Owen Sound – Lower Bench Work

In the fall of 2016, the bench work for the lower level started.  It was unconventionally warm for a long time so I could work outdoors up until early December.  I had pretty good success with Styrofoam as a base on my modules and I have seen it used successfully on many newer model railroads.  Also and most importantly, it is very stable when it comes to humidity and temperature change.  The Styrofoam insulation I decided on was 1” thick, 2’ wide and 8’ long available only at one of the last Canadian building supply centres.  I chose this also because I could fit these sheets inside my windowed panel van.  The 1” thickness would mean that I would need a more robust support system but it was the only sheet that came 2’ wide.  With these things in mind, I designed the lower bench work to provide an inner lip and framing to support the Styrofoam so that it would be flush with the edges.

Here are the overall dimensions of my layout space. There is a support beam in the upper area of the drawing which will come in handy to support the grain elevator extension. The main room 22′ 8″ x 18′ is where Owen Sound proper and Wiarton will be. The lower part of the drawing displays where the layout will actually go outside the main room into a kind of lobby. This will hold William Kennedy and sons and the southern part of Park Head. Unfortunately a duck under will have to be used for the wye at Park Head. The intent is to have it removable as a lift out.

I wanted to be able to store my 3 linear modules under the bench work as well so given these considerations, the build started with the end of Owen Sound yards, William Kennedy and sons.  Below is the drawing which really doesn’t give the overall dimensions.

End of Owen Sound Yard

I soon realized my drawings needed to reflect frame work dimensions.

The Frame Work for Owen Sound up to the Grain Elevator

Construction began on warm fall days and evenings, on the driveway no less because I wanted to keep my modules up as long as possible so I could run trains! The outer bench work framing is 4.5″ deep with inner 3.5″ framing that provides the 1/2″ lip for the 1″ Styrofoam. I used 1/2″ plywood which was left over from various projects including having our roof redone. I don’t like to waste anything.

The lobby held a couple of things that needed to be moved. One was a grandmother clock my father had built from wood that he hewed himself. He was that kind of guy. He didn’t live long enough to complete it so I did some remedial work on it and we had a friend, Marg Fishbein, do the finish. She did an excellent job and now it is in our living room. You can see part of it on the left side of the pic. Building layouts can lead to procrastinated projects becoming completed! In later pics, you will see the unfinished clock more clearly.

William Kennedy and Sons Bench Work
Testing the Integrity of the Styrofoam with a CNR Pacific and a 10 Wheeler

All proved to be well and so on I continued with more framing. Some things are according to plan and others are ‘seat of the pants’. As the layout proceeded, I encountered various obstacles I had forgotten to include in my initial drawings. Some like the TV, needed to be relocated and not always where I originally thought I could put them.

I really wanted to be able to store things under the layout as the main room was/is a storage area for train equipment, kit production parts and blueprints. Various cabinets had to have casters installed on reinforced bases. They roll out well.

The Owen Sound Yard Framework
A Stationary Cabinet That Needs Mobility and a TV for Watching Train Videos

I thought I could put the TV on the wall overhead Park Head but it would have not allowed for scenery so it ended up on the wall under the Ben Allen/Shallow Lake siding. As you can see in the photo, I did not compensate for the covering for the down pipe on the wall. It was not in my drawing. An oversight but not insurmountable. I used a reciprocating saw and jig saw to make a cut out and put pieces of plywood in place around the down pipe. Saved by power tools my wife had bought me for Christmas over the years.

Things really started to get exciting for me when I got the framework done for the Owen Sound roundhouse. I had a learning experience here. The framework was built on the driveway according to plan but it would not fit down the stairwell so out it went and had to be trimmed down. It also meant the front of the previous bench had to be trimmed back to match. When I tried to access the circuit breaker panel, it was a bit of a reach. I thought I could live with it but my wife Terry insisted that if access was needed by any technicians, the safety of the layout would be compromised. So I used the same saw combo as above to cut out a gap for easier access to the panel which can bee seen behind the roundhouse. It has proven to be helpful in that Internet, air conditioning and electrical technicians have managed to avoid any contact with the layout. It is good to have a smart wife give you advice!

The Owen Sound Roundhouse

I guess I should address a few things before I end this section of construction. I am a firm believer of learning from what others have done and from my own mistakes. If there is something out there that can help me expedite things without too much loss of fidelity to the prototype, I embrace it. I have seen too many rivet counters like myself get ‘prototype paralysis’ and never complete anything to their satisfaction. There will be more about ‘prototype paralysis’ in later posts. So, windows in the roundhouse though not prototypical will probably stay. BTW, the roundhouse was purchased for a ridiculously low price because it was started(nice, a time saver). It is actually about the right length though it is narrow gauge. I will put a ‘concrete’ base under it to give it more height. If my Pacifics were scale length and not lengthened for flange clearance reasons, they would fit in perfectly. I may try to lengthen the roundhouse for this reason but then again, there are always more pressing things to do on the layout. It was December and now there was snow on the ground so it was time to start the upper level! But what to do? What to do?

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