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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being an avid woodworker, I know for certain that I can easily make "roadbed" like the kind attached to the Bachmann EZ track. My thought is.... if I make the roadbed, I could easily use up some of the plain track I have, making straight sections as long as I want them. I have a planer, so I could mill it down to 5/16" thickness and 1 15/16" wide, with a slight edge bevel.... and then, I could go from there.

I can also do that with the older, less expensive 90 degree crossings. Just a thought. The wheels won't stop turning.
 

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The plastic roadbed is a convenience for those who don't care to fashion their own roadbed and to glue their own ballast, or they simply cannot do it due to limitations of some kind. If you can fashion your own, and be happy with the results, I don't see that you should spend money where it needn't be spent. Tracks is tracks. Ideally, you'd want as few mechanical joints as possible, but if you're using sectional lengths of about 9" each, you haven't much choice.

One of the joys of this hobby is figuring out novel ways of accomplishing the same goals. It's fun, and if it works, the doer feels a great satisfaction. It gets the creative juices flowing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'd be worried about warping, but have done that for small sections of track.
I made two sections last night that will accomodate three, 9" sections for a single straight piece of track that is 27" long. I used some kiln-dried white pine that won't warp. I had to carve a small notch in each end to accommodate the gizmos on the ends of the Bachmann Ez track, but that was no problem. I'm going to paint them today to match the factory color. I'm also making the roadbed for a couple of other brands of turnouts I have. I took an extremely coarse horseshoe rasp and rolled it on the wood to somewhat resemble rock & gravel. When it was painted, it looked pretty good for my first attempt. I was more than satisfied. When I get it all finished, I'll post some photos.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
The plastic roadbed is a convenience for those who don't care to fashion their own roadbed and to glue their own ballast, or they simply cannot do it due to limitations of some kind. If you can fashion your own, and be happy with the results, I don't see that you should spend money where it needn't be spent. Tracks is tracks. Ideally, you'd want as few mechanical joints as possible, but if you're using sectional lengths of about 9" each, you haven't much choice.

One of the joys of this hobby is figuring out novel ways of accomplishing the same goals. It's fun, and if it works, the doer feels a great satisfaction. It gets the creative juices flowing.
I made two pieces last night using 3 straight sections, for a 27" length of straight track. I'm going to sand/file the connections so they are perfectly smooth. I have some 800 grit emery cloth that will work great. That will be easy to do before it's ever actually hooked up for use.
 

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Being an avid woodworker, I know for certain that I can easily make "roadbed" like the kind attached to the Bachmann EZ track. My thought is.... if I make the roadbed, I could easily use up some of the plain track I have, making straight sections as long as I want them. I have a planer, so I could mill it down to 5/16" thickness and 1 15/16" wide, with a slight edge bevel.... and then, I could go from there.

I can also do that with the older, less expensive 90 degree crossings. Just a thought. The wheels won't stop turning.
Dewman1945;
I make my own roadbed from 1/8" Luan plywood. It works very well. My sub-roadbed is 1/4" Luan with 1/4" x 3/4' pine stringers glued under it, along both edges. This is lightweight, but extremely strong & rigid. It will not warp.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dewman1945;
I make my own roadbed from 1/8" Luan plywood. It works very well. My sub-roadbed is 1/4" Luan with 1/4" x 3/4' pine stringers glued under it, along both edges. This is lightweight, but extremely strong & rigid. It will not warp.

Traction Fan 🙂
I milled down some clear white pine to 5/16" thick by 1 15/16" wide to match the Bachmann Ez track that I'm working with. I realize that most here frown on this type track system, but.... it's what I've got and what I will continue to use at this point in building my RR empire. But, who knows what the future holds... this is already growing on me more than I anticipated. The diorama is going to be as much fun as actually playing with the trains. I'm amazed at all the materials available to make it look lifelike.... and keep it in scale. Has anyone tried to spray paint sawdust to create their own "wheat fields," or whatever? How about using little sprigs from a tumbleweed to simulate trees? Just a thought.
 

