Friday, May 25, 2018

IKEA Ivar Benchwork - User Report

I first saw the IKEA Ivar system used for model railroad benchwork at Bernie Kempinski's. (See his blog post HERE). 
Pricing dimensional lumber can be a bit of shock. And picking through the stacks of torqued/twisted and warped lumber at the home improvement center searching for straight lumber can drive you downright nuts. 
The IKEA Ivar turns out to be less expensive than clear pine - and it's precut and ready to assemble into a stable, good looking layout base. 
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm going to try the IKEA Ivar system for the basic structure of the layout. Greg Stubbings saw that and offered the following experiences he has had with the same system: 

We have a number a mutual friends and have met a few times over the years.  Last time was at Dick Elwell"s place, I was running trains and you were buying Dick's CV 2-8-0 ! Stic and Bernie were also there.  I model CNR in the Lindsay Ontario are in fall 1957.
Anyway, I follow your blog with interest and noticed that you were considering using IKEA IVAR bookshelves as a basis for your benchwork.  I did this 2 years ago and found they worked very well.  They go together fast, are temperature and humidity  stable, sturdy, readily available, cost effective and you can put them up with only one person.  Best of all, you have a lot of organized shelving that can be covered with drop curtains etc when guests are coming.
I used the 20 " wide shelves 48" high for most areas and 12 " wide shelves in a penninsula. On top of the L girders is 3/4 plywood and 2 X1" foam insulation board. Track ends up at about 51"
The only modification that I made was to use levelling bolts and tee nuts on all 4 corner posts.  I used 1X3 and 1X2 pine for the L girders - good quality plywood that you have already ripped will also work.  I set each shelf unit up with at least 2 shelves (you can add more later as storage need and budget permits).  I levelled each unit.  When I had a section / phase done with a number of units, I installed the L girder on the front edge and back edge with a level and clamps.  Depending on how level your floor is, the position of the L girder does not always match the top of the shelving unit.  I also used smaller L girders on a horizontal plane so that I could attach the plywood  top from below.  It is amazing how sturdy these are once the L girders are in place and the front fascia is attached.
I have attached a couple of photos.  I do not have a blog but a friend of mine, Chris Lyon has done a number of You Tube videos of my layout on his CNLVN channel. 

Take care

Greg Stubbings

Here's some photos of Greg's IVAR benchwork:

Thanks for writing Greg, and for allowing me to share your experience with readers of this blog.

I plan to follow the same basic approach as Bernie and Greg - with one exception. I'm going to use a couple of the Ivar cabinets on the "front" section of the layout. It will not only make that portion of the layout appear more finished, the points where the two sections of the layout are spanned by a removable section needs to be stable. I'm counting on the Ivar cabinets - which are plenty heavy - combined with books and magazines (or bricks!) on the shelves inside the cabinet to keep the end of the layout in place. 
Modelers lacking the tools, skills, or desire to build their benchwork from scratch might want to check out the Ivar system, perhaps combined with components from a company such as Sievers, to get their benchwork completed. I'm sure you could fill a spare room with such "screw together" benchwork in an weekend morning. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

100% Started?

The June 10 "Benchwork Started By" date is looming closer. 
But that begs the question - exactly when does construction start? 
I've gotten a good start at the Phase 1 benchwork/framing plan - basically the Richford peninsula and it's approach tracks. In fact, I'm at the point where I could start assembling open grid "boxes."
Of course, benchwork building will require some wood - as I mentioned previously Bernie was getting some 3/4" "plywood ripped into 3" boards (essentially creating strong and straight 1x3s at less cost than dimensional lumber). So he was kind enough to tack on some to his order. A whole bunch of it in fact. 
The final photo I took of the previous layout showed the scrap in the back of a truck on its way to the recycling center, it seems fitting that the first photo of the new layout mimics that - in this case the wood in Bernie's wife's car.
Having seen some local modelers use the IKEA Ivar shelving system as a base for their layouts I decided to adopt the same approach for the Richford peninsula and the "front" section of layout running the length of the room. So yesterday I drove to IKEA and managed to completely fill a Mazda6 with a bunch of Ivar components. I also picked up some stain. Next step will be staining those legs and shelves. 

