basement train

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by l-train0502, Dec 23, 2005.

  1. l-train0502

    l-train0502 New Member

    I am planning on starting a semi-permentent HO set up in my basement. I am a newbie and I was wondering if there are any special things is need to know for a damp basement and what to do about it.

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi L-train,

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    Damp basements are quite the challenge to model railroads, but you can usually reduce or eliminate the problem.

    What sort of basement is it? Cellar, unfinished modern basement? Stone/cinderblock/concrete walls?

    Is the dampness seasonal?

    What are we talking here - "a river runs through it" or slightly humid?

    Properly finishing the basement and heating it will depend on the kind of basement you are faced with. But good starters are a dehumidifier and some sort of heat source (space heater, electric baseboards, etc, etc).

  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Is it damp, or do you have actual water seepage?

    If you have actual water, that should be repaired. Dampness usually comes from lack of a moisture barrier underneath the concrete floor. Not much that can be easily done about that. Painting the floor with a concrete sealer/protector helps. So does running a dehumidifier.

    My father also had a basement (in the NC mountains near Asheville) with both problems - seepage through the walls, and a damp floor. He repaired the walls, walled off a separate train room, painted the floor in there, installed carpet, and ran a dehumidifier. Made the train room a rather pleasant place to be.

    If you do nothing to control the humidity, you are going to have problems with wood benchwork unless the basement stays damp all year. The expansion/contraction of wood and wood products from large humidity shifts are responsible for far more problems than the the expansion/contraction from large temperature swings. Painting the wood - all sides - helps to slow the migration of moisture into and out of wood. Very high humidity also causes more rapid oxidation of metal - known as rust in steel, and tarnish on brass. Both rust and brass oxidation will give problems - brass oxidation is non-conductive which causes electrical pickup problems in model locomotives and brass track.

    Since damp basements are problems for a lot of stuff, it's usually worth stopping the dampness problem rather than trying to stop the consequences for any stuff down there.

    yours in drying out
  4. kadidle

    kadidle Member

    L-Train, we have a humidity problem in our basement, and solved in in a unique way. I never gets "wet" down there (aside from the water line, which used to condense water). When I started working on bench work, as it's winter, I would get cold toes, so rather then put carpet down (since I'm working on the layout, the carpet would probably be ruined rather quickly) I put down some cardboard. As the cardboard gets soiled, I replace it.

    Here is the weird part, the pipes don't condense water, and the thermometer I have down there has a humidity sensor, which currently shows 35% Relative humidity, whereas before it showed 50+. The only thing different is the cardboard. BTW, if I run the wood stove in the basement, the humidity drops to 20%. Because it's a basement, the temperature is pretty constant, and that helps.

    As Andrew and Fred have mentioned, if you have water down there, get it taken care of, as your layout is going to be the least of your concerns. Our old house had such a problem, and we ended up replacing all the subflooring on the main level of the house because of rot, the humidity in that basement never dropped below 70%, and was the cause of our floors rotting, Falling through a floor with a basement underneath was a bad thing! :)
  5. l-train0502

    l-train0502 New Member

    It is a seasonally damp basement. With cinderblock walls. I dont have any standing water but after a good rain the floor feels damp.

    What is your opinions on the track with the plastic rail bed attached in a setup?
  6. kadidle

    kadidle Member

    It sounds like you may just be condensing water (cool concrete + warm moist air) Either a dehumidifier or something to soak up the moisture (pot bellied stove maybe during the winter months?) probably will certainly help. If you don't have something to measure humidity, check Radio Shack, they have one for $24.99 that should work. I'd bet that your humidity is high down there. Then the problem is simply what to do with all of it. If it's seepage, the answers to the problem are probably not going to be real cheap.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I would think that a dehumidifier would go a long way to solving the problem in that type of basement. You could always talk to the contractor desk at Home Depot, or call a specialist for an opinion (no obligation).

    As for the plastic roadbed track, the rails and other plastic things are not really a problem. If it is really damp, you might get rust on metal parts, but the humidity is a concern mostly for the wooden components of your benchwork. If the plywood and/or dimensional lumber you use expands and contracts with the humidity, it can cause problems for the things that don't expand and contract at the same rate, like the roadbed, track, plaster scenery, foam decking, etc.

  8. darius28z

    darius28z New Member

    i have a humid basement that know is dry as a bone get dry lock paint .paint evrything with it floors wallls and then by a good sized dehumidifier i have a 30 pint .run the dehumidifier from april to sep.winter isnt needed much specially if your heating with that wood stove..

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