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Help on illuminating double-deck layout

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 1:24 PM

This is the latest view of the lower shelf of my-dbl deck layout. While I was at first considering making most of both shelves of 2" foam construction, I changed my mine about this type of construction for most of the lower deck.

 

I've decided that at the very minimum those two big blob areas and the freight yard should be built of 5/8 plywood (not 3/4, .....too heavy).

I supported this big piece of plywood with those very stout steel brackets mounted to the 2x4 studs of the wall (note: backdrop sheets of masonite are not installed yet). I chose these brackets for there large size (16x18), and the fact that they have a 'open area' that will likely be utilized to further support my staging tracks just below that overhead subroadbed of plywood.

 

I am also considering placing longer (full length out to the facia) rectangular flat strips of that 5/8" plywood between those metal brackets and the subroadbed sheet. So basically I will have 5/8 'ribs' glued to my 5/8 flat sheet at 24" intervals (total 1.25" 'ribs'). This would lend additional support to the cantilevered subroadbed, as well as provide some clearance for the DCC bus wires attached to the bottom of the subroadbed. 

There is a really nice big open area under this cantilevered plywood subroadbed. It is also a very 'deep' lower level shelf to try and reach over to work on any backdrop, and/or upper level scenery. So while I feel the 5/8" inch plywood is strong enough to support the trains, scenery, structures themselves, it would not stand up to any climbing upon or leaning upon by myself. Then I thought,  why not just make up removable /repositional, supports for the outer edges of this big deep shelf ( I represent just one such support with that cardboard upright in the photo. I imagine the real ones might just be 2x4 constructions, or perhaps nice 2"-3" round PVC tubes.

I'm thinking the upper deck will be primarily 2" foam subroadbed. A thin sheet of masonite glued to bottom of the foam will cut down on noise as I understand it, and give a little more soild surface to mount to.

 

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 1:40 PM

@railandsail

Why did you change your mind away from using the 2" foam on the main/lower level though?

And, with a thin sheet of masonite backing to the 2" foam, is there a concern for having a "drum effect", producing unwanted noise?

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 2:26 PM

Plywood Lower Deck(s)
Got to looking at the depth of this lower level deck at the blob areas and thought it might be very venerable to use foam out at those outer edges. And particularly if I had to do some work on the upper decks while stretched out over the protruding lower decks. 

When I decided to reduce the 'length/size' of the peninsula to gain more room in the 'center open space', I saw a chance to make my freight yard wider,...the lower deck grew in width/depth. Then it made even more sense to provide for a stronger bottom deck. But I resisted the temptation to go to 3/4'" ply (just too heavy), and 1/2" ply (just too light and warpable with the quality of ply these days).

 

Masonite Backing
I had read some where that this really helped reduce the 'drum effect' of foam subroadbed, and I felt that it was a mininum effort to glue a thin sheet of masonite on the bottom of the foam. Plus it should help with placing this subroadbed onto minimalistic shelf brackets, provide a better attachment for the lighting, provide better attachment for DCC wiring, etc.

 

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 4:42 PM

Does 5/8 vs. 3/4 really change much in weight (one ply less)?

I was looking at this page http://users.frii.com/gbooth/Trains/GreatWestern/Construction/Benchwork/Benchwork.htm which has some great ideas on building foam benchwork.

Seeing that there's no wood backing across the entire surface, only at the mount points to the wall, I wonder if it would have the dreadded "drum effect"...no mention in that article of it.

I like how the lighting was made, although I would use LEDs instead of flourescent tubes. Benchwork would end up being even lighter.

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 5:08 PM

If a layout is attached with shelf brackets then obviously it is not mobile. Why does weight matter?

Yes, foam is noisy. It has very little mass. As such, it doesn't take much to make it vibrate essentially turning it into an efficient passive radiator.

