Styrofoam Cookie Cutter Layout??

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by sabretooth47, Aug 22, 2006.

  1. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    Is this possible? I'm looking to model the Scenic & Relaxed and I was just going to use a 3' x 6' sheet of 1/2" plywood and cut the grades and river (much like the Atlas instructions). I live in an apartment and I want to keep the layout easily moveable for when that time comes. A friend mentioned I could try styrofoam to keep it lighter, but it seem too fragile to me to attempt bending grades into it. Has anyone ever had any experience doing so?

    Thx! :D
  2. Cornreaper

    Cornreaper Member

    You shouldn't have any problems going with foam. A 3x6 piece of 1" pink or blue foam attached to a frame of 1x2's and using WS risers for the grades would be ultra-light and pretty strong. I'm guessing about 10-15 lbs or so.
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    There is a limit to how much you can bend the foam. The 2" (strong enough for use over a 16" on-centre gird) does not bend well. The 1" bends better, but need much more support. You are probably better off constructing a module-like frame, using the 2" foam for flat decking, and introducing the height variations using WS Risers and grades (or cut your own from another sheet).

  4. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    I did almost exactly that myself. I used 3/8 plywood with two one inch sheets of foam over top of that. I move it all the time in and out while working on it. Works fine. This is one of many movable layouts I have made. Pop over to my site for a look see.

    I hope that helps you out.
  5. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    well -- I'm tempted to try it now after seeing fsm1000's site -- from what I can figure, the grade will only get to a max of 3 to 3 1/2" high, and that's over a 3' distance. I could use a thin table top (like peg board) with block supports where necessary. This would also make a good system for neat wiring all while keeping the layout ultralight. Thanks for the ideas!
  6. Shooter

    Shooter New Member

    Another option would be to use foamcore cardboard in lieu of plywood in a traditional cookie cutter design. The foamcore does need more support (shorter spans between supports) than same thckness of plywood, of course. But if you start with a foam base, you can cut blocks of foam and put as many supports in as you feel necessary, w/o adding significant weight or work.

    I made a small table-top over/under Christmas tree layout using 1/4" foamcore, double thickness for a base, single thickness for the subroadbed, and supports were made out of squares of spare foamcore (would have been easier/quicker to use blocks of foam). Scenery was made from extra pieces of foam that was around (some of those "florist foam" blocks, some fitted packing foam, etc), and covered with spackling compound. It ended up to be straightforward, easy, no mess, light, stiff, and has survived being stuck awkwardly in a box for several interstate moves. Most importantly at the time, it did not require power tools of any kind.

  7. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    If those numbers are correct, the rise (3.5") divided by the run (36") X 100 (for percent) gives a 9.8% grade. If your locos can go up that grade, they won't pull any cars doing it. Even just a 3" rise in 36" gives an 8.3% grade. A maximum realistic rise in a 36" run is about 1.5", which is a 4% grade. Even then, your locos are only going to pull a very few cars up unless they have traction tires.

    You have to add more run or reduce the rise to keep grades within reason. The land grant transcontinentals were mandated by law to have less than 2.4% grades - that's a good maximum to aim for if modeling a Class 1 RR in N scale. That's about a 1" rise in 40".

    Hope this helps
  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    delete repeated post
  9. sabretooth47

    sabretooth47 Member

    It does -- but my guess-timation may be way off -- my layout will be pratically be a replication of the one Palmisano built here:

    A closer estimate would be that same height at about a 5-6' distance...but even so, it's hard for me to tell until I actually get down to the final measuring.
  10. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    My max grade is about 8% and my shay can barely pull 11 ounces. If I keep the wieght down that will be about two 20 to 25 foot cars. My porter [a tiny 0-4-0] only pulled about 4 ounces. I only planned them to pull a couple of cars anyhow. The Porter pulling two small ore cars and the shay a couple of parlour cars.
    The grade on mine goes up about 7 inches in less then 100 inches. Or about 8% like I said. I hope that clears things up.
    One thing you can try is to put one to three pieces of flex track on a 2 by 4 that is 3 or 9 feet long. Then raise one end up until your loco can not go up it smoothly with the loads you plan to use.
    How I did it was to put rolls of pennies into my gondola untill they stopped working. A pennie is just shy of a gram each [in Canada]. Or simply wiegh everything [gondola included] on a scale like I did. That's how I know what they can pull.

    Anyhow, I hope this helps. :)

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