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I have found many ways to access a layout by searching here in OGR forums and on the internet. After weighing different parameters and limitations of many of these, and building a few hinged access ways, I decided that the lifting table offers the best means for my situation.

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I spent a few weeks sourcing parts and drawing up plans. Due to lumber prices over the first half of the year and a lack of quality I have chosen to build with Arctic Birch plywood. There are 16, 3.625" (3.5 + plus 1/8" for kerf) wide cuts per 5'x5' sheet, and the 18mm (3/4") thickness runs about $70. I don't have to deal with any twisting and warping. The birch ply is prone to splinters so some light sanding is necessary on any sharp corners. Otherwise it is a joy to work with. Many of my shop cabinets are built with this product.

The legs are made from laminated from (2) 18mm and (1) 12mm strips. This results in a dimension real close to 1 7/8". This is also real close to the width of the heavy duty cabinet sliders. All other parts are 18mm plywood. The joints to the legs are mortise and loosely fit tenons, glued with liquid nails. (6/28/2021 edit: don't make the mistake I did, buy the $7 tube of construction adhesive. The $2 is easy to clean up but I'm finding some joints that have come lose, those joints are now pinned with screws through the tenons.)

This is the best approach for me to insure things come out square when I clamp them up. This table is within a 1/16" of being square in all planes. All of the cross bracing is secured with pocket screws, and they will be used on all other benchwork to come. The bracing across the lift section can be removed to allow carrying the two sides independently.

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The dimensions are 66 3/4" wide x 48" deep. It stands 39" tall, for a finished height of 40" with plywood and homosote added later. The walk through is 38" wide and, with the arched stretchers, the height is almost 65". The finished side of the basement will not be totally dedicated to Turkey Hollow RR and will not be accessible from two sides so I need to be sure I have plenty of room for whatever may need to pass.

Sorry for the shaky video. I was trying to keep my phone still and control the table at the same time.

Next is to address the electrical side, low voltage control and the limit switch placements first. As others have done with these wide lifts, I intend to mount toggle switches on the inside and outside.

It has cost about $380 so far for plywood, hoist, pulleys, cabinet slides, levelers, toggle switches, and a couple of 5v relays.

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Last edited by turkey_hollow_rr
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Thank you guys! I appreciate it.

Tom and Gunrunnerjohn, I've learned from the experiences posted by you guys and have great regard for you both. I was tickled it worked out for the most part the first go around. I get to meld two of my hobbies, the other being woodworking. This is a few simple, square tables and no finishing work. Right in my wheel house. I pretty much did all of the milling with a table saw, tenoning jig, and hollow chisel mortising machine.

This is absolutely based on Mianne lift. I have great respect for that product and the price he can offer it for. It is very reasonably priced, imho. And you have support if you need it.

It took me the better part of 10 days to glue up legs, mill parts, and assemble, so I have a lot of sweat equity in this. It is a simple straight forward design, also used in cabinetry for tv lifts, etc.

I support DIY efforts when I can, I'm happy to share where I sourced parts. It may be possible to find better suited parts and get the price down.

The hoist is from flea bay. It is a light duty engine hoist. Besides being light duty rated it also has a decent rate, 26 feet per minute without a sheave, so it goes up and down at a reasonable rate.

In my internet searches I found these used to be available through WalMart and a few other places. My showed up with the head of one of the bolts mounting the hoist to the metal frame was snapped off. Probably why many places say "discontinued". Easy to replace but it got me a $10 refund. $70 bucks shipped. I just left the weight hanging, it helps keep tension on the cable a little bit.

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I may have to re-address the hoist mount. It is only held to the table with two bolts through the plywood. It does flex on the bolts, the plywood doesn't flex.

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If you haven't seen this thread, you might want to consider it. Mianne Lift Bridge Lower Limit Switch Enhancement

I found while you can "usually" get the switches adjusted, the Mianne method of using standard momentary toggles with an angle bracket lends itself to easily getting "out of whack" and you have a real problem on the downward travel if the switch doesn't trip before the lift gate hits the stops.  This makes the downward stop about as bulletproof as I can imagine using simple switches.

The drawer slides are listed as 28", but they measure 27 1/2. They are rated at 100 lbs each. Cabinet parts dot com.

The pulleys took some looking. I almost went with old window sash replacement pulleys but these were much cheaper although overkill. These came from e rigging, surface mount pulleys. ~$48 shipped for all 6. They are 1" diameter at the bottom of the groove. It just worked out that 3/4" spacers result in about 1/4" peaking out beyond the plywood. I used a 3/4" mortising chisel to cut the openings and a 3/8 chisel to cut clearance for the rivet shaft.

