The benchwork is constructed of 7/16" OSB and 1x4 longitudinal stringers tied together with 2x4 crosspieces. The OSB is fine if you are making a box structure with minimal cutouts in the top. I do not like the blue foam advocated recently in the model press. It just doesn't feel right, real mushy. The layout is in two pieces to facilitate removal from the basement.
The legs are 48" long 1x4's assembled in an el and bolted to the benchwork. This gives a wobble free benchwork without a whole lot of braces. I placed the layout on bricks to bring the height to 50".
I added these 1/4" Luan profile boards to add rigidity to the "sectional" nature. The backdrop was originally foamboard glued onto the OSB backdrop support with Liquid Nails. DO NOT DO THIS, it will warp and do all sorts of funny things. I finally screwed Masonite over the foamboard, Liquid Nails is permanent. I then taped and filled the joints and screw holes with Drywall mud. I wasn't taking many pictures when I changed the backdrop so this is picture is picked off another.
The best trackplanning with Snaptrack consists of buying enough to make an oval on a 4x8 with 18 inch end radii. Buy a left and right #4 and left and right Snap Switch. Make templates from paper by rubbing the sections and use these to determine the trackplan. After determining the bill of materials buy the remaining pieces. Atlas sells software to design trackplans, I have found that you can squeeze more track into the plan outside the cyber world.
I changed the trackplan from the trackplan in the Kalmbach book "Model Railroad Planning 2002", which is still available from Kalmbach. I made the sidings to take a longer train, 4 cars plus a caboose.
My railroad is based in central California, so the Loads-in/Loads-out through the backdrop is a sand pit to rockcrusher.
I used 1/4" HO cork roadbed, nailed to the base and painted the whole table with Kilz latex primer. When you mark the track DO NOT use any Magic Marker other than Black. The Atlas ties will absorb the other colors and when the track is weathered it will bleed thru, same with the roadbed and table.
Overall bird's eye view of the Pacific Coast Air Line Railway 4x8 Division
This is the original published track plan from the 2002 Model Railroading Planning. The sidings only hold 3 cars, caboose, a loco and two car passenger trains. I reworked the plan to accommodate 4 car freights and 3 car passenger trains. I did this by using the actual Atlas Snaptrack sections on the plywood.
This is my track plan reverse engineered from the plan I created with actual track pieces. I originally tried to use Atlas's RTS trackplanning software. The learning curve was steep. I am a mechanical designer. My savant is CAD, and I find the commercial trackplanning software difficult to use. Having used real CAD programs they lack important features. I then imported the Atlas components into AutoCAD and constructed the trackplan.
If I didn't have the Snaptrack handy to deveop the trackplan I would print out a quantity of the components from the Atlas RTS hardware, cut them out and fiddle with them like I did with the actual track.
A sectional trackplan developed from trackplanning software will not fit in the space available. The software is less flexible than the actual track sections. When I reverse engineered my trackplan I had a problem fitting the actual software pieces in the space available. I learned Snaptrack planning from articles in Model Railroader before CAD trackplanning programs and it works better.
A small layout is more difficult in CAD because there is no room to move. I have built layouts from the Atlas books using their bill of materials and found that more can be packed into the available space than the plan indicates.
The Atlas RTS software, which can be downloaded from the Atlas website free, has libraries of buildings. They can be used to get footprints for trackplanning.
Take pictures of your layout building, it is good to look back on the history of the layout. It gives me a boost to see how far I have come. I wish I had taken more pictures.
The layout is designed to be two seperate scenes. The left side is a rural scene and the right side will be more urban with more industry.
My Benchwork Construction
There is a trend to build extruded plastic foam layouts. I was once told that I was old fashioned and living in the 1950's with this layout construction. The first appearance of foam building was in the September 1959 Model Railroader. I had a quantity of blue foam board available in the mid-1970's and tried it for a small HOn30 layout. It was messy. Foam "snot balls" are difficult to control. Reworking is difficult. Just my opinion.
What I am doing with my 4x8
My 4x8 is designed to be used as a section of my larger dream layout. It will be used as a return loop for the larger layout for out and back operation. I will move the oval around as construction progresses.
(Click on Image to Enlarge)
What I would do with a 4x8
I am lucky I have large space for a layout. That has not always been the case. If I had a smaller space I would utilize this configuration. It shows the 4x8 optimized in a 10x11 room.