Progress report on Santiago Yard



Almost ready to lay track!  The string line is used to check uniformity of main track level along the thirteen feet of roadbed. There will be a main track on the left and three yard tracks to the right of it.

With roadbed and sub-roadbed glued together, I set about to build the frame to support it.  While L-girder benchwork is easy to build and forgiving of poor carpentry skills such as mine, I decided to use open-grid benchwork, as it’s much thinner than L-girder.  For the multi-level layout that I plan to build to get what I want for mainline run, this is a concern.

I cut a few lengths of 3 inch wide strips of 3/4″ thick plywood from a 4′ x 8′ sheet.  Two strips were cut to 5′-6″ long.  These were each butt-joined to an eight-foot long strip, with a foot-long 3″ wide splice plate glued to one side of the joint and then clamped together to make two 13′-6″ long side members.  Several strips of 3″ wide, 3/4″ plywood were cut to 10 1/2″ long for joists to run between the side members.  I drilled three 1/2″ holes through their sides to accommodate DCC bus line and Digitrax LocoNet lines.

I screwed a couple of joists to the side members, connecting them and making a basic benchwork frame 12″ wide.


Roadbed temporarily screwed to a joist.  These screws will later be withdrawn and the holes plugged. The level is used to check roadbed cross-level as I build the benchwork.

The roadbed assembly was screwed to the joists and checked for cross level.  Satisfied that the roadbed was level, I added joists between the side members, checking that the roadbed remained level. I did not want to use risers as this would introduce complexity, height, and weight to the roadbed/benchwork assembly.


An example of roadbed and benchwork construction for Santiago Yard.  The skilled carpenter will likely find my work a little rough, but fascia, scenery, and track should make this all look a lot better by the time that I’m done. 

Using this type of benchwork construction, I’ve built a rigid layout benchwork/roadbed combination that is less than four inches high.


The screws in the roadbed were removed.  Screws through the joists into the roadbed replaced these and can be withdrawn easily if needed.  I hate removing screws from the roadbed when they are under ballast or ties.


Soon I’ll build the turnouts to lead Santiago’s three yard tracks off from the main line.  Still to be drawn on the roadbed are accurate track centre lines for placing the ties.

More to come….