 

Half of my layout is foam scenery base, half is (will be) strip and cloth. The early build pic below shows how in the foam sections my sub-roadbed is structurally separate from the foam. Yet I can still tell you with my eyes closed when a train transitions into a foam scenery base section. The noise level raises substantially. I can only imagine the noise level if the track were on the foam. Whether or not that bothers you is of course a personal matter.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 5:28 PM

Noise does bother me - I had a small (3x7) N scale test layout setup few months back and the noise was pretty annoying. I thought it was because the foam wasn't affixed to anything nor did it have a wooden backing.

My idea was to use 1/2" plywood and 1-1/2" foam (comes up to 2") in hope that the noise levels would be much lower due to the plywood backing.

If that's not going to work I might as well save the foam for scenery and just go with the plywood alone. Extruded foam is pricey here as well, 67.00 CAD for a 4x8x2.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 7:25 PM

 Noise on the foam is far less than you might think. That's assumign there is somethign between the foam and thr track, either foam roadbed or cork roadbed, suppose homasote would work as well. And also I used caulk for each attachment - cork to foam, and track to cork. No solid fasteners of any type linking the layers, which defeats the purpose of having the different layers.

 First oone was oone layer of foam, noothing underneath, foam glues right oon top of standard box framework. Second one had a 1/4" layer of plywood under the foam as a place to screw switch motors to. It wasn't identical otherwise, as it has two layers of 2" foam instead of one, and cork instead of WS foam. The older layout was quieter, with one layer fo foam glued right to the frame and WS roadbed.

 

                                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 7:27 PM

The noise will calm down when you get a healthy layer of zip texturing on it.

Foam is really convenient for landforming below grade. It's flat where you want flat and a blade or Shurform makes quick work of where you don't want flat. Ditches are scenery too.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 9:42 PM

I read a comment somewhere that a lot of people do not model ditches and other below the grade items because they simply can't - their benchwork surface is a flat piece of plywood.

Do you suggest doubling up to 4" of foam, so that below grade can be modelled?

Obviously it wouldn't be done in the yards and other flat areas like towns/cities. So if I go with the foam only surface on top of the open-grid framework, I am taking a penalty for the foam thickness used but gaining an ability to model below the track level. Is that trade-off worth it?

 

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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 9:43 PM

Hi Trainzluvr,

Thought you might find this Masonite spline roadbed posting on another subject thread, interesting....

I think hardboard and masonite are the same things, Masonite is just a brand name ( I think )

I started with 1" x 4"s as risers simply because I had a lot of them on the wood rack in the workshop. You can use 1" x 2"s however, 1" x 4"s offer a little cheat space when placing the spline on top of it.

 

I bought a bunch of cheap clamps for a dollar each at Sears, a few broke so I am glad I bought extras. You can also find them at the dollar store ( usually ). The 1" x 4" risers were screwed to the open grid and could not be placed equidistant as anywhere there was a curve the height at which the riser was placed would change. A little high school math makes it easy to figure out riser height.

 

Here you see a nail in the top of the riser. This represents the centre spline. After you lay two or three on one side the nail comes out and the centre spline takes its place. After I put down two the shape was held in place firm.

I used a hot glue gun and just glued half of a length and when dry, glued the second half. Of course, there was staggered overlap so all the joints were not in the same place. After all seven layers were done I put drywall (sheetrock) screws down through the centre spline into the riser from the top, and through the sides alternating sides as I went. Be sure to drill holes before screwing, as masonite splits and does other weird things if you don't.

 

Some of my splines at the ready. Don't forget to run off some with a 45 degree angle for the tapered out side pieces. I took my saw outside to run the sheets through and I am glad I did, the sawdust cloud was quite something. It was fun though.

Some online spline tutorials say to cut the splines at 7/8" wide. I made mine 1" as it made the math easier.

With the cookie cutter method, a lot of people tend to cut out the plywood at set radiuses. IMO this gives a layout a punched out less real look as all the curve(s) are to uniform. With spline, you can easily have a 32"R curve nicely open up to a 38"R curve and it looks like the track flows beautifully.

