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Archive for the ‘Benchwork’ Category

Getting Out of Durango

Load your wagons, hitch up your horses, and let's get out of Durango.

Load your wagons, hitch up your horses (and mules), and let’s get out of Durango!  There’s nothing like out of town relatives coming for Thanksgiving to motivate you to get something running on the railroad.

It won't be easy.  Just as the pioneering builders of the first line to Silverton faced almost insurmountable natural obstacles, I'm looking at laying track into "mountains" of obsructions, too.

It won’t be easy. Just as the pioneering builders of the first line to Silverton faced almost insurmountable natural obstacles, I’m looking at laying track into “mountains” of obstructions, too.

My solution will have to be the creation of an all-weather workshop in one end of my garage.  Those of you who have been following this site since its inception will remember that this is the area where I built my first models, while the space above it was being renovated as a train room.

My solution will have to be the creation of an all-weather workshop in one end of my garage, where I can move the construction and painting of small models.  Those of you who have been following this web site since its inception will remember that this is the area where I built my first models, while the space above it was being renovated as a train room.  The only difference is that back then, I was working down here in the summer.  Now I have to prepare the area to withstand the rigors of a Minnesota winter.  Work in here starts tomorrow, October 24th.

Meanwhile, back in Durango (upstairs), I have cleared all the buildings.

Meanwhile, back in Durango (upstairs), I have cleared all the buildings, and decided to lower the bench-work by 2 inches.  By doing this, the backdrop will not be obscured by the structures, and I will hopefully have a little better reach to the backside of this widest part of my layout.  I’m still not happy with the distance here, but short of changing the whole track plan to a “point-to-point” arrangement, this is just going to have to work.

First I installed the wall supports at the revised height.

First I installed the wall supports at the revised height.

This is a small sample of the construction technique I am using on the wall supports.  These 2x2 with quarter-inch ply gussets will screw to the 2x2s that are lag screwed to the wall studs around the room.

This is a small sample of the construction technique I am using on the wall supports. These 2x2s with quarter-inch plywood gussets will screw to the 2x2s that are lag screwed to the wall studs around the room.

The wall braces extend into the room as far as the point where the fascia (brown line) will be attached.

The wall supports extend into the room as far as the point where the fascia (brown line) will be attached. For the time being, I am only going to use the 36 inch wall brace to support the Animas Canyon line out of Durango.

On top of the wall supports I'm putting traditional "l-girders".  When this is all screwed together, it is remarkably strong and stable.

On top of the wall supports I’m putting traditional “l-girders”. When this is all screwed together, it is remarkably strong and stable.

Under Durango, I'm just using small right angle hardware to make connections for now.  I've already had to undo these angles a couple of times to pull Durango away from the wall to work on things on the long side of the bech-work and the backdrop.

Under Durango, I’m just using small right angle hardware to make connections for now. I’ve already had to undo these angles a couple of times to pull Durango away from the wall to work on things on the long side of the bench-work and the backdrop.  More to come……

 

 

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In preparation for the start of actual construction on the layout, I had to dismantle the 4' x 8' test and photography track I put together last summer.  There just isn't enough room to keep it together as I build the layout.

In preparation for the start of actual construction on the layout, I had to dismantle the 4′ x 8′ test and photography track I put together last summer. There just isn’t enough room to keep it together as I build the layout.  All of the materials will be able to be re-cycled into the layout.

The first step is to grid the construction paper I still have taped to the floor.  This grid of one foot sqau

The first step is to grid the construction paper I still have taped to the floor. I plan on leaving this paper in place until the scenery work on the layout is completed.  The grid of one foot squares will allow me to lay out my track plan on the floor, full sized before I build the bench-work.  That way I can make adjustments for turn outs, easements for curves, and visualize the whole thing exactly as it will be, before committing to bench-work construction.

By laying out the track plan full size on the floor, I can build the benchwork right up from that, knowing everything at the layout level will fit as planned.

