The Start of a new Project

The basement is getting full these days with the addition of a new N Scale train layout. We decided to remove the New England layout and work on something a little more challenging from our northeasterly mindset: a desert, southwest USA layout. There was an excellent series on this in Model Railroader in Model Railroader magazine not all that long ago (Jan 2010…) titled The Salt Lake Route (parts 1-6) by Dick Christianson. It’s a neat little package with two sides separated by a mountain scenery panel using Kato’s dual track bed structure. I loved the design, mostly the track layout. The backdrop and scenery could be modified, so that is what I did.

Stage One: Build the Benchwork

The original design calls for a folding leg format, but I wanted something more stable but mobile. I decided to go with bolt-on legs with castor wheels to allow for cruising around the basement. At first I tried an on-a-table-top bench… but the table was not large enough to support the top, and there were no wheels. Hmmm…

Bench Top

The plus side is that it DID hold the entire layout in terms of the track.

Bench top with layout

Now to build legs and do this thing properly! Flipping it over gave Kate and I the access we needed to build some more support structure into the top and then to add legs. The top is a thin layer of birch ply supported by standard 2×4 framework. We could have gone with even lighter frame working, but this was stable.

Upside down bench top

Then to add some legs….WITH wheels, and we’re almost done!

Legs attached

At this point we added a layer of blue insulation foam as our substrate. We have a couple of 3D portions, a bridge and such which would look best if we could carve down into the top layer a bit. We also decided to go with Hydrocal and insulation foam to make all the other terrain features. More on all that in a later post.

Table is complete

Here the table and majority of benchwork is complete. We’re ready to add the track and larger terrain, mountains, streams, etc. First, we have to lay the track down, make sure it all fits on this table, and drill holes for all the electronics for switches and DCC power.



About johnb

- Director of Grainger Observatory, Phillips Exeter Academy. - Variable-star-crazed astronomer, but have done research in other areas. - Drummer, archer, pilot, chef, friend, pet owner, husband, father, Train-nut.
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