Benchwork (Actual)

I received a Kato power pack and a Bachmann 0-6-0 in the mail yesterday, and I realized immediately that I couldn’t wait any longer for benchwork. The layout, sitting on two T.V. trays, was far too low and required me to sit or kneel to run trains. I wanted to bring the level of my layout up to the height of my chest so I am nearly eye-level with the trains.

I ran out to the hardware store and picked up some 1×2 and 1×3 pine boards, as well as 12′ of flat pine moulding to use as braces. I also grabbed a few carriage bolts and wing nuts to attach the layout and the braces to the legs. This will allow me to dissemble the benchwork easily. In addition, I got some threaded feet, to adjust to our old, uneven floors. All in all, I spent another $60 on supplies.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take too many pictures of the process. There are some pretty good tutorials online already, but of course it also depends a great deal on what your priorities are. In my case, I wanted something that could be assembled and dissembled fairly easily, without the need for tools. Also, I wasn’t too concerned with ‘finishing’ anything below the frame of the layout itself. I essentially used the ‘L-girder’ method, with the only real difference being that I designed it in such a way that the tabletop can be easily removed for independent operation. I did this because I might want to bring the Inglenook into my kitchen and set it up on the table there, or I might want to bring it to my office sometime, where I can set it up on my desk (if I can ever get through all the stacks of paperwork).

Overall, building the benchwork included a lot of trial and error, a lot of measuring and cutting, some design mistakes (trying to drill bolt-holes through screws, for instance) and a lot of cursing. Don’t get me wrong; I loved every step. I immerse myself in these kinds of projects. Cursing is just part of the fun.

The hardest part was installing the braces. I had to make sure that the legs were aligned with each other and squared before even measuring the braces. Because of our very uneven floors I really missed the mark a number of times, and spent over an hour trying to get it right.

The benchwork isn’t finished yet. I still need to make some kind of shelf to hold the power pack, which will require another 1×3 to run horizontally from one leg to the other. For now, though, the train runs great, and the height of the layout also deters our cats from jumping onto it (for now).

The outside of the L-girders.


And the inside.


The benchwork in place. The shelf running across the middle wasn’t planned, but I might put a permanent shelf there because it seems pretty useful.


Another angle. The power pack will sit on a shelf several inches below the removable top, but will be fixed to the benchwork.


The underside. In these pictures, I hadn’t yet drilled holes to bolt the top to the base.


I left the feet on the ‘tabletop’ so that portion can be removed and set up on another surface without any trouble.


Adjustable feet are 100% necessary in our house for almost all furniture, especially for an item as tall as this benchwork. Sturdy construction is nothing without a level stance.


And here’s the little Bachmann 0-6-0 Baldwin locomotive. It runs great with its all-wheel pick-up (including pick-up from the tender), and it can really crawl. I will post a video later. I have ordered Micro-Trains Magne-Matic replacement couplers to take advantage of the magnets at the head of each siding. Eventually, all rolling stock will be likewise equipped. This loco could also use a bit more detail (painting the bell, for starters), and I’m a little disappointed that the lights are only dummies. The detail is pretty good otherwise. I know that the sloped tender isn’t prototypical for a USRA-supplied 0-6-0, but I couldn’t care less about that. After all, the Little Snoring line itself isn’t prototypical, so I can take whatever liberties I want.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s