Ok guys I'm ready for some 4 x 6 layout ideas..

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by DENNISJR60, Aug 7, 2006.


    DENNISJR60 New Member

    Ok well neither Lowes or Home Depot had foam that was all pink or blue. The foam I picked up is white with a blue film over the top. I bought four 2" 4' x 2' pieces so I can do a 4' x 8' table if needed. What I will do is probably cut the strong piece of 4 x 8 cardboard I have at work in half & glue the foam to each half to have two 4 x 4 pieces.
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    I will have a drawing for you in the next day or 2. It will be a 4x6 based on Atlas track but the Bachmann EZ track (I'll try to check the geometry of the Bachmann to ensure a reasonable match) should be close enough to fit should you prefer. It's a layout I built in the past, Model Railroader did a simpler version of it in 1957 as a project railroad called the Tidewater Central. My copies are currently in storage and unavailable for at least 10 days.

    The planned layout features a small harbor and a low bridge across the harbor mouth. MR made a model of a swing bridge in their version, I scratch built a form of a bascule bridge. The bridge is fairly short - about 10" - because of the size of the layout. There's a place for a lighthouse if you like - your son might enjoy that, too.

    The white foam you bought can only be used as a scenery base - it is not strong enough nor rigid enough to be used under track for very long. Pink and blue (can be green, too) extruded foam can usually be found in CA and NV at some lumber stores, but NOT at HD or Lowe's in most areas. I know because I live in the SF Bay area, and we have the same problem.

    You said you had a table already built. Is it a flat plywood top? What are the exact dimensions? In the meantime, go ahead and set up your trains in a loop on the table and enjoy them!

    yours in planning

    DENNISJR60 New Member

    I'll check a lumber store, but the foam I bought isn't flimsy at all. It's actually pretty strong. I will look up lumber yards or whatever they're called in the phone book & call around. The exact dimensions if I use the foam as a base is 4' X 6' but if I use the 4th piece somehow it's 4' X 8'.

    DENNISJR60 New Member

    what's the correct term for the pink or blue foam?

    Does anyone know what the correct name for this pink or blue foam sheet is? I know Lowes & Home Depot don't carry it so I guess I would have to call Lumber yards or building supply places, but what do I ask for?
  5. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    Its Extruded Polystyrene Foam Insulation Board. If they say that they don't know what your talking about, say that it is used for insulation and it is pink or blue in color.

    It is made by Owens Corning: http://www.owenscorning.com/
  6. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    From DENNISJR60's earlier post, his current "tabletop" is made of cardboard--not exactly building for the long term, but acceptable for a temporary train-set type setup. When it starts warping its problems will become immediately apparent.

    The white foam is acceptable, but the pink or blue stuff is stronger--and, when you cut or saw the white stuff, you will discover the big, big, messy, annoying problem with the white stuff that flies all over your room, yourself and your tools, and will never, ever totally disappear...

    DENNISJR60 New Member

    My tabletop is a board & not cardboard. I don't know what the wood is called or if it's wood, but it has a smooth texture & is a darker brown in color. I believe the name of it starts with an "M".
  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I've heard $1 per square inch, or $144 per square foot. That's for a very well-finished, advanced layout, though.
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Okay, I took this to mean that your current layout surface was cardboard. The wood product that starts with an "M"--is it Masonite? How thick is it? Masonite is a low-density fiberboard material--it is quite suitable for backdrops but a bit thin for layout surface. Foam generally needs a wooden frame to avoid having chunks taken out when the sides take a knock, but it's otherwise pretty strong on its own.
  10. DENNISJR60

    DENNISJR60 New Member

    Sorry for the confusion. The board I have at home is Masonite & I'm not sure of the thickness but it isn't flimsy & has decent wieght to it.

    Tha cardboard I'm reffering to is a 4' x 8' piece that I obtained from one of my vendors at work. I also called my vendor today to see if they can get me the extruded polystyrene sheet of foam. This is good becasue they just give it to me as a sample so it ends up being free. Even if I have to pay it isn't much & it's the foam I want.
  11. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The real issue is that the benchwork needs to prevent any sag in the support for the track over time, and prevent accidental "leans" or "pushes" of the surface from affecting its support for the track. Trackwork that has visible vertical misalignments (found by setting an opaque ruler along the top of the rails with a light behind it and looking for any gaps, and checking for snags with finger nails across rail joints) will have derailments - especially if any of these happen at turnouts or on curves.

    The tables in Westcott's book, Benchwork for Model Railroads, list support distances for wood girders based on 1/500" deflection with a 250lb point load. Chances are you will not load your layout anywhere close to that extent. But I would certainly prepare for a 100lb point load (an accidental "lean") on fairly high (48") layout, and more on a lower layout. A few thousandths of an inch off in the vertical can make all the difference between a train that stays on the track, and one that won't. The problem gets worse as you go smaller in scale.

    You gain a lot of rigidity in both vertical and horizontal directions with the Bachmann EZ track, which will have to made up for by better supporting roadbed for conventional track. That is why EZ track and others with built-in roadbed do much better on carpet and other non-smooth surfaces.

    Masonite, press board, and MDF are all known for having more tendency to sag between supports than plywood of the same thickness. White beaded foam will sag more than the pink/blue/green extruded foam. You can use the more rigid materials or you can achieve the same result by spacing your supports closer.

    Hope this helps - my thoughts, your choices
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I did some prelimanary layouts with Bachmann EZ track - the curved portion of the standard switches/turnouts are too long to make effective use of a small space. Unfortunately, I don't have good dimensions for the #5 turnouts - but I suspect they will be on the long side for practicality as well. Hope to have a version using Atlas conventional track tomorrow, although I think the Peco turnouts are actually shorter.

    yours in planning
  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Took me a few days, but here is an Atlas version of my original Picture Gorge and Western.
    View attachment 28918
    Had to make several changes due to the length of the Atlas turnouts, as compared to my version with handlaid track. In particular, I had to eliminate a spur that came off at the right end of the bridge, crossed the pier spur, and served some water side industries. I couldn't get a commercial crossing of the correct angle, and the turnouts are all too long. The length of Atlas turnouts also shortened the passsing track by a car length or 2 (wasn't very long to begin with). In the plan show, the passing siding and main use flex track to avoid small fitter pieces; flex track would be better on all the spurs, too.

    Other 4x6 layouts that I admire are these:
    View attachment 28917
    It is in several layout books (Atlas and Model Railroader) as the Morgan Valley. Warning: track does NOT fit as per diagram without several kinks; flex track will be needed for several spots.
    View attachment 28916

    This is also an Atlas design called "Simplicity and Great Plains". I recommend changing this plan so all spurs do not face the same direction. Otherwise, switching the industries is too easy for a train going clock-wise. I know, I had this layout as a teenager. This is most easily done by adding a turnout and a switchback spur to the top spur, and shortening the other 2 spurs so they don't intefere. The other problem with this plan is that it violates my rule of all track at least 2" from the table edge; at top and bottom track comes within 1.5" of edge. I had never had a train masquerade as a floor-seeking missle, but it could happen. Advantage of this plan is the 2 passing tracks instead of 1.

    All 3 of these layouts fit in 4x6 using Atlas sectional track, but will NOT fit using Atlas TrueTrack or Bachmann EZ track. I picked them for several reasons:

    - sides of oval are not parallel to the table edge
    - decent switching opportunities with a continuous run capability
    - achievable without custom or shortened trackwork

    Anyway, I hope this gives some ideas and starting points to modify for your layout.

    my thoughts, your choices

    Attached Files:

Share This Page