It had been a good many years since I had built a layout, and to be frank, I was shocked at the cost of lumber. I thought that the benchwork would cost me about fifty or sixty dollar to construct, and the price turned out to be three times that. I decided to shorten the height of the benchwork to 48", even though it meant I would not be able to put the TV and Playstation under the layout as I intended. This decision alone saved about thirty dollars in wood, since I could now get two legs out of one eight foot board, instead of just one. I used a modified "L-Girder" method of construction. I like to build from 1x2s instead of 2x4s.
Most layout benchwork is overconstructed. A 1x2 "L-Girder" benchwork can hold up anything up to G-Scale trains, and with enough cross-bracing can even hold up G-Scale trains. My laser disk cabinet holds several hundred pounds of discs and books, and it is built of 1x2s. Not only that, I have no access to power tools, so every board I cut had to be made with a hand saw and a miter box. It's a lot easier to cut through a 1x2 than a 2x4! I made and fastened legs of 1x2 "L-girders" which I screwed to the corners of five of the bookcases. The bookcases and legs were stained to match one another. I then ran "L-girders" between the tops of the legs to make the foundation of the layout, and to these I hot-glue joists of 1x2s, twelve or fourteen inches long, and about eight inches apart from each other.
I only put legs on five of the nine bookcases. I built suspended sections of L girders and joists to bridge the remainder, holding them to the legged units with wooden dowels, so the "bridge" units can lift free. I couldn't use bolts or screws because fasteners would be buried under the scenery and be inaccessible. It took about two weekends to build the entire benchwork, and by that time my first order of track had arrived. Perhaps by now you noticed something odd - I had built my benchwork without having first worked out a track plan for the railroad!
Return to Chapter Three
Continue to Chapter Five
Return to the Sumpter and Bourne Index Page
Click here to return to the On30 Articles Index
Click here to return to the On30 Information Center
This page updated Aug 20, 2006
Webpage © Lawrence Rickert
Photographs and Text © Scott Gavin