This stretch of spline over my canyon to the floor, has been there for nine years (I think) and hasn't sagged a bit. It is over four feet long and has had a lot of trains over it. Someday I'll cut it out and a real bridge will take its place.Laugh

Spline is really solid, cheap and doesn't require cork or foam roadbed on top of it. It went up so fast I was disappointed when I was finished as I was having a lot of fun with it. I would absolutely use spline again if it was right for the job.

One other thing I did was to vary the grade. It changes back and forth from between 1 percent to 2 percent. That goes along with my not looking "stamped out" philosophy.

Brent


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Posted by railandsail on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 9:47 PM

Masonite Splines

an interesting site on that subject
http://s145079212.onlinehome.us/rr/howto/splines/

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 6:33 AM

 Single 2" foam is plenty to allow foor ditches and so forth. If you need to really go below grade you'd need to adjust the benchwork as well. 2 layers of foam ends up being mostly wasted as most areas you won;t need to cut down that far.

 See the original articles on foam benchwork by Bill Darnaby in the archives. I think they were in the mid 90's - sometime in 95 stands out for some reason. He shows all aboud carving ditches and even ramps down to have sidings set lower than the main. Also a very simple method of attaching the benchwork to the walls. He filled his whole basement like that, and the layout still exists and still hosts operating sessions, so there is some proven track record there. And it's multi-deck and is a no-lix design. And not as big as you might think.

                                         --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 6:52 AM

Deck too high - I spill my beer trying to see. Deck too deep - I spill my beer reaching. Deck too dim - I can't find my beer. Aisle too narrow - my beer hits the fascia. Bad layout geometry wastes beer! Big Smile

Ah.  The beer theory of layout design.  This is definitely something I need to factor into planning a next layout.  I just discovered a new one I have never tried last weekend - a Belgian blond abby beer called Leffe.  Mmmm...

Anyway, interesting discussion.  Most of the homes I am looking at have unfinished basements so I'll probably have a number of months to mull over track layout design etc. before I can begin a next layout.  I've salvaged benchwork components from my last 10x18' to hopefully incorporate where they might fit or modify and re-use.  As pointed out by Byron, and I came upon it quite naturally when designing previous layouts, track plan first, the benchwork design follows.  It just makes sense!

Alan, what shade of sky blue did you use for you walls?  I chose Clear Blue Sky Valspar from Lowes on my last layout. 

http://m.valsparpaint.com/color-detail.php?id=2018&g=1012

I could go a little darker next time around and blend it a hazier sky low near the horizon.

 

Cheers, Jim

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by lifeontheranch on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 7:52 AM

riogrande5761

Alan, what shade of sky blue did you use for you walls?  I chose Clear Blue Sky Valspar from Lowes on my last layout. 

http://m.valsparpaint.com/color-detail.php?id=2018&g=1012

I could go a little darker next time around and blend it a hazier sky low near the horizon.

 

Cheers, Jim

Behr Serene Sky 540C-2

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 8:44 AM

Sandwich Construction

I come from the boat industry where we utilized 'sandwich construction' (fiberglass skins and foam/honeycomb) type constructions quite often to get stiff, lightweight skins/panels.

I was in a Lowes store yesterday just taking a quick look at plywood qualities and prices. Of course the cabinette grade plywoods looked the best, but were not very cheap.

I also looked at these 1/4" plywood underlayment sheets. Looked like fairly nice finish for a very reasonable price ($13.50). I thought why not consider making some 4x8 sheets of subroadbed by bonding two of these sheets onto either side of a 1/2" foam core.... Result 3/4" 4x8 sheet of material that likely would be as stiff as solid 3/4 plywood at lower cost and lighter weight

plywood underlayment

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 10:21 AM

I am considering making splines from foam instead of masonite. Foam is easier to cut and shape and makes much less mess than cutting strips from 4x8 masonite boards.

