Author Topic: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea  (Read 3464 times)

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tom mann

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failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« on: August 15, 2007, 09:05:32 PM »
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I have several goals in mind for layout benchwork:
  • have a clean appearance.  the layout should look like it could be installed in an upscale architectural studio.
  • maximize use of the room for other, non-train activities.
  • be around shoulder to eye height.
  • be lightweight and easily portable.

I've abandoned my Ikea Lack shelf series of modules.  I feel that having to restrict depth to 10 3/4" is too limiting for photography, and having to bolt it to the wall proved to be a hassle too.

My next idea is to build a lightweight aluminum framework in 2'x4' sizes using epoxy and picture frame material.  Foam would cover the top, so the whole rig would be very lightweight.  To raise this to a workable layout height, I'm also brainstorming and idea for telescoping rails that can be installed to span parallel walls and serve as the base for the framework modules (supported in the middle if need be).  Again (as with the Lack shelf), you would be limited to a layout whose length is no greater than the length of the wall.

So if you have a 10x10 foot room, install two 10' aluminum telescoping rails and brace them in the middle (or every 3'?).  You can then put your lightweight aluminum-framed modules on top of these.  Modules can be of varying lengths and depths, have curving fronts, etc.

What do you think?

Walkercolt

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2007, 09:27:00 PM »
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Guys have built super-lightweight modules on the basic plan you're talking about. I think the biggest problem, even using foam, is the seanery gets pretty heavy. It might take supports every 3' to work well, I dunno ???

DKS

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2007, 09:27:39 PM »
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Random thoughts...

For the size modules you're talking about, I don't see any real need for any kind of frame. Lately I've been building dioramas and layouts on sandwiches of Gatorboard (I'm just starting my fourth). Gatorboard will not warp, even when wet. Two half-inch thick sheets laminated together make a mighty rigid and very lightweight layout base. At four feet long, you would have no need to provide center support, even with fairly dense scenery. For a finished appearance, I attach 1/4-inch foamcore to the edges, cut to follow the scenery elevation countour, and apply vinyl woodgrain. You can get Gatorboard in black, which also looks good by itself.

I think I might recommend adjustable shelving brackets. That way you can easily set the layout to whatever height you want, and change it at will.

My WR&N layout was in a 10 x 11 room and was supported on seven shelf brackets, three on the short wall and four on the long. They were the "super bracket" variety that can support hundreds of pounds. I set them at shoulder height, and that left a great deal of space in the room for other activities (in my case, a workshop and an art studio).
« Last Edit: August 15, 2007, 09:29:25 PM by dks2855 »
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse

3rdrail

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2007, 09:28:24 PM »
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What is holding things up? Pressure against the end walls plus legs? Sounds like something that could be tipped over by a pet or small child to me. It's a tall, skinny, featherweight table the way you describe it.

tom mann

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2007, 09:32:03 PM »
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What is holding things up? Pressure against the end walls plus legs? Sounds like something that could be tipped over by a pet or small child to me. It's a tall, skinny, featherweight table the way you describe it.

The rails would be bolted to the walls; no legs involved.  Kinda like a shower rod, but imagine two of them in parallel, acting as a shelf support.

3rdrail

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2007, 09:37:52 PM »
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What is holding things up? Pressure against the end walls plus legs? Sounds like something that could be tipped over by a pet or small child to me. It's a tall, skinny, featherweight table the way you describe it.

The rails would be bolted to the walls; no legs involved.  Kinda like a shower rod, but imagine two of them in parallel, acting as a shelf support.
That'd work then. You said "bolting it to the wall proved to be a hassle" in the first paragraph, so I wan't sure if you were trying to avoid that. The rails will have to be of sufficient depth that they won't flex vertically.

wm3798

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2007, 12:29:34 AM »
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You have to forgive Gregg..  His layout was engineered by the PRR, so his benchwork is built from cut stone ;D

Lee
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Nelson

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2007, 05:57:26 AM »
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Tom, Depending on where you live (climate wise) look for either a storm door/window or a screen enclosure supply company. They have all sorts of shapes of aluminum extrusions to work with, plus corner and tee brackets etc. to fasten it all together with.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2007, 07:21:40 AM »
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Or you can look at closet folding doors too. They're pre-built, and narrower than regular doors, however they're wider than the Ikea shelves.

tom mann

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2007, 07:29:54 AM »
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Sorry Gregg, I wasn't clear.  Each Ikea Lack Shelf has it's own bracket that requires a minimum of 4 screws, and of course, leveling adjacent modules.  My new idea would be less screws and easier leveling.  Something that is easy to move and install/reinstall.

