I love the mockup you made. Nice job. More enjoyable than many layouts
I've seen over the years. :-^..really.
What scale is the mock up , if you don't mind me asking ? Are the
buildings wood blocks or cardstock ? The freight cars look almost real
from that 'altitude' :-)
I've built many layouts over the years in different scales and many
times I have said I was going to build a model of the layout , but
never did. I was always too anxious to spend time on the full scale.
I'm sure building a model would have saved me many hours of changes
on the full scale.
Thanks for sharing with us, I do wish more would share photos of their
work. As they say , a picture.........
Good info. Thanks. This N layout I am creating is much, much smaller.
About 3 1/2 x 6ft. I do have some flex track and plan on using it on
straight areas on the layout. I don't think I want to fool with it on
curves yet. I need to build up my expertise. 8^) But I do like the idea
of the pop cans!
Fred Lotte wrote:
many cars have the
about 1200 feet of
other was code 83 with
on the other) to a
16th inch diameter
the roadbed around a
place until the
glue set. All the
similar bead of glue
partially driven. We
removed before and
the last 3 inches
before you put glue
48 and 30 inch
(such as Atlas code
necessary on large
play and tends to
used about 6-9
On the end that
soften the shim plastic
enough to lay the
AVOID GETTING ANY
turn the track over
easily removed if it
and closure rails.
near the joint.
for the operating
weights at hand to
at most 2 ties
fit under the joiner
the track. It
fiddling with the
leak (the glue
expansion gap of about
humidity. Without the
soldered for a
track) and a
'sunkink' that required
(track or roadbed). The
roadbed sticks only a
have to take up a
knife it was about
Also, we had to
outside on every
feet of track...
connection to the power
short (3-4 inch)
of a DCC unfriendly
plastic shim material.
look kind of clunky.
(the smaller of the 2
The scale of the diorama is 1"=20". So the scale of the 'models' would be
1/87/20 I guess :-).
The base is foam core card and the 'models' are regular paper.
I used Turbo Cad to generate the models, I measured the general porportions
of HO scale models and made the drawings.
The trees are just clump ground foam.
It was fun to build. I built it as a proof of concept for the real thing.
Hey, there's an idea: instead of any old car cut a slab of clear acrylic
and mount trucks on it (or buy one of those clear plastic slab with trucks
test cars from MicroMark, but why not build your own?).
Those transparent cars were a retail item back in the '60s. Don't forget to
use solid trucks on it as sprung trucks will damp up some of the motions.
The clear body just removes the forces of the hand towards twisting the
truck on the track from the truck.
Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
Thanks Bill, Robert, J Barnstorf, Fred, and everyone who talked about
ballasting and laying track. Lots of different methods to choose from!
It seems like one thing effects another so I'll still be pondering which
way to go for awhile. It was interesting how J Barnstorf's track got
louder after applying the ballast. Perhaps different types of glue
and/or types of ballast transfer noise at different levels. Looking at
the all the glues available at Michael's the other day I noticed there
are varieties of white glue that stay flexible after drying (one of the
Aleene's brand) which might transfer less sound that the normal kind
that dries harder. This might also benefit a situation that Fred brought
up concerning expansion at different temperature or humidity levels
(something I have to think about because my layout, although in a
plexiglass case, will be going outside on Halloween night and though it
doesn't get super cold here it does get damp early on). Glue that can
flex a little and avoid cracking is something to consider (but will need
to be tested to see if it can be used in the same way as white or
carpenter's glue -such as in being watered down).