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The interesting part was what to do with the spring and weight on the cable just above the hook. This weight would move a lever and trip the limit switch when the cable was fully retracted. I cut the hook off and as show before I left the weight at the hoist.

This is what I came up with. In the up position there is spring tension but the bolt prevent fully compressing it.

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When the table is down the spring tension is reduced and the cable end has little tension. If you look closely to the left of my finger you can see the pencil marks in the plywood where I measure how much movement there was at the bolt.

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Here are the parts for the low voltage control for the wench. Switches are from Digi-key, rated sufficiently in case I end up wiring everything 120 vac. Two normally closed SPST for the up and down limit switches. Two DPDT, (on) - off - (on) switches for control on either side.

I plan to wire in the 5 vdc usb chager to the wall socket side, hopefully with some spade connectors. This will power the two relays which are normally open and active low. That means the enable line just needs to be grounded to close the contacts. So the limit and side control switches are just grounding one side or the other to go up and down.

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My plan is to use a 4"x4"x4" junction box to house the usb power supply, the relays, and the motor cap from the yellow handle. That cap just needs to be wired across the blue and white wires from the motor.

I'm still working out in my mind how I might implement some kind of minute adjustment for the limit switches should it prove necessary. Perhaps in addition to angle brackets there could be a bolt threaded through the bracket with a lock nut on top. The bolt head would then make contact with the switch.

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If you haven't seen this thread, you might want to consider it. Mianne Lift Bridge Lower Limit Switch Enhancement

I found while you can "usually" get the switches adjusted, the Mianne method of using standard momentary toggles with an angle bracket lends itself to easily getting "out of whack" and you have a real problem on the downward travel if the switch doesn't trip before the lift gate hits the stops.  This makes the downward stop about as bulletproof as I can imagine using simple switches.

John, I've drooled over that spring loaded, idler pulley and micro switch you used. I couldn't find anything like that. I also take heed of your warning on adjustment issues. I'm hoping what I did with the spring on my hoist will simply keep some tension when the cable goes slack, certainly won't stop an unwind.

I've also noticed a good deal of noise from the cable. It appears loosely wound and will grab hairs on your head, so I think the noise is from it tightening under load. It sounds like grinding gears but I'm sure it's the cable.

I'm still working out in my mind how I might implement some kind of minute adjustment for the limit switches should it prove necessary. Perhaps in addition to angle brackets there could be a bolt threaded through the bracket with a lock nut on top. The bolt head would then make contact with the switch.

Did you look at my thread?  The spring loaded switch sensing the slight slack in the cable really solved my problem of unreliable lower limit switch activation.  Obviously, the upper limit switch isn't all that critical, you just have to make sure you don't go past the point where you run out of travel in the cable or slides.

Below is how I wired mine for two-sided activation.  I did contemplate something much fancier with relays and interlocks.  However, upon reflection I figured that was gilding the lily and wasn't really needed.  I just wired the two switches in parallel, and then I inserted a PTC to guard against the unlikely scenario where two people were operating each switch in opposition.  This was a whole lot easier to put together than my first plan.  The PTC makes sure we never have a direct short with switches in opposition.

Funny you should mention the 4 x 4 box, I found one at Home Depot that was 4 x 4 x 4, I put the cap and PTC and all the junction of the wires in that box.  I pitched the yellow control handle, I had no use for a single control, my bridge is four feet wide.

Since there's four switch machines and power to three different loops on the lift bridge, I have loops of wire hanging between the fixed and movable sections of the bridge to bring power and control in, one set of wires on each side.

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I think we have a time lapse in our posts.

Yes, I've read that thread several times. I'll have to pay more attention to the cable play, maybe it can be done without the spring loaded pulley. The spring and washer on my cable may also work, unbolted that end moves about 1 1/4". Maybe that bolt should ride in a slot back and forth. You have me thinking more, glad I have plenty of time.

In my case the box is from Lowes. The mounting wings, size, and availability work nicely. I agree the low voltage isn't necessary if wired correctly. I'm just having some fun and doesn't cost $5.

Just saw your offer and thanks. That micro switch might just work with the sliding bolt. I'm out this evening getting my yearly free meal on the kid so I'll check in tomorrow.