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I milled down some clear white pine to 5/16" thick by 1 15/16" wide to match the Bachmann Ez track that I'm working with. I realize that most here frown on this type track system, but.... it's what I've got and what I will continue to use at this point in building my RR empire. But, who knows what the future holds... this is already growing on me more than I anticipated. The diorama is going to be as much fun as actually playing with the trains. I'm amazed at all the materials available to make it look lifelike.... and keep it in scale. Has anyone tried to spray paint sawdust to create their own "wheat fields," or whatever? How about using little sprigs from a tumbleweed to simulate trees? Just a thought.
Somebody did spray sawdust a horrid vibrant green , long ago. The sawdust was glued to a sheet of thick paper. The resulting commercial product was called "grass paper." (not to be confused with today's "grass mats" which look a lot better.) I used grass paper, and the equally ugly "mountain paper" on a layout when I was a teenager. At the time I thought it looked good, (how little I knew!) By today's standards, grass paper wouldn't likely be used, since there are much better products available.

I have made something similar, "sander dust." I model in N-scale, and sawdust would be way too big. But wood dust from my electric disc/belt sander, is a lot smaller. I dyed it with Rit fabric dye, then let it dry on sheets of newspaper. The powdered sander dust can be used like ground foam, as "grass" or "leaves."

I don't think gluing sawdust down, and spray painting it, will look very good, but try it if you like. Post a photo too. The attached file tells you how you can save money on various hobby products, by making your own in some cases. Look at the last part of the file for scenery materials.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Somebody did spray sawdust a horrid vibrant green , long ago. The sawdust was glued to a sheet of thick paper. The resulting commercial product was called "grass paper." (not to be confused with today's "grass mats" which look a lot better.) I used grass paper, and the equally ugly "mountain paper" on a layout when I was a teenager. At the time I thought it looked good, (how little I knew!) By today's standards, grass paper wouldn't likely be used, since there are much better products available.

I have made something similar, "sander dust." I model in N-scale, and sawdust would be way too big. But wood dust from my electric disc/belt sander, is a lot smaller. I dyed it with Rit fabric dye, then let it dry on sheets of newspaper. The powdered sander dust can be used like ground foam, as "grass" or "leaves."

I don't think gluing sawdust down, and spray painting it, will look very good, but try it if you like. Post a photo too. The attached file tells you how you can save money on various hobby products, by making your own in some cases. Look at the last part of the file for scenery materials.

Traction Fan 🙂
Thanks for the tips. I really enjoy making the scenery essentials from natural stuff I find out and about. Right now, we're in the dead of winter here in SW Idaho, so maybe next spring I can look for some. Lots of green moss on the pine trees that might come in handy. Lichen on the rocks in the high desert, just south of town, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Being an avid woodworker, I know for certain that I can easily make "roadbed" like the kind attached to the Bachmann EZ track. My thought is.... if I make the roadbed, I could easily use up some of the plain track I have, making straight sections as long as I want them. I have a planer, so I could mill it down to 5/16" thickness and 1 15/16" wide, with a slight edge bevel.... and then, I could go from there.

I can also do that with the older, less expensive 90 degree crossings. Just a thought. The wheels won't stop turning.
Here's a photo one I made last night. It uses three sections of 9" straight track and fits perfectly to a piece of Bachmann Ez track. I can make it as long as I want/need. I have two older, remote turnouts that I'm going to do this to, also. The color doesn't match, but that was all I had on hand.
Automotive tire Wood Rim Automotive exterior Composite material
 

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Here's a photo one I made last night. It uses three sections of 9" straight track and fits perfectly to a piece of Bachmann Ez track. I can make it as long as I want/need. I have two older, remote turnouts that I'm going to do this to, also. The color doesn't match, but that was all I had on hand. View attachment 575054
Dewman1945;

