a question from a newbie

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by bobrien, Apr 1, 2002.

  1. bobrien

    bobrien Member

    Hey all - have seen a couple of guys discussing layout materials and would be interested to know why the negativity surrounding the use of styrofoam. I realise that ply etc provides more substance, but isn't easier to use foam? Or is it only suitable for certain applications?
    cheers - Bruce O'Brien
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bruce, and welcome to the gauge.

    I would suggest 1/2" chipboard/Plywood topped off with 1/2" Insulation (SOUND) board. the insulation will give a quiet sound for the loco's, and the chipboard/Plywood for strength. If you require to make a raised roadbed, you can also use 1/8" Cork under the tracks, although I have never used it myself.

  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    No negatives WRT foam from this quarter!
  4. BillD53A

    BillD53A Member

    A few years ago I was building a layout, with the idea in mind that I was going to move it some day. I live in Florida, where we dont have attics or basements so this was built around the walls of a spare bedroom. I built a sectional layout...not modules, as they werent interchangeable, but sections that could be disassembled and moved. I used PVC pipe for the benchwork topped with a 4 inch thick layer of styrofoam. The whole thing was wobbly until I completed all the sections all the way around the wall, so the idea would not work on a free-standing layout. I was able to anchor the framework to the walls; tis solved the problem. think the use of styrofoam is great! There are two different kinds...beadboard, the white stuff made of small balls fused together, and expanded board...this is the pink or blue stuff sold in sheets as insulation at home centers. Use the pink or blue, avoid thew white stuff like the plaque! Those balls will get everywhere and are the dickens to clean up! Use Liquid Nails For Projects as an adhesive, and use knives, saws, steaknives, rasps to shape it. You can use piano wire to make a tip for your soldering gun to cut/melt drainage ditches and roadbed profiles. Paint with latex paint.Planting weeds and trees is a snap, just poke a hole and stick the tree in it. HTH Bill
  5. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    I just used a sheet of chipboard, and 20mm * 70mm pine screwed/glued "side on" around the edge to give stability. Then just support this on "modular pine" shelving. Gives good support, and lots of storage space underneath. I used green grocer's polystyrene fruit boxes ($1 each) broken up into slabs pieces to buld up the scenery and shape it. However, I still have the solid chipboard as a base. I also used cork roadbed. For any elevated track I just used balsawood to build risers and roadbed (sorta like a motorway). It's all worked fine for me, and does give good strength with no warpage over time.

    Hope this helps.

    If you check my website (click below), there is some pics on there of building the basics.
  6. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Foam construction is relatively new, and many of us started in the hobby before foam became popular. We developed the techniques of scenery building using other materials, and are comfortable with them. Changing to foam would require learning a whole new set of techniques.
    For my modules, I start with expanded aluminum "gutter screen", which can be formed to the shape I want, and it retains that shape. I next apply a layer of paper strips soaked in 50/50 water/white glue, and when that dries,I "paint" plaster over the paper, Three or four coats. This makes a shell about 3/32" thick.
    See "photography,scenery,books,etc.", "module photos" for the results. I have been showing these modules for 15 years now, and the scenery continues to survive the trailer trips to and from shows. They also made the trip from north of Chicago to St. Louis for the 2001 National Train show, packed with the rest of a 40' X44' layout, in a 26' Uhaul truck.
    I am not opposed to foam construction,merely comfortable with what I have been doing. It seems to work well, and I can still carry the modules up and down the basement stairs.
  7. WVRR

    WVRR Member


    I've used the white beaded kind of styrofoam for one full 2' x 4' N scale layout with no problems whatsoever. I've included a link to my website so that you can see what it looks like. I used 1 " thick sheets cut 2' x 4' then layered up the styrofoam mountains and carved them with a fork. It's a bit of a chore to pick up all the pieces, make sure you put something down on the floor to catch all the little beads...lol...and have a vaccum handy. Other then a little extra work when it comes to cleanup, the end results are rather nice I must admit.
    Western Valley RR
  8. wsdimenna

    wsdimenna New Member

    With the HDPS (High density Polystyrene) you don't have as much mess as with the white beaded material. No problem with O -gauge running on top of it or sandwiched. It also sculpts easier than the white beaded material IMHO.
  9. bobrien

    bobrien Member

    Thanks for all the responses and suggestions. I reckon that I will benefit from the use of virtually all the ideas and methods used, although I have to admit that my pre-trials (that is a small, 'exhibition only' set-up I built) was based 90% on polystyrene and has worked well.
    However it would appear that there are plusses and minuses in all materials and I will use what fits or suits best.
    There can be no doubt that the experiences of others is the biggest bonus any learner can have.
    Thanks guys.

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