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Benchwork height

4356 Views 15 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  double00
I was happy with my track plan and after a few months running it in I was ready to do some serious ballasting and landscaping.

This is how the layout was situated in respect to the room. The shaded red area is the track bench.

There was one issue that was annoying me slightly. I do like seeing the trains running non stop and I like to see long trains so this layout was ok. But the big issue with this tail-chaser arrangement is the non-prototypical aspect of trains going around in circles. Even with an up-and-over and reversing loops, it just didn't cut the cake.

So this plan below, is plan B. This is an end-to-end layout with a double mainline going around the perimeter. So basically a train goes from A to B up the line and then comes back down the line to the start. Trains can run non-stop if so desired. Siding, stations and goods yard will be found in various locations.

My question is this: What is a good working height for a layout like this? I now realise that it would be interesting to have sections at heights roughly 45 inches or 115cm high off the floor. I like the idea of bringing the layout up from its current 80cm table-top height. I have realised that I've been looking down from above at allot of roofs instead of the structures themselves at a better perspective angel.
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I usually build my layouts around 120cm high, although the current small end-to-end layout is just sitting on top of a sideboard in the lounge so my dad can see it when he is sitting down, so around 90cm.

The only thing to consider if you're building your layout closer to eye level is that it can be difficult to reach the rear of the board if it is quite wide, although a small step stool usually solves that problem.
Yes, I had though about the width of the sections, based on reach.

The American like to build high layouts. Us Europeans tend to keep them lower. Most shows that I go to, the layouts are low, but it's nice to see a higher layout where you can see the locos from the side.
For ease of working on the layout is at 105cms, a nice height for me, and then I have a stool to sit on whilst operating which gives me a few cms higher than eye level viewing. I'm not at all keen on looking down on the layout whilst operating.
Forgot to mention that at this height one has to be careful of the width of the layout as detail work at the rear of the layout can be very difficult if you are at full stretch.
Remember that young children may want to view the layout and this should be taken into account if this possibility exists. The stool idea of CeeDeeI is actually a good idea. How many people actually control their layouts standing up? Nearly everybody!

I suspect the reason for most modellers wanting to stand and have an overview is that they can see what is going on and take emergency action quickly.

It is much harder to see two locos worth £100 each careering towards each other from eye level.

And then there is the derailing issue mentioned elsewhere. It happens even on exhibition circuits. If its not spotted quickly then serious damage can occur.

If you are only running one train at a time though and its simply tail chasing around the circuit then you can relax a bit and sit down and just look.

Thats probably the only time that I sit down.

Its probably down to how confident you feel about incidents taking place or lack off.

Happy modelling
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I regularly operate my layout while sitting down, with magnetically operated couplings and a tetherless throttle I can be sitting on the other side of the room.
I sit down as well and when I'm not sitting down I'm laying down.
Dennis, You Americans have perfected the art of sitting down

Gary has seen and sat on the rather uncomfortable stools that are in my track room. If I do raise the benches, I'll get some comfortable bar stools.

Building a walk-around track opens up other issues too. What about control. I've never needed mobile hand-held controllers, I might look into some sort of wireless cab control.
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Go for DCC, you'll quarter the amount of wiring while you're at it.
QUOTE Gary has seen and sat on the rather uncomfortable stools that are in my track room

My back was sore! No need to spend money on new barstools. Just get some cushions in Doug from the living area!

Happy modelling
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Have just swopped my stool for my old computer chair and it is brilliant for watching the trains with it's height adjustment. I can also roll along the floor so that when I start a train off from the platform at a crawl I can roll along the layout as it picks up speed and don't have to take my eyes off it, all this taking place at eye level. I must point out though that my effort is an end to end one and as one train vanishes into the fiddle yard I can hear another one coming into view so I roll along with that to it's appropriate platform. All this made much easier by a hand held controller, and only one train at a time actually on the move.
Yes, Lisa, it will be fully DCC. With some wireless controllers.

I'll have it wired (like my current setup) so that I can swap DCC systems if required. I'll have a DCC track BUS, a stationary decoder DCC BUS and power feed, a 12volt accessory BUS and 16volt feeds for boosters going back to my power supply.

Like this, I could if I wanted to test any DCC system on the track, run DC if I really had to, or even run Live Steam on the main lines. The stationary decoder DCC BUS is switchable so that the decoders would be protected from the Live Steam systems.

Booster zones will be switchable so that I could run any of the three sections separately if required without all the electrics being on in the other two zones.

A bonus of having the benchwork high up is that the wiring can be mounted on the inside of a fold-down panel in front of the layout - just below the track. Easily accessable with the risers to the track being long enough not to break when the panel is folded forwards.
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Benchwork height - a minefield as it is so incredibly personal and also depends on the type of layout. It also depends on whether you anticipate spending much time underneath it, doing the wiring etc

As a happy medium, I prefer it to be just about the height of my hip joints, which then automatically ensures the very best possible bend-over reach across the layout when needed. But this wouldn't matter a jot to someone with a narrow layout of course!

For me, that height is 900mm, give or take a few, but it's going to vary for individuals! Kids are not considered - feed them the right food and enourage the little monsters to grow faster! At that height of 900mm, it is very comfortable to sit down and also pretty easy to get underneath when needed.

A word on stools - they are dangerous to stand on, uncomfortable to sit on and you are always tripping over the damn things when not in use.
Much the same can be said for kids!
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OK it is nice to have the ideal height layout - one modeller will suggest the ideal height, that height is probably fine to him - however, are all modellers the same height as the proposals made by that modeller?
I would certainly suggest waist level of the modeller concerned, after all the modeller can always sit on a small height stool, (much safer than a bar stool) and enjoy an eye level view of their master piece layout.
One should remember, it is the enjoyment and how it is achieved that counts.
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