Geodesic Foam Scenery

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by hickstmj, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

    Hi Everyone,
    This is my first post. I am planning to build my first model railroad soon. I have wanted one for 20 years but have never had the room. Now our daughter has grown up & moved out so my husband is going to let me have her room. I have been working on a track plan for a few months but I still have not finalized it. I also have a lot of cleaning out to empty the room. I was wondering if anyone here has built their scenery with Geodesic Foam Scenery by Bragdon. It looks like a great way to do mountains, etc. but I would like to hear from someone who has experience working with it.

  2. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I have always wanted to build a geodesic dome home but I have never heard of the foam. Interesting idea and deserves to be explored.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Welcome to The Gauge!

    I think I read about Bragdon's early forays into this technique. I believe he used resin and bubblewrap... Is this the kind of thing you are talking about? Do you have a link?

    I think that most would fall into one of two approaches - either the traditional frame (cardboard strips, wire) and cover (plaster cloth or "glueshell"), or solid foam scenery.

    The foam approach is quite easy - a mountain would be made up like a layer cake, and then carved to rough form. Plaster or sculptamold could cover the foam, along with rock castings (or even carved directly in the foam).

    Not knowing much about the system, it is hard to comment on any advantage, but I do know that the solid foam approach is lightweight, easy to work, strong, although can be relatively more expensive than other methods.

    Hope that helps.

  4. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

    Thank you for your replies Andrew & TrainNut.
    This is a link to their site:
    Bragdon Enterprises - Cutting Edge Model Scenery Technologies
    This link (on their website) is an example of a train layout built with their products:
    Beach Cities Junction - Rons World

    Looks very interesting to me but, call me skeptical, I would like to hear from someone that isn't from their own webiste.

    TrainNut, I have been looking at the thread about your layout all morning. I am very impressed. I noticed that the layout you had in your garage looked like cookie cutter style but your new layout seems to be on flat plywood with foam for all the above grade tracks & scenery. Do you recommend one method over the other?


    "Failure is not an option"
  5. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I do. I far prefer the foam method. Overall, it just seems easier. Attaching the track is a cinch when using the foam as opposed to using a hammer and nail set for each spike when using a plywood base.
    Minor correction... I did not use a plywood base on my current layout. I simply laid one layer of 1" foam on top of my cross braces (12" centers) and it seems to be plenty strong enough as you can tell by the picture of my son sitting on top of it playing with his cars. And now, I'm off to check out the link you supplied on the geodesic foam!
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Marcie, quite a few of the members of my modular club use Bragdon's materials. It is especially great for modular railroading because it is strong and light weight. At one train show I went to a workshop put on by Bragdon, and he had a diorama there the was 2 feet long about 18 inches high, and two feet wide. It weighed 7#s. The upshot was that on his way to So California for the show a 100# tool box shifted and fell onto that diorama and rode all the way to So Cal supported by one corner on the diorama. He invited everyone to come up and look it over to see if we could find any evidence of damage. There was no damage whatever! Originally he used polyurethane 2 part expandable foam on bubble wrap, hence the name "Geodesic" since the bubbles in the bubble wrap looked like miniature geodesic domes. He has since discovered that using window screen instead of bubble wrap reduces the amount of foam material needed to make the scenery base. Another advantage is that the foam which is spread thinly over the screen wire mesh retains some flexibility for about an hour after it is cast. One club member cast rocks from one of his large rock molds and then cut them up and glued them to various places on the hill sides of his module. The "rocks" easily conformed to the shape of the underlying scenery base. There is really a bunch of "up side" to his methods, the only "down side" is that it is a bit more expensive than plaster, and his mold parting material is a combination of vaseline rubbed into the molds until it disappears except for a "greasy feel" and then spraying with lacquer spray paint. The laquer paint is dangerous for breathing, so your best bet is to spray out doors and wear a filter to protect you from the fumes.
  7. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

    Thank you Russ for sharing your experience. I can't wait to try it out. But alas I must finish planning & cleaning out the room first. I guess that will give me time to save some money.

  8. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Welcome to the Gauge.
    Did you say your HUSBAND is letting you build a layout?
    Whats he get...A new riding lawnmower?
    Anyway...Welcome again..
  9. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

    Yes, my husband knows I have wanted to play with trains for soooooo long. I even started a layout right after we got married, 23 years this April. But then we had a baby & she got all the room but now shes grown up & moved out. He gets the garage & he likes it when I'm happy cause everyone knows when momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy. He also will build the framework for me. I don't think I could ask for better.

  10. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Great Stuff!! :thumb::thumb::thumb:

    Be sure to post progress pictures as you design the area, as the framework is built and when you get started creating your little world....

    We love pics and you'll be surprised how many ideas you'll receive....

    Welcome Aboard!!!!

    ~~ Best of Luck!!!
  11. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Welcome Marcie! Like Mikey said, we love pictures. I'd be interested to see the dome scenery materials set up.
  12. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    :welcome1: to the Gauge, Marcie.

    Sounds like he's got it pretty nice, too: Christmas, birthdays, Valentine's Day - no more picking the wrong sizes, wrong style, or just plain useless gifts, just a gift certificate for the hobbyshop.;) And trust me, unless he knows something about your modelling interests, a gift certificate is more useful than a hand-picked gift, if somewhat less romantic. :-D

  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    It took me a while to find a picture on the web, but here is a shot of the module that is constructed with geodesic dome scenery. It is the 4th picture down in the right side column. These shots came from a show the club did a few years ago at the Getty Art Museum in Los Angeles. I'm not sure how often model railroading gets displayed at a fine art museum, but it happened at least once, and here is the proof.

    OCMR at The Getty Museum 6/1/2002
  14. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

    Thanks for the link Russ. Great to see the geodisic scenery used in a railroad. All the pictures were interesting.

    Thanks again,
  15. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Hi Marcie, enjoy the stay with us...

    What the heck is all this Geodisic Thingymajugger?
  16. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

  17. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

  18. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Welcome to The Gauge Marcie!

    You picked a great board join. A good bunch of fellers (and a few gals) with lots of great friendly advice. When you finalize your track plan, be sure to post it up in the Track Planning for the Future forum. You'll be glad you did!

  19. hickstmj

    hickstmj Marcie

    Thank you for the welcome Shane. I will try to post my track plan but I have tried XTrackCad & the atlas track software with not much luck. I seem to do better with the good old pencil & graph paper. I am planning to use Atlas code 100 flex track & Peco turnouts (unless I change my mind again). I have spent hours on this Forum. There is some really great information.
  20. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    I find that I have been using pencils and paper for so long now, that it is now easier to "not" use the computer :D :D I use a plastic design template for G and have designed a few really good layouts for my friends (at least that's what they tell me) :mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:

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