MODELING: Sawdust and Cuts 2.0

Construction is proceeding on my new layout.  The first two pieces were built as 24″x 72″ modules.  Well, they turned out to be a little heavier than I had imagined.  It seems that the lumber that I purchased from a big box store is at best crap.  You might be aware that there is a shortage of lumber due to a lot of reasons including a spike in home building.  The stuff sold by the big box stores is what is left in the market place.   The lack of precision in dimensions and straightness challenges one’s ability to make two or more modules of the same size.

Conventional modules cantilevered from the wall

I decided to revert back to the same construction method used on my previous layout.  I used a version of “L” girder design developed by Jim Zwernemann.

It is a pretty straight-forward to build and allows for variation of the material dimensions.  I was able to build sixteen feet of benchwork in about five hours.




“L” Girder Benchwork modeled after a Jim Zwernemann design. 

I placed a section of my old layout on the benchwork.  The planned scene will be an vignette of the Bothell, WA area.  I was able to obtain a scan of a 1947 aerial photo of the subject area showing the railroad and buildings and their relationship to each other.  The photo came from the 1947 Bothell High School Yearbook.  Rick Leach’s mom went to Bothell High and saved her book.

The aerial photos is a gold mine of useful information

The feed mill complex was the largest customer at Bothell.  The view shows the roof details of the mill.  The building on the extreme right was a shipper of rose bush plantings.  In addition there was a ramp to allow the unloading of vehicles from freight cars.  In later years, a sheet rock dealer set up shot with a metal building added to the right of the scene.

This ground level view shows the depot, coal shed, feed mill and the corner of the rose shipper. The photo was taken by the late Doug Leach.  The train was special movement. Likely that it was was some sort of high school excursion.  Normal passenger service was dropped in the 1930s.

Bothell Station Plat showing changes made around depot

The combination of the plat and aerial view provides a good sense of the postion of the major elements of the scene.  One key scaling data point is the length of the depot hip roof of 63 feet.   I was able to approximate the length of the tall mill building at 60 feet and low building at 75 feet.   The depot roof overhang is 4 feet and the platform width of 19 feet measuring from the depot wall and the railhead.  Distilling all this information down to something practical looks like this.

The depot and feed mill is in close proximity to each other.   The layout table top is 26″ wide and depot scene is planned for a 12 foot section of benchwork.

I carpeted the table top with heavy wrapping paper.  The foot print of the buildings are situated along with track.  I used some switch plans help with the planning process.  I suppose that if I were more handy with a computer I would draw it all on the screen.

This Doug Leach photos provides a late view of the depot before rebuilt eliminating the hip roof.

So that is where I am going with my new layout.  I think scene really qualifies as a Layout Design Element (LDE) a term created by  Kalmbach author Tony Koester.

Onward and upward!






13 thoughts on “MODELING: Sawdust and Cuts 2.0

  1. Straight, consistent dimensional lumber is a thing of the past. I think most benchwork now is made from plywood cut into strips, but even with plywood you need to go to furniture quality if you want it to remain stable.

    • Interesting…..I did an S fine scale layout patterned after the Kurt Mathey(?) O-scale switching layout last winter….. it was an experiment….. while it looks good and works well I am now focused on a Proto:48 switching layout. Probably 12′ X 18″ along the back wall of my office…….just need to decide.

  2. Gene,
    Since you are modeling W. Washington, be sure to contact the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the WA. state archives along with the joint NP/GN site for Bothell information. They have great tax records that include historical photos and drawings. You will need some basic information such as tax parcel numbers to guide them in the search. Tax Parcel numbers can be easily found on the King County tax parcel website.


      • Gene,
        The state archives should have at the minimum a structure drawing with dimensions. The ones I’ve pulled have basic drawings and a few photos along with construction details. They will mail a paper copy for a small fee (5 or 10 cents a page?)


      • I will get going on a search for details on the two industries In Bothell. I have station drawings which is the key building in the scene

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.