N00b surface question

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ExtremePCs, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. ExtremePCs

    ExtremePCs Member

    Hi all,

    Hope this is the right forum... Anyway, I have my benchwork plan pretty well nailed down. Now I need to decide on the surface material(s) and method of raising the trackbed.

    I am considering (what I believe to be) the cookie cutting method of raising it up off of the grid work on stilts and using plywood and cork/foam roadbed. An example of what I mean is shown here:


    Would a newbie to layots (but not carpentry) be better off just using 1/2 or 3/4 plywood and foam risers, like the ones from Woodland Scenics? Would I need foam on top of the plywood if I go this route?

    Thanks in advance!
  2. max diyer

    max diyer New Member

    My opinion, I don't like foam. I'm old school . . . 3/4" plywood, 1x risers, cork roadbed. You have carpenter experience, so I think you'll like this type of construction. There is a lot of layouts built this way.
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think the only reason for using the foam risers is if you want to transport layout modules (light weight). If you are constructing permanent benchwork, weight isn't an issue and the cookie cutter plywood method will be less likely to cause vertical curves in your layout because the plywood will always give a nice transition curve when bent. One thing to keep in mind, never start or end an up grade or down grade on a joint between sections of plywood. Always start and end grades by bending a piece of ply.
  4. ExtremePCs

    ExtremePCs Member

    Thanks for the tips guys. Is 1/4" ply the best for grades, or 1/8"? I think I will stick with wood. Wife will think I'm just building a workbench, at least until I start laying track :D
  5. Wyomingite

    Wyomingite Member

    Myself I used both and like the quarter inch better.

    Ron :wave: :wave:
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I didn't see what scale you are wanting to model in. 1/4 inch will work for n scale, but in ho I would reccomend at least 3/8 or 1/2 inch unless you can put in a support brace every 12 inches or so.
  7. Relic

    Relic Member

    Since I had no idea what I was doing when I started I built a rough framework of 1x3 with 2 ft centres, put 3 inches of white styrofoam on top, carved/ built up mountains etc ,covered it with cheese cloth and plaster. The widest part is 4 ft(for a loop). It's been in an unheated garage for three years and I lean on it (in the middle) quite regularly to reach the back and so far has'nt even cracked the plaster. Ithink in my case it's one of those "whatcha don't know won't hurtcha" things
  8. John Hubbard

    John Hubbard New Member

    My first layout, which was 4x8 feet, used the "L-girder construction described by, I believe, Lynn Wescott in Model Railroader. I used 1/4 inch plywood to form the "cookie cutter" sub-roadbed. The risers were probably 12-18 inches apart, with cleats screwed to the sub-roadbed and riser for easy maintenance. I used cork roadbed glued to the plywood with white glue. This layout was moved from one house to another on four occasions and only suffered minor damage in any move, so I think this technique should be sturdy enough for most any situation.
  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The biggest concern for using 1/4 inch plywood in ho is that it may seem sturdy enough when you lean on it, but if it isn't supported well enough, it will flex under the weight of a locomotive. It takes very little deflection to uncouple a Kaddee knuckle coupler. Trying to run a train that is constantly coming uncoupled is very frustrating. It is as bad as trying to run a train the constantly derails. 1/4 or even 1/9 inch luan will work in ho if it has supports every 12 inches or so, try to go with 16 inch centers, and you will get flexing.
  10. John Hubbard

    John Hubbard New Member

    Maybe that was why I had so many random uncouplings! I thought it was my poor track work...

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