Once the track plan is laid out full size on the floor, I can build the bench-work right up from that, knowing that everything at the layout level will fit as planned.  I’m using 1×3 for bench-work framing and 2×2 for legs.  On my plan, the Durango yard has a track running down to the Farmington staging yard that almost completely encircles it.  I’ll add that track later, and then tie this whole piece of bench-work into the 2×2 supports that are lag screwed to the wall studs.  1/4″ plywood gussets and 1×2 cross braces will make everything very solid.  Durango is 40″ off the floor, and everything else on the layout rises from that elevation.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought some 4' x 8' sheets of half-inch thick Baltic Birch plywood.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought some 4′ x 8′ sheets of half-inch thick Baltic Birch plywood.  This plywood is much more resistant to warping due to changes in temperature and humidity conditions.

I used a piece of card stock to make a scale 4' x 8' mask to fit over my track plan.  this shows me what I can expect to get to fit on a sheet of plywood.  The Durango yard are will be the largest flat area of the layout.  Beyond here the track will be supported on roadbed that is shaped to the individual track, and

I used a piece of card stock to make a scale 4′ x 8′ mask to fit over my track plan. this shows me what I can expect to fit on a sheet of plywood. The Durango yard will be the largest flat area of the layout. Beyond here the track will be supported on roadbed that is shaped to the curvature of the individual track, and supported on adjustable 1x2s that screw into supports coming off of the 2×2 wall pieces.

By placing the outline of the bench-work inside the 4' x8' mask, I can figure out

By placing the outline of the bench-work inside the 4′ x 8′ mask, I can see how it locates under the plywood.  Then I simply drop countersunk 1″ drywall screws down into the tops of the 1x3s.  Look back to the fourth photo in this posting.

After the plywood is secured to the bench-work, I took the 2' x 4' panels of homasote that I used on the temporary test track, and secured them to the plywood with a thinned mixture of Elmer's carpenter's glue and water, and some more 1" drywall screws.

After the plywood was secured to the bench-work, I took the 2′ x 4′ panels of homasote that I used on the temporary test track, and secured them to the plywood with a thinned mixture of Elmer’s carpenter’s glue and water, and some more 1″ drywall screws.  Since this will be a railroad yard area, and I will not use elevated roadbed, I can lay my track right on this homasote surface.  If you look at railroad yards, they need to be pretty flat, so cars can’t roll away.  In the steam era, railroads often just used “clinkers” to ballast the tracks in their yards.  Clinkers were the hard stone-like remains from the coal that was burned in the locomotive fireboxes.

Here is a photo of the actual yard at Durango, Colorado, taken in 1965.

Here is a photo of the actual yard at Durango, Colorado, taken in 1965.  The gray color of the ground and the ballast comes from it’s clinker composition.  You can see how the ties are almost completely buried to ground level in this material.  Once I lay the track, photos like this will be my guide for creating the ground and scenery around the yard.

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Brief Update 11/25/12

The month of November has been taken up by all kinds of non-railroading things. I took a theatrical lighting job that ate up the first two weeks of the month. I had seven shows scheduled that I had to review for Hennepin Theatre Trust, and most of last week was spent in Chicago for Thanksgiving with our daughter. I finally got back to working on the benchwork under Durango today. There are four things to note in the photo: 1. I am drawing a grid on the construction paper that is taped to the floor, so that I can lay out the track plan in 1:1 scale, and build the benchwork right up from that.  In due course, I will remove this paper, but for now it protects the floor, and serves as a 1:1 track plan drawing.
2. The vertical 2x2s that are lag screwed to the wall joists at 16 inch intervals will be used to support a number of things. Right now they are carrying the 2.5 inch wide strip that will support the background forms, and the rope lights that will create the horizon lighting. 3. The masonite panel is just screwed on to the front of this strip as an example; it is not the actual contour that will be in that location. I am looking at a company called Backdrop Warehouse for the actual background photo. They have pictures in stock of the area that I am modeling, and they can custom-make one continuous photo background that will go all around the room. 4. The benchwork in the photo will be topped with 3/8 inch plywood, and 1/2 inch homasote for the Durango yard. There will also be more cross-bracing underneath, and everything will eventually tie into the 2×2 wall strips, so it will be very solid. For the time being, I had to build it free-standing, because the line to the Farmington Yard descends along the front, around the right end, and down in back.  See the post from 10/28/12 in Planning.

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