Philosophical query of the day: 
Can you ever be less than 100% started on benchwork?
Does obtaining the wood count as "starting construction?"
And, if not, does staining the legs and shelves count as "starting?"
Or, does sawdust actually have to be produced to be considered 100% started? 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Stuff to do BEFORE starting the layout

Things have been busy and hectic around the new digs. First of all, the garage is still home to a lot of "last minute pack" items - stuff that we shuttled from the apartment to the house as time, and mostly the weather, permitted. 
Adding considerably to the delays in household accomplishments, I severely sprained my knee a few weeks ago and ended up in a knee brace. I'm just now getting to a point where I can get up and down stairs in a reasonable manner. Very frustrating. 
I think both Christine and I are suffering from "moving burnout" - but we need one more push to get the main level of the house completed - something that has to be done by 1 June as we have house guests coming and it would be nice if they could get into the guest room!
We ended up at IKEA the other day, and I took a photo of a new line of utility room cabinets - likely not as nice as the kitchen cabinets, but seem like they would be plenty good for the workshop. 
Speaking of the workshop - although I planned to get it finished before starting the layout I really want to live with the space for a while before committing to a permanent arrangement. So I've set it up in temporary fashion with tables and cabinets I have on hand. A real dog's breakfast but workable, at least for now. 
We took a much needed break from house chores to walk around the Reston Art Festival last Saturday. We had a nice lunch with Stic and Stephanie (actually we brought them a bunch of empty moving boxes - only slightly used - since they are moving this summer!) 
It's not unusual to find railroad theme art - typically photography - at the show in Reston. I liked this large photo enough that I was tempted - but for the price I didn't LOVE it. So we passed. 
Last week Bernie Kempinski mentioned his idea for a PRR-based set of Free-Mo modules. He also mentioned he was going to Colonial Hardwood, a local lumber dealer, to get the wood for his two planned modules. I signed up for a module to connect with Bernie's. I'll have more details on that in the next couple of months. But since I still have a J-O-B and Bernie is now officially old and retired, he agreed to get some 3/4" birch plywood ripped for me - thanks to his help the core of the Richford Branch, phase 1, now resides in my garage. 
On Sunday Bernie, John Drye, and me got together at Bernie's house to have a module building party. See his USMRR blog for more detail. In the end we got five modules framed up - several are awaiting the hardware to install the legs.  

While I have a layout design for the Richford Branch, the plan doesn't really show how to actually build the thing. So the next step is to develop a benchwork/framing plan. This doesn't have to be overly complicated or elaborate, but on previous layouts I seemed to be constantly finding benchwork components in the way that needed to be moved. I'm going to try minimizing that this time around. 
I also still need to figure out a way to support the layout structure that looks good. My instructions from Christine is that this layout should look like a piece of built-in furniture. Anyone who's seen my woodworking knows that is a tall order. But I'll try my best.  
Speaking of benchwork, I was originally planning to wait until the fall to commence construction - but have now established June 10th as the official "ground breaking" date. Why June 10? Simple. It's exactly one year after my previous layout went down the street. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Richford Industries

Here are the industries in Richford that had their own dedicated siding tracks, or portions of a shared track, as of December, 1945

1. Atlas Plywood Co. (formerly Richford Mfg. Co.) 
- Box Material Manufacturer - Manufacturer of plywood shipping crates
- 1,000 feet of track

2. Hilton F. Marcy 
- Retail Grain and Building Supply Dealer (80 feet of the team track)

3. J. E. Martel Hay Dealer (50 feet of the team track)

4. Powell & Comings Co. 
- Hardware and Fuel Dealer (80 feet of siding)

Not on the Central Vermont, but on the Canadian Pacific in Richford (and accounting for a fair amount of CV traffic) was the Quaker Oats Co. Feed Mill - here's an aerial view of the plant from the era modeled:

The 1959 List of Industries shows more detail - I'm not sure if there were actually more online customers, or if the compiler of the 1959 list was more diligent - I suspect it's the latter. 

1. A. Deschenes 
- Retail Feed, Fertilizer and Hay Dealer

2. H. P. Hood & Sons 
- Creamery

3. Hilton F. Marcy 
- Retail Grain and Building Supplies Dealer

4. Powell and Comings Co. 
- Hardware and Fuel Dealer

5. Richford Grain Co. 
- Retail Grain Dealer

6. Sweat Comings Co. 
- Furniture Manufacturer

7. H. K. Webster Co. (formerly "Quaker Oats" 
- On Canadian Pacific
- Wholesale Grain Miller and Dealer

I also know that Atlas Plywood burned down in late 1954.