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Welcome to the forum Tall J. Looks like you've made a good start. The additional bracing on the modules might be a bit of belts and suspenders but it's your RR your Rules. Just remember to drill holes for the wiring before putting the tops on. You will glad you did when you are under the table doing the wiring.


@RSJB18 posted:

Welcome to the forum Tall J. Looks like you've made a good start. The additional bracing on the modules might be a bit of belts and suspenders but it's your RR your Rules. Just remember to drill holes for the wiring before putting the tops on. You will glad you did when you are under the table doing the wiring.


Yes Justin, the alternative to the holes in the cross braces is to fasten plastic wire clamps to each cross member and run wires through them.  I have already ran more wires than I ever did on a layout and, next time I think I'll go with the holes drilled in the wood like Bob suggested.  Regardless which way you go, plan for more wires than you would think you will need - lots of holes or clamps. 

Time for a post-holiday update!

The benchwork is officially wrapped up! The last pieces of Homasote were just attached.  I had a bit of an issue making sure its level since the basement floor was unsurprisingly un-level.  But its done!  I missed my goal of getting trains running by the first of the year, but I'm ok with that.  Since we're officially in the throws of winter, I think I'll be progressing pretty quick otherwise.

I built everything in the modules and tied it together with 1/2in lag bolts.  I put levelers on the legs but skipped the castors for now.  I also put in wire passthroughs in all of the 2x4s.  I'm going to take Mark's approach and use the plastic wire holders under it as well.

Also, shout out to Mark Boyce and Calvin on the deals on Fastrack!  I officially have all of the track necessary for the outer loop and a good bit of it for the inner loop.  I think I'm almost down to just the switches now.

Now the fun begins!


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Justin, the benchwork looks great!  That is good you drilled wire pass-through holes in the cross members.  I did not, and it meant I had to put in up to 3 plastic wire holders in some places.  However, they are all at the very front of the cross members making wire pulling fairly easy sitting on my roll around stool in the aisle.  I'm glad you got all the Fastrak you needed.  Buying O gauge track all new for even a modest sized layout can run into a lot of money.

Looks great. I'm interested in the same track plan for future expansion. Starting with a 4x8 now, but could see going to a longer setup like this in the future. Or one of Ken's L-shape designs, also on the table for future expansion. But not until I get my basement water under control - normally dry, but a very heavy rain (typically once a year type event) will see some water seep in through the floor/wall joints. My basement is close to 1,500 sqft, and I'm getting quotes around $9,000 to install interior french drain with two sumps around the entire perimeter.

@MarkVB posted:

I am also following this with interest. My bench work is remarkably similar at 6x16 that narrows to 4 ft in the center. Different track and switches but I am still learning a lot from this thread.


Do you squeeze O-72 into the ends? I like the idea of an O-72 dog bone shape if space allows...or if not, at least getting out to beyond O-54 which accommodates a lot of scale equipment.

@VJandP posted:

Great work! This looks awesome. I’m in a similar scenario so will be following your updates.   Question… how tall is the bench?   Looks like the track will be around 40” from the floor?

Not to takeover another thread, but since we are following each other as well, I used 36" legs which makes my table height 37". Which actually feels like a comfortable height for me, since I'm not terribly tall, but I could see going 4-6" higher than that, as well, depending on one's height and reach, or preferred viewing angle.

Thanks Everyone!  I'm still kind of in shock its up and ready for track.  I do have a few things I failed to mention in my original post.  I have an electrician coming tomorrow to get all of the outlets installed in the basement.  Right, now, the entire thing only has 2 outlets, not including our dryer outlet. My wife's home office, which is right next to the layout gets its power from a power strip in an extension cord.  So, we're putting in 9 new outlets throughout the basement and 2 on the exterior of our house.  I'm also going to install some track lights by the layout over the next few weeks.

One thing I'd love to get input on is the right amount of grade to raise the back loop.  Right now, I'm thinking to start the grade about halfway through the curve, and then have it hit the level I want it at (about 4-6 inches) at about the 4-5 linear foot mark. I need to do some math to get the grade right, but my goal is to add in the Lionel Truss bridge in the back for some dynamic site lines and a stream area. Any thoughts on it are welcome!

@VJandP The legs are 36in.  With the levelers and the table top height, its probably close to 38-39 in or so.  I can measure it next time I'm downstairs.  I'm about 6'6 and can easily reach the back of the table. I didn't want something too low that my back will hurt every time I lean over to do something, or something too high.  After messaging a few folks on IG, I settled on 36in.  Plus I can add a second level off to the left hand side because...thats right, I left some room for expansion.

@MarkVB  Happy to have you aboard this journey! I may do some tweaking here and there, but hopefully I'm not cutting any more wood....for at least a few months.  haha

@Greg Kwolek Ken has some absolutely amazing layout templates.  I studied a lot of his before I finally went with this one.  Had I used a different area, I probably would've done his version of the 1957 Lionel Catalog layout. I do hear you about waterproofing.  We're in the midst of getting estimates for our house.  We only have 1 wall that has a problem right now, but we don't have any sump pumps.  I think we'll take a phased approach to installing it.  I'm hoping extending the gutters and installing rain barrels help abate the issues.

I've hit my goal! I wanted to get a loop of track down and test the Fastrack before MLK weekend. Success! I put the outer loop up, minus the switches (still need to order those) and hooked a few leads up to an MTH terminal block. To test it, I used a Lionel NH ALCO set that I saved up, which seemed for ever, to get back when I was a kid. The passenger cars were a Christmas gift from my dad that year too. It probably hasn't been on the rails in 20-25 years. One side note: when I put the full vista dome car on, the car itself buzzes and nothing else gets power. I'm going to take it apart and see whats going on it.

Here are a few pics and a video.


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