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Combitech tubular baseboard system


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I am looking at the Combitech tubular baseboard system and wondering whether anyone here has given it a go?

 

https://www.acsissling.com/hobby-craft/combitech-tubular-baseboard-construction-system

 

The system had a brief mention here, but this was 4 years ago.

 

I want to try something new for my next layout, and I'm imagining some ply panels for the backscene and track bed, attached to such a frame using self-tappers or even pop rivets.

 

- Richard.

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Not the same brand, but I’m planning on using similar for an upper board terminus station above hidden tracks. The attraction was the 25mm profile of the tubes, meaning it maximised the clearance over the tracks below.

 

https://www.aluminiumwarehouse.co.uk/easyfix-and-more/easyfix

No connection other than have already received an initial order, really as a sample set of tubes and junctions. One useful advantage is that this supplier cuts tube to length required, which for a regular framework of uniform nature, saves a lot of work. The frame will be like a grid of between 300-500mm  rectangles, having to use varying dimensions due to legs (also tubes) resting on board below, and needing to clear tracks (curves at end).

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I've seen similar things over on this side but I can't recall if it was on a model railroad forum (http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/default.aspx) or perhaps one of the magazines (Model Railroader or Model Railroad Craftsman).  This was several years ago.  At the time I was highly curious about the idea, but unable to find a local distributor so that I could play around with the various pieces.  I ended up losing interest until seeing Richard's initial post.

 

While the system still looks very interesting to me, I do wonder how much it would be subject to twisting given that the finished product would be very similar in structure to a framework of 1x1s (albeit the aluminum pieces are most likely much more rigid than the equivalent size of wood).  I would think if it is a part of a "permanent" layout it could be very successful, but not so sure about if it were to be portable.   I would be very interested to see what develops here as the only way to determine if it works is to actually experiment!

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For me, I would want one baseboard about 1.5 x 0.7 m, and I'm thinking of a framework with eight straight sections and four corner connectors like this:

1358796184_Screenshot2020-07-0120_17_21.png.f5c3490dbdc46761f78589202c692e6d.png

 

I think this will twist too easily, but if I fix three backscene panels onto the four uprights these should stiffen things up. The baseboard would be solid top, with square rebates in its four corners to make space for the four uprights.

 

I guess I would extend the backscene panels 30 or 40 mm below the horizontal frame, to make vertical space for point motors. The 23 mm square section is too shallow on its own. Supposing the panels were fixed securely onto the aluminium tubes, they would stop any tendency for the framework to come apart.

 

I have been sketching out my layout to use ply throughout, including ply "girders" to make the structure, and there is a lot of appeal in using something ready-made for longitudinal girders (box section metal) instead of cutting sheet material into narrow strips and fabricating things up.

 

One weakness of the system seems to be in adding additional cross-members. I suspect, the horizontal beams really should be continuous from end to end. So if I want to add cross-members, these would need bonding and riveting into place. Perhaps L section aluminium from one of the DIY shops.

 

As davefromacrossthepond says, one way would be to try, but maybe someone else has had a go!

 

- Richard.

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On 01/07/2020 at 19:03, ITG said:

Not the same brand, but I’m planning on using similar for an upper board terminus station above hidden tracks. The attraction was the 25mm profile of the tubes, meaning it maximised the clearance over the tracks below.

 

https://www.aluminiumwarehouse.co.uk/easyfix-and-more/easyfix

No connection other than have already received an initial order, really as a sample set of tubes and junctions. One useful advantage is that this supplier cuts tube to length required, which for a regular framework of uniform nature, saves a lot of work. The frame will be like a grid of between 300-500mm  rectangles, having to use varying dimensions due to legs (also tubes) resting on board below, and needing to clear tracks (curves at end).

 

I've placed an order for some 1" square aluminium tube from Aluminium Warehouse, cut to size for my project. I will be happier with my own joints instead of ready-made joining pieces, and this will give me greater flexibility for example if I want to add a diagonal brace or even build the layout skew to fit my skew-shaped alcove.

 

I guess "Combitech" waits for another day.

 

Many thanks for the link.

 

- Richard.

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On 01/07/2020 at 20:32, 47137 said:

1358796184_Screenshot2020-07-0120_17_21.png.f5c3490dbdc46761f78589202c692e6d.png

 

I think this will twist too easily, but if I fix three backscene panels onto the four uprights these should stiffen things up. The baseboard would be solid top, with square rebates in its four corners to make space for the four uprights.

My uprights will be approx 150mm tall - well, cut to give me a 150mm baseboard height above lower level, so should work out to be 141mm or 138mm, allowing for thickness of board which may be either 9mm or 12mm - and I plan to screw these to the wall on three sides. So that would be along 600mm along the two end sides, and 3500mm along the long side. The other long side will rest on the lower board. I’m hoping that being screwed to the wall will give the added rigidity.

 

its a right jigsaw puzzle trying to plan the lengths of the supporting framework to allow for missing the trackwork on the lower level for the ‘spine’ framework along lengthways.

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Posted (edited)

We use the equivalent stuff at work for our equipment trolleys.