Your roadbed looks great. Don't sweat the color, you can always paint it to match. Some users of plastic roadbed track add ballast over it to make it look better. If you do that, the color difference won't show much. I paint my wood roadbed a flat earth color, both for natural looks, and to help keep moisture out of the wood. I also paint my track. One trick you could use, if you want, is to use flat brown primer spray paint on your track. It kills the plastic shine of the ties and rails. With the roadbed track, obviously the plastic roadbed will be painted brown too, unless you mask it. This would actually look good if you decide to add ballast over the track. The embankment below the ballast would look like the compressed dirt "sub roadbed" used on real railroads, and the rails & ties would be a realistic brown color. The added ballast would be gray. The turnout in the photo has received this kind of color treatment, though I hand paint first the ties, then the rails and add ballast last. I think the result looks a lot more like real track than shiny plastic commercial track does.

I have a question about the foam in your photo. Is that the foam you intend to use for scenery? It looks like soft, white, Styrofoam "bead board." That's not the same as the hard "Extruded foam insulation board" that many model railroaders use for scenery. That comes in blue, pink, or green, depending on the brand, not white.
Though not recommended, some have used Styrofoam for scenery, because its cheaper. However its also quite soft & fragile and won't support weight like the hard extruded foam does. Styrofoam also disintegrates into zillions of tiny, super-light beads when cut. The beads get everywhere, and are so light that a broom tends to just fan them away, instead of sweeping them up. A shop Vac is a very necessary tool when working with either type of foam, as the hard stuff produces fine dust when its cut.

Traction Fan
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Dewman1945;

Your roadbed looks great. Don't sweat the color, you can always paint it to match. Some users of plastic roadbed track add ballast over it to make it look better. If you do that, the color difference won't show much. I paint my wood roadbed a flat earth color, both for natural looks, and to help keep moisture out of the wood. I also paint my track. One trick you could use, if you want, is to use flat brown primer spray paint on your track. It kills the plastic shine of the ties and rails. With the roadbed track, obviously the plastic roadbed will be painted brown too, unless you mask it. This would actually look good if you decide to add ballast over the track. The embankment below the ballast would look like the compressed dirt "sub roadbed" used on real railroads, and the rails & ties would be a realistic brown color. The added ballast would be gray. The turnout in the photo has received this kind of color treatment, though I hand paint first the ties, then the rails and add ballast last. I think the result looks a lot more like real track than shiny plastic commercial track does.

I have a question about the foam in your photo. Is that the foam you intend to use for scenery? It looks like soft, white, Styrofoam "bead board." That's not the same as the hard "Extruded foam insulation board" that many model railroaders use for scenery. That comes in blue, pink, or green, depending on the brand, not white.
Though not recommended, some have used Styrofoam for scenery, because its cheaper. However its also quite soft & fragile and won't support weight like the hard extruded foam does. Styrofoam also disintegrates into zillions of tiny, super-light beads when cut. The beads get everywhere, and are so light that a broom tends to just fan them away, instead of sweeping them up. A shop Vac is a very necessary tool when working with either type of foam, as the hard stuff produces fine dust when its cut.

Traction Fan
Yes, you're right.... the foam I have is soft, white stuff, but it was all I could find. And, all they had was 2" thich sheets. So, I've laminated them together and I'm going to band the outside edges with 1/4" Baltic birch plywood. That will add an enormous amount of structural stiffness. The finished sheet will be 5' 4" x 9' and will rest on a table, so it doesn't need to be totally self-supporting. I'm having to use what I can find, not what I would like, so I'm having to wing it. I'm having fun, even though I'm making mistakes and working with less than optimum materials. I don't expect my finished product to be Youtube worthy. The only people I have to please is me.... and my great grandson, and we'll do the best we can with what we've got to work with. Both of us have vivid imaginations, so.... we're good to go.

