I wish, the track is a whole other undertaking.  If I just wanted to toss down a big loop of Fastrack, they could probably be running.  However, if I want the real track plan with the Gargraves and Ross, it's needing more work.  The under the layout part is why I built the chair.

It's certainly not the smoothest paint job, but it's only a background color and sealing for the Homasote.  I don't intend for the layout to be brown, so I'll just cover it up with scenery.

I also added handles to the lift-out do it's easy to deal with.  I do have to get the proper paint to paint the metal J-channel a similar color, that's not urgent right now.

Nice Job John


TCA, METCA, LCCA, LRRC, MTHRRC, Atlas Golden Spike Club Charter Member, Bergen County Model RRC and NJ HiRailers Member.


If you haven't checked out the new NJ HiRailers website please do. Go to the "Photos" page to see galleries of our events and check the "What's New" page periodically to see what we've added.




John, did you ever post the track plan, I mayhave missed it, wouldn't mind seeing it.



TCA, METCA, LCCA, LRRC, MTHRRC, Atlas Golden Spike Club Charter Member, Bergen County Model RRC and NJ HiRailers Member.


If you haven't checked out the new NJ HiRailers website please do. Go to the "Photos" page to see galleries of our events and check the "What's New" page periodically to see what we've added.




Thanks guys, it's been a long time coming!

As for the track plan, I had one, but with the expanded table and lots of new ideas, this one is only a ghost of what will be.  The plan below is where I started before Tom came and we extended the table and added all the curves.  I still plan on the big folded dog bone mainline, and then the separate inner loop.  However I'm adding access to the future yard on the lower left of this plan, that will extend down a wall to the left.  Also, I'm going to add several passing-storage tracks as well.  Since the right side is next to my workshop, a programming/storage track there will be added so I can just plop something on and take off for testing.  The original plan was all O72 curves, but now the three loops will be done with mostly flex track and be roughly O96, O84, and the inner one will be O72.

John Will Layout, Main Table 3D 2019-06-08


Photos (1)

John: You won't be sorry you increased your minimum radius to 072. My own 9 X 14' layout has a max of 0-99 and the only 072 curve is a half curve piece on my innermost loop along with one 072 turnout. The rest  of the layout minimum is 081. Makes passenger trains much more believable.


I'm really enjoying this thread and have learned so much just following the progress you and Tom are making....thank you for taking the time to post. I have a couple of questions ... one for you and one for Tom.. You mentioned that in the end you may have been somewhat limited by the Mianne benchwork.. if starting over knowing what you've learned in the process would you do benchwork from scratch?? (with Toms help of course).. 

For Tom... along those same lines I have seen more and more people ripping plywood for layout frame work rather than using regular 1"x  or 2"x whatever... is this a practice you recommend?  What are the benefits and what is needed to do it correctly?

Again thanks for the great thread ...it is totally fascinating to watch what a couple of real craftsmen can pull off!!



Live the Dream,

Own the Best!



My comments are based on my professional training in and 42 years of installing flooring.  Solid wood  (aka, dimensional lumber)  is kind of a living and breathing critter.  It has the capacity to move, swell. twist and otherwise deliver less than satisfactory results.  When you use it for benchwork all bets are off.  You may have somewhat satisfactory results but quite possibly not.  For many years I built layouts for folks.  The finished product has to be straight, flat and stay that way.  I could never in good faith use dimensional lumber and expect to stay in business.

However, in the three rail world one could get away with a wavy surface due to greatly exaggerated wheel profiles,  very flexible trucks & over sized couplers.  So you will find some folks using entry level building material and not realize the potato chip surface upon which they are running.

If you do use solid wood, consider not using Pine plywood.  That can go into gross distortion.  And NEVER use CDX  with knot holes.  Also only use Fir lumber dried to single digit moisture content.  Your layout may be the foundation of your fun for many many years.  Be true to your self, get a moisture density meter (cheap) and use it when buying any solid wood.  You will see readings typically in the high teens.  Never use it until acclimated in the room to be used and in the single digit range.   It may need to be run through  a jointer.

Solid wood flooring is not  rated to be installed below grade, engineered wood (read plywood)  flooring is.  Now what  should that say to anyone bringing solid wood into a below grade environment?

For benchwork I prefer a Birch or Maple wood with a minimum of 7 plys in the 23/32" (3/4")  category.  In better lumber yards (forget big box stores) you can find a great benchwork product called Birch/Maple Shop Grade.  Not to be used for staining but exceptional in construction quality with no knots or voids.  PLus good pricing.

I have most all wood working tools but I still pay extra to have the lumber yard rip my plywood, at least rip  it in half.  Their $24,000 table saw is far more accurate than mine.  Plus it becomes much easier for me to carry home.  You will get 13 strips of 3 1/2" rips from a 4' width.  Divide you per panel cost by 13 and you will have quality material near the cost of questionable material.

This is just a brief overview not getting into 5' X 5' Multi ply or Advantech.

Never purchase sheet goods from a merchant that stores their sheet goods on a three or four finger rack.

Always buy sheet goods that have  been stored on a flat bed rack with full 4' x 8' or 5' x 5' support,

I never buy the top three or the bottom three sheets of anything, packing bands can distort the panels.

