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Barobutt

Maxium grade for kato trams

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Barobutt

Yes I got the tomytec one, didn't even notice it was a different manufacturer.  as nice as the kato ones look I just can't justify paying over double the price just for a nicer interior and lights.  Maybe in the future I'll upgrade to a kato model.

 

I didn't know about the DCC angle, I'm thinking of getting into DCC so this is an unexpected benefit! 

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Barobutt

mark3section.jpg

 

Here's a section view of my benchwork and layout.  Anyone see any problems?  I was worried 1.5" foam wouldn't be strong enough to be the base of my table (I want to avoid plywood totally this time) but I put a section between two 2x4's at the span's they'd be crossing and was surprised at how strong it was.  Anyone see any problems with my design here?  I'm so lucky sintra comes in 3mm an 6mm thickness, PERFECT!!!

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KenS

One thing to be aware of: "two inch" insulation foam may not be two inches thick. The dimensions are approximate.  I bought three sheets of Corning "pink" insulation foam in "two inch" size, and they varied between 1.75 and just under 2.0 inches in thickness.  This actually caused me some clearance issues at one point in my subway tunnel where I'd used the thinnest sheet without realizing it until far too late, and I ended up putting some of the foam atop a quarter-inch layer of gatorboard to get it back to two inches clearance (I prefer gatorboard to sintra or styrene sheet, as the wood-fiber sides work well with the wood glue I use for both benchwork and attaching insulation foam, however I did use 2mm sheet styrene for my subway tunnel roofs; I'm not sure yet if that was really a great idea, as scenic materials don't adhere all that well to plastic).

 

18" supports are probably sufficient. I prefer to use a sheet of plywood myself, to ensure a rigid base, but that really is overkill. Also, 2x4 framing is really quite heavy.  As long as you cross-brace in some manner to make the overall structure rigid, 1x3 or even 1x2 framing could be sufficient. 

 

One thing to consider is making an outer box of 1x4 pine or 3.5-inch strips of quarter-inch plywood that the foam layers fit down into, and putting some cross-members under that every 12-18" or so to hold the foam in.  If you zig-zag the cross-members, and attach them to the sides with two screws at each end, the combination should be fairly inflexible in all three dimensions, while still being fairly lightweight.

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Barobutt

So far all the foam insulation I've gotten has been spot-on to the mm as noted, so it might just depend on the manufacturer?

 

I've priced out some sintra and it's bloody expensive...  I might try to use some sort of tool to router out a 5mm pit for the track to go in the foam and then border with sheet-styrene roads.  I'd actually like to avoid sintra all together as I really hate working with it.

 

The only reason I'm using 2x4's is because I have a few laying around.  I might just use them for the basic frame and then use 2x2's for the joists.  The span is going to be about 96" so I don't want any bowing in the middle.

 

I'll have to look up what the heck gator board is.

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Barobutt

Just got back from the construction supply store and had some amazing finds and breakthrough.

 

2x4's are a total overkill,  I bought some 1x4's and they're more than strong enough to support the main span on the table.  Then for my joists I got some 1x2's!  Picked up some bolts and lug-nuts for my table legs (so it's easy to dissemble).

 

The whole top will be covered by something I'm sure you're all familiar with but was a new find for me.  It's called hard-board and it's basically peg-board but without the holes.  One side is rough, one is quite smooth and shiny.  The whole thing is maybe 4mm thick.  a 4x8' sheet was only $8, soooo cheap!!  Then on top of the hardboard I'll have 1" rigid insulation. 

 

Currently I've got my old layout dumped.  It was a little sad, but I managed to save all my turnouts and maybe 10% of the track.  The rest was nailed, glued, and ballasted and totally un-salvageable.  Damn thing was HEAVY as it was 1/2" plywood with 1x4 bits to make it more rigid.  My 8x3' layout will weigh about half what my 6x3' layout did.

 

So, thanks guys for advising I use lighter wood!

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KenS

Gator board is like foam core and Sintra, except it isn't.  :grin

 

All three are basically a foamed styrene core, with facing.  With Sintra, the facing is styrene, which is useful for building structures where you want to glue it to plastic, and I think it permits a degree of heat-forming.  Gatorboard has a facing made from wood fiber mixed with resin.  It's not affected by water the way foam-core is (in foam-core, the facing is paper), at least not in reasonable amounts (I wouldn't immerse it), so it works well as a base under scenery or dioramas.  And because the facing is somewhat porous, you can glue to it with wood glues and similar scenic materials.

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Barobutt

uh oh.. I for some reason put the shiny-side up on my table and there's no way to take it off to flip it without ruining it.  I glued a section of foam on top and I'll see tomorrow if it's holding at all.  Will carpenters glue hold the foam layer to the smooth side of this hardboard?

