Skip to content


The benchwork of the NNEScenic V3 uses multiple techniques due to configuration, desire to reuse some of the benchwork fro V2, and a little interest in experimenting with different approaches.

Wall Brackets

Starting from a bare finished room, I decided that all benchwork along walls would sit on brackets affixed solely to the walls with no requirement for legs that would hinder access to storage under the layout. For most of the wall mounted benchwork, I chose to use closet shelf supports.  Here you can see the shalf standards mounted to the wall with brackets at the levels I determined I would need them for the lower and middle layout heights.

The basement walls are sheetrock over studs that I determined with a studfinder to be 24″ on center, so the shelf standards are 24″ apart to ensure they are anchored solidly to the studs.  I ran the stands high enough to allow for all three levels of the railroad plus an additional fascia above the top level that would hold the lighting for the top level.

Lowest Level – Reusing Modules

For the bulk of the lowest level of the railroad, I wanted to be able to reuse the basic modules I had built for V2 of the railroad.  These modules consisted of a 3&1/2″ frame built from ripped 3″4″ plywood covered by 1/2″ playwood and 2″ extruded foam. The challenge with mounting these was that the framing of the module would not line up with the shelf brackets that would hold the modules.

My solution to this was to measure and mount 1/8″ thick 3/4″ aluminum angle such as shown below across the bottom of the benchwork modules from back to front at each position where the module would sit on a bracket. The 1/8″ thick aluminum is sufficiently strong yet easily cut with a hacksaw and drilled for holes for screws for mounting to the benchwork sections.

The result does a great job of holding each of the modules level,

Turning the Corner

At the corner between mounted sections of benchwork, I would need to build from scratch to connect the modules.  While I could have built a standalone section the right size and shape and mounted the corner on legs, I felt that the low weight of materials would make it reasonable to simply vuilt a frame that would screw to the modules on either wall yo hold it up.  Since all modules were being screwed together anyway to hold the tops of the joints level, the entire finished structure plus the shelf brackets that did would lend plety of support. In order to accommodate the shelf brackets, I framed the corner one member at a time aligning membed over the brackets and still using the aluminum angle for consistent height above the brackets.

Once framed and solidly in place, I added a plywood surface to build up from.  For the track subroadbed turning the corner, I chose to cut a narrow width of plywood and mount it on spacers leaving the remainder of the corner section of benchwork to build scenery up from around the track.

The Helix Base

The other corner along the long wall would be the location of the helix.  I took a different approach with the base for the helix. To ensure stability, I wanted a base on legs that would hold its own weight and position.

I took a simple approach of using 2×4’s for the legs and frame of the helix base.  The legs have adjustable feet on them which sit on some scraps of plywood over the carpet to avoid sinking in over time.  The surface is 1/2″ plywood with a hole in the center to enable standing inside the helix for construction and/or servicing.

I then stick-build benchwork framing to connect the helix base and the mounted benchwork along the wall.

The Peninsula

For the G-shaped peninsula, I would need to mount the benchwork on legs.  As had been the case for V2 of the railroad, I used 2″x2″ legs in pairs with 1″x3″ cross members mounted such that the bechwork framing would sit directly on cross members and the legs screwed into the bechwork framing.  All legs have adjustable feet and I used ceramic tiles oler the carpeting under each leg to avoid the feed sinking into the carpet over time.

The peninsula would be using a combination of the few pre-existing modules of sufficient size and freshly built modules for V3.  In the case of the start of the peninsula, this would have to be freshly built to accommodate both its size and shape. This section was built with the intention still to use plywood and 2″ foam over the frame.

The next 2 were able to be reused ones.

At that point, I was finally out of modules that would work for the remainder of the peninsula.  I made a decision at that point that I would not repeat if I were doing it today.  Since this level of the layout would be entirely level trackwork, I decided to forego the use of 2″ foam and simply construct the remaining peninsula lower level modules with the plywood at the final subroadbed height.  I do not advise others to repeat my choice if you have any intention of planting trees as part of the scenery.   I later realized my mistake when I had to drill a small hold for each tree, sign, etc.

Another reason I made the ill-fated choice of foregoing foam on the new modules was to make it easy to place the dividing wall that would support the next level above.  The divider was constructed using 2″x3″ studs to which I would attach hardboard for the backdrop.

The exact positioning of the divider was based on the track plan and the width used on each side for the particular scenes in each location.  The fact that this also avoided completed straight lines also would provide a more stable base for the levels above.

The final support for the levels above would be at the blob that ends the peninsula.  The large size and the need to curve the backdrop around the bend led me to a unique solution for this level.  I crafted a pair of “wheels” out of 2″x10″ boards and plywood to match the height needed for the divider.  This was likely overkill, but would be certain to supprt the two levels above in the future.

Portsmouth Station

The last section of first level benchwork contructed was for the area of Portsmouth that would hold the passenger station and serve as the very end of the line on the layout.  This uses a narrow stretch stretch less than 12″ deep directly across from the foot  of the basement stairs.  Due to the narrow profile and corresponding very low weight for this section, simply L-brackets were screwed to the wall into studs and the benchwork wad directly mounted to the L-brackets.

Cross Bracing

The final step completed only more recently, was to use strapping to create diagonal cross-bracing between adjacent sets of legs.  While not necessary for the single level, the added weight of the two additional levels makes this precaution essential.  Under the bulb of the peninsula I used the diaginal cross bracing on both sides of each section.  Under the remainder, I alternated sides of the layout from one pair of legs to the next so that I could still access the space under the modules for storage and to get at wiring.

When I move on to the second and third levels of the layout, I will be adding the approach taken for the benchwork for those levels.