Saturday, December 14, 2013


I got up early this morning, and after drinking a pot of coffee with Mrs. L4T headed east for Superior through the gloom and flurries of a Twin Ports December morning. My destination was the Mackey basement, where the mission I had accepted involved helping Dan with some of the staging benchwork on his massive HO layout. Coffee was consumed, plywood was butchered, jokes were told, and in the end even a little work was completed.

Dan takes a different approach to layout building than I have in the past. As you can see in the photo below, he is committed to ensuring things are plumb, level, and square, not to mention well built and intended to stay that way. 

I think I have accumulated a lot of BNSF coal gondolas. Actually I probably do have one of the larger fleets that I am aware of of those particular cars. Amazingly, I think Dan has more woodworking clamps than I do coal gons. There are clamps everywhere you look. He clamps things up and down, side to side, back and forth, and I think if you cut yourself working on the layout he could likely clamp that shut too. The only thing he has failed at clamping that I know about is my mouth shut. If it's not expressing one crazy idea or another, it's likely eating fresh baked corn bread. Thanks Dan!

I just had to take a picture of the joint shown below. I used to do woodworking as a hobby and would have been pleased with such a joint in a piece of "fine" furniture. But this is in model railroad benchwork, and in a place where very few if any people besides Dan and I will ever see. Once the staging is completed you will likely have to crawl under the layout with a creeper and flashlight to see it. 

It was the impressiveness of this joint, I think, that caused me to blurt out something on the order of "Dan! That's amazing! I have used CARDBOARD for benchwork construction in the past!" Dan might have thought I was crazy, or making this up, or gone 'round the bend, but I soon had him convinced that this was absolutely the truth. On my old layout, I repurposed the cardboard corner protectors used for shipping heavy objects for legs. They worked really well, too. Didn't look near as nice as what you see above, but still...

The craftsmanship and scale of what Dan is building never ceases to amaze me. It's a lot of fun to have even a tiny role in building this empire and participating in operating sessions will be even more fun. Thanks for including me in what you are doing, Dan!

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