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Re-construction/need help

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Re-construction/need help
Posted by Anonymous on Saturday, October 11, 2003 7:39 PM
I am just about ready to start re-building my N-scale layout. Suddenly I am receiving conflicting advice as to how to start. One says get a 2" piece of styrofoam to place over the table and cut it to form scenery and to put the track on top of it. Another says the heck with that, just put some cork roadbed down under the track and wire it up and go. And I am certain that there are more ideas than these two. As I do not have loads of $$, what is the most reliable way to get the track down in a manner where I can eventually add scenery and everything else without spending an arm and a leg.
Thanks
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Posted by cacole on Saturday, October 11, 2003 8:01 PM
Styrofoam is a good choice, but you have to make sure it is yellow or pink, dense styrofoam at least 2 inches thick. Anything thinner will be too flimsy and easily broken. Latex caulking and latex based paints can be used without harming syyrofoam, but liquid nails and other adhesives containing petroleum distillates will dissolve it. Cork roadbed can still be used if desired, and can be glued down with latex caulking or Elmer's white glue. Ditto for track. If you want to dig a pond or lake, spray some type of product containing petroleum distillates and let it dissolve the styrofoam to the desired depth, then spray with water to stop the action of the distillate. More layers can be glued on using caulk to build mountains. Styrofoam can be cut with a serrated bread knife or hot wire cutter.. The greatest advantage to styrofoam is weight savings. Your layout will still be light enough to pick up and move if you need to.

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Posted by Puckdropper on Saturday, October 11, 2003 11:01 PM
I've used the track-wire-n-go method, and if I was to do it over again would use foam. Sub grade elevations (depression) are much easier to do with styrofoam as compared with wood.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 12:27 AM
I agree with Puckdropper, have used wood for several layouts, and regret it when it comes to developing the gullies, etc. . Am now trying with foam, but, got several large sheets of the wrong kind (white), of course the price was right (FREE). I drive a truck and the pieces in question were left in a parking lot. May use them for scenery, but probably for insulation in basement.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 8:52 AM
QUOTE: Styrofoam is a good choice, but you have to make sure it is yellow or pink, dense styrofoam at least 2 inches thick. Anything thinner will be too flimsy and easily broken.
Or blue. What you want is extruded styrofoam sold for insulation. The color depends on the manufacturer. You don't need to get 2" thick foam if you are putting it on a solid surface - just allow for how far below grade you need for gulleys, etc. You can use layers to get the desired thickness if you want.

QUOTE: Latex caulking and latex based paints can be used without harming syyrofoam, but liquid nails and other adhesives containing petroleum distillates will dissolve it.
Good point - use water based paints, etc. Note there is a Liquid Nails for Projects" that is compatiable with foam.

QUOTE: If you want to dig a pond or lake, spray some type of product containing petroleum distillates and let it dissolve the styrofoam to the desired depth, then spray with water to stop the action of the distillate.
I've never tried this, but it doesn't sound like it would allow much control over what you're doing, and also sounds like it could produce some pretty heinous fumes and smells. I converted my soldering gun into a hot-wire cutter by replacing the soldering tip with a piece of bare copper wire, 16 AWG or so, bent into the shape of the 'gouge' I wanted to cut.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 8:54 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by lrenee

I am just about ready to start re-building my N-scale layout. Suddenly I am receiving conflicting advice as to how to start. One says get a 2" piece of styrofoam to place over the table and cut it to form scenery and to put the track on top of it. Another says the heck with that, just put some cork roadbed down under the track and wire it up and go. And I am certain that there are more ideas than these two. As I do not have loads of $$, what is the most reliable way to get the track down in a manner where I can eventually add scenery and everything else without spending an arm and a leg.
Thanks
There's more than one right way to do most things. You need to decide by price shopping and how good a hunter/gatherer you are what to do for YOU. If you live in a city and don't have a truck maybe foams the way to go. If you live in rual or suburbia and have a truck lots of wood can be found for free. Like the guy who found free white bead board, it's not the best choice, but it's free and very usable in layout construction. FRED
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 9:06 AM

QUOTE: If you want to dig a pond or lake, spray some type of product containing petroleum distillates and let it dissolve the styrofoam to the desired depth, then spray with water to stop the action of the distillate.
QUOTE: I've never tried this, but it doesn't sound like it would allow much control over what you're doing, and also sounds like it could produce some pretty heinous fumes and smells. I converted my soldering gun into a hot-wire cutter by replacing the soldering tip with a piece of bare copper wire, 16 AWG or so, bent into the shape of the 'gouge' I wanted to cut.
Actually distallates work well and if you use WD40 the fumes are no worse than spraying a door hinge. Water floats the oil off and stops the melting. Using a hot wire is actually more dangerous from fumes released, causing a fire, and buring you arm or hands to the bone almost instantly. Don't knock it until you try it. FRED
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 10:41 AM
Whatever. I assume you've made a comparison of what a petroleum distallate (sic)/styrofoam reaction produces with what cutting styrofoam with a hot surface produces, right? How do you get around never using a soldering iron due to the danger of 'buring (sic) you (sic) arm or hands to the bone almost instantly'?
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 13, 2003 2:40 PM
The petroleum distallate merly dissolve the plastic allowing the trapped gas in the bubbles to collaspe and decrease in volume. When the liquid is removed the plastic rehardens, much like using solvent glue on styrene. Now melting with a hot wire burns the plastic and releases posion gasses. And touch that hot wire to your finger if you don't think it will burn you to the bone. We kind of need to watch some of the things we post on this site as teenagers will read and do it. I can see a child mounting a wire in his dads soldering gun and branding his sister or burning his house down. I rather would have them using WD 40 to melt plastic. FRED
PS .Anyone don't think a hot wire cutter will not burn you send me an email and I'll email you a picture of my scar.
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Posted by scotttmason on Tuesday, October 14, 2003 12:29 PM
Since I work mainly past the kids bedtime (9:00 pm) I am open to methods that don't require irons!!! Don't have to wait for it to get hot and no chance of starting a fire if you forget to close the glue bottle.

