More Benchwork

We’d built the bench frames, made our track plan, and ordered our track. It was time to continue the benches and cut the plywood to conform to the various grades of our miniature world.

We started by laying out two 4×8′ plywood sheets and a 2×4′ plywood peninsula onto the floor. The Boy and I laid down our our track to conform to the plan, using a square and protractor to make sure our straight lines were straight and our angles were… um… angled.

Straight and True.

Straight and True.

We drilled some holes in a yardstick, put a nail through the one-inch mark, and used it as a large compass to mark out our 21 inch radius curves.


Setting up the yard.

After laying out all the track we marked a 3″ path around the centerline where we’d be cutting out the subroadbed wherever the track went up or down a grade, or was a different level from the surrounding landscape.

I then used my crappy Black and Decker jigsaw to cut out all our “cookie cutter” subraodbed and landscape, in addition to cutting the plywood to match the shape of the benches. We hauled the plywood onto the benches and for the first time could see the shape of our world.


The Boy, making sure we have adequate access for any tunnel derailments.

The next week we started on the backdrop, since a background of particle board and concrete wouldn’t really seem realistic unless we were modeling some sort of post-apocalyptic prison-world train layout. While that sounds pretty cool, we thought a base of hardboard with some happy little trees and clouds might be more appropriate. If only we could hire Zombie Bob Ross to paint it for us, but he’s booked solid for the next few thousand years.

We built a couple of frames out of 1x2s for the hardboard, adding enough strips so the hardboard wouldn’t buckle or warp. Is buckling the same as warping? Maybe. I guess we have absolutely no way of ever knowing for sure. Anyway…

I can't think of anything witty to say about building a frame.

I can’t think of anything witty to say about building a frame.

Once the frame was done we fastened it to the same 1×2 stripping that the benches were attached to. We put the hardboard up and screwed it to the frame with drywall screws, first drilling countersinks so we could wind up with a smooth surface. Once that was done, we patched it with drywall compound. We’ll sand it smooth and patch it again if needed, ending up with a mostly flat surface for the backdrop paint.

The most tedious job known to man: patching and sanding drywall compound.

The most tedious job known to man: patching and sanding drywall compound.

The plywood was down on the benches but not yet fastened. We measured and cut some more joists, screwing them to the L Girders from underneath.  I’d drill the countersinked holes and The Boy would then put the screws in. With the two of us tackling it together we had all the joists in quickly and the plywood, although not yet screwed down, had plenty of support.

The picture was not posed in any way, you have our money-back guarantee on that!

The boy uses an out-of-focus power drill/driver in order to screw in the joists.

Still left to do on the bench is to build risers for the track grades and the various levels of the landscape. The middle of the bench will contain a town with a below-grade track in the middle of it, just like our town, so that will take a little bit of work.


About Jim

Just a guy who likes to make stuff.
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