Model Train Forum banner

1 - 6 of 6 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
192 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am moving to a new house. This will mean that my goal of a permanent layout will be constructed.

I am working in N scale.

The basement is stepped as it is built on a rock hill and This means, the floor is not at the same height throughout the area. They are stepped about a foot at a time. My thinking is doing a layout here, if I make the level of the layout with the concrete above it, I could have a layered layout in which no level actually connects with the one below it.

My question is, how much space below the deck is needed? I don't plan to store much under there. It would only be where the wires are run.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,028 Posts
I think the clearance underneath your layout depends somewhat on how complex your layout is going to be. I have a lot of electrical complexity with my railroad (block detection, remote turnout motors, wiring for building and street lights, and signals), so I appreciate having the table be high enough that I can comfortably sit upright underneath it to install wiring. There's also a theory that having the layout be high and closer to eye level gives a more realistic viewing angle. On the other hand, I've seen people build layouts where all the wiring is just below the upper surface with no underside access needed at all. So there's no right or wrong answer to your question. You need to decide how you plan to build your layout, what your physical limitations are, and what discomfort you're willing to accept to access the underside if/when necessary.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts
Mark makes excellent points, I would highly recommend also considering open grid benchwork as well with solid flat roadbed where you can run your wiring right alongside or beneath the sub-roadbed. I also saw one forum member mentioning burying his wiring into the foam then cover with landscaping. My preference is under raised subroadbed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
192 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Mark makes excellent points, I would highly recommend also considering open grid benchwork as well with solid flat roadbed where you can run your wiring right alongside or beneath the sub-roadbed. I also saw one forum member mentioning burying his wiring into the foam then cover with landscaping. My preference is under raised subroadbed.
What is open grid?

My plan is plywood and foam for the base and the wires penetrate it and run under it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,166 Posts
What is open grid?

My plan is plywood and foam for the base and the wires penetrate it and run under it.
swimer_spe;

"Open grid benchwork" Is basically a wood box (or several boxes) typically built with 1 x 3 pine planks, The "grid" term comes into play because there are 1 x 3 crosspieces, called "stringers" or "joists" crossing the basic box at intervals of approx. 16", though the choice of joist spacing, and lumber sizes, are up to the individual builder.
Open grid dates back to the era of plaster scenery, though it is still very much in use today. The advantages of open grid, and its cousin 'L'-Girder (see photo) benchwork, are the ability to have under-track-level scenic features like rivers and underpasses anywhere you liked, except where there happened to be a joist in the way. Per Murphy's law, there often was a joist right where you wanted such features! 😄 'L'-Girder benchwork improved this situation because it featured joists that could easily be moved from underneath.

Both Open grid and 'L'-Girder were also somewhat lighter than the solid, and often 3/4" thick plywood slab "train tables" that were the alternative. This was because there was plywood only in relatively narrow strips of subroadbed to support the track. The entire area of the layout was not covered in solid plywood.
An advantage of 'L'-Girder construction is that it is absolutely rigid and, practically speaking, will not warp. The same is not the case with open grid, or slab table construction, either of which can warp. This could be an important consideration for a basement layout, as many basements are sometimes damp. I use 'L'-Girder construction on my layout. Even the subroadbed is a form of 'L'-girder. This keeps my benchwork light and yet strong and rigid. My layout is also sectional. I strongly recommend sectional construction. The files explain why.

The use of extruded foam insulation board as a model railroad base opened up new possibilities in benchwork construction. Using any plywood to support either the entire area, or just directly under the track, was now optional. A piece of 2" thick foam was strong enough to serve as a layout base without any plywood under it, provided there were some supports under it, here and there. This support system was often an open grid of 1 x 3 planks, at about 16" intervals. The resulting benchwork was quite light, yet strong and rigid. Some modelers chose to retain plywood under the foam, to provide a convenient surface to attach switch machines, and wiring. The plywood for this function can be quite thin. 1/4" thick Luan plywood can be used. It will hold screws, but is lighter than thicker sheets of conventional plywood. Under-track-level scenic features can simply be carved out of foam, and above-track-level scenery is easily made with stacked layers of foam.

I don't understand your basement floor description. Is the floor actually built like the steps of a staircase, or just one sloped piece? I also don't understand why you would want the various layout levels you have in mind, to not be connected so that trains can run between levels. My own two-level layout is built this way, but your layout is up to you.

The files below have lots of information on a variety of model railroad subjects. Look through them if you like. If I have accidentally sent these files to you more than once, let me know, and I'll write it off to my encroaching senility ! 😄

Good Luck with whatever you choose to build;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
192 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
swimer_spe;

"Open grid benchwork" Is basically a wood box (or several boxes) typically built with 1 x 3 pine planks, The "grid" term comes into play because there are 1 x 3 crosspieces, called "stringers" or "joists" crossing the basic box at intervals of approx. 16", though the choice of joist spacing, and lumber sizes, are up to the individual builder.
Open grid dates back to the era of plaster scenery, though it is still very much in use today. The advantages of open grid, and its cousin 'L'-Girder (see photo) benchwork, are the ability to have under-track-level scenic features like rivers and underpasses anywhere you liked, except where there happened to be a joist in the way. Per Murphy's law, there often was a joist right where you wanted such features! 😄 'L'-Girder benchwork improved this situation because it featured joists that could easily be moved from underneath.

Both Open grid and 'L'-Girder were also somewhat lighter than the solid, and often 3/4" thick plywood slab "train tables" that were the alternative. This was because there was plywood only in relatively narrow strips of subroadbed to support the track. The entire area of the layout was not covered in solid plywood.
An advantage of 'L'-Girder construction is that it is absolutely rigid and, practically speaking, will not warp. The same is not the case with open grid, or slab table construction, either of which can warp. This could be an important consideration for a basement layout, as many basements are sometimes damp. I use 'L'-Girder construction on my layout. Even the subroadbed is a form of 'L'-girder. This keeps my benchwork light and yet strong and rigid. My layout is also sectional. I strongly recommend sectional construction. The files explain why.

The use of extruded foam insulation board as a model railroad base opened up new possibilities in benchwork construction. Using any plywood to support either the entire area, or just directly under the track, was now optional. A piece of 2" thick foam was strong enough to serve as a layout base without any plywood under it, provided there were some supports under it, here and there. This support system was often an open grid of 1 x 3 planks, at about 16" intervals. The resulting benchwork was quite light, yet strong and rigid. Some modelers chose to retain plywood under the foam, to provide a convenient surface to attach switch machines, and wiring. The plywood for this function can be quite thin. 1/4" thick Luan plywood can be used. It will hold screws, but is lighter than thicker sheets of conventional plywood. Under-track-level scenic features can simply be carved out of foam, and above-track-level scenery is easily made with stacked layers of foam.

I don't understand your basement floor description. Is the floor actually built like the steps of a staircase, or just one sloped piece? I also don't understand why you would want the various layout levels you have in mind, to not be connected so that trains can run between levels. My own two-level layout is built this way, but your layout is up to you.

The files below have lots of information on a variety of model railroad subjects. Look through them if you like. If I have accidentally sent these files to you more than once, let me know, and I'll write it off to my encroaching senility ! 😄

Good Luck with whatever you choose to build;

Traction Fan 🙂
My basement is several steps from about 4 feet to 8 feet head height. Each step is a couple of feet long.

I have thought of a helix to connect them. The issue is that the area is not long enough for the slope to be doable both directions.

My plan is to use dimensional wood to build the base of each level with 1/4'' plywood on top. Then use foam as the base in which I cut out or into.
 
1 - 6 of 6 Posts
Top