Last edited by turkey_hollow_rr

Yep, I noticed while I was typing you were obviously answering as well.

I will say that detecting the cable slack was the silver bullet for me, that eliminated the tricky adjustment of the lame toggle switch limit.  It also insures the bridge is fully into the stops and aligned with the fixed section when the motor stops.

I actually had a design for a low voltage control that had all the 120V in the box, but it was more complicated than just using the two switches.  In the end, expedience won out and I went the simple route.  The PTC was my nod to making sure that I couldn't get a direct short with inadvertent multiple operation of the switches.

Dan, Something to sneak up and hit you in the face...precision deck alignment  We found it to be extremely critical for the two side foundational modules to be PERFECTLY level.  Not a single hair off.

Then, align all the other bench work to the lift assembly.  Consider using levelers on all platform legs to assist in leveling all the framework.  Shown are plastic faced Monoco swivel levelers and Tee nuts  available from Outwater Plastics in NJ.

IMG_8939

That good sized elevator surface will spotlight any off level surrounding bench work and make multi track alignment of the lifting deck unstable and unattainable.

Much less of an issue if only one track crosses the lift bridge.

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@Tom Tee posted:

Dan, Something to sneak up and hit you in the face...precision deck alignment  We found it to be extremely critical for the two side foundational modules to be PERFECTLY level.  Not a single hair off.

Then, align all the other bench work to the lift assembly.  Consider using levelers on all platform legs to assist in leveling all the framework.  Shown are plastic faced Monoco swivel levelers and Tee nuts  available from Outwater Plastics in NJ.

IMG_8939

That good sized elevator surface will spotlight any off level surrounding bench work and make multi track alignment of the lifting deck unstable and unattainable.

Much less of an issue if only one track crosses the lift bridge.

Tom, thanks for the Outwater tip! Very interesting things there beyond levelers. Alas I have already purchased levelers and inserts from McMaster-Carr, enough for all of my layout plans. The ones I bought don't swivel and I had to add my own lock nut. Those Monocos are the way to go.

I assume that is a Mianne leg? I didn't notice the capping block before. I added 1/2 ply blocks to my table legs just to protect the the ends of the layers so they wouldn't split as I drilled the ends for the levelers. If there is one knock against the plywood it is that there more susceptibility to splitting between layers I guess Mianne is adding support for a lot more weight than my layout would provide.

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I understood going into this project the importance of (1) keeping four sliders in parallel over whatever length slider is used, (2) the force to lift needs to be centered to help assure (1).

I did get a feel for the level and plum reaction when I first began to operate the hoist. The table was a bit shaky as it started down. I found one leveler not fully seated and added extra bracing across the table. That really smoothed it out. The levers skate easily on the bare concrete (except the hoist side) and that works against keeping things in place while it's in the shop. It will be installed on berber carpet so that, and getting the side tables fastened to surrounding benches, should help with repeatability. It looks like it operates smoothly but as you suggest once I get to aligning plywood, track, etc, the warts will show.

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Dan,  That leg in the photo is a 2 x 4 split diagonally with one half turned around and reattached.

IMG_8938<<< Opposite view

This arrangement stabilizes grain warping.

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The block of wood at the bottom of the leg??  Your assessment of my refinement is somewhat over stated!  I am a recycler.

My layout is built primarily from left over modules, reused modules from my last RR, modules graciously obtained from clients estates,  left over pre-curved side rail stock plus a stash of cutoffs.   Any new material came from pocket change.

Sooo... those blocks were added because the legs came off a layout built for a shorter customer.  The legs were simply an  1 1/2" too short for my new application.  (insert laugh track here)

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Last edited by Tom Tee

Send me an email, and I may be able to help you with the parts.  I know I have the switches with the long arm, and I got the spring loaded pulley from Tim at Mianne, so maybe you can get one from him as well.

Thanks again, John. This just might work out with the long arm micro switch for the lower limit switch. Slight downside is that it means wiring the micro switch on the opposite side of the walk through.

I need to get my router bits sharpened.

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Control wiring is complete and the yellow remote is gone. The cable to the remote has been re-wired to bring common, neutral, and the two motor leads over to the 4x4x4" box.

I was intending to use a plug-in usb charger for 5 vdc power to the relays but I happened upon an ancient satellite radio wall wart. After cutting it open I was so impressed with it's looks it just had to go in the box. Plus it fit along side the motor cap. You can see the two relays occupying the balcony section.