Your results are amazingly realistic. Do you have any problems with conductivity? I envy those with the dexterity and eyesight to take it to the level you and many of the others have done. To accommodate my shortcomings, I'll have to be satisfied with the Bachmann "factory look" when it comes to the actual roadbed, ties, etc. In my younger years, I'd be all over the realism aspect. Now? I'm willing to settle for less out of necessity. Just assembling what I've got so far has been a monumental task. It's hard to do from a wheelchair.

Have you ever tried any of the aerosol expanding foam insulation for landscaping? It might give some interesting results. I wonder if it would act as an adhesive for smaller pieces of foam? Thanks for all the tips.
 

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Yes, you're right.... the foam I have is soft, white stuff, but it was all I could find. And, all they had was 2" thich sheets. So, I've laminated them together and I'm going to band the outside edges with 1/4" Baltic birch plywood. That will add an enormous amount of structural stiffness. The finished sheet will be 5' 4" x 9' and will rest on a table, so it doesn't need to be totally self-supporting. I'm having to use what I can find, not what I would like, so I'm having to wing it. I'm having fun, even though I'm making mistakes and working with less than optimum materials. I don't expect my finished product to be Youtube worthy. The only people I have to please is me.... and my great grandson, and we'll do the best we can with what we've got to work with. Both of us have vivid imaginations, so.... we're good to go.

Your results are amazingly realistic. Do you have any problems with conductivity? I envy those with the dexterity and eyesight to take it to the level you and many of the others have done. To accommodate my shortcomings, I'll have to be satisfied with the Bachmann "factory look" when it comes to the actual roadbed, ties, etc. In my younger years, I'd be all over the realism aspect. Now? I'm willing to settle for less out of necessity. Just assembling what I've got so far has been a monumental task. It's hard to do from a wheelchair.

Have you ever tried any of the aerosol expanding foam insulation for landscaping? It might give some interesting results. I wonder if it would act as an adhesive for smaller pieces of foam? Thanks for all the tips.

Dewman1945;

Please don't take any of my questions, advice, or even photos of my work, as criticisms of yours. They are certainly not meant to be.
Most home model railroads are individual efforts and, as you rightly say, the only one who needs to be satisfied with your work, or the materials you use, is you. I have also used white bead board when it was all I could find. You work with what you can get.

Also understand that the photos I post are things on my seventh model railroad, not my first. I have 50-odd years of experience as a model railroader that got my work to this point. If you had seen some of my early efforts, you might see that they were not as good as what you're doing now. If you look through the, "My Layout" section of this forum, you'll see a whole lot of very basic layouts that are making their owners very happy.

Yes, I have tried the aerosol foam and it did not work well at all. The stuff is so incredibly sticky that a large version of it was once considered by the sheriff's department as a non-lethal weapon to capture, and immobilize people! It worked, sort of, but it took hours to extract the suspect from the foam!
Once on the skin, it won't come off with anything short of sandpaper. It can also only be used in shallow layers, or the inside won't harden. Its shape is also random, and impossible to control. I definitely do not recommend it. (n)

If you look at my photos of linkages and front panel controls, do you think that is something you might want to adopt since you're in a wheelchair? I'm assuming that going under the layout is not a viable option for you. It isn't for me either. I'm not in a wheelchair, but I do have enough of a disability to be virtually unable to crawl under a layout without a whole lot of pain. I also can't stand still very well, or for long. (nerve problem in my lower spine) That's the reason I moved a lot of gear to the front of the layout where I can get at it, sitting down. Another thing that might make things easier is to build your layout in sections small & light enough to be turned upside down. This makes traditional "under-the -table" chores like wiring, and mounting/adjusting switch machines, a whole lot easier.

Keep up the good work & keep having fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Dewman1945;

Please don't take any of my questions, advice, or even photos of my work, as criticisms of yours. They are certainly not meant to be.
Most home model railroads are individual efforts and, as you rightly say, the only one who needs to be satisfied with your work, or the materials you use, is you. I have also used white bead board when it was all I could find. You work with what you can get.