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cteno4

Actually sintra is PVC foamcore. its both PVC foam in the center and both faces PVC. being PVC its a bit more flexible and soft than styrene. it also forms well with heat.

 

gator board is styrene foam and plasticized paper on the faces that is pretty much water proof.

 

you can get styrene faced foam core (ultraboard) as well (ie styrene foam and styrene faces like 020 or 040). this stuff is really rigid and flat. really great if you want a strong, flat and light surface. it does not ding easily (gator board will ding easily). its actually about the same price a gator board or even cheaper depending on where you get it. ive used this stuff in a few places where we needed something very light and strong and it worked very well.

 

other main difference between gator board and styrene board is that the gator board cuts pretty easily with a matte or hobby knife. its pretty tough to cut the styrene board with a knife, but it cuts fine with roto zip, band saw, jig saw, table saw, etc... sintra is kinda in the middle as you can cut it with a matte or hobby knife if careful, but not as easy as foam core or gator board though.

 

you can usually find sintra and styrene foam core (ultraboard) at a local plastic supply shop or sign making shops. they are both used a lot in the sign making.

 

cheers

 

jeff

 

ps forgot to add where to get it.

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Barobutt

I think what I'm going to do is use a router to dig an exact depth pit into my foam, rather than deal with putting extra material on top of my layout that I might not enjoy working with.

 

The plan is to router down 5mm into the rigid insulation, sink the fine-track into that (it should sit proud about 1mm) and then cover it flush with some 1mm styrene I have then drywall-mud in the gaps.  Sound good?

 

Any advise on gluing to the shiny-side of hardboard?  Maybe I should dig the construction glue out rather then trying to rely on simple wood-glue.  I also just realized I'm only using the fine-track for the curves, the rest will be standard cheap atlas snap and flex track, so I'll have to router that out at a more shallow depth... uhg

 

Trams are hard!!

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cteno4

Barobutt,

 

routing insulation foam may be a really really messy proposition! i would see about attaching a shop vac to the router to try and get rid of as much waste as you make it. the stuff becomes statically charged and sticks to everything!

 

another thought might be to make your own hot foam cutter. you can get stiffer nichrome wire to make your route out shape and then have some skids that keep it at a particular depth. very clean then just make sure you do it with good ventilation.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Barobutt

I keep hearing people talking about making foam cutters.  I understand they're some sort of electrically heated wire thingy that cuts the foam like a wire cheese-cutter, I'm just scared to death of electrical stuff.  Any good simple tutorials on how to safely make one?  It would make my foam would so much easier.  And to confirm, such a cutter would work fine on your classic blue/pink rigid insulation panels?

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cteno4

Barobutt,

 

yes they work by applying a low voltage current across some wire (nichrome) which gets hot and melts the foam. it was basically developed to do this kind of cutting on styrene (pink/blue) foam like this. electrical elements are as safe as using any electrical tool, much more worry of burning yourself with them.

 

you can buy very nice cutters commercially for like $20-50 depending on how nice or fancy you want them. there are also simple ways to roll your own.

 

in your case there is only one main extra that you would need to do which is try to make some skids that would keep the wire at a constant depth. only tricky part of this is that it the skids would probably need to be connected to the wire and thus would need to be made out of something thermally insulating so they would not burn up connected to the wire and would also not transmit heat to your foam where the skids would rest.

 

actually your hardboard might work well for this stuff. its pretty heat resistant and might work.

 

the woodland scenics might work well

 

http://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/woo/woost1435.htm?source=froogle

 

then you could probably use the ends of the arms as the depth guide. problem is i think the nicrome wire they provide is finer wire that is not stiff enough to hold a form. stiffer and thicker nichrome wire would also need more power though.

 

there are more expensive ones like the tippi that could be bent inot the shape you want and then make a guide that would mount to the handle to keep your depths.

 

http://www.bigcityhobbies.com/order.htm

 

cheap solution might be to use one of the rod cutters and bend it into your shape then make a wire holder that would attach to the handle to keep it at depth.

 

these are great tools if you want to do any shaping of foam for your landscaping as well. there are lots of videos on youtube about using them and how they function.

 

router might be more uniform for your track cut though on more thought. but it will be very messy, but just be prepared and keep the vacuum running!

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Barobutt

My last layout's terrain work was all insulation that I gouged with various small tools creating a mountain of foam chips.  The layout's in the basement so it's pretty easy to clean up!  I've got a big brush I just use to sweep it all up and then dust-buster the rest.

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cteno4

when you make the fine bits from a power tool this stuff gets everywhere and sticks to everything!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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KenS

gator board is styrene foam and plasticized paper on the faces that is pretty much water proof.

