Looking Ahead: Plans for Version 2


Version 2 footprint, simplified lines, easier to manage, keeping the parts we like, and improving the sports that version 1 was lacking in.

Solutions to the issues I identified with the previous layout construction are fairly easy to come by.  Implementing them will take a little time, but it’s time well spent.

Let’s start at the bottom.  Ever since I spotted tables being built using black metal pipe, I’ve wanted build layout legs with that material.  The weight of the product makes worrying about a tip-over of a top-heavy layout less of a factor. The pipe also comes pre-cut and threaded into useful lengths.  We decided to test-build a 3’ section, and it went up fantastically.  The legs, once cleaned of manufacturing oils, painted, and Loctite-ed together will not come apart.  The strength of the material and the lack of cutting in doing the assembly is part of the appeal, as is the appearance.  The legs will look very industrial. Additionally, I found locking casters with 4” wheels that have a max weight per caster of 300 lbs.  That boost, and the number of legs we plan to employ, going from 10 to 13 legs, will increase the 1500 lbs all the way up to 3900 lbs.  Even using the pipe, we’ll be well under that weight target, meaning the layout will be sound from the ground up to the benchwork.

Moving upward, the benchwork needs a rethink.  The things I liked using, the pocket screws, the glue, and the plywood, will be back.  However, I’ve come to several conclusions about my own ability with the tools I have and have room for.  I do not see up-close safely enough to cut the lumber properly.  It’s not that I can’t cut, it’s that I can’t cut safely.  In order to see what I’m doing, my face winds up being inches away from a saw blade.  Not the best position.  Additionally, I want to use integrated “C” braces that will let me support the backdrop and a ceiling to the layout along with the valence, all as one unit this time.  To solve this set of issues, we’ve decided to use products from modelrailroadbenchwork.com to construct the benchwork.  The site there includes “C” brackets, and those will be incorporated into the design.  

The decking will be the same material, 1/2” plywood, but again, instead of trying to use project panels or cutting the majority of the cuts here, I’ll have those cuts made at a local lumber yard.  The backdrop and ceiling of the layout will bet an upgrade from masonite panels and foam core to 1/4” plywood pieces, again cut to order, and the masonite for the valence and fascia will also be cut and brought in.  I can make some minor cuts to length here if necessary.

On top of the decking, 2” foam will once again be used, but before installing it, all of it will be cut to size, test fit, and then glued down, which means the river / stream location will be cut in ahead of installation.  

The footprint will change a little with these revisions.  The front edge “S”, while cool looking and interesting on the track plan, made visually checking for level and straight very difficult.  The curve in the giant L will still be there, but the right hand end of the benchwork will simply be a  straight shot.  

Some of these things are new, like the metal legs, and some are things I’ve used, like the plywood for the benchwork, and the professionally cut sections (I used a different manufacturer for some benchwork on my original YV layout 10 years ago).  The construction here should allow the layout to move less as I can work on the backdrop from the front and not need to move the layout around as much.  Even so, it’ll be desirable to move the thing around for operating.  


Test legs from metal pipe.  The caps used on the floor will be replaced by casters that can handle the weight of the whole layout section, and there’s the possibility of adding a shelf.

Orders have already been placed, some test-parts have been secured, and all the old lumber and benchwork has left the building.  I can’t wait to start getting this layout back up.

In the mean time, I’m going to lay out the track plan on paper.  A few tweaks might be in order, and doing that full size is the next task.

It’s time to get to work!



4 thoughts on “Looking Ahead: Plans for Version 2

  1. I sure like the metal pipe for the layout legs. That looks really cool. As you, I’ve certainly seen it in places like coffee shops and clothing stores to form things like the legs of bar stools through clothing racks. It has a nice industrial feel to it that seems to suit the railway too.


    • Chris,
      Thank you. The legs are going to look good (we hope). The industrial, steam era, feel should fit nicely with 1927 as our modeling year. One of the great things about the pipe too is the already cut and tapped lengths. We’ll be able to sort out the pipe we need once the benchwork is built. The legs should be interesting enough, visually, to not need or want to be hidden either.


  2. Do you have any plans for height adjustments on the legs at all or is the plan to have sections connect rigidly enough that they will all stay on the same plan when connected? They do look super cool though, kind of makes me want to build something free-standing just to use them.

    • Matt, I plan to have the sections attach rigidly so they won’t move up/down out of alignment. Additionally, I plan to overlap joints with plywood decking, plywood backdrop, and plywood ceiling, all staggered joints, so it’ll have structural integrity. The pipe legs will also be connected to other sections, which will make for a rigid frame on the bottom as well. Having used Severs benchwork before, and seen the ModelRailroadBenchwork product in person at a local train show he was attending, then on Trainmasters TV for their project layout, I’m convinced this is the right route for me.

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