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My intent was to hot glue the boards down but I had to remove the psu a few times to fix the wiring so I just left the glue out. I did cut a piece of 1/4" plywood to keep the parts separated.

The two enable lines and a ground were extended to the outside of the box for easier wiring and it also gives access to control the hoist with a jumper wire if needed. No voltage in any of the control wires, just a circuitous path to ground.

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I received the micro switches from @gunrunnerjohn and he is correct that these switches make setting the limits much easier and seem to be very repeatable.

Here is the upper limit switch mounted to the upper stretcher of the hoist-side table, wired normally closed. A small block of plywood was attached to the lower stretcher of the rising table and that makes contact with the switch lever in the up position. I am getting a consistent 64 3/4" table rise.

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And now the most worrisome limit, the down position. I worry no more, it worked out so well with the cable spring and sliding bolt. The bolt is pulled to the limit in the slot before the table can rise, and the table is fully seated before the bolt is released. It worked the first time and I haven't had reason to touch it yet. This switch is wired normally open.

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Down

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And last, one of the toggle switches mounted to the table leg. One on each side of the table. These may move in the future depending on how the rest of the benchwork turns out.

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That long lever really helps as well. There is still at least 1/4" of play on both limit switches when they are in the tripped position, so there's no binding or crushing worries. And to think at one time I was considering unwinding the cable and removing the spring. I would still like to replace the cable, it sounds like grinding gears, but I don't want to lose the spring.

I don't think there is any damage and this particular grinding sound only happens when the cable is pulled tight and is lifting, not on the way down. I think most of this noise is due to the cable not staying nicely on the reel. You probably observed the same issue when the cable gets too slack and unwinds a loop or three. It is necessary to disassemble the middle to be able to carry things through the doorway so I expect the cable to need some adjusting again. Once set in place I'll see about attempting to rewind the cable.

Listening this morning the noise is much less than it was now that the limit switches and spring are providing a little more tension control. Still the wrap loosens enough that the wrap below protrudes into the wrap above. When the cable tightens there is some cable dragging back into place on the reel. Also, each time the cable jumps across a previous wrap.

The cable mess.

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Once I got my Mianne lift bridge adjusted, there is no issue with cable slack.  I think your tangle of cable is because you have too much cable on the reel.  When the bridge is down and you're seated, there should only be a couple of turns of cable left.  My cable is never slack at any point in the travel, that was the whole point of the spring loaded switch.

Here's what my cable spool on the winch looks like down and up.

Bridge Down and Seated

Bridge Fully Up

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I don't know the specifics of how Mianne mounts the hoist but I ended up sort of doing the same. Before adding this plywood mount and all four mount bolts, the hoist was only secured by two bolts through holes in the stretcher. The flex was due to the steel hoist mount pivoting on just two bolts. I under estimated how much tension there would be. When I laid a straight edge across the top of the stretchers the hoist cleared, but when lifted, it would come up 1/8". I can image the noise that would make once the plywood surface is added. There are cross members between the upper stretchers on either side of the hoist mount on both end tables so the upper stretchers can't flex.

When the table is up I see the lower stretcher of the lift table flex toward the pulley on the hoist-side table where the upper limit switch is located.

This is my acceptable looking compromise for attaching the hoist. No more hoist movement. Had I planned better this could have been cut from one piece as part of the stretcher. Ideally, the hoist would have been mounted about 1/2" or so below the surface plywood.

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Mianne mounts the winch on a horizontal piece of 3/4" plywood in one of the side structures.

When the table is up I see the lower stretcher of the lift table flex toward the pulley on the hoist-side table where the upper limit switch is located.

That's exactly what happens with the Mianne design as well, and it looks like yours has the same design.  I suppose it's fine, the bridge hasn't collapsed yet for me.

I have to admit I have already whacked my head on the corners of the two middle cross supports a couple of times. I haven't learned to keep my head down ALL THE WAY across.

The pipe insulation is a good solution. We have some around here that is pre-split. I'm thinking about 1/8" hard board bent along the curve of the arches for a ceiling when the table is up but there are still two outside edges waiting to scalp me.

For a better view here are the hockey pucks I make for the Monaco swivel levelors when used over carpet.  They are a 3 1/2 X 3/4" plywood disk with a recessed inset for the adjustable base.

On the bottom of the disk I fasten a 3 1/2" round disk cut out of plastic office chair protector with the plastic nipples which are set into the carpet nap.  This makes for secure positioning.

