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Discussion Starter #1
Building but wondering if Styrofoam is an OK material to build on. This is the type of Styrofoam that you use for insulation in the walls. Ron
 

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Foam types

Building but wondering if Styrofoam is an OK material to build on. This is the type of Styrofoam that you use for insulation in the walls. Ron
darticus;

The foam in your photo looks white. The only white colored foam I've seen is common "bead board," true, Styrofoam. The word "Styrofoam" is a trademark, and refers only to this type of foam. It is commonly used as packing material, in many shapes, including loose "peanuts" dumped into a box to protect whatever is being shipped. The same type of foam is also cast into specific shapes to fit around an item like a TV set. Yes, it is also used as home insulation sheets, usually with foil cladding on the outside. In terms of model railroad use though, that last use is a little confusing.
A very different type of foam, called "Extruded Foam Board" is the type preferred by model railroaders. The confusion comes from the fact that extruded foam is also commonly used as home insulation.
So what's the difference? Hardness, and strength. White bead board is soft, and easily broken. When it breaks, or is cut, or shaped, it produces clouds of little bead-shaped pieces; which get all over the place. These two characteristics make bead board very unpopular for model railroad use. If you can live with the mess, and have a sheet of plywood, or. in your case, a strong table, under the bead board for support, bead board can be used; but I don't particularly recommend it.
Extruded foam comes in pink, blue, and green, sheets. It is available in home improvement stores, but only in areas that have cold winters. (It is nearly impossible to find in California, Arizona, etc.) Extruded foam does not produce as much mess when cut with a saw, or shaped with a sure-foam plane, as the white bead board does. When cut with a knife, or especially with a hot wire cutter, it produces almost no dust. Extruded foam is so strong that it can be used as a layout base without plywood under it. For these reasons, it is the foam of choice among model railroaders. Extruded foam is more expensive than bead board. A 4'x8' sheet can cost $40 or more.
So if you wish, you can continue with the white bead board, and its limitations; or you can switch to the extruded foam. If you stick with the bead board that you have, I have two suggestions. First, paint the entire surface of the Styrofoam with earth-color brown latex house paint. Second, use wood roadbed, instead of the popular cork, or foam, roadbed types. The wood will provide a strong, flat, surface to support your track. It can also accept track nails if you use them. ( I don't know if Z-scale track nails even exist.) Most model track gets glued down, often with dabs of latex caulk. I use 1/4" thick Luan plywood
for my roadbed. I cut it to shape with a saber saw, using a fine-toothed blade. This produces lots of splinters, so I wear work gloves. After cutting I sand the roadbed smooth, and taper the sides to look like the raised embankment a real railroad lays its track on. The last step is to paint the roadbed, on all sides, with the same earth brown latex paint. This seals the wood against moisture and warping.

regards;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
darticus;

