Track to Layout Construction
Railroad Model Craftsman
The I-beams come in lengths just under two and four feet
long to provide even two and four-foot sections when assembled
to the legs. A top and bottom I-beam is to be used on most
leg sections, and longitudinal beams (four-footers) are
to be used alone. Splicing blocks are available in case
one needs to tie I-beams together for some reason or make
up a custom length. All holes are drilled with a jog and
are located accurately for their mating parts. The I-beams
work out to be about 3/4" thick by around 4" high.
Obviously special situations can be worked out with a drill
and a couple of bits.
As mentioned, the legs (2"x2" poplar) have an
octagonal top to allow I-beams to attach in either a 90
or 45-degree corner. Pairs of chrome-plated steel stabilizer
pins are inserted into pre-drilled holes adjacent to a screw
in "cam dowel". When the pieces are pressed together
all one needs is a standard screwdriver to turn the cam
in the I-beam and lock the parts. That's all there is to
it: no mess, no cutting, no drilling or sawdust. This can
be done in the living room on a carpet, and a basement can
be filled in an evening.
I assembled three different benchwork sections, including
two with four-foot I-beams, then tried to deflect the benchwork
down by pushing hard on it. The assembly in incredibly strong.
A "sag test" was done by placing a six-inch piece
of 125-lb. rail across the I-beam. The board spanning them
sagged. The I-beams did not.
The photos show one stand-alone section and the pin details.
The pins are chrome plated, so they will not rust; this
also makes them easier to insert (or remove). The cam locks
are cast metal and work by biting into the cam dowels. The
resulting connections are completely secure, but I suspect
one could actually take the benchwork apart, put it in a
moving van and cart it across country flat. The savings
in time and money would get the next railroad started fast.
Although the sections may be assembled in nearly any arrangement
( a four-footer can be lifted with one hand, by the way),
they are primarily based on two-by-two, two-by-four, and
three-by-six multiples. If one is seeking to build a modular
or portable layout the system is flexible enough to work
something suitable out. Model railroaders tend to be a creative
MIANNE has a price list and information sheet avalable for
$1.00, and it's worth getting. They offer benchwork "packages"
in addition to individual sections and parts. Some of the
packages will fill a room. As a sample, benchwork for a
two-foot wide by twelve foot long railroad runs about $250.00,
plus shipping. With so much work done in advance and the
high quality of of the parts, there can be real advatages
in using this system, rather than making a trip to the lumber
yard. Lumber isn't cheap.
Note that there is no reason why one must stick to a two-foot
width for a railroad, even if the longitudinal members of
the benchwork under it are two feet apart. Cross-joists
may be used to support wider scenery. Remember, scenery
methods, sub-roadbed and track are all separate from the
benchwork. I would tend to favor some sort of rigid foam
scenery in keeping with the neat clean aspects of this benchwork.
The standard legs set the tops of the I-beams at 40",
which is a nice height to start from.
If benchwork is where model railroad dreams start, the MIANNE
benchwork sections can help them be good. I will be using
the sections that I have for a layout project; it is already
off to a good start.
To The Top