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Discussion Starter #1
Like other boomers, I put my childhood postwar trains away when the kids lost interest in their teens. But grandchildren brought them back out. For us, the train table is in the corner of the living room on top of an old cedar chest we need to access only once a year. After 4 years of seeing how kids love it and interact creatively with the scene and trains, I wanted a larger table so that one day I could run a Shay. That means a 36" curve. I also wanted to enhance the "playability" for the creative but less train obsessed grandchildren. So I started building a new design to upgrade from the 30x62" table and implement as many of the lessons learned from the last 4 years.

Goals are:
  1. Be able to drive 3 trains and a bump and go trolley simultaneously.
  2. Minimize/Eliminate derailments due to switches
  3. Make places on table for multiple children to play/interact with buildings, animals and people
  4. Fit in 40x72" table with space for kids to access at least 3 sides
  5. Mountainous Winter wonderland scene with tunnel and few/none flat areas
  6. Enable small Christmas tree to be placed on the table at Christmas
  7. Eliminate all tubular track and use Atlas track with cork bed
  8. Make table height kid friendly

This is the design using RailModeller Pro:
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Design - 2D.jpg

I chose to build the table grid of 2x2" to provide strength to overhang 12-14" past base. Everything uses half lap joints so grid is all in the same plane. The lumber and joints are incredibly stiff.
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Channels on top of grid allow wiring to be passed through between grid and table top
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Luan screwed and glued with silicon add stability and a strong surface to attach things under the table.
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1" extruded polystyrene foam for the base glued to luan using foamsafe LiquidNails Projects. I didn't know it but there's white which cleans up with water and tan that requires mineral spirits. Also, I didn't know the XPS comes pre-scored from the factory for 16" or 24" pieces. That makes it tool free to fit into an SUV.
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Discussion Starter #3
Before laying down cork bed, any recommendations for covering the incline wedges? I've seen masking tape, quilt batting and plaster cloth. I'm keen to minimize the weight. Does masking tape really work out? I plan to paint everything white for snow.
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Masking tape is ok for holding things in place or covering something for short period. Eventually the glue dries out and things tend to fall apart. I've used masking tape to hold down cork road bed and incline supports until I work out the kinks then go back and nail them in place. As for covering them I get steel screen door material and cover with paper mache'. Paper mache' is light weight, moldable and can be painted.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Masking tape is ok for holding things in place or covering something for short period. Eventually the glue dries out and things tend to fall apart. ... As for covering them I get steel screen door material and cover with paper mache'. Paper mache' is light weight, moldable and can be painted.
Yes, that's what I was thinking about masking tape. Odd thing is that Woodland Scenics has a 14 minute video of a guy covering his inclines with masking tape to keep the ballast from falling through on the top and cover the gaps on the sides. It's like 2 minutes of taping and 12 of yakety yak. Zzzzzzz

This guy uses aluminum screen, toilet paper and diluted glue to model mountains.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm going for a snow landscape. I experimented with some techniques I've seen for mountains that don't use plaster cloth to cover my track base with a fresh snow look... something like this photo with just the rails showing or if I don't ballast, the whole track on top of snow.

Would you cover the incline with cloth or something and put the cork on top of that or put the cork on the incline and cover the whole thing? I experimented with TP/screen/Scenic Cement, Cork on XPS and batting/paint. I don't like the crinkles that TP develops.

Ideas? TIA
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ErnestHouse, my suggestion is to use batting and paint. I just used this method for my Christmas layout. I used spray adhesive to get the area tacky first. Then I layed down the batting. Then paint. I don't have a picture of the batting I bought. It was from Walmart and it was low pile and was tighter than the batting you pictured. It held paint well. I finished it with a little glitter while it was still wet.
 

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Before laying down cork bed, any recommendations for covering the incline wedges? I've seen masking tape, ...
Masking tape is ok for holding things in place or covering something for short period. Eventually the glue dries out and things tend to fall apart. ...
Yes, that's what I was thinking about masking tape. ...
Perhaps 3M painter's tape (the blue stuff). When freshly applied, it removes like a post-it note. But over many years, I have noticed that if you leave the tape in place for an extended time, the glue dries and is a PITA to remove. I can recall instances where I needed a razor scraper to remove it from a manufactured wood floor, painted surfaces and 3" electrical conduit. Edit: after a bit, I realized that all the surfaces I mentioned were very smooth. Not sure how it would perform on rough material. I've also noticed that dusty surfaces render it useless, it just won't stick. The electrical conduit was the house's outside feeder where the sun beat down on it most of the day. That must have sped up the glue's drying process as I couldn't peel it off the day after applying it.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
ErnestHouse, my suggestion is to use batting and paint. I just used this method for my Christmas layout. ... It was from Walmart and it was low pile and was tighter than the batting you pictured. It held paint well.
My current layout used batting with thicker pile than what I tested with. I spent a day cleaning out the pile wound around my axles and locomotive parts.

