Author Topic: Long supportless benchwork?  (Read 1653 times)

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daniel_leavitt2000

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Long supportless benchwork?
« on: January 18, 2018, 06:43:50 PM »
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After the https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=43752.0 paring down thread, I am looking at creating area specific vignette dioramas that are connected though hidden trackage.

The displays would look something like this:


With the layout itself looking something like this:


I am in process of redesigning the diorama areas. The bench work will probably be about 36" deep in areas for generous return loop curves. Worcester, Framingham and Boston will be about 15' long each. Framingham, Boston will have a 15' long sub-level with additional yard trackage, and Worcester would have a 10' long sub level with the P&W interchange. which leads to the next problem:

How do you make bench work with no front supports for up to 15'? I am thinking about open grid bench work with a 10" girder on the front, but a 1x10 at 15+ feel long will be impossible to find.
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

thomasjmdavis

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2018, 07:21:16 PM »
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Rather surprised that you are having difficulty finding a 1x10x16', as that would be considered a standard length (I've been buying lumber for display and stage scenery manufacture for 40 years), and indeed a lot of 8' stock in lumberyards comes in as 16' and is cut in half on site.  But it may be that in some regions, so many big trees have been cut that such lengths are scarce.

An alternative might be the "plywood I-beams" that are manufactured nowadays for use as floor joists.  You would need to modify other framing a bit, but they are stable and will carry a substantial load without much deflection.

Either of these (long length 1x10 or the manufactured joists) may be easier to locate at an old fashioned lumberyard than the local big box home center.

I like the plan for vignettes, and have been toying with a similar concept for my own new layout.  I have seen this done quite effectively in a couple museums, and it creates effective spaces between the areas modeled, without the need for a couple train lengths of "countryside."
Tom D.

"The difference between the difficult and the impossible is that doing the impossible is usually more fun." (my college design professor Russell Whaley)

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2018, 08:41:14 PM »
+1
Here is a quick sketch of what I am looking to do:


I plan on building it like as custom furniture rather than built-in i.e. it will not use the ceiling or walls for support, other than an occasional anchor. Valence and paneling will be black with birch trim. Birch veneer Ikea bookcases will be used between dioramas to keep costs down. Tracks will run though the bookcase to the next diorama via hidden trackage, accessible from a removable blank panel on the front of the bookcase.

Because I am not building this into the wall and ceiling, lighting, controls and everything else can be self contained to each diorama.

You can see from this sketch that some larger portions (Framingham, Worcester and Boston) will have a sub deck. That support beam between the two is what I am worried about. I also need to figure out how to route a half helix completely hidden.
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

Lemosteam

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2018, 08:46:46 PM »
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If you cannot find a 1x10x16, Rip enough 1/2" oriented strand board into enough 10" strips to make a 16 footer by staggering joints inside every other layer, using polyurethane glue to laminate and then use screws to clamp each panel until the beam is 1-1/2" to 2" thick. All you have to do is keep one edge as straight as you can.

That's basically what structural beams are.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2018, 09:24:24 PM »
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Going with wood will require substantial depth/vertical cross section to prevent sagging. A good friend of mine solved a similar challenge by using a rectangular steel tube; long stable span, no expansion/shrinking issues, great strength, shallow benchwork. Might be something to look into..?
Otto K.

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2018, 10:15:40 PM »
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Is steel square tubing something I can incorporate with normal wooden bench work? Would I be able to use the tubing just for the front support and bolt it to the wood framework?
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

nickelplate759

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2018, 11:05:10 PM »
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I've screwed aluminum or steel angle to wood boards to make a more rigid beam to support a layout.   Haven't done 15' though, only a 10' span.   Drill a whole through the metal angle every foot or so, and run wood screws into the wood to hold it.   You could also use channel rather than an angle.
Aluminum is a lot less rigid than steel for the same dimensions, but also a lot lighter and easier to drill.
George
(that's my real name)

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I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 12:06:25 AM »
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Something like this? (overhead view)



I figure I can anchor the rungs both from the front and bottom of the aluminum stock.
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mighalpern

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2018, 01:34:28 AM »
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When I designed my first layout that would by 10'x 10' and slung on cables and then raised to the roof in the garage when not used, I needed light framing.  so I used aluminum frame channel like they use for office buildings and then nestled a 3/8 plywood piece inside.  I cut it very tight and that made the aluminum very rigid for a low weight gain.  I used construction adhesive to hold it in place and then once I installed the facial hardboard those screws just aided the grip.  it was light and spanned my 10 feet.  the down fall of that layout was in using plaster, plaster castings and the layout started to weigh ALOT and I was not comfortable winching that much above my cars or kids etc.
the nice thing about the nestled wood was that you can glue the cross piece or toe nail,  just like making a box grid
good luck

nickelplate759

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2018, 11:55:34 AM »
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Something like this? (overhead view)



I figure I can anchor the rungs both from the front and bottom of the aluminum stock.

Almost exactly!
George
(that's my real name)

NKPH&TS #3628

I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2018, 12:07:25 PM »
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No benchwork help, other than saying I love the concept.

Did you see the 2017 GMR article about the guy who did something similar set in Florida?
http://mrr.trains.com/issues/2016/great-model-railroads-2017
It's Alex Marchand's.


Lemosteam

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2018, 12:33:39 PM »
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Not sure 4" or 6" aluminum angle iron would work and not deflect for a 15 foot span, especially with a 3' depth, not to mention it will be EXPENSIVE ($311 for 4" angle x 180"). 

Would you be climbing on the deck?

I would think for the nominal weight of a layout would be able to be supported by a 2 x 8  or maybe even 2 x 6 for 15 feet with some minor deflection if you climbed up there.  But the method i mentioned earlier would not bow or twist like a natural milled 2 x would.  Obviously stringers to the back wall would be critical to that.

DKS

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2018, 12:46:44 PM »
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Not sure 4" or 6" aluminum angle iron would work and not deflect for a 15 foot span, especially with a 3' depth, not to mention it will be EXPENSIVE ($311 for 4" angle x 180").

A significantly cheaper alternative would be steel 2x4s, but even then, 15' is way too long to go unsupported. If you had a leg at the midpoint, I'd say with reasonable confidence that steel 2x4s would be enough.

BTW, this is based on direct experience building benchwork from steel 2x4s, not conjecture.

Lemosteam

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2018, 01:10:00 PM »
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A significantly cheaper alternative would be steel 2x4s, but even then, 15' is way too long to go unsupported. If you had a leg at the midpoint, I'd say with reasonable confidence that steel 2x4s would be enough.

BTW, this is based on direct experience building benchwork from steel 2x4s, not conjecture.

Steel 2 x 6 are also avaialble, but not sure in that length, maybe 10'.  If you boxed two channels (not studs) it would be even better.

cne_craig

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Re: Long supportless benchwork?
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2018, 01:43:10 PM »
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Box Beam.  Keep it light.  An example of a box beam is the typical Hollow Core Door (HCD) which is simply built from 5/4 x 5/4 solid wood with 1/8" luan top and bottom glued.  Very light and very stable.  You could use HCD's (2) end to end and tie together with a simple inside and outside rail (like a 1x3) screwed and glued to the door edge.

I like the diorama type setup and since its free standing you could set it up as back-to-back modules in the center of the space rather than an along the wall typical setup.  If you separate them a bit (space between back to back) that may give you room to put in your helix's (or is it helii?)

Cheers,
Craig