The foam in your photo looks white. The only white colored foam I've seen is common "bead board," true, Styrofoam. The word "Styrofoam" is a trademark, and refers only to this type of foam. It is commonly used as packing material, in many shapes, including loose "peanuts" dumped into a box to protect whatever is being shipped. The same type of foam is also cast into specific shapes to fit around an item like a TV set. Yes, it is also used as home insulation sheets, usually with foil cladding on the outside. In terms of model railroad use though, that last use is a little confusing.
A very different type of foam, called "Extruded Foam Board" is the type preferred by model railroaders. The confusion comes from the fact that extruded foam is also commonly used as home insulation.
So what's the difference? Hardness, and strength. White bead board is soft, and easily broken. When it breaks, or is cut, or shaped, it produces clouds of little bead-shaped pieces; which get all over the place. These two characteristics make bead board very unpopular for model railroad use. If you can live with the mess, and have a sheet of plywood, or. in your case, a strong table, under the bead board for support, bead board can be used; but I don't particularly recommend it.
Extruded foam comes in pink, blue, and green, sheets. It is available in home improvement stores, but only in areas that have cold winters. (It is nearly impossible to find in California, Arizona, etc.) Extruded foam does not produce as much mess when cut with a saw, or shaped with a sure-foam plane, as the white bead board does. When cut with a knife, or especially with a hot wire cutter, it produces almost no dust. Extruded foam is so strong that it can be used as a layout base without plywood under it. For these reasons, it is the foam of choice among model railroaders. Extruded foam is more expensive than bead board. A 4'x8' sheet can cost $40 or more.
So if you wish, you can continue with the white bead board, and its limitations; or you can switch to the extruded foam. If you stick with the bead board that you have, I have two suggestions. First, paint the entire surface of the Styrofoam with earth-color brown latex house paint. Second, use wood roadbed, instead of the popular cork, or foam, roadbed types. The wood will provide a strong, flat, surface to support your track. It can also accept track nails if you use them. ( I don't know if Z-scale track nails even exist.) Most model track gets glued down, often with dabs of latex caulk. I use 1/4" thick Luan plywood
for my roadbed. I cut it to shape with a saber saw, using a fine-toothed blade. This produces lots of splinters, so I wear work gloves. After cutting I sand the roadbed smooth, and taper the sides to look like the raised embankment a real railroad lays its track on. The last step is to paint the roadbed, on all sides, with the same earth brown latex paint. This seals the wood against moisture and warping.

regards;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:
Thanks for all your suggestions. I will see how things go but with the layout being 19 inches by 45 I this this might work. I used it for a N scale layout 36 inches by 6 foot and it seems to work for me of course painting the surface with water base. Ron
 

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Styrofoam

darticus;

Yes, you can keep using the foam you have. From your photo, it looks like the table will provide plenty of support. It also looks like you are using sectional track, and a plastic pier set to raise one track. Do you plan to add scenery to the layout? If so you can add additional layers of Styrofoam to replace the piers with a continuous embankment. The layer technique will also work for hills. If you want to create a stream, below the present Styrofoam level, the foam can be cut down with a knife, and sanded to shape. This type of foam is messy, so keep a shop vacuum handy. I once made a tiny diorama to use in a Styrofoam scenery lecture. I was able to use the beaded texture, characteristic of this type of foam, as rocks; along the bottom of a stream.

good luck with your layout;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenneg:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
darticus;

Yes, you can keep using the foam you have. From your photo, it looks like the table will provide plenty of support. It also looks like you are using sectional track, and a plastic pier set to raise one track. Do you plan to add scenery to the layout? If so you can add additional layers of Styrofoam to replace the piers with a continuous embankment. The layer technique will also work for hills. If you want to create a stream, below the present Styrofoam level, the foam can be cut down with a knife, and sanded to shape. This type of foam is messy, so keep a shop vacuum handy. I once made a tiny diorama to use in a Styrofoam scenery lecture. I was able to use the bead

good luck with your layout;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenneg:
I would like to get ideas on how to build the foam up to get rid of the piers. Any links? Thanks Ron
 

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track plan

Looks like you're using Marklin track? If so, what size curves are you using? Do you have a track plan diagram you could post showing the sizes with Marklin's id number for all the track pieces and switches you're using?
Regarding creating landform buildups, while you'll find a variety of methods suggested, for me, the simplest, easiest, quickest, and least messy is using a product called Woodland Scenics Mountain Foil. While somewhat pricey, it is a joy and delight to use.
It's mentioned and shown in this OGR forum post: (simply copy and past it in your URL bar)
https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/access-hatch-and-the-start-of-a-mountain-scene-lots-of-photos?reply=74918006383075048#74918006383075048
Of course for z gauge, you won't add the rock molds shown but just the foil itself. Since it's sold in in rolls and you certainly won't need that much for a z scale layout, perhaps you can buy a roll jointly with another model railroader.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Looks like you're using Marklin track? If so, what size curves are you using? Do you have a track plan diagram you could post showing the sizes with Marklin's id number for all the track pieces and switches you're using?
Regarding creating landform buildups, while you'll find a variety of methods suggested, for me, the simplest, easiest, quickest, and least messy is using a product called Woodland Scenics Mountain Foil. While somewhat pricey, it is a joy and delight to use.
It's mentioned and shown in this OGR forum post: (simply copy and past it in your URL bar)
https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/access-hatch-and-the-start-of-a-mountain-scene-lots-of-photos?reply=74918006383075048#74918006383075048
Of course for z gauge, you won't add the rock molds shown but just the foil itself. Since it's sold in in rolls and you certainly won't need that much for a z scale layout, perhaps you can buy a roll jointly with another model railroader.
Sounds good I will follow up on it. I will check out this site. Don't like the look without buildup.