Does the the low pile stuff from Walmart you used leave behind the fuzz after painting? Did you also seal it? TIA
 

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My current layout used batting with thicker pile than what I tested with. I spent a day cleaning out the pile wound around my axles and locomotive parts.

Does the the low pile stuff from Walmart you used leave behind the fuzz after painting? Did you also seal it? TIA
Absolutely not. It feels like a hard shell after the paint dries. I did not seal it. I painted it with Behr Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel (see pic) from Home Depot.

While it was still wet, I dusted it with snow-glitter (again from Walmart). I gave it over 24 hours to make sure it was 100% dry. Then I took the whole thing out in the driveway, turned it on its side, and brushed it off. That kept any excess glitter out of the house.

If anyone uses glitter, I want to emphasize that as a necessary step. I brushed off A LOT of glitter. It did the trick though. No glitter came off after that. What remained was permanently embedded in the paint. No mess in the house.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
This batting is the from the stock bolt at Hobby Lobby over 1/4" foam incline and cork road bed. Hobby Lobby had packages of the stuff and used the term "loft" to rate it.

My wife advised me that in quilting, it's the thickness of the batting that matters. The "low loft" stuff had the same amount of fuzz or "piling" but was simply thinner. This is the standard Hobby Lobby batting. It has much less "piling" on it. Paint is still drying but I can see it not giving up it's fuzz once sealed. It has the effect of a thin dusting of snow on grass (I know, I live in Florida but like everyone else I came from up north ;) ) Thanks.

BEFORE PAINT
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AFTER PAINT
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Looks like it might work. I'll add some details about my method in case you find them helpful:

First, I painted my base (I used pink XPS). Perhaps that was an unnecessary step but it was easy to do. I didn't want any pink showing through.

After that dried, I sprayed the painted surface with spray adhesive. Then I laid down the batting.

On top of the batting, I rolled on the final coat of paint with a regular 3/8" nap paint roller just like painting a wall. It soaked up an entire gallon of paint. I intentionally laid it on thick. Then I dusted with glitter. Then I walked away for 24 hours.

That resulted in a hard surface with no fiber issues.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Came upon some foam packing bits from some equipment at work that has a bumpy terrain look to it and am experimenting with ways to build a mountain that covers tree stand. Also started the tunnel structure.
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I have to say that having a table saw that makes square, accurate and repeatable angles makes the woodworking a snap. Rather than use what's available at HD, I pulled out some scrap 2x2 and ripped 3/4"x3/4" posts and beams. To strengthen glue only butt joints, I found some scraps from a recent project that left me with 8 of these miniature corner braces. I couldn't toss them at the time and they were perfect for bracing the tunnel structure. Upon seeing them, my wife said "they are the nicest looking corner braces you will never see." #truth
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wow!!!! lookin nice!

next year around the "fancy" xmas tree.. i will be doing a bump and go trolley and go from 4x4 platform to 6x4.....
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Okay, it's finally cool enough to work on this again here in Florida. Before putting it aside for the summer, I got the inclines and cork bed laid. Now I'm installing the trestles and plywood bridge for the long curvy raised track. I'm going for an all winter scene.

I am undecided how to prepare the layout for track at this point. There's two "winter looks" for track for which I attached examples:
1) Snow under and only track bare
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2) Snow under and track/ties/ballast bare
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My layout consists of EPS base, styrofoam inclines, cork beds and hills made from random shaped injected packing foam. I lean toward Option 1 with just the rails showing as I would rather not ballast.
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I am not sure how to tackle the next steps. I was planning on painting the EPS and Trackbeds with white latex and covering the mountains with plaster wrap to homogenize all the foam pieces. One thought was to lay down plaster wrap on the track beds and put the track on it when wet to get the effect of snow between the ties. Then see how it looks.

Any suggestions? TIA
 
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