Think about a 2ft 6in square bottom shelf a computer on its side, next shelf a current amplifier,  weighing 20 KG , next shelf a calibrator and it's amplifier weighing about 40 kg, next shelf the unit under test, about 15 kg. above that a half shelf with keyboard and monitor on. total height to the top of the 20 inch monitor about 7ft. that's including the four inch casters on the bottom.

 

I trundle these things around the lab, quite regularly , and there are about 40 of them . Very reliable, I think a very good way of  way of making a layout support system.

Oh the value  of the equipment on a trolley , as much as £100,000..

 

The parts are available online and in many places round the country just do a search on "one inch square tubing".. They're a standard commercial part and not that expensive..

Edited by TheQ
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Posted (edited)

I have the aluminium coming on a 12 day lead time and the ply base and backscene boards on 30 days. I might have to wait for the ply to work out exactly where every point motor is going before I firm up on the locations of the cross members of my frame.

 

The Aluminium Warehouse claim "Your material will be cut with a high precision TCT blade, this removes 5mm of material on each cut. Your order will be cut to a standard tolerance of - 0mm/ + 1mm" and at 60p  a cut this seems like a bargain to me. All I have to do is make the holes for the fixings - something like a 20mm cutter to get the nose of the pop rivet gun into the section, and then a 3mm hole for the rivet.

 

I like  the idea of pop rivets because they are aluminium and there won't be chemical reactions / corrosion arising from dissimilar materials. It would be interesting to know how the lab trolleys are held together.

 

Edit: if anyone stumbles across this in the future, I am posting related notes on my layout topic at https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/152888-shelf-marshes-building-a-wee-puggie-line-in-187-scale/&do=findComment&comment=4033269

 

- Richard.

Edited by 47137
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Hi Richard,

My old layout "Leigh Moor & Randale Summit" which was 27' x 9' 00, used a steel version of this type of framing. It was perfect for a permanent layout but rather complex for a former exhibition layout, nevertheless when housed in my big shed, it did an excellent job of supporting the layout.

Unfortunately, I never took any photos of the framework, sorry.

It sounds like you are well on your way anyway so good luck.

Cheers,

John.

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1 hour ago, Allegheny1600 said:

Hi Richard,

My old layout "Leigh Moor & Randale Summit" which was 27' x 9' 00, used a steel version of this type of framing. It was perfect for a permanent layout but rather complex for a former exhibition layout, nevertheless when housed in my big shed, it did an excellent job of supporting the layout.

Unfortunately, I never took any photos of the framework, sorry.

It sounds like you are well on your way anyway so good luck.

Cheers,

John.

 

Really, I want to build something much like the arrangement described by John Ahern in the 1950s (his book "Miniature Landscape Modelling"), but using a more stable material. Ideally I will build my baseboard, then lay the track whilst able to get all round it, and then attach the backscenes. As I write this, I'm wondering if the backscene boards should be held on with bolts and nuts instead of rivets to allow for future access. I expect things will become clearer when I have the bits in front of me. I don't really know how much I will need the backscene boards to hold the baseboard wholly rigid.

 

I have a feeling the Combitech system would be ideal for a larger and permanent layout where speed of assembly is helpful and you have a wall or floor to bolt onto for extra rigidity.

 

- Richard.

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I've used something similar (25mm square steel tubes) on a 6' x 5' setup with an operating well in the middle, and it worked well.  It doesn't distort from rectangular at all in the horizontal plane, but would certainly rock on four spindly legs as per your diagram.  I used extra horizontals between the legs, about a foot below baseboard level, on 3 sides.  One point to note is that if you have any tube junctions in the horizontal plane, it will flex at the joints unless supported by an additional leg.  And do measure carefully before purchasing - the carriage costs for the one extra tube I found I needed :wacko: were horribly disproportionate!

 

Having read the thread again, I've realised your picture wasn't upside down ....... in my case, my frame was effectively an open table supporting conventional baseboards which just sat on top.  I really can't see the point of sitting the rectangle on the floor.  One of the plus points for me was the adjustable feet ....

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1 hour ago, Chimer said:

I've used something similar (25mm square steel tubes) on a 6' x 5' setup with an operating well in the middle, and it worked well.  It doesn't distort from rectangular at all in the horizontal plane, but would certainly rock on four spindly legs as per your diagram.  I used extra horizontals between the legs, about a foot below baseboard level, on 3 sides.  One point to note is that if you have any tube junctions in the horizontal plane, it will flex at the joints unless supported by an additional leg.  And do measure carefully before purchasing - the carriage costs for the one extra tube I found I needed :wacko: were horribly disproportionate!

 

Having read the thread again, I've realised your picture wasn't upside down ....... in my case, my frame was effectively an open table supporting conventional baseboards which just sat on top.  I really can't see the point of sitting the rectangle on the floor.  One of the plus points for me was the adjustable feet ....

 

At home, my frame will be resting on spur shelving brackets. I need to try to arrange two of the cross-wise sections to line up with these brackets.

 

I can see a few options for legs for shows. At the moment my favoured method is four fairly short legs to let the layout stand on top of one of those 6 or 8 foot trestle tables. I might try a self-contained "leg assembly" built onto more square tubing, or try legs slotted into the frame.

 

I was slightly shocked to see my parts are arriving on Monday. I was expecting a 12-day lead time. When they arrive I will feel duty-bound to do something with them and post something on RMweb!

 

- Richard.

 

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