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  • Member since
    December 2023
  • 2 posts
New to the group
Posted by sc_offroad on Saturday, December 23, 2023 10:03 AM

Good morning to all, after after many years of collecting a few locos, rolling stock and a memorabilia I am finally taking the leap and starting my first layout in the upstairs of my garage.  I built three 4x8 tables a few years back so my layout will be the shape of an L.  So much to do now and it’s turned into an onion with the many layers left.   I think I’m gonna use the NCE DCC system, and I know I want the perimeter of my layout to have a double main with 22” outer and 18” inner radii with a minimum of 2 turnouts. My vision is to have two trains running on the mains while I use the interior for switching industry and short car movements in a small town. I am searching the forums for answers and I have questions. First, which is better? Foam board on table top to modify as scenery or track on table top with foam board as an elevation for scenery?

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • From: Shenandoah Valley
  • 9,094 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, December 28, 2023 5:41 PM

If you place your L-shaped layout against the wall, you will find your arms are significantly shorter than the reach to the track next to the wall.

For larger engines, modern passenger cars and freight, 18" may not look right or cause significant overhang.

I use 1 and 2 layers of 2" foam on table top.  My old layout was L-girder with cookie cutter plywood topped with homosote and was significantly easier to create grades with the track than trying to carve a grade into the foam, not to mention the mess.

I think Woodland Scenics sells foam wedgies to elevate your track, if you go with straight table top.  A couple layers of foam allow you to create negative elevation.  What is that?  The pond is in negative elevation.

More foam complicates below track turnout machines and wiring.  Ken Patterson works with multiple layers of foam and tunnels his wires to the front of the benchwork.  You can find him on Youtube.  He does demonstration builds for another magazine.

Your posts are delayed by moderation and the holidays.  Rack up a few more posts and it goes away.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
  • 15,718 posts
Posted by hon30critter on Friday, December 29, 2023 12:53 AM

Hi sc_offroad,

Welcome to the forums!!!      Welcome

I am using 2" foam over 1/4" luan plywood on 1 x 4 open benchwork. I want to be able to carve ditches beside the track and I want to have a shallow river scene and the 2" foam allows me to do both. If all you want is somewhat deeper ditches, then 1" foam would be fine. Otherwise, the subroadbed will form shallow ditches just fine.

Most people would say that the luan is not necessary but I want to be able to mount Tortoises and other items solidly to the underside of the layout (I tend to overbuild!Smile, Wink & Grin). In your case I'm assuming that you already have plywood table tops so there is no reason for the luan.

Depending on the length of your rolling stock and how far the ends overhang on the curves, you could probably get away with a 19" inner radius. The NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) has a lot of recommendations about clearances. It's worth having a look.

https://www.nmra.org/standards

Have fun!!

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 315 posts
Posted by AEP528 on Friday, December 29, 2023 7:13 AM

I use 2" foam for the same reasons stated above; it's much easier to add scenery features below the track. My foam is on top of 1/2" plywood. My layout is a "shelf-layout" style but is actually mostly free-standing 1/4 open grid. The benchwork needed to be solid and able to withstand the occasional bump, and I don't like securing foam directly to the structural parts of the benchwork. In my opinion change is inevitable on model railroads, so benchwork reuse is important.

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 1:10 PM

Hello All,

Welcome to the forums and this great hobby!

Your first few posts will be reviewed by the moderator so there will be delays in seeing them.

sc_offroad
Starting...my first layout in the upstairs of my garage.

What is the size of the space you are planning on occupying?

How much overhead space do you have before you hit the the rafters?

sc_offroad
I built three 4x8 tables a few years back so my layout will be the shape of an L.

BigDaddy
If you place your L-shaped layout against the wall, you will find your arms are significantly shorter than the reach to the track next to the wall.

With the three (3) 4'x8' tables, rather than an "L" you could make an "H" or "T" shaped pike.

sc_offroad
I know I want the perimeter of my layout to have a double main with 22” outer and 18” inner radii.

With those size curves, it will limit the length of locomotives and rolling stock you can reliably run.

If you increased the size of each table by 6 inches; 3 inches per side- -creating a 4-1/2' x 8'- -you could increase the radii to 22- and 24-inches respectively.

sc_offroad
First, which is better? Foam board on table top to modify as scenery or track on table top with foam board as an elevation for scenery?

On my 4'x8' pike I use 1" foam on a 1/4" plywood base with 1"x4" open grid bench work on 32- x 24-inch centers.

My pike is based on a coal branch loop located on the Western Slope of Colorado.

Despite being mountainous terrain the loop is "carved" out of the landscape so the actual space is relatively flat.

Any features are built up rather than carved down.

There is a curved 3% grade up to the platform for the unloading of the vintage HO Tyco 34-foot operating hoppers. The cars return to the mainline via a 15-inch radius trestle (helix).

You didn't mention the use of roadbed for a more prototypical appearance to your trackwork.

The three main materials used are cork, Homosote®, or foam.

Each has its advantages and disadvantages- -which is a hotly contested debate.

I have had success with Woodland Scenics foam roadbed held down to the foam base with clear silicon caulk.

The smell of silicone caulk while curing is off-putting to many people.

I suggest "brainstorming" on paper with different table and track arrangements before committing track to surface, no matter what your final choice is.

Keep the questions coming and as always...

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
    September 2011
  • 6,434 posts
Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 9:42 PM

jjdamnit
I have had success with Woodland Scenics foam roadbed held down to the foam base with clear silicon caulk. The smell of silicone caulk while curing is off-putting to many people.

