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Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by wiskrbiscu, Oct 3, 2001.

  1. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    Hello all. After being out of model railroading for about 20 years I am finally able to spare some time to build a N-scale layout. It'll be of the freelance variety with no specific era being modeled. Basically using this layout to brush up on all the new materials that have come around in the last couple decades. I've had a slow day at work and have paroused alot of the posts and have found many a interesting things to explore and maybe add to the non-named yet railroad I am about to create. So be prepared for some 20 question type days from me. I do have the benchtop work done 38" x 60" with 1/2" plywood with 2" foam board glued to it. I decided on the 2" stuff for a couple of reasons: It's all that Lowe's:D had and it'll be easier for me to add different levels to the layout IE: a lake....waterfall....ditches....hills...grades ect. ect.
    Question #1

    Foam cutters, I've looked at one at the local shop made by woodland scenics. Any experience with this or any other recommendations?


    All for now.
    Jody
  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    Jody - Welcome to the Gauge!
    I've seen a couple of variations of the hot wire foam cutters. The first kind has the hot wire stretched across the end of a bow (picture a coping saw). This kind probably wouldn't be of much use in your case, where the foam has already been glued to plywood. The second is kind of a loop at the end of a rod, which would be more useful in your case. I have noticed warnings about the fumes that get produced when they are used. (Haven't used either, by the way.)

    I suggest you experiment with various kinds of knives, saws, etc. Try using something with serrated vs. non-serrated edges.

    One tool I've found useful for forming foam for scenery is a (for lack of a better term) "mini" wire brush. I found these in the plumbing department, apparently for cleaning pipe threads. They came in pairs, one having brass bristles and one having stainless steel, and both were not as stiff as a normal steel wire brush. They were smaller, too, about 2-3X a normal toothbrush.

    Anyway, sounds like you're off to a good start. Keep us posted.
    Bill K
  3. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    foam cutter

    I'm doing HO, and about 15+ years of it. I guess I haven't learned much, because I'm always experimenting. I laid the foam down, as you did, but then I wanted ditches along the tracks. making 2 slices down made the bottom a sharp V. I took my soldering gun, took out the point, and made a loop the size and shape I wanted out of bare 12 ga wire. I think now, 10ga might be better. Pull the trigger, and voila!!, I could move right along and cut instant ditch. With my luck, I'll find out this is a no-no, but it works. For big cuts I use a long serrated knife. I found out using a box opener, or utility knife first, then the bread knife, and that works real good for me.

    When you improve on my system, let me know before I kill myself experimenting.


    Lynn
  4. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    Bill,

    Thanks for the idea. I know the brushes you are talking about very well. I have used them to clean corrosion off of different hardware on airplanes (yes the real ones), in fact I may have one or two laying in some dark, remote cubby hole here somewhere. I will definitly try them out. I'll keep you all posted with woords and pictures as the layout progresses. I've also succombed to the digital photography bug too:D
    Jody
  5. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    foam board...

    Howdee do Jody & welcome!

    Get that layout a movin' !!:D

    What is the "foam board" that a lot seem to use as a base for their layout? I think I have seen it in some of the pics on here. Is it the sky blue base that some use? What is it made of, and what use is it "normally" (other than for layouts)?? We probably have the same stuff in Oz somewhere. Perhaps we call it something else.
  6. billk

    billk Active Member

    Hey Woody -
    The foam board is usually pink or blue from what I've seen. Its more dense than the white, beady stuff like they make beer coolers out of (I'm trying to relate this to something familiar, right?)
    It's available in the US at building supply stores, and is supposed to be used as an insulating material, I think. It comes in 4x8 foot sheets, and typically in thicknesses of 1/2, 1 and 2 in.
    You Aussies come up with such weird names for everything I wouldn't have a clue what you would call it.
    BillK:D
  7. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    hmmmmmm..

    Can't think of anything that rembles that. Tinnie coolers I can relate to! :) HIC! Housing insulation here is fibreglass fibre/ very light and easily compressed, and fireproof. Doubt if they would allow polsytrene foam here as housing insulation because of the fire risk and toxic fumes. Is that foam board stuff flammable?
  8. billk

    billk Active Member

    Dunno - Since it is used in housing construction there would have to be some fire retardency to it. Cerainly more than the beer cooler stuff. Anybody know?
  9. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    The blue and pink foam board is normally used around concrete foundation walls of homes to aide in insulation and prevention of moisture into the home. The stuff is really great a sound deading device. Yes it is flammable, but so is just about everything that you place on top of it for your layout. If I'm not mistaken the foam board is used on the outside of the walls. So no toxic fumes for the house.

    Jody:D
  10. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    Now you all got me wondering if'n I should treat the foam board with some sort of fire retardent stuff. Whelp I guess I'll have to visit the hardware store and see what I can get myself into trouble with. I'll do a fire test on the stuff tonight to see how easy or hard it is to light off. I'll let you all know.

    Jody:D
  11. justind

    justind Member

    fire-retardent

    Foam board is treated to be fire retardent and will usually not burn completely, but that doesn't mean it won't burn enough to spread a fire. It shouldn't, however, need to be treated to make it safe, as long as it isn't next to open flames and live sparks. As others have mentioned, it is used for the walls in homes or garages, and is no more flammable than the wood in your layout or home.
  12. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    blue foam

    That blue foam board, for insulation, is real good, BUT, it has a thin film of plastic on it that you need to peel off. I didn't. Found out that glue, caulk, and what have you, sticks to the plastic, but when that comes loose, everything just peels off, paint, scenery, etc. So, be sure to peel it before you do anything to it.

    Lynn
  13. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    Thanks Lynn, I will do that before I start placing items on it.

    Jody :D
  14. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    hehehe That plastic film is also very frustrating if you try to put a screw through the board--it tends to bunch up around the threads. And it makes poking holes in the foam a lot harder!

    -Rory
  15. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    Hey Rory, you make me feel a whole lot better. Since nobody said anything about that moisture barrier before I supposed I was the only one that got stung.
    Boy, I was really going to be gung-ho, paint it brown before grass, and all that stuff. Put the rail down, and glued some other stuff. Went to move something, - - - HAH !!!, found out paint and all came....got whammied. I feel sorry for anyone else, but at least I'm not the only one.

    Lynn
  16. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Lynn,

    Actually, I haven't really had any problems with paint. But it only does a marginal job of accepting the ground foam/matte medium. The grass comes up fairly easily and in large chunks, especially while it's wet. I'm sold on the foam, though, because it is very easy to work with and extremely cheap (I think it was less than $6 for a 4'x8' sheet). In the future, though, I'll know to peel it before gluing anything onto it! :):):)

    -Rory
  17. wiskrbiscu

    wiskrbiscu New Member

    Well, I did the fire test on the blue foam board. It melts real easy but does not take to flaming. I really had to hold a piece straight up and down and put flames to the bottom edge to get it to light off and that was after holding the flame there for about 45 seconds. I then held the board horizontal and the flame immediately went out. So all in all I feel okay with having it on the layout.

    Jody:D
  18. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member

    foam cutting

    I just did a bit more experimenting, and I can cut 1" thick foam in a breeze. I used a 1/8 in. drill bit in my dremel, turned it on and it went to free-form carving like a hot knife thru butter. I haven't tried exact, straight cuts yet, but I don't know exactly where I need that type of cut. It cuts fast enough that it takes very little side pressure, so there is very little chance of snapping the drill bit.

    Lynn

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