Table/Other Advice

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Clark A., Nov 28, 2005.

  1. Clark A.

    Clark A. Member

    Well, I've been thinking more about planning lately and some of the problems I will run into.:eek:

    I am an amateur and simply cannot attempt to build a table or anything like that. I will need some kind of premade table for cheap that is large, or a collection of tables. I would say my layout should be fairly large however. Its length will be about double the width. I am intrigued by an old plan proposed by cidchase last year. Id like this or something with a similar idea.;)

    I'd like to have at least two towns. One fairly large, and one small. I'd like a passenger service between them and an industry with transit between them. What industries would be ideal? :confused:

    The time I'd like is either the present, or the 1930s/40s. The setting I'd like is midwest.


    This is the plan I like.

  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I like the plan, Clark! :thumb:

    You might, however, give some thought to some more switching possibilities in the mine, & town areas...?
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Clark A.:

    Benchwork is not as complicated as you might think. If you are hesitating because you are not a master carpenter, then don't! It is not too difficult to do. You can pretty much make everything you need in a variety of ways:

    - Get the lumber yard to do most of the cutting
    - Get yourself a cut-off (mitre) saw and use dimensional lumber (like 1x4)
    - Get a table saw and plywood to make whatever size lumber you need. For this option, you will also need a buddy to help you cut the 4x8 sheet down to size...!

    Pretty much all benchwork can be assembled with screws & glue. You will need a drill/driver (or really strong hands/arms) and some C-clamps.

    If you don't have the space for a "workshop" to do all this cutting and assembly, there are pre-fab benchwork "modules" available.

    Hope that helps.

  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    As Andrew said, benchwork is not hard to do. Home centers like Home Depot, Lowes, etc will do one cut on a piece of luymber for free. If you buy your 4 x 8 plywood sheets and have them cut in half to make 2x8, you will have ready made benchwork. Just get some 1x2 or 2x2 for legs and cut to the length you need for the correct height. Then get some 1x2 to use for bracing. Just remember that the strongest and lightest structural member is a triangle. If each of your legs has a 1x2 running across horizontally connecting the two legs at the top and near the bottom, and one running diagonally from the bottom of one leg to the top of the other, you have two triangles. Run one 1x2 8 feet long down the center of each 2x8 ply on the bottom side and then run a diagonal brace from the bottom rung of the installed leg to the center beam, and your benchwork will be solid. Space the legs the same width as the plywood top, and then nail a 6 inch masonite strip the full length of the plywood fastened to the side of the legs and with small blocks of 1x2 pieces fastened to the masonite and the bottom of the plywood every 2 feet or so as necessary for strength and you should have nice strong benchwork with a fascia board to build on. You might want to have one or two of the 4x8 plywood sheets cut at a 30 inch width for the side where the yard is located. If you don't need to have any other section of the layout at an 18 inch width, cut up the left over plywood into 4 inch wide strips to use for the cross bracing on the leg sets. The main thing to remember when dealing with plywood is that screws and nails hold very well when going across the plys, but plywood does not take fasteners very well between the plys, it tends to delaminate.

    Regarding the track plan, it is a nice start, but the two mainline runs seem to be only connected by the yard, and the double ended yard ladder will minimize the number of cars the yard will hold. Also there is no yard lead so that you can work the yard without fowling the mainline. I would eliminate the mainline coming off the inside of the yard. Then I would bring a yard lead off the mainline near where the drawing is labled "industrial" and bring that lead all the way across to the other side of the layout just below the roundhouse and turntable. Run a lead from the turntable next to the roundhouse to connect to the lead by a turnout. Now you have a yard lead and a path for your hostlers to get a mainline locomotive out of the engine facility to the train that the switcher has made up. Run a double ended siding off the lead so that a train could go to the main in either direction, and then run a stub end yard ladder off the siding. Keep the mainline to the back of the bench work so you don't have to reach over the main to work the yard. You can use the double ended siding for a run around track and make your trains on the lead. You can now run a single track mainline with passing sidings around the room. Plan your industries, mine, town etc. and install sidings as required to work those industries. If you are going to do multiple operators/trains, I would tend to put the industries and sidings toward the inside of the layout and move the mainline more toward the rear again to avoid having to reach over the mainline to work the industries.
  5. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    Table Tennis or Ping Pong tables are quite large, they fold up and roll away if you want. You might pick one up cheap at a yard sale. When my mother-in-law moved, she sold her table for $50. It had a steel frame, a 6.5' x 12' hard board top, it folded up and rolled around.

    TrainClown ;)
  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    If you really don't want to build your own benchwork, Seivers sells all the materials ready to bolt together. Very well done with excellent quality from all I have heard. Here's their web site:

    Your proposed layout lends itself very well to modular or sectional benchwork. Here is a link to a very thorough, easy-to-follow instructions for building your own modules/sections.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Clark A.

    Clark A. Member

    I really don't want to get into building tables, I'm only a teenager and I just dont want to attempt it, but I do like TrainClowns Ping Pong idea.
  8. trainwhiz20

    trainwhiz20 Member

    Clark, I was a bit scared of the benchwork myself. And my dad isn't a train type at all. (He certainly is bummed I'm not into sports as much--although I do play tennis...) But I got him to help me build a table.

    Due to space, it had to be one foot short to leave room to walk around it because it was between the wall and big-screen TV upstairs. So it was 7', instead of 8'. And 4' wide. We got a nice 4'x8' cut at Home Depot, and for $15 dollars I picked up two sawhorses at Lowe's. Now, I'm smart enough to not just set the layout on the sawhorses, so my father and I built braces on the table into which the tops of the plastic sawhorses were inserted. Viola!

    Sturdy as can be. And, the legs aren't permanately attached.

    If you'd like pics, just ask. I could probably get around to it tomorrow after school.

    But that's how I solved my benchwork problem. And it's perfect for me.:thumb:
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Building modules is easy, makes for a flexible layout (I see in your other thread that the space available is "some of the basement") and allows you to get up and running fairly quickly. In fact, with dimensional lumber and a mitre saw, you should be able to build the basic frames for 2 modules in one evening.

    While the pingpong tables and other suggestions are good, I would highyl recommend that you invest a bit of time in benchwork. I know that a lot of beginners go with a 4x8 because that is the way many people start, but I think too that most of those layouts are scrapped in the end. I never actually completed mine past the track laying stage...

  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Clark, If you have the space available, the track plan you linked to at the beginning of this thread, or a variation there of will give you much more enjoyment that anything you can do on a table.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Clark: The nice thing about benchwork is that most of it gets covered up! See if you can find Linn Westcott's book on benchwork; it's old but covers most of the territory.
    The only bits that count are that it be level and all the legs touch the floor.
  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Another possibility if you don't mind the low height is Home Depot, Lowes, etc. sell folding legs of the type used on folding tables for banquets, churches, schools, etc. You could have your plywood cut in 2' x 8' peices and install those folding legs with some screws and your are ready to lay track and scenery. You could buy 4 legs and one sheet of plywood ripped in two lengthwise and buiild and scenic two benches, then get two more, and so on until your layout is completely up and running. Also pick up some of the little steel straps of some sort that are used in building construction to bolt your tables together as you assemble your layout. That way you won't have to worry about the tables shifting if they are bumped.

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