Can't seem to find it by the name Woodland Scenics Mountain Foil. Is there another name? Thanks Ron
 

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It was within the text of the OGR post.

As for the mountain, I wanted to try this system that Woodland Scenics puts out, and I must say, it's the easiest mountain I've ever created. First I used their product called Shaper Sheet which is so simple to use. Just cut the desired size you need and use your fingers to mold it by pushing, crumbling, bending, and creasing the sheet and in a few minutes, you have the shape that you're looking for.

"Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheet" WOO C1178 C1179

 

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Can't seem to find it by the name Woodland Scenics Mountain Foil. Is there another name? Thanks Ron[/QUOTE]

So sorry, Ron. The product I'm referring to is SHAPER SHEET.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Can't seem to find it by the name Woodland Scenics Mountain Foil. Is there another name? Thanks Ron
So sorry, Ron. The product I'm referring to is SHAPER SHEET.[/QUOTE]
OK thanks, Now I see. No one, hobby or crafts carries it around here. I'll have to order on the internet. Thanks Ron
 

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PHP:
So sorry, Ron. The product I'm referring to is SHAPER SHEET.
OK thanks, Now I see. No one, hobby or crafts carries it around here. I'll have to order on the internet. Thanks Ron[/QUOTE]

:p If you haven't ordered it yet, I've found that the cheapest internet dealer sale price for a nine-inch wide roll is currently at Model Train Stuff (M.B. Klein).
 

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PHP:
OK thanks, Now I see. No one, hobby or crafts carries it around here. I'll have to order on the internet. Thanks Ron
:p If you haven't ordered it yet, I've found that the cheapest internet dealer sale price for a nine-inch wide roll is currently at Model Train Stuff (M.B. Klein).[/QUOTE]

Thanks I will check it out. Ron
 

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:p If you haven't ordered it yet, I've found that the cheapest internet dealer sale price for a nine-inch wide roll is currently at Model Train Stuff (M.B. Klein).
Thanks I will check it out. Ron[/QUOTE]

Btw, Ron, you'll also need to purchase the Woodland Scenics plaster that's specially formulated to use with those shaper sheets.
It'll make your shaper sheet creations nearly "rock hard".
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks I will check it out. Ron
Btw, Ron, you'll also need to purchase the Woodland Scenics plaster that's specially formulated to use with those shaper sheets.
It'll make your shaper sheet creations nearly "rock hard".[/QUOTE]

I will consider all Thanks Ron
 

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Discussion Starter #15
We got a good start. Small setup using 3 trains and 3 transformers. Have track layout with directions shown but need ideas for mountains or bridges. Using a figure 8 that should be covered with some mountains so it doesn't look like a figure 8. Any suggestions for mountains or whatever would be great. Thanks Ron
 

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Btw, Ron, you'll also need to purchase the Woodland Scenics plaster that's specially formulated to use with those shaper sheets.
It'll make your shaper sheet creations nearly "rock hard".
I will consider all Thanks Ron[/QUOTE]

Actually, I have covered the shaper sheets with a thin layer of Sculptamold. It works just fine, bonding to the fuzz on the back (or front,, depending on your point of view.).
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I will consider all Thanks Ron
Actually, I have covered the shaper sheets with a thin layer of Sculptamold. It works just fine, bonding to the fuzz on the back (or front,, depending on your point of view.).[/QUOTE]