 

I've read in several different places that it's wood fiber in resin.  Now "plasticized paper" is also wood fiber in resin, but it's heavily processed fiber that has different characteristics.  I don't think the gatorboard I've had was faced with paper, even in resin. It feels, cuts, and glues much more like wood.

 

Will carpenters glue hold the foam layer to the smooth side of this hardboard?

 

Yes and no. I use carpenters glue to hold insulation foam to gloss-painted wood.  It does work even though both surfaces are essentially non-porous.  However, because of that the joint is mechanically very weak, and you can separate the foam from the wood if you bump it hard enough (I've done this twice, once with my bare hand when I was pushing something else and slipped). I expect the smooth side of hardboard is somewhat porous, so it should make a stronger joint than mine, but if it isn't, then it won't.

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Barobutt

The table is DONE!  Well... almost, it's done as planned but I wasn't planning for the wobble!

 

HELP!

 

It's 4 1m long legs and the table is VERY wobbly.  I joined the legs at the ends and drilled a screw into the post it sits next to (this helped a lot obviously), and helps table level, but the whole thing still wobbles quite a bit at the end that isn't drilled into a post.  Would a diagonal bit of wood help or would I need a full on X ?  Any other sugestions to de-wobble?

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cteno4

gator board is styrene foam and plasticized paper on the faces that is pretty much water proof.

 

I've read in several different places that it's wood fiber in resin.  Now "plasticized paper" is also wood fiber in resin, but it's heavily processed fiber that has different characteristics.  I don't think the gatorboard I've had was faced with paper, even in resin. It feels, cuts, and glues much more like wood.

 

ken,

 

you are right i was simplifying there a bit, should have said something like plasticized chipboard. it does have a bit more wood like characteristics than paper, but its not a surface you want to expose to anything that will take dings. it will not take dings like solid wood or ultraboard will. gatorboard can be cut pretty well with a knife. i really cant think of any great reason i would use gator board over ultraboard (all styrene foam board). its stiffer, more durable, assembles better and usually the same price or cheaper.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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cteno4

The table is DONE!  Well... almost, it's done as planned but I wasn't planning for the wobble!

 

HELP!

 

It's 4 1m long legs and the table is VERY wobbly.  I joined the legs at the ends and drilled a screw into the post it sits next to (this helped a lot obviously), and helps table level, but the whole thing still wobbles quite a bit at the end that isn't drilled into a post.  Would a diagonal bit of wood help or would I need a full on X ?  Any other sugestions to de-wobble?

 

Barobutt,

 

perhaps post a few picts to look at?

 

legs are tough in this situation, hard to get attached to your top firmly. really best to use premade legs or attachment hardware to get a really firm connection. ntrak has this issue. their legs are pretty wobbly on individual modules, but when you hook a bunch up together they sort of buck each other up and the whole thing gets much more stable and less wobbly.

 

X bracing usually is the best way to strengthen wobble like this, but is also pretty ugly. X bracing the sides and back would probably do the trick but be pretty visible. of course putting solid panels on the back and sides would really do the trick as well (like 3/16" luan ply cheap and light) and be prettier (look more like a cabinet). small 45 braces going both directs on each leg could also work, but again visually not as pretty. again this is where i usually go to using premade leg attachments (ie screw on plate, V brackets, or corner cinches) as they always work better than what i can do rolling my own, unless im willing to put up with something pretty bulky.

 

cheers,

 

jeff

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Barobutt

I attached a small piece of plywood between the legs and now the whole table is rock solid.  I've got a layer of 1" foam glued down and painted brown, now all I can do is wait for my track to arrive.  Track is more expensive than I thought, those points are the killers!

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cteno4

hey great news! sometimes in just the right place it all goes pop!

 

now the wait...

 

have fun

 

jeff

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Barobutt

My wife's been taking pictures of the whole process, I'll have to get them from her and post some here.  I'm SO happy with my table, I don't know what I was thinking even considering 2x4's.  1x2's and 1x3's with a skin of 5mm hardboard and 1" foam is more than enough.  I'm not sure if I'd want to try sitting on it, but it held up about 150 pounds of weights last night as I piled surplus floor tile on top of the foam to keep it flat while it all dried. 

 

I ordered all my track from midwest rail junction.  Have any of you guys used them?  Their selection is entirely american but they have the best prices outside of a lucky ebay auction and awesome customer support. 

 

So, here comes a new batch of questions!!!!

 

TRACK LAYING.

How do you guys lay track?  I've got my whole layout planned in atlas code 80 snap track other than a single bit of flex track to join it all together.  I was tempted to go the mostly-flex route but I'm a coward and I hate working with flex track.  I've never built a layout on top of foam before, I always built right ton top of plywood like a scrub.  So another question is: should I use a roadbed or not?  As I understand roadbed does 2 things,  provide cushion for the sound of your train and raise the track up off the ground so the ballast looks realistic.  My problem with most trackbed is that it raises the track up too much.

