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I am looking for a way to build a light weight table top in the range of 3x12 to 4x12 that one person can handle with ease. When not in use the table top will be stored on it's long side between the wall and a 5x12 table that has a 1/32nd-1/24th track on it. I want to be able to slide the table top up from it's resting position against the wall and put it on top of the 1/32nd track which has a wall around it made out of 1x6.

Any ideas?

I have though about using a frame made out of 1x2's with:

a. 2" insulation board on top of the 1x2 frame or inside the frame.
b. Foam core board on top of the 1x2 frame.
c. Luan door skins on top of the frame, or
d. Thinest plywood I can find. Currently using 1/2" plywood on 1/32 table top and it is heavy. Think 1/4" may be to heavy also for
this application.

Has anyone done something like this and how did you attach the track to the table top.

I have read the thread about the 2foot door track, thus the idea of foam core on a 1x2 frame. Think 2 doors would be to heavy to use.

Thanks, Alan.
 

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Lightweight seems to be a theme this season!!

I don't know about weight-wise, but a 12 foot semi-permanent track sounds a little hard to man handle around... not impossible... just not simple. Great idea, but this will take some 'spermenting on your part and a few trips to the local home improvement store to browse their raw materials... pick stuff up and see if it will work... You might want to PM Dslot and get his input. He just finished his and may have some tips he could share. Keep us updated... always good to hear about another one being laid down!!!! :thumbsup: nd

BTW... I have used both latex caulk and liquid nails to secure track to plywood in the past... doesn't take a real lot either... I would think you may want to use the latter if the track will be stored on it's edge. Not sure if screws would work... there again... maybe some testing is in order.
 

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The "one man" requirement coupled with the large size of the table you want makes this a bit harder even when lightweight table designs are used. However, due to the size of your underlying table and the amount of clearance around the existing table, perhaps you can use a hinged design for the lightweight HO table. I'm thinking that you could build an L-shaped exo-frame around your existing table sides and use a steel pipe as a hinge for the lightweight HO table something like the crude drawing I've attached. A center hinge support would also be required. You would still want to keep the HO table as lightweight as possible perhaps by using a using a 1x2 or 1x3 frame lattice design with foam core inserts and luan overlay. The model railroad web sites are a good source of lightweight designs.
 

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An option depending on where the large scale track is located in the room is a wall mount with hinges. This will only work is the larger scale track is against the wall, or can be moved to the wall when the HO is used. My table is on wheels so moving it around the room is easy. This isn't that great an option as it will leave you a 5 foot reach to the wall side of the track..

A better option is going with the foam core door set up and raising it straight up to the ceiling when not in use. Not necessarily as fancy as this set up, as you're looking for light weight..


Going hollow core doors and minimal scenery this should be under 30 lbs and easy to pull up by hand and tie up. Rather than cables, I would suggest 6 or 8 nylon ropes through eye bolts in the rafters terminating with loops with S hooks from bungee cords. Use eye bolts in the sides of the doors to hook into. Then tie all the nylon rope into one heavier one and fashion a set up to lock the rope at a wall when the track isn't in use.
 

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If you can use hollow core doors then you could use standard door hinges (4) to provide the 270 degree swing in the flip design I showed. Only issue is finding hollow core doors to fit the 12 foot length since they are typically 6'8". Cutting and splicing 2 hollow core doors together may be problematic, but maybe overlaying the whole thing with 1/8" masonite or luan glued completely across the splice and door segments would maintain the needed rigidity. Having the pre-mounted hinges could be a time saver.
 

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You can rip a hollow core door. The trick is to tape all the way around the door where the cut is to be made to keep the luan from shredding. Masking tape will be sufficient. After cutting, a block of wood the ID of the hole is glued in place. Sand the cut on a bevel and you're done. I would put the cut end on the end and have the factory end in the middle. If you make a simple jig, drilling holes in the butt ends of the joint and gluing dowels in the holes will make for a fairly rigid tabletop. I didn't look well enough at your sketch the first time Too. Nice design. :thumbsup: I was thinking the doors lifted up and stayed up. I didn't catch the full swing.. The width of the door is only limited by the height of the pivot. 3' to 3 1/2' will work well. I don't know if hollow cores come in wider widths than that.
 

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Lightening Hollowcore Doors

Alan sez -- Think 2 doors would be to heavy to use.
If I were doing your project, I think I'd try hollowcore doors. I believe they can be lightened a lot without sacrificing their rigidity. I had planned to do this if my 2-ft lightweight layout had come in over the weight limit. I did not have to, so the status is still: I think it will work, but I've never done it. Run a test.

Hollowcore doors are built with a solid wood frame around the edges. Mine goes in about an inch on the sides and 2"+ on the ends. If it's like the ones I've taken apart, the rest is filled with a kind of honeycomb made from sections of hard cardboard tubing, about 6" in diameter.

