Benchwork By Mail!

The benchwork arrived yesterday! As I mentioned in my last post, I've decided to avoid something I'm neither good at (carpentry) or enjoy and bite the bullet and spend what would be the equivalent of several locos or a very expensive starter set and order some professionally cut, measured and prepared benchwork.

So I braved the cold weather in the garage and started to go through the box.  The box was smaller than I would have expected for all the materials and space this layout would ultimately take up, but it was quite heavy nonetheless - and it took a beating in transit as well, with one of the two outside corner curve sections having gotten cracked (I've contacted the supplier about this today to see if it can be replaced).
The rest of the materials I'm glad to see are in great shape. There are three 42"x48" and one 42"x12" modules.  This gives me a total dimension of 42" x 13" - with the additional 18" curve sections, I'll have nearly 14' of running space.
The material is a cabinet grade plywood which, for a variety of reasons explained at ModelRailroadBenchwork's website, are much better than anything that I could (or want!) to put together on my own! These are solid 3/4" wide sections of plywood with all the screw holes, access holes, and bolt holes already pre-drilled.
Assembly is easy - and actually quite quick! Instructions (and screws and bolts) were provided, so it only took me a few minutes to go from this....
To my first completely assembled module!
Since I was in the spirit of it, I kept going and put the other three modules together...and viola! Here is the foundation for the next Quinntopia!
I will still have to make some runs to the hardware store for the boards to connect the modules to my legs (re-using the 'yellow legs' of my previous layout, but now in a more neutral grey color!) as well as for the surface of the layout, but that's a lot less work than creating the cuts and measurements needed for this part. I'm super pleased with how this turned out and can't wait to get started on the next stage.

So far, I would have to say that if you can afford it (my total cost for all of the above, including shipping, was $460, plus $96 to have it shipped from Florida to Washington State) and want a sturdy benchwork and cannot do it yourself at any decent level of skill, this seems like a decent option!


Quinntopia: The ReBoot!

The reboot is almost here. After several attempts to plan the layout with RRTrack, and essentially designing a layout that looks an awfully lot like old Quinntopia Version 2, I've decided to throw caution to the wind and start putting together a layout based on a few simple principles.  I can only move things around on the computer before too long, so I'm just going to be practical about it (I sort of have an idea of what I want anyway, the software is good for getting estimates on how much stuff I need to buy, and approximate ideas of space and so on).  Here's the main ideas:
  • I have to limit the scope. I liked the urban aspects of the old layout (and I think was one of the things that was most popular with viewers as well) so the idea of having any sort of natural landscape will be minimal.  
  • Since its going to be a very urban layout, Its going to be a city surrounded by several 'main lines'.  The question is...three, or an overwhelming four? I'm still not sure.  Four track main line means an 8 track total, which limits the city space, and can look a lot like a racetrack and not a city/train layout!
  • These lines split into several tracks for a large urban station and to provide some minimal storage (mostly for those annoying to assemble and disassemble TGV, ICE's and the like).  Again, I have to be realistic and probably reduce the main lines to three.
  • The rest? It will be City, City, and more city.
Still up for question is whether or not I try and run an elevated 'transit' line within the city it itself. This could be problematic.  My approach is to determine approximately how much space within the large oval of tracks I will have for the 'city' (the tracks will of course run around the perimeter, but will have a few gradual curves so it's not just straight tangents) and then works with various city block/building layouts to determine if a smaller, elevated, double-track line can be worked into the city.

Here's my (formerly yellow!) supports for the layout benchwork - now in a fresh color of neutral grey!
The dimensions will be around 42" by 14.5' feet long, or 1066 x 4419 long if we use the metric!

I've decided to invest decent money and have some professionally, pre-built benchwork made by an outfit called ModelRailroadBenchwork.com. It will be modular as well, so I can re-use these if a future move happens! I ordered my modules a week ago, so I'm already anxious to get them and set up the future layout!  No more hollow-core doors for me!

Of course, the real fun will be pulling out the structures from storage! Whoopee!
 That's it for now! I'm looking forward to a very fun, N scale focused winter!



For my friends in France and the people of Paris, my heart is with you on this incredibly dark day.  It was an unspeakable evil.  I pray that it will be the last time that any of us have to witness this sort of horror again.