Again, my idea (The Shower Rod Modular System) is confined to along one wall (and probably point to point, too).

sirenwerks

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2007, 04:59:54 PM »
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Tom, have you considered using extruded foam layered vertically for your scenery (I imagine you're sticking with the western theme)? This would add some structural integrity to your concept, at least a little bit more more than horizontally layered foam sheet would have.
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

Chris333

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2007, 05:12:23 PM »
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I'm sure the shower rod idea would work, just don't try climbing up on it  ;)

Maybe make each "shower rod" out of a 1x4 and 1x2 sort of like an L girder. Or go all out and make I beams.

My layout room is about 8.5 x 9.5' and the 9.5' long section sits on a 2x4 lip in the back and has a 2x4 "shower rod" at the front edge. And I have bench work coming off of both sides of this tied right into the "rod".

sirenwerks

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2007, 08:14:20 PM »
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Quote
Maybe make each "shower rod" out of a 1x4 and 1x2 sort of like an L girder. Or go all out and make I beams.

Or 1' aluminum angle, available quite handily from Home Depot in about 4' lengths, and their are metal shops in your area, Tom, that can get longer lengths easy.
Now seeking Pacific NW N scalers to create a Modutrak-style modular club featuring NP's shared mainline between Seattle and Portland. PM me if interested.

SAH

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2007, 07:30:35 AM »
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  • have a clean appearance.  the layout should look like it could be installed in an upscale architectural studio.

In that case it will be constructed from fom-cor, chip board, card stock and transparency sheet, and held together with masking tape, white glue and straight pins.  Oh, you probably mean installed in the reception area where prospective clients would see it.  Never mind.  :)

Actually I’ve given a lot of thought to the subject.  I was looking for a system with the same qualities you list as I was designing Spencer.  I even looked at the Ikea Lack shelf but rejected it for the same reasons you state.  Consider the systems trade show exhibitors or artists on the festival circuit use:  Portable, lightweight, easy up and strong.  Manufactured systems are expensive but might be worth it for a small installation.  The artists use home built systems for the most part.  Not as lightweight but satisfy the other criteria.  A square aluminum tube and plastic joiner system would be ideal for the frame.  I stopped looking before I went further with that idea.  I wound up using a 1x3 poplar with a 1/8” hardboard skin.  Foam is glued to the skin.  The first iteration did not have the hardboard skin.  The frame flexed too much when I moved it about, even with the insulation board glued to it.  My 15” x 6’ Spencer section weighs approx 20 lbs.  Too heavy to be considered lightweight but I’ve proven it will in fact move.  Most of the layout is supported by heavy duty double slot shelf standards and brackets. 

My experience living in high rise apartments and condos caused me to ask this question:  How would I build a layout if I couldn’t make sawdust during the process?  A parts built metal frame and foam insulation go a long way to answering that question.  I’ve also played with matte board, many types of plastic sheet and cardboard.  I went back to wood because I could make sawdust and didn’t plan to move the layout very often.

Why must the layout be lightweight and portable?  Will you take it down to work on it at table height frequently?  Take it to shows periodically?  Move it to your next abode one time only?  Will the backdrop be part of the frame system?  Why the metal frame?  Why not wood?

Steve

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Re: failed attempt at module construction - but a new idea
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2007, 08:10:24 AM »
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Why the metal frame?  Why not wood?

Why a frame?

Black Gatorboard edged with Formica (or an equivalent slick, clean material).
“Everyone leaves unfinished business. That's what dying is.” —Amos, The Expanse