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

What he said.   If you look at some of the benchwork that Tom has done, we could have gotten more creative about some aspects of the build using custom benchwork, specifically some multi-level stuff.  However, that ship has sailed, and what I have will do just fine.

This is great stuff!! Exactly what I was looking for... 

Like many here for years I've been planning and collecting all the different materials and tools I thought would be needed.. table saw..radial arm saw.. chop saw.. jig saw.. worm drive circular saw.. along with a bevy of hand tools and more books on the subject than you'd believe. All with the intention of one day building my masterpiece... but what I have learned here by following the threads of guys like Tom and John and Alex and Marty and all the craftsmen who are generous enough with their time and knowledge to post these threads and answer the questions goes so far beyond those pages...

Room prep... right materials.. new and better ways to do it.. it's all right here for the taking.. thank you all so much!


Live the Dream,

Own the Best!


Next step, fascia is all on, I had to make a "clamp run" and buy 60 more clamps to finish the job!  We are truly in "clamp city" at this point!  The process is fairly simple butter up the fascia, line it up, and then use some material on the outside to clamp it firmly in place.  I got the extra clamps so we could do this all in one shot today.

These will get 24 hours to dry, then they'll be trimmed to fit exactly and any fill around the edges will be added.




Photos (6)

Gunrunner John, all I can say is Wow, your hours of labor, your helpers time and expertise have really paid off. Amazing creativity, and as time moves on your going to have a lot of fun running your trains. Folks getting ready to build a layout should start on page 1 as this is a fantastic story, a true Journey, Pictures and Ideas In layman terms, easily understood, all backed up with beautiful pictures. One thing for sure, with your knowledge of electronics, I’m sure your going to have a working signal system, a great track plan, and a lot of fun in your man cave. Thanks for taking the time to share your cool ideas with us, your forum friends. Happy Railroading 

That be some serious clampin'.


clamp1 |klamp|


a brace, band, or clasp used for strengthening or holding things together.



• an electric circuit that serves to maintain the voltage limits of a signal at prescribed levels.

verb[ with obj. ]

fasten (something) in place with a clamp: the sander is clamped onto the edge of a workbench.

• fasten (two things) firmly together: the two frames are clamped together.

• hold (something) tightly against or in another thing: Maggie had to clamp a hand over her mouth to stop herself from laughing.

• maintain the voltage limits of (an electrical signal) at prescribed values.

As always... Counting the days till Christmas.

Yep, no curved benchwork like Tom shows, I had already committed to the Mianne base when Tom started his magic.

Tom Tee posted:

Unveiling Friday at 4:30 pm right John? 

 Yep, no taking the clamps off early!

John - your benchwork looks great (too bad you're gonna cover it  up ...).  A quick question - what glue did you use for the facia boards?  Looks like it came from a tube used in a caulking gun.  Did you do anything 'special' at the ends of the facia boards (e.g., nails or screws)?

Only two types of adhesive were used for the whole project, Titebond 3 glue for joints on the main plywood deck and Loctite PL 3x Construction Adhesive for all the fascia work.  What you see is the Loctite on the fascia boards.  Nothing special at the ends, when the glue is totally cured (24 hours), there may be some minor fill at some of the joints.  I'll see tonight when I take all the clamps and support boards off the fascia.  Although you can't see it, there's a stripe of glue right next to the end which will hold them down solidly.

The overhanging curves really cannot be confidently attempted with any common plywood such as CDX,  peg board,  Pine  or 3 ply entry  level budget panels.  They are all subject to going potato chip on you and will warp the edges.  

Many people overlook how foundational reliable benchwork is yet they put thousand dollar engines on something that could only qualify as a temporary holiday project.

There are a couple of OGR advertisers who may provide stand up custom benchwork.

The benchwork photos of some other work posted earlier have no screws, only adhesive & sometimes tacked with 18 ga. brads.

The tubes of adhesive are from HD or Lowe's  they are premium polyurethane Loctite at approx. $7.50 per tube.  Do not spill it on anything you do not want the adhesive to be permanently attached. 

Bunches of different style clamps are necessary.



Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

richs09 posted:

I use titebond III for almost all of my woodworking -- good stuff.  Any reason you didn't also use that on the fascia boards instead of the loctite (no criticism intended - just curious)?  Ease of application?

Titebond III needs to be FIRMLY clamped and in 100% contact with the surfaces to bond.  The Loctite construction adhesive can span gaps and still provide a very solid bond.  Typically, I see Titebond III on flat surface, not on something like curved fascia where you're almost certain to have at least some small gaps.  For the fascia, the construction adhesive was a better choice.

Richie C. posted:

Will the fascia extend above the level of the layout ? 

No, exactly level with the surface when I get done trimming/sanding the top to be level with the Homasote.  That comes after the clamps come off and the adhesive is 100% set.

As you build to a finished surface you want each new layer to fine tune the last layer.  As in walls, floors, ceilings and benchwork.  The Loctite adhesive can dry hard and hold up to a 3/8" void.  The runout on the studs and first layer can be less than absolutely perfect in a spot or two. 

If you pull the fascia on over the adhesive and allow the adhesive to settle out irregularities yet not compromise any grab you have the best of both worlds.  On the same token you must use a firm backing plate or the clamp may push in a dimple into any local shallow spot or even make a shallow spot by pushing out the adhesive.  Tom Thorpe

Eternity is a long time to have been wrong.

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