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With the legs firmly embedded in the carpet and fastened to both the cross members and longitudinal stringers,  a free standing peninsula can be held steady.

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Last edited by Tom Tee
@Tom Tee posted:

For a better view here are the hockey pucks I make for the Monaco swivel levelors when used over carpet.  They are a 3 1/2 X 3/4" plywood disk with a recessed inset for the adjustable base.

Tom,

That's the smallest circle I can mill with my bandsaw, a 1" Forstner bit works great. Somewhere I have a router jig for circles but I'm not sure it gets to 3".  Anyway, I can clean this up on the disc sander and use a thinner bandsaw blade.

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My bench work will be very similar in style to your picture but simpler, basically a 10 x 22 with an aisle down the middle. I have 3 bridges to work in so there will be a few sections that drop lower for future scenic work similar to what I see in your picture.

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I use a 3 1/2" hole saw with a 1/4" pilot on a drill press stand  to cut out the plywood disks.  The plastic/vinyl nipple pad is cut with the same hole saw with a hand held drill motor on some scrap Homasote.

I use a vac on the drill stand to keep the circular cut clean.

IMG_8679

You can see the 3  1/2" scars from cutting the disks on the scrap 2 X 12.

I then insert a large landscape timber nail into the pilot hole and hold the disk  with friction on a router table with a 1/4" round over bit. The disk rartles around somewhat and is a tad nasty but it gets the job done.

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Oh, I didn't think about a hole saw, that's gotta be much faster!  I found my router jig, it goes down to a 1" circle but requires several passes.

Love the drill press dust collection attachment!

@Tom Tee posted:

I use a 3 1/2" hole saw with a 1/4" pilot on a drill press stand  to cut out the plywood disks.  The plastic/vinyl nipple pad is cut with the same hole saw with a hand held drill motor on some scrap Homasote.

I use a vac on the drill stand to keep the circular cut clean.

IMG_8679

You can see the 3  1/2" scars from cutting the disks on the scrap 2 X 12.

I then insert a large landscape timber nail into the pilot hole and hold the disk  with friction on a router table with a 1/4" round over bit. The disk rartles around somewhat and is a tad nasty but it gets the job done.



I recognize those Tom, I can see them from here!

That looks like a similar short loop berber carpet to what is in my finished basement.

For my layout step 1 was building the lift table, step 2 was taking down and crating up an 8' Olhausen pool table (~700lbs) last night. My son wants it so I'll have to find room to store it somewhere. But the lift table is out of the shop and almost in position.

Over the years my sinuses have become more and more sensitive to fine wood particles. I wear a dust mask now even with the dust collection and a filtration unit, every thing 5 microns.  I solved for the most part the worst offender, the chop saw, by building a box almost completely around the saw and sticking a 4" hose from the collector into box. It throws a few shavings but seems to taken care of the really fine stuff. Something fixed in place like Tom's pvc pickup tube would work under my band saw table, another major source of fine particles.

It appears the only joint issues happen to be with the two legs holding the hoist and the wide stretchers between them.  I re-clamped, checked for square and added two, pre-drilled screws through each leg and tenon. All tight again. No more up and down it until I get a couple of benches on either side to help anchor the side tables.

The lift table is installed with bench work on both sides so I've been able to finish up the last few tweaks. I'll have more on it's operation when I update Turkey Hollow later this month.

I ended up taking another 10", about two wraps, out of the cable. At full lift there was some wrapping back of the cable on itself. Some of this I believe is due to my offsetting the winch a little to far to one side, and there is a certain amount of side-ways travel that the cable makes as it starts to wind on the reel. There is a band clamp now on the first cable wrap to limit the side-travel. With these tweaks the cable is just touching the far edge of the reel when the table hits the upper limit switch.

My previous attempts to trigger the lower limit switch around the cable spring have all been in vain. Using the bolt as a trigger proved to be too late and allowed all spring tension to release resulting in too much cable slack. (Another variable in my efforts to keep the cable wrapping properly.) There is a washer on the spring but it doesn't always move the same way. If I got the tension a little to tight the side opposite the winch would not seat completely. I needed some fine tuning.

I have extra leg levelers and threaded t-nuts so I thought I would try mounting one as an adjustable stop for the lower limit switch. This is working exactly as I hoped it would. The table fully seats and there is still spring tension. It is pretty easy to use, lift the table a little, loosen the lock nut and make fine adjustments. Then snug the lock nut with my fingers. So far it hasn't vibrated loose.

That's all for the lift table!

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