I believe you could use a spade bit to bore lightening holes in the wood frame, like Flash Gordon's rocketship frame. I'd leave about 1/4" of wood at the bottom of each hole and at least 1/4" from neighboring holes, and the edges. Holes could go in from the sides, or up from the bottom of the table.

Bore the holes in the mating ends, then dowel-join and glue the two doors together, as the guy does in Slotcarman's video. You also could add an aluminum splice-plate to the edges of the joint. If you need to cut the table back to 12', tape and cut one end, then have a piece of wood cut to size and clamp-glue it in the open end, after you cut back whatever is filling the space inside. Bore holes in the new end-piece, too.

-- D
 

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Alan sez: I have though about using a frame made out of 1x2's...

Has anyone done something like this and how did you attach the track to the table top.
I think a 1x2 frame would be hopeless on a 12-ft layout. Decades ago, I built a small (3'x6' or 4'x6' I think) slot layout for a girlfriend's son. It folded down from the garage wall. I used, if I remember correctly, 1x3 framing with a 1x3 crossbrace and a 3/8" plywood surface. That thing writhed and twisted like a living thing when going up or down. (Possibly I had misaligned the hinges). I believe I ended up stiffening it with full-length diagonal wires heavily tensioned by freaking turnbuckles. Not my finest hour, engineering-wise. :freak:

Depending on how much you are willing to pay for lightweight rigidity, one possibility is a frame of small welded-aluminum I-beams, as was used by Model Railroader magazine on their N-scale "Clinchfield" portable project layout. It was shipped to events all over the country to be assembled and displayed. If you're serious about learning how it was done, old MRs are generally pretty easy to find. Construction articles began in November 1978 issue. I'd guess the frame was covered in that or the December issue. There was also an article on the layout in the Jun. '08 issue, but I don't know if it had any info on the aluminum frame.

I'd guess that hollowcore doors, if they'll work, are not as techno-cool, but cheaper by one or two orders of magnitude.

12 feet is still a lot of opportunity for flexing.

As for attaching the track, I'd put a small splut of silicone seal under each piece, and nail it down lightly, then pull up the nails after it cured. It's a much less rigid method, and could accomodate a bit of table flex more easily than solidly nailed track.

-- D
 

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For stiffness sake you are almost always better off avoiding the use of dimensional lumber altogether and using strips of plywood instead. A reasonable compromise would be to use 1x2s and 3/8" plywood to make your own i-beams as used in most modern floor joist construction. This would be a lot of work up-front and still not be as lightweight as a hollow core door based design, but it would be extremely strong.

This particular case is testing the extremes because of the 12 ft + 1-person deployment requirement. That's why I proposed a hinge based approach because I think it would allow the table top to be a bit heavier and still be a one-person job. I think a hollow core door based design would still require a hinge or pulley system of some sort.

Frankly, if the 12 ft + 1-person deployment requirement must be attained, and carbon fiber is out of the question, about the only realistic option is to build a deck based design completely from high density rigid foam board. A 3" rigid foam board top glued to a lattice or cross hatch frame made from the same material would probably suffice. Be sure to use adhesives designed specifically or this material.
 

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Couldn't you just cut a couple of sheets of luann board to any size then build the frame and inner areas with extruded foam.
You can also bore a few hole then fill the cavities with expanding foam from a can.
 

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Doable somehow...

I think either one of 2 methods will work if you want to lift this into place yourself. Either built with minimal dimensional lumber and then one side hinged to the existing table. BTW, if it's against the wall it would likely work best if you had wheels on the main table. Otherwise the one-man lift deal could become a real challenge when you want to run the secondary HO track. You'd have to schlepp it away from the wall far enough to swing over the HO top. The other method is with the foam board. afxTOO is correct about watching what you use on it though. Certain paints will bubble and dissolve it and certain adhesives will merely eat away at it (actually sink into it and keep going). My very first layout when jumping back into slots in 2001 was on thick foam board. I glued indoor outdoor carpet to it and finished the edges with black duct tape. The track was set up and taken down as needed, with chunk style scenery elements utilized as elevation risers. It was extremely rigid at 36x60 and even with the carpet glued to it was VERY light. I could see a longer layout done in foam board, but it would only be as good (sturdy) as the junction of it's 2 large sides. In other words you have to REALLY make sure that the parts you join together actually stay together. nd
 

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My 16x4' table is based on a model railroading 'L-Girder' design. Using two L-girders made out of a 1x4 + a 1x2 (you could use 1x3s with a smaller table), the rest of the table is made out of 1x2 firring strips and 2x2s. The individual 4x8 tables are very light and very stiff.

In your case, adding a hollow core door to the top would be a snap; I'd delete the 1x4s I use to support the track surface and just attach the hollow-core doors to the girders.

The L-grider approach is the only way to go in my book. It's easy and cheap to build and *strong*. It's a time-proven engineered approach that has been around for a long time. You won't be disappointed.

Here is a thread that introduces my track and has several photos.

-- Bill
 
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