PC&N Mini Benchwork Construction

Construction of the benchwork for the PC&N Mini layout has begun.  This post will outline the steps in its construction.

  1. Cut two 10′ long 1×2 boards.  You can see these two boards at the top and bottom of the following image.  Both boards are laying loosely on the floor in this photo.
  2. Cut four 9′ 10 1/2″ 1×4 boards.  The bottom two are laying loose on the floor.  The top two are screwed in place.  These boards are cut 1 1/2″ shorter to allow two 1x2s to be used to form the sides of the shelves.
  3. Cut five 7″ 1×4 boards for the 16″ deep section of the benchwork.  The five boards are connected to the horizontal 1x4s in the top portion of the image.
  4. Cut five 4 1/4″ 1×4 boards for the 12″ deep section of the benchwork.  These boards are laying loose in the bottom of the image.benchwork1
  5. Drill Kreg pocket joinery holes.  Two were drilled in each end of the vertical pieces.  One was drilled in the side of the end vertical pieces.  Nine were drilled in two of the long 1x4s to allow attachment of the 1x2s.   If you look closely at the following images you can see the holes.Benchwork3
  6. Use Kreg 1 1/4″ pocket screws to join the horizontal and vertical pieces for the 16″ deep section of the shelf.  The following is a closeup of the right hand side of the joined 16″ deep benchwork.Benchwork2
  7. Cut one of the two 12″ shelf 1x4s down to 4’6″.  Assemble the 12″ shelf with the left 4’6″ 12″ deep and the right 5’6″ 8 1/2″ deep.
    12 Shelf1
  8. Screw 3 1x4x10 inch cleats to the underside of the shelf to hold fiddle shelves.  Note that in this image one fiddle shelf is resting under the three cleats.  When the shelf is inverted it will rest on the top of the cleats.  There is a stack of three additional fiddle shelves at the top of the image.12 Shelf2
  9. Recess 1/4″ by 2″ carriage bolts in the top of each fiddle shelf.  The bolts will drop into holes in the cleats and be secured with wing nuts.  When it is time to retire a train from the layout, the wing nuts will be unscrewed and the shelf lifted out of the layout and placed in a specialized set of shelf brackets designed to hold multiple fiddle shelves.  This step is pending a trip to the hardware store to pick up the carriage bolts.DSC_0888
  10. Screw homasote onto top of pine frame.  In this shot the homasote is installed.DSC_0889
  11. Atttach 1×2″ pine trim boards to ends and portion of shelf facing into the hallway.  These two shots are a closeup of the homasote installation the top on the 16″ deep shelf and the bottom on the 12″ deep shelf section where the fiddle yard will be attached.  The trim pieces have been attached to the 16″ deep shelf.DSC_0891
  12. Attach cleats and folding shelf brackets to wall.  These brackets will support the 16″ deep shelf.DSC_089212.  Install shelf on bracket.  This image shows the 16″ deep shelf installed, positioned in horizontal position.DSC_0893This image shows the 16″ deep shelf folded into vertical position.  The trim pieces protect the outward edge of the shelf.DSC_0894This shot shows the 12″ shelf installed with the supports for the fiddle yard in place.DSC_0895
  13. Construct a fiddle yard from a 5 1/2′ 1×4 pine.  Countersink 1/4″ x 2″ carriage bolts.  This shot shows the board and carriage bolts bolted to the supports.DSC_0896
  14. Screw homasote onto the 1×4″ board and trim with 1×2″ trim.  This shot shows the completed fiddle yard bolted to the supports.  The gaps in this photo will be filled in with ballasting.DSC_0897
    This shows the 12″ portion of the layout folded vertical.  There are a few gaps I will need to deal with but after all, it is a test track and we’re talking about a plug in fiddle yard.  Note that the fiddle yards will come off the layout (remove three wing nuts) and rest on a purpose built shelf right above the fiddle yard area.

With three brackets, while the benchwork is structurally strong in the middle, the ends tend to flop a bit.  This creates a problem in joining tracks spanning the left and right side of the layout.  I ordered four additional end brackets should solve this problem.  Adding them to the ends stabilized the shelves.  I’m not claiming I could sit on them, but they are capable of carrying a fair amount of weight without distorting.

The fiddle shelf shown in the above photo is one of four that fits into a purpose built shelf unit.  Here’s a photo of the shelf unit with four fiddle shelves ‘plugged in.’

This extends the functionality of an operating session as multiple trains can enter the layout, one at a time.

When the large PC&N layout is built, there will be places to plug in the same fiddle shelves.  So as I envision things long term, I will:

  • Build a consist on a fiddle shelf.
  • Test it on the PC&N Mini layout.
  • Store the tested consist on the fiddle shelf.
  • Plug it into the large layout when I want to bring it into operation.


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