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Winter 1970 - Page 14


however, that flat tabletop can present some real problems if you ever want to thrill at the sight of a train crossing over a bridge - with a flat tabletop you must provide some sort of cutout under the tracks for that gully that the bridge bridges. There is a better way ... Most experienced model railroaders will suggest some form of "open grid" type of benchwork. The open grid style is similar to the framework of a frame house before the exterior and interior wall panels are in place - you might consider it to be merely the outer framework of a table with some 'braces across the open center section but no top. Narrow boards, just a fraction of an inch wider than the tracks, follow the path of the tracks around the "open grid" tablework. The track boards are supported a few inches above the top edges of the tablework on short wooden risers. You are free to add bridges: hills, and valleys wherever you choose - extra tracks can be added at will on their own track boards and risers. Eventually plaster-type scenery will fill in the open areas. Initially, however, the open spaces can be filled with scraps of burlap or cardboard to keep any accidentally derailed trains off of the floor. The simplest type of "open grid" benchwork is simply a series of shadow box-style frames made from 1 x3 or 1 x4 boards placed on end and screwed together. A slightly more ' complex type of "open grid" was pioneered by Model Railroader's Lynn Westcott. Westcott's design used 1 x3 longitudi nal members that were capped with glue and screwed 1x2 pieces to form an inverted "L" shape. The shorter crossmembel's are then screwed to the "L" braces from below through the flange of the "L". The advantage

of the " L girder" type. of benchwork is that even the basic grid can be adjusted for closer spacing under complex mountain trackage or wider spacing under larger, flat, yard areas. If you're planning a first-ever model railroad layout, the simple shadow box-style "open grid" benchwork will be best. Just be sure to fasten all joints with screws rather than nails. Should any changes be needed as the railroad progresses, the screwed-in place supports can be removed without upsetting the rest of the layout. It's also far easier on existing construction to attach new track supports with screws rather than to shake up the entire layout as you hammer away at the new su pports. Apartment dwellers may want to consider constructing their layouts in a series of portable "modules" that bolt together to form a complete layout. These modules, like those in the photos, can be as small as 2 x 4-feet; with each area detailed as an independent unit. The modules can be stacked on a series of shelves for storage and assembled into a larger layout when you want to operate complete trains , or on that blessed day when you finally find a house with room for a complete model railroad. Even a single module can form the basis of an effective scene to display your models. If the trackwork is planned carefully enough, you can even operate a switching yard or industry setting while you wait for the day when longer trains can be sent out to run over the "mainline". The time spent detailing one of these modules is worthwhile in that the module can form at least a part of even the largest model railroad empire. If your space is limited, at least temporarily, it's a good way to get started and gain experience in building and operation.

It takes proper tools to b u i l d benchwork that wi l l last. Most can be rented for the project. You'll need a dri l l, power saw, power screwdriver, screws, tape measure, and a "pilot" bit to match the size screws you use.

N umber 2 x 1Y," wood screws are adequate for most bench work (hold the legs on with stove bolts a nd nuts) . A " pilot" bit to match th e screws wi l l make the work easier a nd save splits .



14/1001 M odel Railroad i ng Ideas

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