Framework with Foam board scenery

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rmarriner

Deprived
Hey guys, I am in the process of building my n scale layout, I have decided on a track plan and have already bought some lumber, but haven't done anything with it yet (1x4's and 2'x2's). At this point I haven't decided on butt-joint or L-girder benchwork. I wanted to try and use Foam board for the scenery and will have variations in elevation on my track. My question is this; For variation in track height (including a no-lix underlevel staging) and the use of foam board scenery what benchwork type is the best? Another important factor is portability. The layout plan is a 11'x10' U shape, but we are renting our house and will be moving at some point (maybe 1 year, maybe 5 years, or we might buy it...) so I would like to build it so that it can be (more)easily moved without tearing the whole thing down if we move.

I have been leaning toward butt-joint, but I can't think of a way to get the track below the framework and into a staging yard very easily. Another thing, if I use the foam board, would I have to use the "cookie-cutter" method. I have read the book "How to Build Model Railroad Benchwork, 2nd ed. and has offered some insight, but I am still kind of confused on which method is best for my situation.

Thanks!
Richard
 
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RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Hi Richard! Both the butt-joint, or what MRs commonly calls open-grid, and the L girder are very good construction methods. If I were you, I would favor the open-grid for simplicity, strength, and easy design for moving. You can build it in manageable modules that connect together using hinges (remove pin for separating). If one was going to build the benchwork in other than 90deg corners and with sweeping curves, then I believe that the L girder would be easier to work with. I have a garage layout that is all open grid.

To answer about the different levels, when running your 1x4 joist at 16" ctr. (12" better for foam, IMHO), frame the area of the decline coming off of the end plates so that the joists have the opening for the decline (box it in), i.e. opposite direction or length wise for section. For declines/inclines, build risers either "T" shape or just use a 1x4 cut to the length for the rise at that joist. I don't have a level under my layout, but I believe most frame it up before the "0" level.

I only cover the flat areas that will have track or buildings with plywood. The rest is left open to frame with cardboard lattice/screen to add water scenes, mountains/hills, and etc... This saves on the plywood/foam and also allows more flexibility in your scenery (rises, dips, ditches, etc...)

Here is a photo of risers on my layout. For scenicing, I use cardboard lattice and plaster to fill in between the levels. Many methods to choose from.
 
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rmarriner

Deprived
Rex,

Thanks for the reply. I understand what you are saying about creating a "box" with the joists. That is a very good idea and hadn't thought about that. I was just simply thinking of running the joists all one direction for a section. I was leaning toward the "open-grid" framwork to begin with and just wanted to see if other people thought that way as well in regards to my requirements.

You said that you used cardboard and plaster to create your scenery, I was leaning toward the foam board because it seems like the "beginner" choice as well as easier rock faces. I will reconsider the cardboard and plaster approach. (it seems cheaper... too...)

I was out in my garage cleaning up today making room for me to start cutting and putting together my first couple of sections of open-grid... :)

Thanks!
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
There are many methods for scenery, it's just that I don't like working with foam that much. Several swear by it, but when I have experimented with it, I didn't find it easier. Woodland Scenics makes several rock molds and carving rocks in a glob of plaster is easy by using dental picks and whatever you have handy. Cardboard is cut into 1 1/2" -2" wide strips and woven. I secure with a hot glue gun.

What are you going to use for your sub-roadbed: plywood or foamboard. This is another area that has many differences of opinion. I chose plywood because of the strength, but the foam board is lighter if weight is a consideration. Using plywood, if need a hole or a ditch somewhere that I didn't plan, I get out the saw. Nothing to it.;) Planting trees? drill a small hole and stick them in:D .

If you need more replies on this thread, just do a bump when it gets out of the "recent post catagory" to get it back out front. Sometimes the timing gets screwy and guys don't always see a good subject like this.:) or start a new one with a different question. FIRE AWAY!
 
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rmarriner

Deprived
I think I am thinking to much into this. Since open grid allows me to vary my track height greatly, I should consider my staging yard at 0" altitude (have it right on the bench work) and then have all my other track on risers. Instead of trying to get the track "below" the girders and joists (6"+ would be too much of a grade for the distance I have to clear the 1x4's and have clearance for the trains, not to mention my hand... That I think would make this task a lot easier. (Which is probably the more proper way of doing it..??..)

I was thinking plywood for the sub-roadbed. My father works at a lumber mill that deals specifically with MDF. He told me he can get me scraps of that. Have you heard anything on using MDF for roadbed? He said it can't get wet at all and my only thought was, water/glue mixes and the such...

I am open to all scenery methods. I hadn't really considered plaster and cardboard mesh, mostly because instead of just a mess, you have a soggy, wet mess... :) Actually with my benchwork style and variation in track height I think your method would work good for me and that I would require too much foam to get the scenery up to the level of the track.

