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Main benchwork complete …

Hi all,

Today I finished the last section of main benchwork as described in my last post.

The I-beams were fabricated from lengths of 5×1 and 3×1 DAR pine.  A groove was routed into the top and bottom flanges to fit the web then the whole thing was glued together with the urethane glue.  The beams were made in 5.4m lengths and then cut to suit each location.

Wall supports for joists are L-girders made from 3×1 and 2×1 DAR.  The benchwork is now ready for joists.  I also need to get some more masonite sheets to cut up for spline strips, then I can continue on with the spline from the helix to the DOWN storage yard.


A new year begins …

Hi all,

Since the last post, Xmas and New Year have come and gone, and here we are kicking off a brand new year of modelling.

Over the last few weeks, work on the layout has been sporadic to say the least.  Just before Xmas, I had started to work out the riser heights of the grade from the bridge through Kankool, but realised before I could go any further, I needed to mark out the 42” reference height around the layout, as this is basically the layouts’ datum point for roadbed height.

Early on before any benchwork went up, I had marked out a 42” height along the walls to Kankool just using a spirit level and straight edges, but was always wary of its accuracy.  I mean, I only had to have the bubble in the level a millimetre out at one mark, and by the end of the run, I could be out maybe 10mm.

So I came up with the idea of using a water level.  So, it was off to Bunnings to get some clear PVC hose.  After filling it with water, and some coloured food dye to make the water line a bit easier to see, one end was setup at the end of the storage yard benchtop.  I fashioned a simple clamp to hold the tube in position.

water level clamp

I soon realised that this would be a two person job, so since my father was down for Xmas, I commandeered him.  Whilst he held the tube at the storage yard end, I moved the other end to various points around the walls and benchwork, and when the water found its level at each point, a mark was made with a red pen.  We soon got into a rhythm and eventually made marks all the way from the bridge to the teardrop peninsula.

The next job was to remove the temporary joists that were placed to support the spline whilst under construction and fix the permanent ones in position.  I only had to do this on the section under Kankool and along the first peninsular wall.  These were made from 2×1 DAR and placed around 500mm apart along the L girders.  I wasn’t too worried about the length at this point, as I can always extend the joist when I come to attach the fascia.

joists in place between the bridge & Kankool

The view above also shows some benchwork changes I made the other week.  The original design was to have the benchwork supported on shelf brackets – see previous post.  The main reason for this was to eliminate the need for legs which I always thought would get in the way.

But, ever since I constructed that section, there was a lot of movement in the benchwork and it wasn’t really solid enough.  So I needed to do something prior to setting the roadbed height and attaching risers to the joists.  Andrew was around one day, and after both of us pondering the problem, he suggested the idea of moving the inside L girder back towards the wall and fixing it to the wall.  The outer girder would then be supported by 2×2 pine legs.  This would then allow the shelf brackets and tracks to be completely removed.  I still may use this method for the upper deck, but am thinking of placing the brackets at every wall stud, ie 600mm apart.

The resulting benchwork is now much more solid and I am much happier with it.  The legs will still end up being far enough in behind the fascia to not be a problem.

In my next post, I will explain how I have set the grade and risers to the correct height.


Peninsula Benchwork …

Hi all,

Since the last post, I have made more progress on the peninsula benchwork and main support wall.  I have constructed the wall from 3×1 DAR pine.  The ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ plates are made from 3×1 L girders placed back to back with 3×1 ‘studs’ installed between them.

'bottom' plate of wall The photo above shows the two pieces of L girder in place to form the ‘bottom’ plate of the wall.  These are supported on 70x35mm joists spaced about 1500mm apart.

finished wall in place

The photo above shows the completed wall.  The gap above the ‘top’ plate is to allow for more 3×1 on edge to support the future lighting pelmet for the top deck.  The lower level spline will be supported on risers from joists supported on the main I beams.  As the elevation gets higher, I may need to support the spline off cantilevered joists from the ‘studs’.  Each end of the wall is secured to both the room wall at the far end and the steel post.  It ended up being quite sturdy.

I have also made more progress on the spline through Kankool, with this nearly complete.  Hopefully within a few days it will be.  Below is a shot taken a few days ago.  There has been more spline installed since.  It has been quite slow going in this section, as I am basically building two lots of spline as I go, one each for the main and loop through Kankool.

Kankool spline


More benchwork …

Hi all,

Just a quick post today.