Are you using foam compatible caulk?  If not, it may be reacting with the foamboard.

  • Member since
    March 2017
  • 8,156 posts
Posted by Track fiddler on Wednesday, January 3, 2024 10:50 PM

Evening

Welcome to the group OffroadSmile

Wow!  Got only one 4x8 slab over here, in N scale that is.  There will be 11 Bridges when it's complete, I'm building #9.

Couldn't even imagine how many more there could be, with two more pallets on my plate.

 

Extruded Foam is good, and more than durable enough, to support our Tinker ToysWink

 

Silicone is more suited for bathroom tub & tile, as Alex Plus caulk is foam's best friend, and easily reversible, if you ever change your mind on anythingYes  Loctite Polyseamseal, when ya need something a little more perminent.  That stuff's like super elastic, bubble plasticHuh?

 

You're off to a good start.  With 64 more square feet of Real Estate to play with, on top of the 32, sounds like your gonna have a really fun garage upstairs.

 

Good to hear from ya.  Hang in here with us, and keep us postedYes

 

TF

  • Member since
    August 2006
  • From: Nashville, TN area
  • 712 posts
Posted by hardcoalcase on Thursday, January 4, 2024 11:20 AM

I agree with the recommendation to go wider than 18" radius on a mainline, for the stated reasons.  Much better to go something like 24" & 21.5"; and also use easement curves at every place where straight and curved tracks meet. 

I'm a fan of 1/2" plywood subroadbed on risers over grid or L-girder benchwork, sometimes called "cookie-cutter"; mainly because it offers more opportunity for height differential with a strong base for track roadbed and buildings.  I can lean on the track for support anywhere on the layout.  But if you plan for modest height differential (for creeks and gullys, etc.), then foam starts to look better.

Jim 

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
  • 2,297 posts
Posted by jjdamnit on Thursday, January 4, 2024 12:51 PM

Hello All,

MidlandMike
Are you using foam-compatible caulk?

Yes...

GE brand "Clear Silicone I Caulk" and "Clear Silicone II Caulk" are what I use- -apparently, the difference is the Silicone II is "Rain Ready" in 30 minutes- -whatever that means.

I have found no discernible difference in the actual curing time between the two.

The silicone caulk is cured for a full 24 hours before attaching the track to the roadbed.

MidlandMike
..it may be reacting with the foam board (SIC).

Actually, quite the opposite...

The beauty of using silicone caulk to adhere the Woodland Scenics foam roadbed to the Dow extruded polystyrene closed-cell foam board is if the roadbed needs to be repositioned it peels up cleanly and quickly without damaging either material.

A quick scrub with fingers removes any residue from both surfaces and actually "cleans" the foam base.

Some people don't like the smell of the curing silicone caulk and for that reason don't use it.

I have not used silicone caulk with cork or Homasote® roadbed so I cannot comment on how it reacts with those materials.

Track fiddler
Silicone is more suited for bathroom tub & tile...

Oh, please don't call the "Adhesive Police" on me! (See my signature.)

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
    December 2015
  • From: Shenandoah Valley
  • 9,094 posts
Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, January 4, 2024 6:41 PM

Don't use silicon caulk that has lived in a garage where it was exposed to freezing temps for a couple years.   It never hardens. DAMHIK

Dap 320 works fine to adhere cork to foam.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

  • Member since
    December 2023
  • 2 posts
Posted by sc_offroad on Sunday, January 7, 2024 5:55 PM

Thank you!

  • Member since
    January 2024
  • 1 posts
Posted by CSLTRAIN on Friday, January 12, 2024 9:21 AM

Good luck to you as I am new to the forum as well.I am trying to build a large scale (1:29) railroad in my basement (16 x 50) and while I finished the benchwork I need help with the track laying and wiring (I'm 74 years old). If any of you know of someone in the Chicago or northwest Indiana area who can help me, I would most appreciate contact information.  Thanks. 

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Bradford, Ontario
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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, January 13, 2024 12:57 AM

CSLTRAIN
If any of you know of someone in the Chicago or northwest Indiana area who can help me, I would most appreciate contact information. 

Hi CSLTRAIN,

There are several professional layout builders in the US and most of them will travel to you to do the work. I googled "Professional model train layout builders" and got several hits.

I recently tried to hire a professional layout builder to help me lay track and do the wiring. Unfortunately the Canadian Labour Laws required that he get a work permit to come from Tennessee to work in Ontario, and the cost just for the permit was absolutely horrendous!! Of course, you won't have that problem, but a pro builder may have some requirements regarding the benchwork that you have already built. Specifically, if the benchwork is not stable, either because of construction errors or environmental issues like temperature and humidity changes, the layout builder will be very unlikely to guarantee their work. The best tracklaying in the world won't stand up to shifting benchwork.

You should also be prepared for sticker shock!

There is an alternative, and that is to seek out train clubs in your area and join one. Once a person has proven themselves to be a respectfull and supportive member, you may find members who are willing to help with your layout for the price of donuts and coffee. Just don't expect them to do all the work, and do organize operating sessions on your layout as soon as trains can be run and often thereafter. It doesn't matter if your layout is still a 'plywood paradise'. Model railroaders are quite capable of using their imaginations!

Cheers!!

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: west coast
  • 7,642 posts
Posted by rrebell on Saturday, January 13, 2024 9:34 AM

Just 2" foam here for base, never a problem.

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