First layout tips


I want the MKT back!!
Self explanatory. I need tips for scratchbuilding one completely. Foam bas, everything(except bechwork). Do I have to glue the ballast, or not? If so, How do I glue the ballast?Thanks

I believe the normal (as it gets) way to ballast is to use a dry brush to position it along the tracks and between the ties (being careful not to get any between swith points, etc.), soak the ballast with 'wet' water (water with a few drops of dish detergent to break the surface tension), and then add watered-down white glue. Everybody has a differenct preference as to how much water/glue to use, and since I've never actually done this, I think I'd better stop here and let the 'experts' take over :D
Cool. What about foam oards? Can you use insulation foam like from Lowe's?
The most popular foam to use is the extruded (not expanded) foam, which is either blue or pink depending on the manufacturer. You can glue it together (make sure it's a foam-friendly adhesive) to form high points (mountains, hills, etc.) and carve out low areas (rivers, streams, etc.) either with a hot-wire foam cutter (which can produce some not-so-friendly fumes) or by just using knives and spoons (I think a quick glance at the clay-working tools in a craft store would be useful). You can either carve rocks, etc. and paint the foam directly (again, with a foam-friendly product) or cover it in plaster cloth, or soaked paper towels, or Sculptamold, or whatever else you find to work well in your situation. I think the best way to learn is to experiment with different methods and various materials until you find the one (or combination of several) method(s) that works best for your least that's what I plan to do if I ever have a chance to build a layout... :)
In other words, you ca, but you gotta make sure its a certain type? How hard is sculptamold to get and use?
Foam bas, everything(except bechwork).
Wow , that's kind of going to a contractor and asking him to build you a city without any plans. Seriously if you want it to be sucessful you will have to do a bit of planning.
Take it a step at a time Nate, the first step is Do you have a track plan that will fit in the space you have available? That's a starting point, there will be no trouble to get tips for each stage of construction, much the same as I'm doing now. To the best of my knowledge I'm aware of 4 kinds of Styrofoam 1. Expanded ( beaded ) this would be best to stay away from although there are some uses for it. It deteriorates, won't support weight and is easy to break and can be quite messy when cutting. The second group is "Extruded styrofoam" it is strong and will support weight and is used as exterior sheathing by the construction industry. I'm aware of 3 kinds of this type. The pink which is good, the Blue which is said to be better ( up to 4" thick) and I've come across a blue grey which is more denser yet and very difficult to cut with a knife, so if you are purchasing styrofoam get the pink or the blue ( Blue seems to be stronger) So far I've got all my styrofoam from the side of the highways, my track is laid on plywood so I only need smaller pieces.
Cheers Willis
Right now it'll be a 4x8 but we need tips anywa. We already found plans in a magazine.
We already found plans in a magazine
Then no matter what you use as a base you need a frame around it.
OK a sheet of 1/2" or 3'/4" plywood would take care of the top, but would be more noisey than styrofoam. Your choice plywood or styrofoam base?
Cheers Willis
I need something to support it so it won't sag, and something to put legs on.
While you can get some good advice here, I'd also suggest you pick up one of those model railroad "project layout" books. It would be great if it was the plan you're building, but even if it's a different plan, the general instructions are still worthwhile.

They're under $20 and definitely a worthwhile investment.. (You can buy them in our online bookstore and your local hobby shop probably has some too)
> I need something to support it so it won't sag, and something to put legs on.

I'm a big fan of "L girder" benchwork. It essentially forms a beam, and is nice and strong as well as easy to bolt legs too.

I've seens lots of layouts made of various lightweight materials etc, but if you want my suggestion, don't scrimp on your benchwork. It's literally the foundation of your layout. I always use 2 x 4's for the main framework, this isn't the place to save a few bucks on wood.

You want something you can lean on and it won't sag or flex. My standard is simple, I have to be able to stand (or kneel etc) on it without any sway, wobble or noticable sag.

Provide solid legs, and some bracing is helpful too. Ping-pong tables are fine for a youngster's oval, but if you're building a permanent layout, go for the solid foundation.
Hey, I have a regulation 1-pc slate pool table I'll sell cheap. (Buyer pays shipping.) :D You want a solid base. This baby'll do it!
Haha, I don't need a table. My grandpa gave it to me,so I'm gonna use it. We don't have any foam yet anyway. OK moving on what about after the benchwork when you get ready for the actual layout ittself?
Does anyone know if it's OK to use real wood for ties when handlaying track?
What else would you use? All of my visable track is hand layed. I read above that you plan to use foam board. Not a good choice for hand layed track. You need something for the spikes to go into. Homasote or Homabed are the traditional roadbed material.

There is someone over on Trainboard that uses hot glue on the bottom of the rails instead of spikes. This would be especially good if you are modeling with rail that is code 55 or smaller. If interested, you might want to post over on that board.

Nate, seriously if this is your first layout construction, use flextrack. You'll run into enough problems as it is. Use this layout as a learning experience. Hand layed trackage takes time, patience and skill and if you have never done it before it would be better to get some experience hand laying track on modules. Now unless you plan on having a hand laid circle of trackage, then along with hand laid track goes hand laid turnouts, now my friend as for myself, I have my doubts about tackling one of them my self.
Cheers Willis
I never saidI was goingto hand lay track on this one, its for a future layout. Cause i thinkreal wood would look cool