I have started on the next section of benchwork for the rest of Kankool and around the corner onto the peninsula.  For the main peninsula backbone, I have used fabricated timber ‘I’ beams, mainly for the long spans I can get between supports to try and eliminate the amount of legs required.  The beams are 200 x 70mm and are custom made to the length required. The two shown here will be just under 6 metres long.

peninsula benchwork

peninsula benchwork

On top of these will go the joists to support the roadbed.  The two beams are only temporarily in place at the moment, but hopefully after the weekend, they will be fixed in place.

I also added two more L girders at an angle from the wall where it steps back to just near the right hand side beam.  This will now allow me to continue with the spline roadbed through Kankool and around the corner.  I will have to start lifting the spline up on risers to close to the final level, as the two new L girders and beams sit about 100mm higher than the first section of benchwork.  I worked out that I could get away with this as the line is climbing steadily here, and at the mid point of Kankool loop, the level is already about 4 inches higher than when it began at the bridge, so I realised I didn’t need to keep the benchwork at the same height, as I would have ended up with very tall risers.  All I had to ensure was that I would end up with enough distance below the track to allow for scenery etc ie embankments.

More updates as things progress.


Benchwork begins to Kankool …

Hi all,

Since the last post, I have been busy continuing with laying track in the Down storage yard, but this has now come to a temporary halt.  A week or so ago saw the failure of my shear tool that I use for cutting the PCB sleepers, so until I work out how to repair it, I’ve started on the next section of benchwork from the storage yards to Kankool.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how to go about the construction of this benchwork, and have been reading some books etc.  I have settled on using steel shelving brackets to support L-girder benchwork.  Late last week I had worked out what I required for a few sections of future benchwork, and ordered the parts on-line from The Shelving Shop, in particular their Twin Track system.  I looked at obtaining the shelving system locally, but I saved around $70 by getting it on-line.  That’s including postage!


basic L-girder/joist benchwork            bracket detail

The pictures above show where I got to today with the L-girders attached to the brackets and the joists atop the girders.  The girders are made from 3×1 and 2×1 DAR pine.  The maximum span I can have with this size girder is around 9’ 6”, so the shelving uprights were located along the wall well within these limits.  The joists are 2×1 spaced at 500mm intervals.  The future track height at the far end of the left hand picture is around 4.5” above the top of the joists rising to around 7” by the time it reaches the end of this run.  This will allow for plenty of room below track level for scenery.  The top of the joists are 38” above floor level.

As can be seen, this section will only be narrow, as I have to allow for enough aisle width to be able to get under the stairs.  The joists have been cut at 500mm from the wall, but this can always be shortened to suit the future scenery valance.  The paper that’s visible on the floor is a full size printout of this section of the layout from my 3rdPlanit drawing.  It will be used when setting out the spline roadbed, and could be subject to change as things progress, but will be pretty close to the original plan.

So, the next part is to begin construction of some spline roadbed.  I’m eager to try this and looking forward to it.  Watch this space!

Cheers for now.

Benchwork begins …

Hi all,

Well, after about 20 years since I first started modelling in HO, and about 2 years of planning the layout in the current train room, I have finally started on the benchwork.

I will be kicking off with the storage yards and laying all the track and points and getting the point motors installed.  Then will come the benchwork and spline roadbed towards Kankool.  More details on spline roadbed later.

Here are some shots of the first sections of benchwork.  Click on the image to view a larger version.  Use your browser’s BACK button to return to this page.

L girders in place joist & bracing attached to L girders

I started off making sections of ‘L’ girder from 2×1 and 3×1 DAR pine which were screwed to the walls, then using sheets of 2440 x 1220 x 9mm 5 ply exterior grade plywood cut in half to give 2440 x 610mm sheets, 2×1 DAR pine was glued and screwed to the front edge of each sheet.  This helps to strengthen the front edge and to keep it straight.

deatail of joist & bracing

The supports for these sheets were then made from more 2×1 and braced back to the wall.  The finished height to the top of the plywood is 42 inches (1067mm).  The plywood will then be screwed down to the joists, with joining plates attached under each join to give added strength.

more joists etc to go yet in the corner

I have still to build the supporting framework in the corner to carry this section of plywood.

I hope to complete all this first section of benchwork next week and begin marking out the track centres for the yards and start laying track.

Cheers for now.

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