Bill, I need to read through more of the articles on your site! Missed
the ballasting section first time around. I like that method except for
this particular layout I do want the ballast to be up between the ties a
little ways since it's to look like an old unkept backwoods track. Might
even have some weeds or or other undergrowth in spots. Sprinkling some
extra ballast in probably won't be possible due to the fact it looks
like the layout will have to be stored hung sideways on a wall. so
everything has to be stuck down. Still, that is the easiest method I've
seen and might be perfect for a future layout. And I think I'll get that
book too. :)
One last thing that's been interesting in this thread is the mentioning
use of foam board on a wood frame as a base rather than plywood. Plywood
is heavy, and since I've got to hang this thing up at times, bypassing
that much weight would be a plus. And if I go with foam landscape too,
carved with a hot wire (as shown in Bill Carl's scenery page), most of
the weight of a normal layout would be greatly reduced. But I do think
I'd have to make an extra sturdy frame to keep things from warping. Any
thoughts on that would be enjoyed.
I've checked our local Lowe's and they do have all sizes of insulation
foam board but it's all white (rather than the blue or pink stuff
mentioned in the article) and it does have a "skin" on it, which I don't
know if that's normal or makes any difference when carving with a hot
wire tool (or also if glue will/won't stick to the skin material). Any
experience with those issues?
Thanks ahead of time. Still taking notes!
If you are going to get your layout damp or wet be very carefull about
using white glue. It softens when wet. I use mattmedium to hold balast
it is flexablewhen dry, thin when applied, and does not transmit much noise.
(one of the
the ties a
which I don't
The white foam from Lowe's works fine. I've used quite a bit of
it with no problems. You just have to peel the blue and silver
films off first. The silver side takes a bit more work than the
blue, but it will come off.
Remember that if you use foam of any type, even the Woodland Scenics white
foam, it emits fumes when cut with a hot wire or knife. The WS foam is safer
in this regard, but it is not zero toxicity. Even if you just file (rasp) it
and make a bunch of dust, it is a good idea to wear a mask and eye
protection; if you cut it with a hot wire, insure good ventilation as if you
were spraying solvent based paints.
Welcome to design engineering ;-)
Concerning expansion/contraction, the problem is the fact that wood changes size
Some woods change a lot. We saw the problem with changes of season. The main
seems to be the cork or Vynlbed roadbed. This is also the main sound deadening
temperature range usually isn't enough to cause a significant change in the rail
length. If your
going to move the RR from inside to outside I still doubt that the temperature
will be a major
I imagine that foam has no humidity factor at all and probably only a small
coefficient of expansion. If the RR is small enough to carry outside I don't
think you'll have
any problems from expansion/contraction caused by humidity or temperature.
The yellow glue only gave way after water leaked in significant amounts from a
the layout. The wood under the track was very wet. (In this case the track was
layed directly on
plywood to simulate a siding.)
For more than you want to know about glue see
I suspect that other glue vendors have similar use guides well worth looking
The foam insulation does not warp so I don't know if you'd need an
especially beefy frame. I never noticed any expansion or contraction issues
either. When I took down the layout I took it to the dumpster in 4'x2'
sections including the 1x2 & 1x3 framing and it wasn't that heavy. Still
not trival though. See if you can find a skinless source of foam as the skin
is a pain to work with but will probably glue just fine. make sure to use
glue that is foam safe. There's actually glue specifically for foam
insulation. (don't know if you know this already). One trick when using glue
to build scenery is not to take the glue right to the 'scenery' edge. If you
are using a rasp to shape the foam and the glue goes right to the edge then
the glue causes ridges where the foam meets and it looks odd. leave 0.5 - 1
" of unglued edge for 'carving'. I've used both white and blue foam and both
work. Blue gives a better texture and has less of a tendancy to give a
stippled texture when filed. But if I couldn't find blue I'd just as happily
use white. I always use saws or files to shape the foam as melting it causes
some stinky fumes. I like to use a hacksaw blade as I can bend the blade to
get curves. Then a little sanding with coarse sandpaper and I'm ready to go.
Have a vacuum handy :-) I used to use a plywood roadbed but I found if I
wanted to relocate track it was much more difficult than just hacking
through foam. I could do major surgery on the scenery even if my wife was
asleep upstairs. have fun
As a matter of fact, no.