Also, this is intersting, the "spline holder":

Regarding sandwiching plywood and foam, I saw pre-made subflooring panels that are bonded wood and foam, although it's made from OSB and expanded foam so not that good and probably heavier than plywood.

If we were to sandwich foam between two sheets of plywood, how much pressure does it take to create a solid bond and how long would it need to "cure" before usable.

I figure I'd want to spread whatever glue usef across the entire surface evenly, so that this new sandwich board could be cut anywhere to any shape... 

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Posted by railandsail on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 10:58 AM

TrainzLuvr

I am considering making splines from foam instead of masonite. Foam is easier to cut and shape and makes much less mess than cutting strips from 4x8 masonite boards.

Doesn't the foam spline have to be very thick?...and utilize short spans.??

 

 

Regarding sandwiching plywood and foam, I saw pre-made subflooring panels that are bonded wood and foam, although it's made from OSB and expanded foam so not that good and probably heavier than plywood.

If we were to sandwich foam between two sheets of plywood, how much pressure does it take to create a solid bond and how long would it need to "cure" before usable.

I figure I'd want to spread whatever glue usef across the entire surface evenly, so that this new sandwich board could be cut anywhere to any shape... 


The type of glue would be dependant on the foam material used in the 'core'. I will need to do a bit more research on that. BTW, it might be possible to use just the cheap styrofoam if a good bond can be found.

I think some of the decking adhesives might be utilized. And they might be spread over the surfaces by a simple trowel. May have to avoid petroleum based adhesives as the might attack foam core. Maybe build them out in the flat driveway, and use concrete blocks or pails of water set on ribs to weight them down.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 11:15 AM

Thanks Alan.  I use Behr also - it looks nearly the same as the Valspar sky.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 11:31 AM

From what I could read on other forums, people have just used foam as a direct replacement for masonite when building splines. Some cut 2" foam into strips and use a single strip, while others have bonded several thinner strips together.

This got me thinking to include a more rigid strip of some kind as a base to which the foam would adhere to. I wonder if polystyrene strips would be practical in that fashion.

I also read somewhere that there's a problem using extruded foam with any kind of PVC. Apparently PVC eats into the extruded foam, or damages it in some fashion. Since all wires are PVC coated that's one area of concern.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 12:17 PM

 I'm not sure I would call cutting roadbed from 2" foam a "spline". Splines are made up of thin materials, the whole thing bent to curves. You are not going to get strips of 2" forma to bend to even 30" radius without snapping. And cuttign the curves in the foam isn't spline, that's more like cookie cutter or just standard plywood techniques. That sort of thing should work, I had a narrow section of foam, just one layer of 2", for my liftout bridge. It did have a wood frame and a crosspiece in the middle. The main point of splines though is so that the subroadbed also flows in nice spiral curves along with the track. Cutting foam or plywood or other solid material into curves and straights is definitely not that.

                          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 12:51 PM

Oh you are right, I just saw these various methods on the forums. I would probably go with several 1/2" foam strips laminated together.

Another idea I have is to use |_| shaped bent pieces of metal flashing to hold the strips together and act as a spline holder on the risers. Since foam strips can't be screwed through like masonite ones, these metal shapes should keep them together in case the glue gives in.

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Posted by Colorado Ray on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 10:37 PM

TrainzLuvr

Another idea I have is to use |_| shaped bent pieces of metal flashing to hold the strips together and act as a spline holder on the risers. Since foam strips can't be screwed through like masonite ones, these metal shapes should keep them together in case the glue gives in.

 

The U shape metal flashing will not bend without buckling the bottom metal.

Without support it's likely that laminated strips of foam will be too weak to span between risers unless the strips are very deep.

it's well and good to try and innovate, but recognize the risks.

Ray

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Thursday, September 14, 2017 7:15 AM

I used metal flashing as an example, maybe some other softer metal could be used to make nice U shapes that are light and sturdy.

