A few question's from a newbie..

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A few question's from a newbie..

  • Hello all,

    I plan on building a train layout for my son who is an absolute train nut. I inherited my grandpa's train set recently and just started the learning process. I went to a local hobby shop and bought a few books, flex track etc. Yes, $300 and 2hrs later ( i just had t buy a new steam engine)i walked out to begin my adventure.

    While i was there someone suggested to me that i use a 2" polystyrene w/ a luan backing as my base. I thought that sounded like a very good idea. I want to keep my layout lightweight, and modular to some degree just for an unsuspected move. My main question on this note is what is the best way to secure my cork subroad to the polystyrene? Also, it seems to me that using track nails to secure my track to the cork is not going to work, or am i wrong? I have searched thru plenty of material to find the only suggested base is plywood.

    I would think i could use liquid nails to secure the cork but i have reserves as to it overall longevity. I would hate to find out 3 months from now that my cork subroad is peeling away. Any ideas or advice will be greatly appreciated.
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  • Hi and welcome Will_Munny. Your LHS trip sound like what I did when I returned to the hobby. I see you posted in Oct. How has your layout come so far and do you have any other questions. I found these boards to be full of great help and the nicest guys and gals around. Enjoy your trains.

  • I assume they mean extruded polystyrene (foam board) such as pink or blue insulation which can be found at building supply outlets.

    White glue, carperters glue and liquid nails (the type made for use with foam insulation, other types have a solvent that eats the foam) will all work. It will also hold the track to the roadbed.

    I find the glues easier to use than liquid nails, but liquid nails would probably be more durable in the long run. I use small nails or brads to hold the roadbed and later the track while the glue dries, but since they do not hold well in foam glueing is necessary.

    I use cork road bed. Woodland scenics makes a foam roadbed and AMI has their instant roadbed which doesn't need glue (its sticky), to stay in place and hold track and a thin layer of ballast, or roadbed can be made from foam board. They all have their partisans as well as detractors.

    When using polystyrene be sure the surface is protected from solvents (paints and glues that attack the foam). Water based paints and glues are safe. I have, however, purposely painted acetone on the foam to melt it and fairly quickly create depressions for ponds and streams.

    Hills can be built up using the expanded foam also. Expanded foam (used for packaging) can also be used for this. It is weaker more messy than the extruded type.

    On hills and depressins I usually use plaster colth over the foam, but on flat areas I just apply the scenic textured to directly to the foam board.

    Another thing to consider with foam boad is while it is fine alone for a small layout (say 2' x 4' in one piece) longer spans or layouts made from more than one piece of foam board may need additional support. My 2 x 10 On30 (in two sections a 2' x 6' and a 2' x 4') switching layout consists of 1" pink foam over 1/8" plywood on wood fames (1/2" x 2") to add support and allow clamping the sections together.

    I tried to sell my two cents worth, but no one would give me a plug nickel for it.

    I don't have a leg to stand on.