A good solid platform that is going to support a Model Railroaders layout is essential.
In this article we shall explore in detail what are the main components of benchwork and the essential elements of design.
There is great comfort in doing it right first time.
The part of the benchwork that is rarely seen or even considered by the visitor to your layout is the beam-work, or under structure.
This should consist of vertical, cross and diagonal bracing.
The verticals are obviously the legs and ideally will be fixed to the floor and to the top.
The cross bracing are the runners that ensure the legs are always in parallel with each other and should be fixed to the top and to each leg about 7-9 inches from the floor.
Each diagonal brace absolutely has to be fixed to a leg and a cross brace.
Never from leg to leg or cross brace to cross brace. This is critical to ensure stability.
The platform or top surface should be at least half inch plywood or flooring grade chipboard or MDF.
You will notice that these three materials are loosely described as particle or laminate board, this is essential for the dimensional stability that the track requires.
Before anything else the benchwork has to be the finished article before any track is laid or scenery installed.
All sharp edges rounded off, joins smoothed out and glued if possible and the control station defined.
Also, now is a good time to drill the platform to run electrical wiring underneath the top to keep it all tidy and out of sight.
Now the track can be installed.
Because there is an empty space it is easier to get it right first time with any track detailing such as turn-ins and turn-outs, cross overs, turntables and sidings.
The wiring can be finalised and controllers installed.
This is where the fun starts because the locomotives and rolling stock can be installed and tested, here the controllers and the wiring get tested at the same time of course.
This may well be a substantial layout and before any scenery or accessories are positioned access has be assured where it is not possible to reach from the control center.
It is really difficult to put scenery onto areas that are normally out of reach.
If the benching is strong enough though to take the weight of the modeller, no problem.
Many modellers paint the bench top before anything is installed as this gives them a base from which to add their scenery.
A shade of a neutral green or brown is common.
It all sounds easy doesn’t it?
Well it actually is because what is described here is the carrying out of a plan.
If the benchwork and initial installation is well thought out and designed it is easy and also quite quick to do.
So if you are considering building a new benchwork installation all you have to do is draw it, size it, design the under structure, cut everything to size and install it.
Whether a simple or complex benchwork installation the rules are exactly the same.
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You will be so glad you did. Have a browse around while you are there. You will find access to my free model railroading course and there is a host of model railroading information for you.
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