Model Train Forum banner

21 - 40 of 63 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,143 Posts
The thickness isn't critical, just means more layers. For gluing foam to foam, what I have found works really well is PPG Gripper primer paint. It used to be Glidden, but PPG bought 'em out. Home Depot has it, but only in gallons for about $25. Liguid Nails for Projects works well, too. It comes in a tube, like caulk, so you'll need a caulking gun for it. Don't buy regular Liquid Nails, it will eat the foam. Hobby Lobby should have the plaster cloth.
You won't have to build a form for the tunnel, the foam will be strong enough by itself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
Thanks, I'll see what I can find and let you know how it goes.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,160 Posts
Thanks guys. Doesn't sound too bad. Would it be wise to use something as a form for the tunnel and lay the foam over it? Or just the foam? And what do you use to glue it? Mod podge? I'll be making a hobby lobby run tomorrow so I plan to pick up a few supplies. Looks like 1.25" is the thickest foam board I can get locally,I love in a warm climate.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
vette-kid;

A form for the tunnel won't be necessary, unless you want a realistic- looking tunnel wall all the way through the tunnel's length. Given the type of simple, kid friendly, layout you have, I would think such a tunnel lining would be something you can do without. (indeed, most of us do)
I agree with Mark's suggestion about using extruded foam. Just make sure the foam you buy is pink, blue, or green, and very rigid. The white stuff is Styrofoam "beadboard" and it's much weaker, more flexible, and creates a veritable blizzard of white beads going everywhere. Cutting extruded foam is messy enough, but you ain't seen messy until you cut Styrofoam! The rough cuts can be made with a hand saw. The "Surform rasps" shown in the photo are good for shaping the foam into a mountain. I tape the end of a shop vac hose right onto the rasp to gather up shavings as they are generated. This cuts down on the mess considerably. Final shaping can be done with sandpaper.

Foam can be glued with most non-solvent-based adhesives. Regular Elmer's glue (not the "school glue" type) works well, and is safe around kids. Coat both surfaces to be joined, completely, with a thin layer of glue let it dry for 5 minutes and then assemble the layers. You can try sliding/pulling them apart. If pulling produces little "stalactites & stalagmites" of glue, that indicates the glue is ready for bonding. Smooth those bumps out into an even glue surface again. This can be done with fingers and palms of a six-year-old, just have a bucket of soapy water, and some rags handy. Next, put the two pieces of foam together permanently. The thinner foam you have will work fine, you'll just need more layers. When you get the top layer on, gently lay some very heavy weights on top of your mountain. A 1' square concrete "paver" stone, or weights from a barbell or bricks, will work. As you add the weights, watch out for sliding of the foam layers. Try to add the weights straight down to minimise sliding. Let the mountain dry overnight.

I don't think adding plaster cloth is necessary. I would just paint the mountain with dirt-brown latex house paint. (Check Home Depot's collection of "leftover, customer didn't want it" paint for bargains.) While the paint is still wet, you can sift on the "dirt" material of your choice with a tea strainer. I use the real thing very finely sifted, but there are commercial scenery materials that can be used instead. Your son might enjoy digging and sifting some dirt though. For grass, I use Woodland Scenics commercial ground foam.

Definitely do take Mark's excellent suggestion to leave the tunnel/mountain removable. He's right that track will need cleaning, and cars need to be put back on track inside there. With the partitions you have in that corner, I don't see any way of getting at the tunnel track, other than lifting off the mountain.

Your mountain will need trees, and commercial trees in any quantity, are quite expensive. There are two basic kinds of trees, and one is easier to make than the other. The types are "deciduous", the common type that loses its leaves in autumn, and "conifers" (evergreens) that keep their needles through the year. Deciduous trees can be made with twigs or hedge clippings that look like miniature trees. A commercial scenery product calle "foliage" can be stretched over the twigs for "leaves." On second thought, Your not going to need all that many trees for your small layout. Woodland scenics sell tree kits for both deciduous and conifer trees. You may as well just use those. Your son should enjoy assembling the tree kits.

Good Luck & Have Fun!

Traction Fan
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
Thanks TF! Good advice all. I will be doing this as suggested. It seems it would be easier to get a mountain shape using the cloth rather than shaping the foam. I was watching some guys on YouTube use cotton batting instead of plaster cloth. Any merit to that idea? Send they both accomplish the same thing, so I'm not sure what the benefits would be, plaster would probably be stronger.