In thicknesses of 1 inch or more, foam is strong enough that you can
actually go _lighter_ with your framework. I've done foam module
construction, and it works out to be much lighter. I have a 2x6 foot
module that can be easily carried by one person - with one hand.
For wood framing, I would recommend an outside frame of 1x4, with a 1x2
recessed 1 inch below the top like a sideways "T". This lets you set
the foam down inside the frame and protects the foam edge from damage.
Attach the foam to the wood by running 1 1/2" deck screws through 1/4"
fender washers into the foam and wood. I've not had good results gluing
the foam to the wood with construction adhesive. For a sketch of frame
construction, see here:
Select "Links" from the top menu, then "Tips and Tricks" from the top,
and finally "Lightweight Foam Topped N-Track Modules" from the list.
If you _really_ want light weight, use steel studs for framing instead
of wood. The foam can be put inside the framing so you once again
protect the edges. Your tools are tinsnips and pop rivets, and
construction is fast and easy. A finished frame with the foam inside is
every bit as rigid as traditional wood construction, perhaps even better.
I don't have a write-up on the steel frame modules - yet.
Unless your Lowes is unusual, DON'T use the white foam. If it has beads
in it like a cheap cooler, the stuff has VERY little structural strength
and is next to useless, not to mention it makes an absolutely
_incredible_ mess. You want _extruded_ foam board, it's _much_ stronger
and easier to work with. I've never seen it in white, that's why you see
all the recommendations for pink or blue foam.
The foam _may_ have a clear plastic vapor barrier on it - it's pretty
easy to just peel it off. Do so before gluing or scenicking - paint and
glue don't stick to it well, and if using multiple layers of foam it can
give you a very pronounced line between foam pieces. (I just strip it
off the entire sheet before cutting..._
I use a Surform rasp for carving the foam, and keep a shop vac handy.
For smoothing and filling holes, lightweight spackling is ideal. Carve
sedimentary rock strata right into the foam with a wire brush - no
plaster necessary. Igneous rock can be done directly into the foam, too,
but it's a bit more work.
Take a look at the Photo Album at the above web site for examples - The
Bend Track SIG gallery has several photos of rockwork in foam.
Joe Ellis spake thus: *That* is kewl. Now if you only used real joints at the corners, like
lap joints instead of corner brackets, you'd have yourself something
really nice. (But that's just the woodworker in me talking.)
Oh, if you wanted to get fancy, you could even dovetail the joints - but
this is a fast, easy build that doesn't need anything beyond hand tools,
and the hardware corners help keep it square. You could even do it in an
Another thank you to all who responded to the glue-foamboard-frame topic
(Charles, Len, Ed Oates, Fred Lotte, J Barnstorf & Joe).
I'm thinking now the outdoor dampness probably won't be a problem as
long as I make sure no direct moisture gets to the layout. Between the
plexiglass cover and the electrical power supplies boxed in under the
base (the village accessory items use a lot of mini AC adaptors that
stay warm) plus the lights in the scene (it is a night theme after all),
things should stay dry and even at a low room temperature.
Checked Home Depot for their foam supplies. Same white foam and less of
a size selection. Test peeled a 1" section on a 4'x8' and it does come
off pretty easy. Didn't notice if it was the compressed bead type
though. Will check later as I would prefer the better quality stuff. For
carving I'll probably end up using both hot wire and file methods. Will
work on it outside with a fan to avoid fumes.
I like the lightweight wood-frame Joe posted and the way the foam is set
down inside (I was wondering what to do with the edges and that solves
that). The size I am currently aiming at is about 2 & a half feet by 6
but I have to do some more sketches and measuring. Even though with the
On30 I can get a track in that small a space, I'm realizing now the
property area gets eaten up quickly with just a handful of structures.
After this first prototype I may have to plan the better layout in
modular sections to get everything fit in I'm imagining. More design
engineering problems. :)