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Been over 40yrs since i built one so as you can imagine i have a ton of questions. My layout will be on a 4x8 sheet of plywood i think i will use cork for the rail bed. Should i use foam board on top of the plywood or just the cork.
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Been over 40yrs since i built one so as you can imagine i have a ton of questions. My layout will be on a 4x8 sheet of plywood i think i will use cork for the rail bed. Should i use foam board on top of the plywood or just the cork.

Welcome to the site.
First.
What scale trains do you have?
 

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Railroad Tycoon
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Do you plan on adding a river or lake?
If so foam board would be the way to go.
That way you can carve it out.
 

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I started my first 'real' railroad with the Atlas layout 'The Great Eastern Trunk' back in 1982. Kept me busy if I wanted, or I could just watch trains run. Designed for a 4x8.

It'll run two at a time. More if you use DCC.
 

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You can use anything you can bend to suit your track plan's curves and that supports the track elements nice 'n flush....and level.

You can lay foam roadbed or just cork roadbed, and you can lay either one on plywood directly or on foam insulation board (the hard thick extruded foam that is NOT heat-pressed pills of Styrofoam...it must be the extruded kind).

You can use a very thin coating of acrylic latex caulking to help keep the cork in place, or you can use track nails. I recommend track nails the first couple of trials because you are likely to experiment and find that your track plan doesn't work very well, or it's simply boring after a week or two. You wouldn't want it adhered in place by glues. However, the track nails don't do a great job in the extruded foam. The foam is much softer than the plywood and the nails can get knocked askew or get dragged out of the foam more easily.

Plywood is heavy, as is the structure needed to support it firmly. The foam is much lighter, and as has been mentioned, it can be carved and have pieces stacked easily for terrain. The foam needs protection at the sides where people lean or where objects might come into contact with it. So, plywood helps, but is heavy, much harder to drive track spikes into. Much, much harder to carve, so you have to create terrain other ways. The extruded foamboard is very light, can be carved easily and shaped, and if more than 1.5" thick, will support itself without sagging for at least 2' before you need a supporting element under it. If 2" thick, it will support itself for at least 4' without significant sagging. It gets expensive, though, with volume of the foam.
 

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You can use anything you can bend to suit your track plan's curves and that supports the track elements nice 'n flush....and level.

You can lay foam roadbed or just cork roadbed, and you can lay either one on plywood directly or on foam insulation board (the hard thick extruded foam that is NOT heat-pressed pills of Styrofoam...it must be the extruded kind).

You can use a very thin coating of acrylic latex caulking to help keep the cork in place, or you can use track nails. I recommend track nails the first couple of trials because you are likely to experiment and find that your track plan doesn't work very well, or it's simply boring after a week or two. You wouldn't want it adhered in place by glues. However, the track nails don't do a great job in the extruded foam. The foam is much softer than the plywood and the nails can get knocked askew or get dragged out of the foam more easily.

Plywood is heavy, as is the structure needed to support it firmly. The foam is much lighter, and as has been mentioned, it can be carved and have pieces stacked easily for terrain. The foam needs protection at the sides where people lean or where objects might come into contact with it. So, plywood helps, but is heavy, much harder to drive track spikes into. Much, much harder to carve, so you have to create terrain other ways. The extruded foamboard is very light, can be carved easily and shaped, and if more than 1.5" thick, will support itself without sagging for at least 2' before you need a supporting element under it. If 2" thick, it will support itself for at least 4' without significant sagging. It gets expensive, though, with volume of the foam.
At least around here, two 2' x 8' panels of 2" extruded foamboard go for about the same price as a 4x8 sheet of construction grade plywood.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks to all of you for the info i think ill put the foam on top of the plywood for ease of landscaping and carving and use the cork for the rail bed. I know its added cost but I believe it will be better in the long run
 

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Think about 5x9, that extra foot makes for better curves. Also consider open frame work with 1x2's then you can do away with the heavy plywood. Use liquid nails FOR PROJECTS to glue the foam to itself or to wood. Note the emphasis on the type of liquid Nail product, regular liquid nails will eat the foam!
 

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+1 for doing away with plywood :thumbsup:

You can just get a thin sheet of plywood for extra strength for underneath the foam board.
It should not make it that much heavier.

If you should accidentally lean the wrong way in the wrong spot you could go right through the foam board.

Up to you.
 

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What to start getting info on locos. I don’t know what i want to have sound and lights down the road but for now i want to run a train and add as i can is it possible to buy a loco that will be able to do this
 

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If you should accidentally lean the wrong way in the wrong spot you could go right through the foam board.
Not if it's supported with joists. 2" foamboard supported on 18" centers will hold my weight, and I'm not a small guy (230#).
 

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What to start getting info on locos. I don’t know what i want to have sound and lights down the road but for now i want to run a train and add as i can is it possible to buy a loco that will be able to do this
Of course. But if you know you want the sound eventually, I'd recommend just getting the DCC w/ sound version of the loco right of the bat. That's a heck of a lot easier than adding a decoder and speaker(s) after the fact.

A DCC locomotive will run on DC, if you don't want to sink the money for a DCC starter set just yet. If you're going to buy a power pack, though, then again, I would just bite the bullet and get the DCC set you want.
 

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Not if it's supported with joists. 2" foamboard supported on 18" centers will hold my weight, and I'm not a small guy (230#).

Is that how you make some lakes?
Just kneel on the layout? :D

OK, I stand corrected, don't waste money on any wood. :)
 

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Always a dilemma on how to begin. If you start with a DCC ready Locomotive (No DCC but easy to plug in a decoder for an additional 25-100 depending upon sound capability) then you miss out on triggering bells and whistles with the "throttle", but then you save a couple a hundred. Eventually, if you continue, you will end up spending it to convert to DCC. There is no right answer, DCC is just more fun -at least to me having a DCC sound locomotive was. But I survived for 50 years without DCC! Then again I'm an electrical engineer and the fascination of a network for my trains was eventually too much and I had to have DCC. If you're considering a layout in the future, DCC makes the electrical wiring much easier and cheaper, no "blocks" with toggle switches, no big control panels with buttons and switches to control "Blocks" and "turnouts". You're starting off right, in that you're getting the track off the carpet! You can't really can't go wrong as whatever you do, you will learn more and more about what works for you and what doesn't and when it doesn't you have the forum to help you out. This is a hobby that has all sorts of sub hobbies, DYI electronics, Scenery building, model building, operations planning and so on. You may learn skills you had never considered (how to use a VOM, soldering, air brushing) the list is long and you get to pick skills!
 
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