Also understand that the photos I post are things on my seventh model railroad, not my first. I have 50-odd years of experience as a model railroader that got my work to this point. If you had seen some of my early efforts, you might see that they were not as good as what you're doing now. If you look through the, "My Layout" section of this forum, you'll see a whole lot of very basic layouts that are making their owners very happy.

Yes, I have tried the aerosol foam and it did not work well at all. The stuff is so incredibly sticky that a large version of it was once considered by the sheriff's department as a non-lethal weapon to capture, and immobilize people! It worked, sort of, but it took hours to extract the suspect from the foam!
Once on the skin, it won't come off with anything short of sandpaper. It can also only be used in shallow layers, or the inside won't harden. Its shape is also random, and impossible to control. I definitely do not recommend it. (n)

If you look at my photos of linkages and front panel controls, do you think that is something you might want to adopt since you're in a wheelchair? I'm assuming that going under the layout is not a viable option for you. It isn't for me either. I'm not in a wheelchair, but I do have enough of a disability to be virtually unable to crawl under a layout without a whole lot of pain. I also can't stand still very well, or for long. (nerve problem in my lower spine) That's the reason I moved a lot of gear to the front of the layout where I can get at it, sitting down. Another thing that might make things easier is to build your layout in sections small & light enough to be turned upside down. This makes traditional "under-the -table" chores like wiring, and mounting/adjusting switch machines, a whole lot easier.

Keep up the good work & keep having fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
Not to worry.... I never take anything said about my venture as criticism. I appreciate all the "nudges" in the right direction.

You are right when you mentioned crawling under the layout. I wish I could.... but no, not in a long time. My layout isn't going to be as elaborate as many I've seen. Maybe four turnouts, a couple of 90 degree and 45 degree crossings, one elevated track section and maybe a tunnel or two. I'm anxious to get the foam glued up, so I can lay some track on it and let my mind go to work. This is as much fun as getting a new rifle and loading round after round, trying to concoct the perfect combination to put five shots inside a 1/2" at 100 yards. That too can become a passion. Ask me how I know.
 

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Yes, you're right.... the foam I have is soft, white stuff, but it was all I could find. And, all they had was 2" thich sheets. So, I've laminated them together and I'm going to band the outside edges with 1/4" Baltic birch plywood. That will add an enormous amount of structural stiffness. The finished sheet will be 5' 4" x 9' and will rest on a table, so it doesn't need to be totally self-supporting. I'm having to use what I can find, not what I would like, so I'm having to wing it. I'm having fun, even though I'm making mistakes and working with less than optimum materials. I don't expect my finished product to be Youtube worthy. The only people I have to please is me.... and my great grandson, and we'll do the best we can with what we've got to work with. Both of us have vivid imaginations, so.... we're good to go.

Your results are amazingly realistic. Do you have any problems with conductivity? I envy those with the dexterity and eyesight to take it to the level you and many of the others have done. To accommodate my shortcomings, I'll have to be satisfied with the Bachmann "factory look" when it comes to the actual roadbed, ties, etc. In my younger years, I'd be all over the realism aspect. Now? I'm willing to settle for less out of necessity. Just assembling what I've got so far has been a monumental task. It's hard to do from a wheelchair.

Have you ever tried any of the aerosol expanding foam insulation for landscaping? It might give some interesting results. I wonder if it would act as an adhesive for smaller pieces of foam? Thanks for all the tips.
You may be satisfied with the "factory appearance" at first. A lot of people are. Some never change. Others start to become dissatisfied with that look and start to paint and weather their models. This hobby is like quicksand...it pulls you in and just keeps sucking you further in. And remember, Rome wasn't built in a day. The journey is half the fun.

Expanding foam does have it's uses for scenery. It's chief drawback is that it isn't very predictable, somif you have an exact shape in mind, it can be tricky to get. And it cures hard, so it's much more difficult to shape. It's not very good as an adhesive. Sure, it sticks to stuff, but the expansion factor makes it impossible to use with any precision.

