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Do you have to crawl underneath "duck-under" benchwork to operate from a pit?How tall are you?
Plywood is more stable than dimensional lumber for benchworkYou don't need expensive woodworking tools. Click Here if you're looking for an easy, step-by-step guide to build the model railroad of your dreams. As my previous layout was an around-the-wall type with a central peninsula, I wanted to avoid a duck-under this time. I'm still a homasote fan for subroadbed benchwork even though it is sometimes hard to find. Remember, whatever you do, sooner or later you are going to have to "get at it".Plan accordingly as best you can.
The aisles in the photo below are on Tom Hood's layout that I visited during the Niagara Frontier Region (NFR) 2008 convention in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. John disguised pipes between these double decks by creating the illusion that they are part of the industrial complex.
In the photo you can see how the track ends curve at the edge of the sector plate so that each will line up perfectly as the plate is moved.
The front end of the plate uses chair castor wheels that rotate along a board underneath the plate. Dave used an aircraft bolt and nut for a secure pivot at the center of the sector plate at the far end. I discovered this simple, yet effective method of building a transfer table on Roger Chrysler's layout during the NFR's Woodstock Turn convention in April, 2009.
Here's an ideaI borrowed for use on my Utopia Northern RR a€” the use of Christmas light bulbs hung from the upper deck to illuminate the lower deck.

We usually have an unsightly mess underneath our layouts--bits of wood, boxes, track, scenery stuff and just plain junk we are reluctant to throw out in case we ever have a need for it. Notice on the left side of the photo that Scott has hot-glued a wooden clothespin to the back of the masonite fascia.An inexpensive black cloth skirting is held by the clothespin. Share your creative idea with other model railroaders.I've added some simple instructions in the HELP boxes. If you are curious about the Internet, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and want to know more about what's going on in the wide, wide world up in the clouds, and especially if you have any desire to do something for yourself, I urge you to take a little time to watch the video below. Published: Tuesday, October 07, 2014This video on the Coxton Yard describes how to use the control panel and how the turnouts are thrown using a diode matrix. What's a comfortable working height?Can you reach everything comfortably from the aisle?Can you pass another operator in an aisle? One of the sturdiest entrances I've seen is this swinging gate on the Otter Valley Railroad in Aylmer, Ontario, owned by Roger and Lorne James.This layout was on the tour during the Niagara Frontier Regions's (NFR) convention held in Woodstock, Ontario in April, 2009. Note plywood triangular bracket in background supporting upper G scale corner curve and metal shelf bracket in right foreground.
It's easy to unhook the skirting when you need to and it is forgiving if you bump into it because it has some "give". You can clamp a board onto the plywood for long straight cuts if you don't own a table saw.
It's especially good for flat areas or to reduce weight but a problem for mounting switch machines. On the other hand, if you're looking for a cheap, effective skirting, check out this idea that I saw during the Muskoka Layout tour, 2009 on Scott Reid's HO scale Great Northern Mesabi Division layout.
The stone wall behind the Finescale building Rollin Sawyer Chemical still needed to be painted and installed in front of the foam when I took this photo.

On that same layout tour I photographed some novel benchwork solutions on John Mitchell's Canada Southern layout. The ties on either side of the opening are circuit board ties with the rails soldered to them for stability. If necessary, resize it to a maximum of 800 X 600 pixels because that's the largest size I can accept. Invest in a metal square, a long metal ruler, and some C-clamps.Make a radius tool by inserting a nail in one end of a long wooden ruler at the 1" mark and drilling holes for a pencil at the radius points you want to use. If you don't have graphic software, you can use Google's Picasa or iPhoto's Export Manager on the Mac.
See my scenery tips and techniques.Portable layouts such as HOTrak, NTrak and free-mo deserve special consideration.
Engineers must visually inspect the rail ends to make sure they line up correctly before crossing. If you're building a diorama or want to link up with other model railroaders' layouts, there's a ton of information on the Internet. Avoid slotted heads because your screwdriver keeps slipping, especially when working from underneath the benchwork.
It can be a pain and messy to hunt for screw heads beneath your well-laid track and cork when you need to change something.

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