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Designing and Building Moveable and Removeable Benchwork for Access

Duck-unders, Lift-outs, Lift and Swing Bridges


Sometimes it seems there is just no way to build the railroad you want in the space you have. Whether it is to preserve walkways or ease maintenance, moveable or temporary sections are a convenient compromise to give you the layout you want and the space you need.

There are several options for building a moveable bridge section. Lift-outs, lift-bridges, and swing bridges are among the most common. Each has its advantages and drawbacks. And each can be as simple or as complex as you desire. All share some similar construction techniques and can be accomplished with only moderate experience.


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A fixed duck-under is an easily-built alternative to preserving access, but as the name implies it will require more inconvenience for operators in the long-run.

Lift-outs / Removeable Sections

©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

A lift-out or removeable section of benchwork or scenery is a good option for sections that see infrequent use.

Lift / Drop Bridges

raised lift bridge
©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

For more heavily-used access sections, attaching one end of the left-out to the railroad with hinges can make the operation much more user-friendly, if only slightly more complicated to build.

Swing Bridges

swing bridge
©2010 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Sometimes it is preferable to have the bridge swing sideways instead of up or down. Swing bridges are similar to their vertical counterparts, but there are several key design and construction differences.

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