Monday, January 16, 2012

Some Low Tech Solutions...

Last week I worked on some of the issues brought up by my friends when they came over to help with the helix a few weeks ago.  If you remember, they had some concerns with the decks flexing when leaned on.  Part of the problem is there are sections in the layout where the gatorfoam bench work is 2 feet wide.  The brackets holding everything up are 1 foot long, so there is a little bit of flexing at the end of those sections.  I originally was going to use an idea I saw John Rogers use on his layout in Tony Koester's Multi Deck Design book from Kalmbach, which was to use large carpenter's squares to brace the layout decks.  But while I was thinking about this I went back to something one of the guys suggested.  And that was to simply use a few legs under the bottom deck on the ends, and angled bracing in the middle, and to use wood riser to support the top deck.  I think they worked out great and turn out to be relatively a low tech, and low cost solution to the problem.

The following pictures show what I did:

Here are the 2x2 legs with 3/8th" carriage bolts for leveling.

One leg installed on the end of a section.

Angled support for the middle of a section.

Riser type brace for the upper level.  The backdrop curves to the front at the end of most sections, so this brace will not be seen.

Another look at the top deck brace with the helix rolled out of the way.

I also built the portable peninsula that will have the Ma & Pa's York Station scene on it.  Yes, your eyes do not deceive you.. that's plywood bench work there, not gatorfoam.  I'm out of gatorfoam at the moment.  I've been keeping in contact with a couple of suppliers in the area waiting to get some scratch and dent sheets of gatorfoam.  The price of a clean sheet of 4'x8' 3/4" has shot up to just over $100.  The stuff I've been using was originally bought by my friend Ted Pamperin, and he had gotten scratch and dent damaged pieces from the supplier at a greatly reduced price.  If your going to use gatorfoam, that's the way to go.  No sense buying perfect pieces when you're just going to rip them down to 1x3's anyway.

In the meantime, I had two stands that I had put together to hold up my first gatorfoam test sections for display at the Hartford NMRA convention in 2009.  They were "L" shaped measuring 6'x2'.  I decided to make use of them in the layout and glued and screwed the two halves together to make the bench work for the York Station scene.  Once I put the section together I worked on the removable legs for it.  I built in leg pockets then drilled out holes in the side of the leg pockets, and the legs, to accept 5/16ths carriage bolts.  When the section goes up for an op session its just a quick matter of bolting on the legs, and a recheck to make sure the whole section is level.

Finished 2'x6' section built from ripped down 3/4" plywood.  The wood from this section was originally two stands built to hold up my test gatorfoam sections for display in the LD SIG room at the 2009 NMRA Hartford Convention.

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