Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Styrene? Plastic?

5716 views
20 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: Fredericksburg, VA
  • 692 posts
Styrene? Plastic?
Posted by Bill54 on Friday, April 28, 2006 7:05 AM
I read where people on this forum use styrene to build up an area for what ever purpose. Then someone comes along and says Styrene is Plastic. Is styrene the same as plastic? or is there a difference?

I need to build up the area where couplers mount under a few of my box cars. They came with couplers attached to the trucks and tend to derail when going over turnouts. I feel they will work much better if the coupler is attached to the chassis and not the trucks.

To get the couplers the right height I need to build up the area about 1/8". I am using Kaydee #5 couplers. The shimms I have are .010 and.015. It would take a whole tree and then some to build the coupler box up to the right height. What I hoped to do was get a sheet of styrene or plastic to use to build the area up then mount the couplers.

So, where can either styrene or plastic sheets be found?

Bill
As my Mom always says...Where there's a will there's a way!
  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Rimrock, Arizona
  • 10,949 posts
Posted by SpaceMouse on Friday, April 28, 2006 7:08 AM
Styrene is a form of plastic and can be obtained at any hobby shop. It comes in a variety of thicknesses so you might end up picking up a few. They have many practical uses around the layout including, but not limited to, kitbashing and and scratch building stuctures.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Mississippi
  • 819 posts
Posted by ukguy on Friday, April 28, 2006 7:25 AM
a cheaper source is the "for sale" or "for rent" signs @ Wal-Mart if you just want sheet styrene, they come in two sizes and thicknesses at a fraction of the hobby store price.

Have fun & be safe
Karl.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, April 28, 2006 7:27 AM
Evergreen is one of the great names in hobby styrene. Check out their website for more info than you can ever use: http://www.evergreenscalemodels.com/

Bob Boudreau
  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 19,248 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, April 28, 2006 7:45 AM
I bought a couple of big sheets of styrene from www.usplastic.com for a fraction of the cost of buying it in small plastic wrappers at retail, or even as "Beware of the Dog" signs at Wal-Mart. It's great stuff to have around.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, April 28, 2006 8:54 AM
I note the above replies give various rather odd suppliers for styrene sources . If you are located in a large urban centre, always check out the commercial sources for materials, the ones a professional would use. Plastics in the yellow pages can reveal any number of potential suppliers. One large supplier is GE Polymershapes but there are many others. GE sells styrene sheets in a number of model friendly thicknesses and in 4 x 8 feet for approx. $24. That size and price for styrene puts the hobby shop and even Wal Mart sources to shame. Getting to know the commercial supplies and the industrial sources in your vicinity will open up another world of alternatives.

Large sheets of styrene can be used for backdrops-- this application is well documented in one of MR's pdf downloads.

Cheers,
Fred
  • Member since
    December 2003
  • From: East central Illinois
  • 2,576 posts
Posted by Cox 47 on Friday, April 28, 2006 9:11 AM
Sorry Fred but most of us are nearer to a Walmart and you can't beat the price of their "signs" and 4 by 8 is a lot of plastic...Cox 47
ILLinois and Southern...Serving the Coal belt of southern Illinois with a Smile...
  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: Colorado Springs, CO
  • 3,590 posts
Posted by csmith9474 on Friday, April 28, 2006 10:14 AM
You may want to have a look at these as well....
http://www.ares-server.com/Ares/Ares.asp?MerchantID=RET01229&Action=Catalog&Type=Product&ID=82562
Smitty
  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 19,248 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, April 28, 2006 10:15 AM
The US Plastics stuff comes in 40x72 inch sheets. I bought 2 sheets last year, and I've almost finished with the first one. My layout is only 5 feet by 12 feet. Sheet styrene is just incredibly useful stuff.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Mp 126 on the St. Louis District of NS's IL. Div.
  • 1,611 posts
Posted by icmr on Friday, April 28, 2006 11:21 AM
Thats why it is called styrene plastic.



Victor

Happy Railroading.[swg][swg]
Illinois Central Railroad. Operation Lifesaver. Look, Listen, Live. Proud owner and user of Digitrax DCC. Visit my forum at http://icmr.proboards100.com For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Dream. Plan. Build.Smile, Wink & GrinSmile, Wink & Grin
  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Midtown Sacramento
  • 3,288 posts
Posted by Jetrock on Friday, April 28, 2006 11:38 AM
A local plastics supplier sells sheets of 40x72 styrene, .020" thickness, for around four bucks...obviously this will vary but if you scratchbuild a lot or are building concrete roads you can use this much, for someone who just needs bits at a time it's more of a "buy one sheet of styrene to last a lifetime" kind of purchase!

I'd rather not go anywhere near a Wal-Mart if I can help it, and there are always alternatives.
  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: San Jose, California
  • 3,154 posts
Posted by nfmisso on Friday, April 28, 2006 12:51 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Bill54

Is styrene the same as plastic? or is there a difference?