Once the plaster is on, how do you add rocky outcroppings to make it more of a rocky mountain? I'm thinking painting it brown and adding dirty and grass texture as recommended (we don't have dirt here... Just sand! So commercial product it is!) But I'd like some rocks on there.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,463 Posts
You have to slather on the Sculptimold and use a putty knife to cut in the rock formations.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
One way of making rock outcrops is to buy rock molds from Woodland Scenics and use hydrocal plaster to fill them to form the rocks. You can fill the molds to different depths to change the look of the rocks a bit. Also turning them to different orientations will make them look different when placed on the mountain. You can use drywall compound to smooth the rock edges into the mountainside. I’ve used this method on my own model railroad with good success. You can see my mountain build starting at post #93 in my layout construction thread at Modified Peace River HO Layout
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,865 Posts
You might also want to look at a Woodland Scenics product called Shaper Sheet. It's a heavy foil with a napped cloth glued to one side. Bend it into the shape you want and install it, fuzzy side out. Cover it with plaster, Sculptamold, whatever. You can cut Shaper Sheet with scissors.

My son and I made a tunnel for his layout in less than an hour. I bent a section of the Shaper Sheet around my arm to create a tunnel liner (painted in grays and white highlights with a black roof. We built the mountain out of the same stuff, hot gluing the pieces together, and covering it with Sculptamold, carved with a palette knife to look like rock.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #28
You might also want to look at a Woodland Scenics product called Shaper Sheet. It's a heavy foil with a napped cloth glued to one side. Bend it into the shape you want and install it, fuzzy side out. Cover it with plaster, Sculptamold, whatever. You can cut Shaper Sheet with scissors.

My son and I made a tunnel for his layout in less than an hour. I bent a section of the Shaper Sheet around my arm to create a tunnel liner (painted in grays and white highlights with a black roof. We built the mountain out of the same stuff, hot gluing the pieces together, and covering it with Sculptamold, carved with a palette knife to look like rock.
Pics of finished product?

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,160 Posts
Thanks TF! Good advice all. I will be doing this as suggested. It seems it would be easier to get a mountain shape using the cloth rather than shaping the foam. I was watching some guys on YouTube use cotton batting instead of plaster cloth. Any merit to that idea? Send they both accomplish the same thing, so I'm not sure what the benefits would be, plaster would probably be stronger.

Once the plaster is on, how do you add rocky outcroppings to make it more of a rocky mountain? I'm thinking painting it brown and adding dirty and grass texture as recommended (we don't have dirt here... Just sand! So commercial product it is!) But I'd like some rocks on there.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
vette-kid;

I urge you to reconsider using plaster rather than foam. Foam is not difficult to shape, just messy, and the shop vac takes care of the mess. Plaster gets heavy fast, particularly if you want those rocks. The normal method for adding rocks to a scene is to buy rubber rock molds , fill them with plaster of Paris, and stick them onto the other plaster, while they're still wet. The alternative for fastening these "rock castings" as they are called, is to glue them on.
One rock casting tends to cry out for more rock castings, and before you know it, you've created a pretty heavy chunk of plaster, called a mountain. The mountain needs to be lifted off your layout whenever you need to clean track, or retrieve derailed trains inside the tunnel.
Now I'm not trying to tell you that if you build a plaster tunnel, you won't be able to lift it, it won't be that heavy, although one of my previous plaster rock casting festooned, layouts came close!
Also you will need to twist your back a bit when you reach into that low cabinet that the layout is in. At that angle lifting something very light is a lot better for your spine than lifting something a little heavy.
Foam is much lighter, and more forgiving if you bump it against something, a likely scenario when the spot your tunnel will be in is bordered by partitions. You can also carve, or buy rock castings made of foam.
Plaster cloth will work, extruded foam will work. My choice would be the foam.
As for cotton batting, it's very useful for making trees. But I've never heard of it being used as mountain material. I've been a model railroader for multiple decades, and that's a new one on me. I can't even think how it could work at all.
Where do you live where there is" no dirt, only sand?" I'm guessing Nevada or Arizona, or possibly California? There is a potential big fat" fly in the ointment" if you live in California. Unlike the rest of the country, southern California Home Depot and Lowes stores don't stock extruded foam insulation board. It can be found, but you'll need to google yourself a dealer in your area.
Perhaps plaster cloth will win out after all. If you use it, keep it thin to keep the weight down. I've used tree bark as rocks (see photos) it's lightweight and cheap, and available in CA.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #30
I'm in Florida. Everything is sand... And it gets EVERYWHERE!

I here what your saying about the weight. If I understand correctly you just have the foam and paint it directly? I was planning foam with plaster cloth, but I may try a little your way and if I don't like it I can always covers it with plaster cloth I guess. I got a few of the cat rock formations and they are really light.

Here is the cotton technique I was talking about. It's also known as quilt batting or some variation of that.


Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #31
Decided that having everything on top of the table want really trainee or desirable. A lot still will be on top (switch machines, for example), but wires can run underneath. 2x2 was used for spacing and to give something to bite into for stability. 1x2 was wedged under it to start with so as not to bind the track or wood. Then 2x2 went in. It's only about 1.5" but it seems plenty for wiring.

Was able to get foam boards today as well. Sadly they didn't have anymore of the 1.25", so I ended up with 3/4". I got two full sheets. Hope to start cutting foam this week.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,160 Posts
I'm in Florida. Everything is sand... And it gets EVERYWHERE!

I here what your saying about the weight. If I understand correctly you just have the foam and paint it directly? I was planning foam with plaster cloth, but I may try a little your way and if I don't like it I can always covers it with plaster cloth I guess. I got a few of the cat rock formations and they are really light.

Here is the cotton technique I was talking about. It's also known as quilt batting or some variation of that.


Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
vette-kid;

Thanks for sending the video. That "quilt batting" is not what I expected when we were talking about "cotton batting." In fact, though my wife uses cotton batting to fill teddy bears, and I've used it for model trees, I'd never seen quilt batting. The cotton batting we have is one big lump, like a giant cotton ball,or cotton candy. It is not in a long thin rolled up sheet like the quilt batting in the video. The guy in the video had used foam for the support of his hill, and draped the quilt batting over it like some people do with plaster cloth.
It can work either way. You can shape the foam to form a hill, and even carve rock faces directly into it. Or, you can lay plaster cloth, or this quilt batting stuff, over the foam.
While I think his idea is clever, I personally don't care for the very rough and lumpy rolls texture of his scenery, but that's just my opinion. I do fill gaps in my foam scenery with Elmer's wood filler, but plaster would work just as well. I have even used plaster cloth in some spots. So, it's your choice. I think you can get reasonably good results with plain foam, or foam draped in plaster cloth, or foam draped in quilt batting. As you said. you can try the bare foam first, and if your not happy with the results, you can still cover it.

Yes, you can paint foam directly with latex (water-based) house paint. Don't use any solvent-based paint. It can attack the foam.
I paint every scenery surface, and even my wooden roadbed, and benchwork wood, with a dirt brown latex house paint first. I then sift my fine grain real dirt on, and then the commercial ground foam "grass." The dirt and ground foam are attached with thinned Elmer's glue.

I think your auto-correct is funny. I don't know what a "cat rock formation" is, unless it's an actual rock formation in the shape of a cat.
I'm guessing it should have said "cast rock formations." Were they cast of plaster, or plastic, or foam? All three are sold commercially, and any of the three materials will work.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #33
Yeah, I have problems with auto correct. Or more accurately, I have problems with not proof reading my own posts!! Yes, it was supposed to be "cast".

So we had a go at cutting some of the foam board. Do you normally peel the plastic off? I glued a few before realizing that the plastic was would peel off. Hopefully it doesn't fall apart. Here is where we are at for now. The large area will turn into a small plateau with a small pond.

I'm a little tight to the wall as this wasn't in the original plan. So there will be a few open spots in the back corner for clearance concerns, but I don't think it will be a problem. Although I may have to use a vertical piece of foam on the back just to create the opening with.

One area I haven't thought out yet is the tunnel entrances. How do you do the openings? I know there are commercial products, but I imagine matching colors and opening size to be problematic.





Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,865 Posts
Definitely remove the plastic film. It may be because of your location, but the boards we typically use come in even 1" thickness increments and don't have any plastic or foil on them.

Personally, I use commercial tunnel portals from either Woodland Scenics (unpainted plaster castings) or Chooch Enterprises (painted resin castings). With commercial castings, size / matching isn't a problem.

I will get some pictures of the tunnel on my son's layout to post....been a bad week.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,463 Posts
It looks as though your tracks are too close in the curves for the length of those cars. If there were cars of the same length on the inside track I believe you would have a side-swipe problem.

If this problem isn't corrected (if in fact it exists) it will be compounded by having this curve in a tunnel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #36
Michael, it is close. If we run two passenger trains or passenger and auto racks there will be problems. You can run either passenger cars or auto racks on one and standard freight on the other as long as the cars are 60' and shorter. I think trying to correct it at this point is a can of worms. Move the inner track, tightens radius, causes issues with longer cars on that rail. So for now, I think we just use caution with it.

But after saying all that, I am going to re look at it to make sure it's manageable or see if the correction is doable. Thanks for pointing it out.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,463 Posts
The curves on the far back corner of my layout are also too close. You can hear a car make contact with another when they are passing. I can make minor adjustments to lessen it, but I try to time the trains so they are not both on that curve passing each other at the same time. It's just a very slight scrape and not even enough to see movement of the car and have never even lost a grab iron on the end of the cars.

