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Discussion Starter #1
I have seen suggestions to use 2 inch thick EPS foam sheet as a base layer for a layout but for a small 60x30 desktop N scale layout where the desktop itself provides solid support this seems excessive. I understand the need to have something that won't warp and that allows the layout to be moved if necessary. I can see using 2 inch foam to build layers of scenery. I am thinking of using a sheet of plywood as my movable base resting on my desktop, with a thin layer of foam or foamcore on top. I'm going to place some 1x2 inch guard rails around the back and one side of the layout so they should help prevent any warping in the plywood. What thickness of plywood and foam would people recommend? Can I get away with 1/4 inch luan plywood?
This will initially be a DC layout and I am not planning to drill any holes for wiring - any wires needed will run above the plywood and under or through the foam.

Dave
 

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When is 1/4" not equal to 0.250"

Q. When is 1/4" not equal to 0.250"?
A. When 1/4" describes plywood.

Since 1/4" Luan is actually thinner than advertised, I would go for a little thicker wood base.
Then glue 1-1/2" foam to it. Make sure the glue is spread evenly and ensure it is flat and properly weighted until dry.

If you cannot find 1-1/2" foam, use the 2" or glue two layers of 1/2".

I think for N scale you want a more rigid platform than HO for example.

Have you looked around the internet for good examples?
 

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I would forget about the plywood entirely, if you don't need it to screw things too. Make a frame of 1×3 lumber, and put a cross member (1x2, although 1x3 would be fine and save you buying additional boards) at the 20" and 40" marks in the long dimension. At every corner, put a 3" triangle of plywood. This will provide plenty of rigidity. Glue a piece of 1" foam into this frame. This will give you about a 1" lip all around. Light. Rigid, and easily moved.
 

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With or without wood sheet underlay, 2" foam offers
the opportunity to carve contours doe your layout...small
ditches, a nice pond...or even a river. You
Also could run your wires UNDER it and not have to
drill holes on the wood.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses - I will consider all the advice. Yes I have been looking around the web and most construction in progess pictures seem to show track laid directly on what looks like thinnish plywood. I can hardly find any pictures that show foam unless it is being used in multiple layers to form hills and mountains. I already have a firm desk as a support so I don't need to build a 1x3 framework, but I do need a base layer that I can use to move the layout away from the desk in the future if I need to. Either plywood or maybe OSB seems to make the most sense for this. Then a layer of foam to hide wires under and maybe to carve for landscape features makes sense.

Dave
 

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Thanks for the responses - I will consider all the advice. Yes I have been looking around the web and most construction in progess pictures seem to show track laid directly on what looks like thinnish plywood. I can hardly find any pictures that show foam unless it is being used in multiple layers to form hills and mountains. I already have a firm desk as a support so I don't need to build a 1x3 framework, but I do need a base layer that I can use to move the layout away from the desk in the future if I need to. Either plywood or maybe OSB seems to make the most sense for this. Then a layer of foam to hide wires under and maybe to carve for landscape features makes sense.

Dave
You didn't understand what I told you to do. On a square footage basis, both OSB and plywood are much heavier than foam. And would be heavier than making a frame as well. Your base needs to be light and rigid to enable it to be easily moved.

You need a flat surface to lay your track on, Foam fits that bill as well as plywood, and it's actually MORE rigid. If you can find a piece that is larger than your proposed 30 x 60 layout, you wouldn't even need the frame, although that would protect the edges and provide a lip to prevent trains from falling off the edges of the layout.

Yes, people are stacking foam to make mountains, but I'd bet that 95% of them are also using it as a surface to lay track on. Despite what you seem to think about videos on the Internet, plenty of people do it. I've done it, on 3 different layouts. I just haven't posted any videos.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OK now I understand what you suggested with the frame with a foam insert. If the foam is that rigid, as you suggest I could probably use it by itself as the base and use something even lighter as the guardrail around the edge maybe cardboard or foamcore that would be easier to cut and paint as a hedgerow or buildings or treeline.
 

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OK now I understand what you suggested with the frame with a foam insert. If the foam is that rigid, as you suggest I could probably use it by itself as the base and use something even lighter as the guardrail around the edge maybe cardboard or foamcore that would be easier to cut and paint as a hedgerow or buildings or treeline.
Yes, the foam is that rigid. 2" foam with a boarder would work. You might consider using Gatorfoam, which is like foam core, but it has a thin wood laminate on the outsides, making it both more attractive and tougher than standard foam core. It can be cut, painted, etc, just like foam core.
 
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