The first item to be considered and built is the benchwork following an initial draft of the track plan.
- Framing: This is essentially building a framework of legs, cross-ties and horizontal members to create a surface for placing the sub-roadbed.
- L-brackets: These are mounting brackets on studs with probably some form of bracing to provide support to the sub-roadbed.
- Tables: Like framing, this gives a flat surface on which to build the rest of the layout.
Considerations here include what height you want the base level of the railroad to be, whether to include gradients, and whether you want to build a multi-level railroad. Clearly, a two-level railroad will require the top level to be higher than might be desired, and this level would most likely have to be mounted on L-brackets to allow space for the lower-level tracks.
- Whether to have one or two levels, once a decision is made for one level, it may be difficult to add a second level depending on the decisions made on the height and framing of the given level.
- Framing may be built away from walls and any peninsulas on the design would need to be framed unless you build an internal wall to mount the L-irons on.
- The width of the benchwork is also a consideration. At moderate heights a normal person can reach about 3 feet, the higher the benchwork that distance grows shorter.
- L-brackets really only support flat sub-roadbed, as described in that article, but framed benchwork can support flat or open-framing. This is particularly important when including grades as well as different tracks running with different grades close to each other.
I do not feel the need to have multiple levels with this size of a layout. I did consider having a lower level for the staging yard and not using the bedroom for that, but that would also remove the closed-loop aspect, which is a priority.
Regarding benchwork for my railroad, I feel a mixed approach is best. The towns will be built on flat boards, as will the classification yard, these are mostly flat areas and this makes it easier to build on. The bridge and canyon will be built on frameworks with risers as needed to allow more significant elevation changes within those areas.
The staging yard will be built on a movable table structure so that the room can be used for other things when the railroad is not running.
The hidden area to close the loop will use L-brackets for speed and covered with either one or two-foot boards. This will probably need some measure of sub-roadbed to minimize noise. This will not have any switches, so we can have smoother running. Derailments back there will be difficult to get to.
Next Article: Sub-roadbed