Remember that a large part of this hobby is finding the techniques and materials that work best for you. For the most part, there is no WRONG way to proceed. The only failure is not trying.
 

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Not to worry.... I never take anything said about my venture as criticism. I appreciate all the "nudges" in the right direction.

You are right when you mentioned crawling under the layout. I wish I could.... but no, not in a long time. My layout isn't going to be as elaborate as many I've seen. Maybe four turnouts, a couple of 90 degree and 45 degree crossings, one elevated track section and maybe a tunnel or two. I'm anxious to get the foam glued up, so I can lay some track on it and let my mind go to work. This is as much fun as getting a new rifle and loading round after round, trying to concoct the perfect combination to put five shots inside a 1/2" at 100 yards. That too can become a passion. Ask me how I know.
Dewman1945;

Its possible, and might be easier for you, since you can't crawl under, to have simple wiring, and/or any necessary mechanical linkages, on top of the layout, but recessed into the foam. Your present Bachmann turnouts are the remote control variety right? Then you should be able to run their wires in a trench cut out of the top of your foam.
I have read that those turnouts don't always throw the points all the way, so you might want to have them where you can reach them, for manual back up. If you later add some more reliable turnouts, like Peco, those could go into harder to reach areas.
Peco makes a surface-mount switch machine, in addition to their directly under the turnout version. Either can work with foam. The below the turnout version just needs a pit cut out of the foam surface to hold it.
Don't mount any turnout inside a tunnel. Many have, and they later regretted doing so. :mad: Any tunnels you do build should have plenty of access for track cleaning, and train wreck clearing. (yes, it happens inside there. :confused:)
When the tunnel is along the edge of the layout, the outer side of the tunnel can be left open, or have a hinged door in that wood side you built.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Dewman1945;

Its possible, and might be easier for you, since you can't crawl under, to have simple wiring, and/or any necessary mechanical linkages, on top of the layout, but recessed into the foam. Your present Bachmann turnouts are the remote control variety right? Then you should be able to run their wires in a trench cut out of the top of your foam.
I have read that those turnouts don't always throw the points all the way, so you might want to have them where you can reach them, for manual back up. If you later add some more reliable turnouts, like Peco, those could go into harder to reach areas.
Peco makes a surface-mount switch machine, in addition to their directly under the turnout version. Either can work with foam. The below the turnout version just needs a pit cut out of the foam surface to hold it.
Don't mount any turnout inside a tunnel. Many have, and they later regretted doing so. :mad: Any tunnels you do build should have plenty of access for track cleaning, and train wreck clearing. (yes, it happens inside there. :confused:)
When the tunnel is along the edge of the layout, the outer side of the tunnel can be left open, or have a hinged door in that wood side you built.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
Re: the tunnels.... I have given them some thought, and yes..... I WILL leave them open on the back side, and most definitely will NOT put a turnout inside the tunnel. I can already see the definite advantage to having the rigid foam board as apposed to what I have.... but, I'll do the best with what I have on hand. Who knows what the future brings. The important thing is, I'm not spending nearly as much time with my head stuck in this computer and I'm a happier man for it. I needed this.

I realize now that it would be easy to cut out a little "V" in the foam, bury the turnout wires, then glue the "V" back in place. Easy, peasy. I'm also going to put several derailers around the layout, to help keep the cars on track and eliminate as much getting up to fix problems as possible.

I'm taking the day off, giving my hips and back a break. I've got a saloon and barbershop to assemble and paint today. I've found that I can easily cut the foam sheets with a 10 point hand saw. With the help of a neighbor, I also cut an 8' length with my table saw. It works great, but surprisingly, that stuff will bind the saw blade more than hardwood! It sure leaves a pretty cut, though. Have you ever tried actually "melting" some of the foam with a heat gun, to see what texture it will produce? Hmmm..... I'll give it a try and let you know.
 
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