Do you think that having a hard spline in the center would be a good reinforcement for the foam around it? Or do you have any other ideas along this line?

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, September 14, 2017 7:35 AM

TrainzLuvr
I also read somewhere that there's a problem using extruded foam with any kind of PVC. Apparently PVC eats into the extruded foam, or damages it in some fashion. Since all wires are PVC coated that's one area of concern.

According to Digikey some wire is covered in PTFE or PPE.  With the number of people here who use foam for the layout, I would think someone would have mentioned that wire was dissolving their layout before now.

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, September 14, 2017 8:49 AM

I had a question about the 'glue' the fellow used on his Masonite splines.

Brian asked:

Thanks for that Brent. I believe you said you used hot-melt glue on your splines?

I assume you had no long term problems with that glueing method?

I image it is a bit cleaner that using liquid type glues, and would go a bit quicker??

He responded:

The hot glue is still solid nine years later with no sign of delaminating. That 4' part has no screws in it and is still solid.

Get hot glue sticks with a slower setting time, as it allows time to get the top aligned up. By slower I mean maybe 45 seconds instead of 30 seconds, it goes fast. In the videos you can see some glue spider webs hanging down, these took seconds to clean up

Here I cut out the spline and put in a bridge. It was waaaay easier removing the spline to do that, than trying to cut out a chunk of plywood.

 

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, September 14, 2017 12:05 PM

I've seen were 1/2" PVC pipe was fashioned into a spline type roadbed, and I have even considered such a method for building my helix roadbed. But I am now leaning against this in favor of a dbl-layer Masonite material.

I believe I have also seen some long rectangular shaped PVC/vinyl trim pieces (1/8" thick, 3/4" or 1" wide, 8 or 10 feet long) sold at HD? This could make spline roadbed , but would end up being quite a bit more expensive than the Masonite.

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Posted by railandsail on Thursday, September 14, 2017 2:21 PM

Spline Roadbed

Some interesting discussion of spline roadbed,...
http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/24865

...one quote

I use two strips of masonite with a 3/4" wood spacer the two more strips of masonite.  My risers are cut down to fit between the massonite at the top.  I then put a layer of homasote flat on top of the assembly.

I screw down into the 3/4" spacer blocks (the blocks are 3/4 x 3/4 x 1" tall, spaced about 8" on center)  I glue the homasote to the masonite and once the glue is dry I pull out the screws.

This is strong enough that it will hold my weight and I am 250 lbs.

It is simpler to build, saves masonite, gives a good connection to the risers and gives me a homasote top that I can spike into.

-Doug

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, September 14, 2017 9:38 PM

 This guy has an interesting design to support his second deck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaC1qoFAZt4

At about the 4:00 mark he takes a sidebar to demonstrate how strong this system really is (and he screws the frames directly in as well as uses the brackets. One bracket alone supports 73 pounds without breaking. MORE than enough for anything you might build on top. Certainly could go every other stud with this sort of thing. And that one bracket in the weight test is simply screwed to an upright - a 2x4 stud behind drywall will be even stiffer than that test vertical.

                               --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by railandsail on Friday, September 15, 2017 6:42 AM

That wood bracket is kind of an unsightly bracket to work around?
The fellow is a very nice woodworker.

Wonder it anyone has done such a test on these metal brackets.
I plan on using on the lower deck of my new layout.


I'm thinking the 'stamped steel ones with a backbone rib' will work on the upper deck.?

Won't hold as much as his in the video, but I think plenty enough for 2" foam roadbed with HO trains and plastic structures on upper deck.

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Posted by TrainzLuvr on Friday, September 15, 2017 7:15 AM

Oh yeah I like Jeff's design. I was going to use it originally for my benchwork, when I planned for the 24-30" deep shelves, but then I decided against deep shelves.

What I like about the design is that beside having a good load bearing, that curved portion below acts as a guide for the backdrop, so one can curve over it instead of having sharp corners, which don't look that nice.

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