The contact is only at one small spot and not all the way around the curve, so that's something anyway. It's not really worth a major rework of track to fix it.

Other curves have around 1mm of clearance between full size passenger wagons. It's very close and to look at them passing you'd swear they were touching.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
479 Posts
Discussion Starter #38
I tend to learn by doing... Sometimes the hard way. I'll tell you, if I do another layout in the future it will then out much better.

Two passenger or autoracks make contact in just a few places. One of bad enough I think it would detail. Three other it just skims. I did not use anything to radius my curves, so they are uneven. If I did it again I would use a nail and string to mark the curve and lay off of that. I eyeballed the first one and measured the parallel off of that, although I still got off from the measurement in a few places, that's where the contact happens.

Back to the mountain...
What do you guys normally cut the foam with? I'm finding the hobby saw is a terrible meds and not all that effective and that a utility knife is not nearly as easy as I would think. I'm mostly through it now, but it's WAY tougher to cut than I imagined.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,021 Posts
For long straight cuts I use a full size cross cut hand saw. For smaller cuts and carving, I use a drywall handsaw. For final shaping, I use a rasp. You want saws that have large teeth and a wide kerf.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,160 Posts
I tend to learn by doing... Sometimes the hard way. I'll tell you, if I do another layout in the future it will then out much better.

Two passenger or autoracks make contact in just a few places. One of bad enough I think it would detail. Three other it just skims. I did not use anything to radius my curves, so they are uneven. If I did it again I would use a nail and string to mark the curve and lay off of that. I eyeballed the first one and measured the parallel off of that, although I still got off from the measurement in a few places, that's where the contact happens.

Back to the mountain...
What do you guys normally cut the foam with? I'm finding the hobby saw is a terrible meds and not all that effective and that a utility knife is not nearly as easy as I would think. I'm mostly through it now, but it's WAY tougher to cut than I imagined.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
vette-kid;

Extruded foam can be cut with several different tools. Professionals, in commercial shops probably use an industrial "hot wire cutter." This has a thin steel wire that is heated by passing electricity through it, sort of like the wires in a kitchen toaster, but not as hot. The wire passes through the foam easily and leaves a smooth cut, with no particles or dust. Hot wire cutters do produce nasty harmful fumes though, so forced ventilation/vacuum is required.
There are small, hobby-size hot wire cutters available, but their resilience is perhaps questionable. Several people have reported wires breaking, or other failures. One source is www.micromark.com
I made my own "redneck technology" hot wire cutter, and it works well. I don't know that I'd recommend doing this to the average person though. I have many years experience fixing electrical machines for a living, and that helps me do some weird stuff!

There are two types of cutters commonly available, and low priced. One is the electric "hot knife" sold by Harbor Freight Tools. www.harborfreight.com This looks a bit like a big hobby saw, crossed with a soldering iron. It heats up to make the blade melt, as much as cut, its way through the foam. Like the hot wire cutter the hot knife makes little, or no dust, but lots of nasty fumes. Use this only outdoors for safety.

The other cutting tool is an electric knife. This one does not get hot, but rather cuts with two sharp blades that slide back and forth next to each other,driven at high speed, by a motor in the handle. This item was widely advertised on TV some years ago.
The ad showed it being used to carve a turkey and other meat. The electric knife sort of disappeared after making its initial splash. I picked up one at a garage sale cheap.

Apart from these semi-odd cutters, there are the conventional saws, and knives, already mentioned.
One conventional saw I did not see mentioned, was an electric saber saw.
Depending on the blade fitted, this simple power tool can cut through just about anything. You'll need one with a variable speed feature, since it will need to be run at slow speed to cut foam. High speed will heat the foam and it can stick to the blade and gunk up the blade, the cut, and possibly the saw. A blade with corse teeth, slow running speed, and slow pushing speed will get the job done.

A knife not mentioned is a serrated, and very sharp, large kitchen knife. This type of knife, using a sawing motion, should cut through the foam, with both no dust, and no fumes. They're not that expensive if you avoid the fancy-dancy chef type. Check your local big box store. I don't recommend borrowing one from your kitchen. Wives tend to take a very dim view of such things! :mad:

It sounds like you used flex track to make your curves, is that right? If so, you may be able to take up the outer curve and move it a bit further out to prevent cars from hitting each other. Whether this is practical or not, on your layout, is your choice.

Good Luck & Have Fun!

Traction Fan
 
21 - 40 of 63 Posts
Top