Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"The plan actually seems to be working..."

In the world of architecture and construction, the theory goes something like this. Ideally, a sketch is turned into a scaled drawing which in turn is expanded into a construction document. If all goes well, the project is built according to the architect's vision by a diligent contractor for a satisfied client. Since I wear all three hats on this project, I did take some shortcuts and work some things out in my head, figuring that all three parties should remain in communication throughout the process anyway! 

While I had a general idea of how the second deck would be integrated with the structure of the first deck, I did realize that a few different conditions existed that would require slightly different details. How the second deck would be cantilevered in certain locations, and how much it would be cantilevered, were the biggest issues.

The second deck was constructed using  1" x 2" clear pine and supported with 19" long risers. The frames of each deck mirror one another so the risers align with each cross member. The lower deck here is 14" deep while the cantilevered upper deck is 16" deep.

The upper deck is very rigid. It is anchored into the wall studs and supported by the riser. The amount of acceptable cantilever could have been determined through a complex math equation which had a lot of neat symbols that I didn't understand, so I guessed.

The right side shows an upper deck that is the full 20" deep while the lower deck is only 10". The styrene peninsula backdrop required that risers be used in the rear as an anchor and toward the front as cantilever support.

Because the styrene backdrop at the peninsula did not provide the ability to anchor as the wall studs did, wider 1" x 6" and 1" x 4" risers were utilized. The changing depths of the two decks as they round the end of the peninsula are evident here.  The white end cap will hold the lower level backdrop.

Note the use of a few stamped metal L-brackets on rear risers to help support the upper deck on the left along the peninsula and on the right across the former doorway. In each case I needed maximum depth for the lower deck and the styrene backdrop could not support any type of anchor. The lower decks here are 18" and the upper are 12".

A close-up of the stamped L-brackets show how they are mounted on a rear riser that is 'flat' to the other risers. Adjacent risers provide the clearance that the backdrop will need.

You may have noted by now that I did have a bit of a formula for the relationship between the two decks, and it did not involve anything beyond kindergarten math. While the original single deck was 20" deep, I determined that the sum of the two decks at any given location would equal 30" giving me both an acceptable cantilever support and a consistency whereby one deck could handle substantial modeling/operating activity and the other was merely ROW.
I hope that I have explained this clearly. Regardless, it went up and has remained up, very rigid and secure, awaiting the installation of the backdrop which we'll cover shortly.
Seriously, a show of hands here. Who honestly saw this coming?


  1. Cool in progress shots. I remember visiting your layout/benchwork during the OpSIG/LDSIG meet a few years ago.

  2. Hi... is this South Jersey Phil?... Conrail N scale layout guy who came out to dinner with a group of us after the home tour?... only Phil I remember from that visit... if so, how's that multi-deck layout of yours progressing?... either way, thanks for commenting!

    1. Yes, yes that would be me. I took down the double deck and am working instead on a basic around the room shelf layout. Had my 3rd kid in the fall, time and space are now at a premium!

    2. Congrats, Phil... good luck!... guess I better be careful.

  3. After seeing your beautiful single deck benchwork, I never saw this coming. Your benchwork was too nice to expect modifications to it.

  4. Interesting. Double-deck is kind of like Pandora's Box, now that we have opened it, almost everyone has to consider the benefits/negatives and make their choice. I was in the same boat years ago and decided I did not want all that extra real estate to build or the construction issues. Not that I wouldn't mind longer runs and another few towns! Oddly enough though, when I had some inspiration on a way to add another scene and add on some more operating potential, I quickly found that I was able to add a small upper shelf deck in one corner. Hard to resist a little extra in your existing footprint!!

    1. I like your characterization of the multi-deck cunnundrum ... I'm still not sold that I'm doing the right thing, but we'll see.