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Old 12-05-2010, 05:01 PM   #1
Dannyt
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Board for HO trains

I'm hoping Santa will get me an HO set. I want to make a lay out. What type of board do I need to put my layout on.
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:09 PM   #2
tjcruiser
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Lots of options here. Lots of people use plywood. I prefer using MDF, which is a super-smooth pressed sheet of sawdust (really!) embedded with glue. It's dead-flat, dimensionally stable (won't warp, twist), and cheap ... available at Home Depot, Lowes, etc.

1/2" or 3/4" thickness, depending on your size and the spacing at which you'll support it from underneath.

Whether ply or MDF, lots of guys add foam on top of that, built up in various thicknesses to contour hills, valleys, etc.

Have fun,

TJ
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:18 PM   #3
gc53dfgc
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there is this roofing foam that has a layer of fiberglass that you can buy at a roofing store and it can support a full paint can if only supported every two feet with absolutley no warping and no water problems so i would go with this as it is the toughest.
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Old 12-05-2010, 05:19 PM   #4
cabledawg
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I've used regular plywood back in the day and didnt really like it. Not very smooth unless you spend the big bucks and even then it splinters once you cut or drill it.

We are using MDF right now in the 3/4" variety and simply placed it on a stack of big tubs, two at each corner. Just today I made a frame underneath out of 2x4's but that is because we are eventually turning it into a self supported table. But it's been without a frame for 6 months and hasnt warped at all.
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Old 12-05-2010, 06:43 PM   #5
tkruger
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I have used MDF, plywood, chipboard, fiberboard all for my table. It is built from the scrap pile at Home Depot. I agree that MDF is one of the best bases. I have sections that overlap each other so the strongest is at the bottom. If you will be tacking he track down I would not use plywood or chipboard. They are a pain to nail the track on.
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:49 PM   #6
ltdan84
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Originally Posted by gc53dfgc View Post
there is this roofing foam that has a layer of fiberglass that you can buy at a roofing store and it can support a full paint can if only supported every two feet with absolutley no warping and no water problems so i would go with this as it is the toughest.
I believe what you are describing is called Polyisocyanurate insulation, or Iso for short.
If it is, it may work for supporting the layout by itself, but if you accidentally lean on it too hard or put any kind of pressure on it, it will most likely crack in half without some additional support.
I'm a commercial roofing contractor by day and I buy this stuff by the semi-truck load, so I've had a little experience with it.

I think that MDF or plywood (with additional framework to support it), topped with some XPS foam board is probably the best bet.
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:11 PM   #7
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I believe what you are describing is called Polyisocyanurate insulation, or Iso for short.
If it is, it may work for supporting the layout by itself, but if you accidentally lean on it too hard or put any kind of pressure on it, it will most likely crack in half without some additional support.
I'm a commercial roofing contractor by day and I buy this stuff by the semi-truck load, so I've had a little experience with it.

I think that MDF or plywood (with additional framework to support it), topped with some XPS foam board is probably the best bet.
interesting take on it. There were these lessons before the holidays started at our lhs and he brought ing this board of the ISO stuff as you call it and said if you anly support it every two feet with wood it could hold up a completly full full sized paint can with out bending or braking but i guess a 100 or 200 pound person isn't quite the same as a full can up paint. but if i was to fall on my layout well i think more damage would be done by me falling and crushing all the buildings and scenery around me and leave the board in place. maybe it would be safer to use the iso that way the stuff will break when you fall on it and hopefully move out of the way so you don't destroy your layout. One for Mythbusters?

I think the wood is probably the best way to go with some of the iso on top as it lets you put down that liquid water stuff without burning right through the foam.
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:43 PM   #8
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My 4 x 8 layout consists of two levels of sound wall sheathing boards. It comes in 4 x 8 sheets and is 1/2 inch thick. There's a few good reasons why I chose this over both plywood and MDF. First, it's very light and at my age and with my health, this is a big plus. Second, track nails can either be hammered or pushed in and they hold very well, yet can be removed very easily if any changes are warranted without destroying either the cork or the track.

Third, the texture of it's surface is perfect as the surface of asphalt type roads. All that is required, is just a little paint, some roadside dirt and bushes and it looks very real. Fourth, this material's cost is right at $8.00 a sheet. This material is sold at Home Depot. They also sell a version of this at Lowes, but their version does not hold nails very well at all.

For support, the table I built has equal 32 inch center to center top supports running accross it , and the length of it has a 24 inch support in the middle running lengthwise, so this is ample support for these sheets.

The top level is smaller by about 4 inches along the sides but covers part of the ends to cover two tunnels. The supports for the top sheet are basically 1 x 3s cut down from 1 x 4s to various lengths fitting the demension of the top sheet. These have been hot glued on the bottom side to the lower level sheet. The top sheet has been screwed to the tops of these. I have been real happy with the results that I've gotten by using this type of material.

In the past I've used both plywood and MDF. When using plywood, it always seemed that the cheeper the grade was, the harder it was to drive the track nails into it. Some of the really cheep type plywood sheathing was just about impossible to drive nails into. The MDF was also extremely hard to dive any nails into it unless it was first predilled.

There is another type of plywood on the market that rivals MDF in smoothness and it's called MDO. It's used commercially as material for signs. The big problem with this type though is it's cost. It runs right around $85.00 a 3/4" x 4' x 8' sheet. Some places charge as much as $100.00 dollars a sheet for it. However, if one can accept the cost, it works very well for train layouts.

In the final analysis, it's whatever seems to work well for the modeler. Everyone tastes are different, as are their needs.What works well for one, may not be satisfactory for someone else.

Routerman
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Old 12-16-2010, 09:38 PM   #9
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For me, after 20 years of my stuff being in storage, I've taken it out to set up for my 4 year old son.

I got a 4x8 sheet of plywood, 3/4 inch thick, from the local hardware store. It's that kind that has one nice side and one 'no so nice' side. Works for me.

For 'legs' I bought 5 'Homer' buckets from Home Depot. They are strong (supported my weight) and cheep at $2.50 each. Add a $29 'Grass Mat' and I'm good to go.

Eventually I will add a 'foam' board on top of it to keep the track noise down and to allow for some great modeling.

The Start:


The "Homer Bucket" legs:


What it looked like as of a week ago. This is the basic 'Starter' configuration.
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Old 12-16-2010, 11:07 PM   #10
tjcruiser
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Homer's Happy!
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