Bill;

It is kinda like oak and tree (or wood). Styrene is a type of plastic. There are dozens of different kinds of plastic resins (like species of tree) in common use today.
Nigel N&W in HO scale, 1950 - 1955 (..and some a bit newer too) Now in San Jose, California
  • Member since
    December 2005
  • From: Fredericksburg, VA
  • 692 posts
Posted by Bill54 on Friday, April 28, 2006 1:04 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by nfmisso

QUOTE: Originally posted by Bill54

Is styrene the same as plastic? or is there a difference?


Bill;

It is kinda like oak and tree (or wood). Styrene is a type of plastic. There are dozens of different kinds of plastic resins (like species of tree) in common use today.
nfmisso,

Thanks for clarifying that for me. I didn't know if it was the same as plastic or another type of plastic.

Does the styrene such as the "FOR SALE" signs glue together like the plastic parts on the rolling stock? In other words can I cut out several pieces and glue them together with the same adhesion as regular plastic?

Bill
As my Mom always says...Where there's a will there's a way!
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: NW Central IND.
  • 326 posts
Posted by easyaces on Friday, April 28, 2006 1:30 PM
"Styrene" can also be styrofoam, and extruded foam insulation sheets, in addition to solid sheet styrene that can be had in various thicknesses, or as shaped "I"-beams and such. I think Mr Beasley, and Cox47 head in the right direction to find large sheets for big projects.
MR&L(Muncie,Rochester&Lafayette)"Serving the Hoosier Triangle" "If you lost it in the Hoosier Triangle, We probably shipped it " !!
  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Midtown Sacramento
  • 3,288 posts
Posted by Jetrock on Friday, April 28, 2006 3:48 PM
Bill54: The only difference between the "FOR SALE" signs and the sheets of styrene you buy at a hobby shop is that one has "FOR SALE" printed on the side.

Styrene is "regular plastic"--it's short for polystyrene, which is one of many types of plastic. Plastic model kits are generally also made out of polystyrene. Polystyrene is exactly the sort of plastic that you use MEK-based plastic glues with (as opposed to engineering plastics like Delrin.)

To put it another way: All styrene is plastic, but not all plastic is styrene.

easyaces refers to expanded and extruded polystyrene, otherwise known as Styrofoam.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, April 28, 2006 4:34 PM
Your question has already been answered but I want to put in my [2c]
Plastic is a general term. I can think of at least four kinds of plastics that are typically used in model railroading. Styrene, ABS, Resin, Derlin. Styrene is generally used in structures, some locomotive and rail car shells, kit parts and scratch building. ABS is a more ridged styrene and is usually used for detail parts and comes in structural shapes used in scratch building. Resin is a two part liquid used for casting in molds. Derlin is mainly used for rail trucks and locomotive side frames because it is strong, flexiable and oily.

Can anyone think of other plastics we use?

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: US
  • 1,522 posts
Posted by AltonFan on Saturday, April 29, 2006 4:08 PM
Acetate is sometimes used for window glazing.

Dan

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, April 29, 2006 4:31 PM
I got some styrene Coca-Cola posters from a quick stop for nothing, they're a great source of styrene.

Greg
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,206 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, April 29, 2006 5:08 PM
QUOTE: Can anyone think of other plastics we use?


my most recent tankcar has a tank of polyvinylchloride with a dome of some unknown plastic from a pillbottle.

none of my plastic glues would work with this combination and i ended up using cyanoacrylate; another form of plastic.

(i always thought those "for sale" signs were ABS plastic. oh well, live and learn)

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: San Jose, California
  • 3,154 posts
Posted by nfmisso on Saturday, April 29, 2006 6:17 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by gsetter

Can anyone think of other plastics we use?

PA (nylon)

Delrin® is a POM, as is Celcon®; often used for hand rails.

PET is used for soda bottles, and many similar containers like Woodland Scenics' dispensers.

Styrene is less expensive than ABS, and ABS is less brittle.
Nigel N&W in HO scale, 1950 - 1955 (..and some a bit newer too) Now in San Jose, California
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • 777 posts
Posted by pike-62 on Monday, May 1, 2006 7:57 AM
As I was reading thru this thread i decided to dig around in my desk and get out my pocket reference guide for thermoplastics (Plastics that can be formed with heat). The section on styrene has 40 major manufacturers listed with about 15-20 different grades per manufacturer. I am not sure which gade is used by Evergreen, plastruct or the model manufacturers. This book only lists the major common plastics and is about 300 pages long with about 50 grades per page. This does not even get into the thermoset plastics (bakelite Etc...) and the thousands of different types of 2 part casting materials comonly refered to as resin.
Just thought you all might be interested.

Dan Pikulski
www.DansResinCasting.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!