Sunday, July 26, 2015

Berkshire Brackets, Type A

I read extensively about the various construction techniques utilized by other modelers to support the individual decks of multi-deck layouts to see if I could apply one of these methods to the basic track plan designed for the new layout.

Two methods used dimensional lumber to build L-girder or grid type benchwork with gusseting to reinforce the joint between the horizontal deck support and the vertical legs. I thought that the gussets would intrude on the next lower deck taking up to much air space, eliminating the gussets would put stress on the mechanical joint between the horizontal deck support and the vertical leg therefor weakening the joint in time. Other methods used stamped steel L-brackets or a commercial double slotted support and bracket combination both commonly used for book or closet shelving, but I would need so many pieces. These methods reportedly worked successfully for the layout builders that had used them.

The new layout design has as many as 5 deck heights in some places, I needed to find a different method of support that would be strong, fast and easy to fabricate without an excessive number of individual pieces. Remembering druthers #4 is to have the least number of bench supporting legs, there is one location on the layout that the bench width is 4', to cantilever that distance from one leg  will require a very strong joint between the deck support and leg!

This is the method chosen for the along the wall shelf potion of the layout. Beginning by horizontally mounting 1"x4" dimensional lumber directly onto the wall securing them to the wall studs with screws. This then allows the 2"x4" legs the option of sliding right or left to any location as needed before permanently attaching them to the wall mounted 1"x4" lumber.

This is the deck support system decided on. I eliminated the need for any joints by cutting out the deck support brackets from a continuous piece of 3/4" plywood sheathing, then mounting the plywood with screws to the 2"x4" legs attached to the wall previously. I'll name these "Berkshire Brackets Type A" for the lack of a better name.

The Deck width on the majority of the layout is about 2'. The two brackets in the next photo were both cut from the same 4'x8' sheet of plywood by first ripping the sheet in half, then temporarily screwing the two halves together and cutting them out simultaneously to save time and for dimensional consistency. These two brackets will support 5 individual decks each. From the bottom rectangular cutout for the Boston & Albany staging going up the other 4 supports are for, the modeled State Line interchange yard, staging for destinations South of Danbury CT thru to NYC, the modeled Danbury yard and all the way at top the staging for the Maybrook NY interchange yard.

These brackets will support all the weight I need them to, were fast and easy to fabricate and with the least number of  individual pieces needed to support the number of decks required. The left over cutout pieces were later put to good use as fish plating underneath the joints in the plywood decks and helix pieces.

Next time we'll look at the type B Berkshire Brackets.

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