Author Topic: Benchwork thickness  (Read 1305 times)

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basementcalling

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Benchwork thickness
« on: April 20, 2013, 07:09:33 PM »
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Anyone have any good strategies to reduce the thickness of benchwork, the subroadbed, supports, and all the rest of the stuff that supports the scenery?

I'm looking at one scene where I need to keep the top level of a new layout thinner than in other spots to keep visual clearance between the bottom of the fascia and the lower deck.

Hoping to keep 10 inches, so trying to keep my benchwork no deeper than 2 inches total.
Peter Pfotenhauer

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2013, 07:38:02 PM »
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I have 1" thick extruded styrofoam over 1/8" luan for all my benchwork... And it worked out very well.  If I built another layout I would do it exactly the same way. 

If you need something to support it under that area of the layout then I would consider shelf brackets if you can use them... Thin & strong.

Zox

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2013, 07:39:03 PM »
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Hoping to keep 10 inches, so trying to keep my benchwork no deeper than 2 inches total.

If you go by Linn Westcott's benchwork figures, a 1x2 frame (actually 1.5" tall) is adequate support for spans up to 29". Since you're doing multiple decks, I presume you're attaching the benchwork directly to the wall? In that case, you can easily support the frame every 16", assuming standard stud spacing. (If you're anchoring to concrete, you have even more flexibility in support spacing.)

If you put your track support (plywood or foam) within the 1x2 frame instead of on top, so the track (and roadbed) runs right at the top of the frame, that gives you benchwork that's only 1.5" tall.

Remember, also, that hills, buildings, backdrops, etc. can conceal support elements.
Rob M., a.k.a. Zox
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nkalanaga

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2013, 12:14:09 AM »
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Linn's figures were also intended for older scenery, with plaster and similar materials.  If your hills are foam, that will reduce the weight further, while acting as additional support.  I'd agree that 1x2s would be plenty for most N scale shelf layouts.

That said, mine is 1x3, with various material over that, but I didn't have clearance issues, and wanted almost indestructible benchwork.  It's definitely overbuilt!  I could probably sit on it...
N Kalanaga
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TiVoPrince

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2013, 10:23:15 AM »
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Depth
reduction of fascias is quite difficult if you plan anything other than 'wide open spaces' running. 

Benchwork usually needs to accomodate switch machines, throttle panels, and turnout controls and whatever else you might want.  If you use Tortise machines that pretty much establishes you minimum fascia depth.  I really like the Tam Valley servo as turnout motors, because they fit inside a thin and cheap hollow core door with absolutely nothing hanging down.  The door thickness (plus foam topper) does not easily acomodate useful things like Digitrax panels but I can certainly workaround that...
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mmyers

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2013, 12:50:50 PM »
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To keep this to readily available lumber dimensions I'd use 1 x 2 for the front and rear frame. Attach a 1/2 x 3/4 square bead to the back of it. 1/4 inch luann plywood deck between the front and rear to make a deck 3/4 inch below the top of the 1 x 2's.  That makes the whole thing rigid and gives a surface to mount foam board and track with a half inch available for relief below the roadbed. Of course if you have table saw available, the lumber could be ripped to even tighter dimensions. I built a small test layout for BANTRAK made of no more than 1/2 x 3/4 stop bead and 1/4 luann and plenty of glue. It's traveled well for several years.

Martin Myers

casmmr

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2013, 04:10:22 PM »
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I have used 1/4" luan for the tops and sides/front/sky board of t-trak modules.  The only ones I reenforced with 1x2 1/2" wood were those that I cut out the top for rivers/streams.  I have built triples (36 1/2" length) with 1 or 2 cross pieces between the sides and have transported them for several years with no problems.  For a permanent layout, I have used 1x4 with 1/2" ply on the top.  Way over built unless I plan to sit/lay my 300 lbs+ on the top.  I would now use 1x2 with 1/4" ply top and support that structure every 16" with a cross piece. On an 8' length, you would have 7 cross pieces between your 8' lengths.  If you need to cut for a stream, just double the 1x2 or if you are really going deep (over 1 1/2") use 1x4 or 1x6 for about 1-2' centered on the cut.

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2013, 04:39:01 PM »
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I have a spot where my upper deck crosses the doorway (a 3' span) that I wanted to be as thin as possible for human clearance:



Like the rest of the benchwork, I used a box construction, but here I used 1x2 along the front and 1x4 across the back, for added stiffness.  Here's a closer view:



With a little luck, it is even possible to get a Tortoise in there without protruding below deck.  The total thickness from the bottom of the frame to the top of the rail head it about 2 1/2", and it is plenty rigid.  The 1x4 along the back sticks up a bit higher, but that will support a mini backdrop in due time.

-gfh
« Last Edit: April 21, 2013, 04:40:45 PM by GaryHinshaw »

rogergperkins

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2013, 08:27:55 AM »
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Use of 2" extruded polystyrene foam as a base with supporting wooden framework is reported to be very adequate.
This is certainly true if one uses the same extruded polystyrene foam in laminated layers to create hills and variations in topography.
I recall some information published by Lance ?Mindheim? on this approach.

basementcalling

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2013, 10:01:12 PM »
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Thanks for the ideas, guys. Similar to what I was thinking, so that is good. Gary, the pictures say it better than words could.

I am trying to keep as much distance between the bottom of the upper deck and rail tops of the lower deck as possible. Right now, rail to rail is 10.5 inches: 58.5 to 48. Mock up viewing angle wasn't as good as I wanted with a 3 inch fascia. Luckily upper deck scene is a vanilla 1% grade leaving a paper mill town. No need for any dramatic below the tracks scenery here, though I find scenes much more realistic if the mainline looks like the high iron instead of being near or at the same level as the rest of the ground level in the scene. Hard to do that and keep the vertical distance as large as possible.

Peter Pfotenhauer

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Benchwork thickness
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2013, 12:27:48 AM »
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For a  relatively short 12' long 9" wide section of my upper deck I used a good quality 1x2 fascia board with 1x2 lateral joists and was able to cut the fascia down to 1" in few places to give the scenery a gently rolling edge. While I use Tortoises elsewhere, this section required the use of Tam Valley servo motors which fit nicely.... The hollow frame also allows lighting to be inserted between the joists. The laterals are secured to the wall with metal L brackets and the lower deck backdrop hides them, being a couple of inches away from the wall. It's solid as a rock...
Regards, Otto K.