 

I want most of my track to look like fairly active north american branch-line.  Not quite this pristine perfect track atop a tidy pile of ballast, but not quite a "there's some rails in those bushes somewhere?" situation either. What sort of underlay should I use? cork? Foam? Something custom like a strip of corrugated cardboard or something?

 

Track Fixing

ANd now another question, how do you fix your track to your table? I used to nail mine down as it resulted in very secure track on top ofmy wood, but since I'm working on top of foam I'm not sure the nails will provide any real holding power outside of maybe helping align the track.  So I guess I'll be gluing the track?

 

Keeping on course

A nicely done CAD track plan is wonderful, but how do you accurately reproduce it on your layout? Even snap track bends a bit and I always have a hard time getting it exactly where I planned.  Short of printing out my track plan 1:1 on an architectural printer, is there an easier way to accurately lay track from a plan?

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Barobutt

PICTURE TIME!

100_1119.JPG

100_1120.JPG

100_1121.JPG

100_1123.JPG

 

That poor little steam engine is my test engine.  It's the most fussy engine I've ever dealt with, so if it can go around the track without dead spots or de-railing, anyone can.

 

Also today after spending about $100 online for my track, I found the 2nd hand shop by my house has a BUCKET of turnouts for $5 each.  Grabbed a few and tested them at home, flawless.  Oh well, I guess I"ll just add a couple more sidings!

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KenS

So another question is: should I use a roadbed or not?  As I understand roadbed does 2 things,  provide cushion for the sound of your train and raise the track up off the ground so the ballast looks realistic.  My problem with most trackbed is that it raises the track up too much.

 

I want most of my track to look like fairly active north american branch-line.  Not quite this pristine perfect track atop a tidy pile of ballast, but not quite a "there's some rails in those bushes somewhere?" situation either. What sort of underlay should I use? cork? Foam? Something custom like a strip of corrugated cardboard or something?

 

My N-scale has been all Unitrack, so I can't help with most of your questions.  But as for roadbed, I'd recommend it.  You can use either cork or Woodland Scenics foam roadbed. For a branch line, don't buy the pre-made single-track bits.  Instead buy sheets, and cut it wide enough that you can bring the scenery onto it (leaving a space for ballast around the track).  That will give you something closer to the flat look of a typical branch line.  You can have the scenery dip down a bit where the cork ends, to provide the look of a mostly-filled-in drainage channel, and avoid the "track in the dirt" look.

 

To glue it, carpenters glue will work for cork (don't use white glue, as water from the ballasting or scenery work can disolve it). Use a very small amount (I use a bit of cardboard cut from a cereal box as a spreader to even it out).  Too much and it will seep up through the cork.  I clamp by putting down paper towels, then a 1x3 board with some kind of weight atop it.  The paper towels will grab any glue that does seep up, so you don't end up with the weight board glued to the top of the foam (done that!).

 

I buy sheet cork at my local Staples, sold in a big roll for making cork boards.  It's 1/8" thick, and relatively inexpensive.

 

The woodland scenics foam is nice, if a bit pricy. I used it on my viaduct station, where cork without ballast wouldn't have looked good.  I also use it atop plastic (I use 2mm styrene for the roof of my subway tunnels, and have some track that runs over that). I used Liquid Nails to attach the WS roadbed to styrene, but I'm not sure if it's safe for gluing to insulation foam.  Some people use latex caulk as a glue (make sure you use an insulation-foam safe version; some kinds of caulk have solvents that can dissolve it).

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Martijn Meerts

One thing with a roadbed with regards do sound dampening... If you nail or screw the track, the noise will be transferred through the nail/screw to the table, which for the most part defeats the sound dampening. Same happens if you glue the track/ballast with glue that doesn't remain somewhat flexible.

 

I've always used cork for roadbed, usually around 2mm thick. I also always buy a roll of cork rather than the stuff available from the scenery brands. Not only is it cheaper, but often also less dense, which is good for sound dampening.

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Barobutt

I managed to get an entire crate of the woodland foam track bed for cheap at the 2nd hand store so I went with that.  I've got half my layout bedded and ready to go now!  Since my layout is in two sections I've decided to just work on one half for now (since I don't have enough track for both halves until my order arrives).  I tested all my second hand switches and existing switches and they work flawlessly and I ran my train again to make sure everything works.

 

As no plan survives contact with the enemy, I'm realizing I don't 100% like my track plan due to where the scenery-wall needs to go, so I'm changing it around a bit so the angle of the wall isn't so great.

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