For gluing foam - foam, white glue won't set properly (air tight seal, cures only at edge) but seems to work fine when gluing foam - wood or cardboard strips as with scenery. Are other users finding this to be a good long term solution? Adhesive caulk is great, but cost more, saving that for track laying.
Got my own basement now; benchwork done but no trains, yet.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 15, 2003 9:06 AM
RTV silicone works great for sticking foam to foam, or anything to foam. Is cheap at autoparts store. FRED
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Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, October 19, 2003 2:58 AM
QUOTE: Don't knock it until you try it
OK, I tried it.
Took a piece of scrap foam and sprayed it with WD40. Waited...and waited...and waited.
Sprayed it again, the foam was dripping with the stuff. Waited...and waited... and waited.
The results? Nothing. Nada. It had zero effect on the foam.
Can I knock it now?

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Sunday, October 19, 2003 6:31 AM
Depends on what you are trying to do in this layout.

If you are not going to have scenery below the track level, then cork roadbed on plywood is fine.

If you plan on below track scenery such as creeks, ponds, etc then foam can be a good bet. It is probably simpler than the traditional method of cutting the subroad bed from plywood and using risers to elevate it above the frame.

An intermediate method is to build the framework so that you have a lower levels in one or two spots for scenic effects, then you can use plywood over the framework. The classic example here is to have a river running acrss the middle of a 4x8 layout. You build the framework as usual and then cut down the sides in the middle as wide as you want the river (make sure your side boards are at least 3" after cutting or use extra legs for support, may need to use 1x6 sides here ). Then you cut the plywood through the middle twice so that you have a piece for each end and piece for the river bed. This usually requires some extra support pieces in the framework. Deeper effects can be achieved but require building the framework in modules with the modules at different heights. In N scale the foam is probably an easier way to go.

Enjoy
Paul
If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 20, 2003 9:23 AM
Billkarmery, Try the correct type foam, some isn't reactive to solvents. There's more than one kind of foam. We are ususally talking about pink or blue construction type foam, not matress foam or packing foam. Some types foam don't cut correctly with a hot wire either. But you appear to be POed about the subject so I'm sure you will never get it to work. I just don't understand why you are acting so hostile towards a new idea that you never even tried? I mean I never tried Zima, but I don't post it tastes like crap!!! FRED
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 7, 2003 5:34 PM
To all the kind people that recommended the styrofoam: Great idea. However I live in a condominium (large apartment) and I would probably have to go somewhere outside (as in outside the building) in order to cut it, or do anything with it that would produce the fumes it is known for. That has been one very large stumbling block.
Although it would be nice to have "easier scenery" with the styrofoam, what I may do is just do the cork on wood without permanently attaching it (if that is possible), and if at a later date I can figure out how to put the styrofoam on without the hassles, I will do it.
Thanks to all.
LR
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Posted by eastcoast on Saturday, November 8, 2003 7:33 PM
Since I too do not have the $1,000,000,000,000,000.00 I need to build mine
overnight, May I recommend to go with STRENGTH AND OPERATION in the
form of WOOD for your lines. And then try all the methods you can and choose
the one you can do best and at your budget. I basically recycled a layout and
built on to it and am experimenting with many things.
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Posted by yellowducky on Saturday, November 8, 2003 8:32 PM
I bought a 3x5foot N layout several years ago. It has cork roadbed on 3/4in. plywood. It works, but I wouldn't suggest it. I have 3 different sized hollowcore doors. I plan on using one with a set of folding legs. I want to try some below level scenery, if I can avoid weakening the inner frame. Happy TRAINing, FDM
FDM TRAIN up a child in the way he should go...Proverbs22:6 Garrett, home of The Garrett Railroaders, and other crazy people. The 5 basic food groups are: candy, poptarts, chocolate, pie, and filled donuts !
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 4:04 PM
What can I use to seal the joints between the sheets of pink foam?
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Posted by Bikerdad on Thursday, November 13, 2003 8:18 PM
It should be noted that the foam can be cut mechanically. Any serrated cutting tool will do the trick. It is reputed by "those who know" that a simple electric kitchen knife is the bee's knees. The downside to mechanical cutting, especially with white expanded polystyrene (i.e., beer cooler) is that the "sawdust" is voluminous AND electrostatically charged. It will go everywhere and annoyingly stick to anything!

However, it is pretty cheap, easy to find, available everywhere (including the great regions of this country where the extruded foam polystryene (aka "Styrofoam", pink or blue) is in short supply.

Remember, you don't have to use heat or chemicals to shape the foam, simple carving away at it like a turkey will do the trick.

Zuul, use the Liquid Nails for projects as a sealer, or LATEX caulk. If you feel lucky, you could try the "canned insulation", which will expand, but I believe it has solvents in it which could possibly be a problem. Of course, you could simply check a can before you buy it.

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