Put our cork bed down painted it to be a dark surface and lost all the wires. Installed insulators to separate tracks. Need another transformer and loco eventually. At least the trains will go around the track.
We will be building mountains but any thoughts on where to make them for this. I'll have to experiment! Thanks Ron
 

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Layout planning info

We got a good start. Small setup using 3 trains and 3 transformers. Have track layout with directions shown but need ideas for mountains or bridges. Using a figure 8 that should be covered with some mountains so it doesn't look like a figure 8. Any suggestions for mountains or whatever would be great. Thanks Ron
Ron;

Your layout is typical of many first,or second attempts at designing a model railroad. It has lots of track somewhat crammed into a small area. That's pretty common, since few of us have the space we might like. There is nothing "wrong" with this type of layout if your goal is to get the maximum amount of train action in the space you have. However, such track arraignments bear little resemblance to a real railroad's track layout. That may, or may not be something you care about; and either way is quite OK. After all, it's your railroad, to build as you wish.
All that said, you asked about ways to "disguise a figure eight; so it doesn't look like a figure eight." That's a tall order. The two ideas I can recommend would be, first, to have the bridge, where the upper track crosses over the lower one, represent one railroad companie's track crossing over the track of another railroad. (Quite common in real life.)
Second, the two tracks could both belong to the same railroad, it just had to cross over itself to gain elevation. ( A lot less common, but some examples do exist.)
The plastic pier set you have raising the track is not realistic at all. A real railroad would not build such a structure, as it would collapse under the first train to try crossing it. You might want to replace it with a hill that is higher than the track on one side, and lower than the track on the other. This would be a right-of-way cut into the side of the hill, and that has plenty of real life examples. Putting part of the figure eight in a tunnel, or behind a ridge, would also help disguise the loops of the figure eight a bit. If you do build a tunnel, make sure it can be lifted off, or has an access door on one side. You will need to be able to reach the track in the tunnel for cleaning and other maintenance.

This response is getting a bit long, so I'll refer you to the attached document, It covers the subject thoroughly, and gives the various options.

Good luck with your layout;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment Where do I start (revised version).pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Ron;

Your layout is typical of many first,or second attempts at designing a model railroad. It has lots of track somewhat crammed into a small area. That's pretty common, since few of us have the space we might like. There is nothing "wrong" with this type of layout if your goal is to get the maximum amount of train action in the space you have. However, such track arraignments bear little resemblance to a real railroad's track layout. That may, or may not be something you care about; and either way is quite OK. After all, it's your railroad, to build as you wish.
All that said, you asked about ways to "disguise a figure eight; so it doesn't look like a figure eight." That's a tall order. The two ideas I can recommend would be, first, to have the bridge, where the upper track crosses over the lower one, represent one railroad companie's track crossing over the track of another railroad. (Quite common in real life.)
Second, the two tracks could both belong to the same railroad, it just had to cross over itself to gain elevation. ( A lot less common, but some examples do exist.)
The plastic pier set you have raising the track is not realistic at all. A real railroad would not build such a structure, as it would collapse under the first train to try crossing it. You might want to replace it with a hill that is higher than the track on one side, and lower than the track on the other. This would be a right-of-way cut into the side of the hill, and that has plenty of real life examples. Putting part of the figure eight in a tunnel, or behind a ridge, would also help disguise the loops of the figure eight a bit. If you do build a tunnel, make sure it can be lifted off, or has an access door on one side. You will need to be able to reach the track in the tunnel for cleaning and other maintenance.

This response is getting a bit long, so I'll refer you to the attached document, It covers the subject thoroughly, and gives the various options.

Good luck with your layout;

Traction Fan:smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment 362089
Thanks for your suggestions.
I am just trying things. The piers are temporary as are the removable mountains I made in this pic. Just trying new things. If you have any pics of a real track set up for my size layout please let me know. It is only 21 by 45 inches. Thanks Ron
 

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