is no reason you can't put a riser under the splice plate, I prefer to put my risers on one side or the other.

    You can, of course, cover the layout with plywood and mark it directly for cutting. but this will waste costly plywood.

    TC's advise about using "cleats" is great advise. In addition to allowing you to correct your roadbed level sie to side, you should install all screws from beneath, so you can remove them after track is lais or scenery is installed. This allows changes to be made later. It also gets you away from installing screws into end grain, never a good idea. You don't want the bottom of your risers to protrude below the bottom of the joists. You will hit your head or shoulders on them, almost certainly. Cut them flush after you've ensured the grade is what it ought to be.

    Have fun!

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Do you have Linn Westcott's Benchwork book? This will tell you almost all you need to know.
    Remember that the joists do not have to be spaced evenly, at right angles to the benchwork, or all made from the same size lumber. The closest thing to critical in the spec is that they be vertical. You may need to move them to miss, as well as splice plates, switch machines under the roadbed.
  8. tinbasher

    tinbasher New Member

    I'm exactly at the same stage you are in the layout process. I too am a newbie. I took 4x12' sheets of cardboard and laid them on top of the joists. I then cut them to the shape of the ouline of the layout. The i printed the plan RTS 1:1 and laid it on top of the cardboard. Next I made a tool from aluminum sheet around 2" square, drilled 1/16 holes near one edge to put a fine tip marker in. With the opposite edge of the tool I followed the outline of the track. This gives me the outline of my subroadbead. Next cut along the subroadbed edge thru the cardboard RTS plan and cardboard. I also divided the whole layout into a grid pattern (alpha-numeric) and marked where each piece goes so when I place the cout cardboard template down on the plywood I can utilize as much space on the plywood and still know where each piece goes. I left the remaining card board on the joists so i can get a general idea where the cutout plywood goes. As well I marked on the cardboard on both the cut out piece and the remaining cardboard the location eg. C5 and the elevation, so it should be easy to put back together.

    If anyone has any suggestions to this end it would be great.

    good luck Shlitz, hope this was some help and not too confusing.


    Attached Files:

  9. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Welcome Tinbasher :D

    That's one fine looking track plan you got there. It has some real interesting ideas in it.
    If you ask me, you should start your own thread all about your layout. I'm sure there are lots of people here who would be interested.

    Best wishes,

    TrainClown ;)
  10. mennellrm

    mennellrm New Member

    One thing to watch for- try not to have a joist underneath a turnout if you plan on using an electric switch machine as the joist will be in the way of your installation. The joists don't have to all be exactly the same distance apart. One of the advantages of L-girder benchwork is that all the screws can go in from the bottom. You may well find that you have to move one a little one way or the other and this is easily done later on even if you have trackwork started IF you have followed the L-girder rule "all screws go in from the bottom".
    Have fun,

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