Here is a link to my track plan... http://swr.buttesmrc.org forgive the condition of the website, it really sucks, I threw it together in a couple minutes and haven't really had a lot of time to work on it. That will give you an idea of what I am trying to accomplish. Any critiques would be appreciated. I am not too sure about keepin the baloon track at Fort Bragg, it isn't very prototypical, but hey, neither is the return loop to Northspur from Willits... :) Also I don't really care for the yard lead at Fort Bragg either... This isn't a final track plan, just a rough guestimate of what I think it should look like, I am sure there will be revisions once I start laying track...
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I can think of several reasons why I wouldn't go with MDF, but mostly I'd worry about water. You will put a lot of work into your layout, and if the MDF is at the base of everything.

Once framed I'd start with building the staging and getting your route down working. That way if you need to alter your framing it is not big deal. Then once that is working you can either cover with plywood or foam at your discretion.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
MDF...not a good idea. What ever you do, don't skimp on your benchwork. This is the foundation of it all and you certainly don't want to deal with problems from warping/twisting/buckling. Overkill is allowed, underkill will be regretted.

BC, 1/2" plywood is my choice. Yes, it is expensive, but if you cover only the areas that are with structures or track, you won't use that much. All of my 3.5" wide subroadbed on the inclines and hidden areas use this plywood as well and is cut to form with a rotary cutter.

A key word is "fasteners". You want to use plenty of wood screws (drywall screws are good and are cheap). The more you use the least likely your layout will flex or move with the environmental changes. Later, if a screw is in the way, just remove it.

Use diagonal bracing for your legs to keep your layout steady.

Keep your joists no farther than 16"ctr. You can always notch or cut away a joist to allow for a Switch machine, turntable, or other. Modified framing will take care of any change in the structural integrity. With screws, it's no problem since your not banging with a hammer.

Be very picky; go for perfect level and plump on everything.
;) :)
 

Joe Daddy

C & SF, my obsession
Do yourself a large favor and listen closely to Rex. He'll get you running quicker, and you'll be satisfied longer when you follow his advice.

With regard to MDF, I'd avoid it like the plague in my bench work.

A couple of other tips, I no longer fasten my bench work to the wall, but put it on 2X2 legs. In the floor end of each leg, I drill a 3/8 hole about 2 inches deep and put a 5/16 T nut and screw in a 1" long carriage bolt. These bolts in the legs allow me to level the bench work.

Every time I have put something fastened to the wall, I have regretted it. It is really difficult to get behind a section of your layout that is bolted to the wall. If it is on its own legs, you could get it done. Don't think you'll never have to get back there. . .

Just my 2 cents, never worth a cent more!

Joe
 

rmarriner

Deprived
I had my doubts about MDF, this just sets it in stone. I will use be using drywall screws for the benchwork and carriage bolts to mount the legs and connect my sections together.

I was going to start on my "Willits" section first. The island will be made of, I am thinking three modules. Willits on one, the mushroom (where the "garbage industry" is) on another and the mainline (where the staging is) on the third. And the rest of the main line and Fort Bragg in a whole different "phase". I had hoped to start on this pretty soon. I have inherited a shop light and will be buying two more 4 footers for this project for lighting.

Another concern of mine is my flooring. The layout is going to be in my garage, it is semi-unfinished. I say this because it is basically unfinished but the walls have drywall (no insulation though) the ceiling is wide open to the joists of the roof. Anyway, I plan on simply adding some weather stipping to the doors and maybe adding some epoxy concrete sealer. I have heard the sealer will help keep dust out. I was wondering if you guys have heard of that before and what the benefit will be? Since I properly vented my clothes dryer I have noticed quite a bit less dust and lint (not to mention humidity) in the garage.

I know a garage isn't the best place to put my empire but it is all I have without a divorce. Are there any other hints you might suggest to make the garage a habitable place for a layout?

Richard
 

rmarriner

Deprived
A couple of other tips, I no longer fasten my bench work to the wall, but put it on 2X2 legs. In the floor end of each leg, I drill a 3/8 hole about 2 inches deep and put a 5/16 T nut and screw in a 1" long carriage bolt. These bolts in the legs allow me to level the bench work.
Thanks Joe, I didn't see your reply, you must have replied the same time I was typing my last post... Anyway, This is absolutely what I am going to do, infact I have already bought the T-nuts and carriage bolts (2" though) and had already planned on using the 2x2 legs. I got the idea from the book "How to Build MOdel Railroad Benchwork", it is on one of those pages somewhere in that book. I also got the idea of not attaching anything from the Cascade, Washington layout in the Oct 2000 issue of MR (although he has casters on his, if I remember right). I even thought about ditching my plan a couple of times and using his layout design (i love it), and still hold it as a backup plan, or for when I move on to my next layout and want a little bit smaller layout.

Anything attached permanently is bad for me right now since we are renting. I can do pretty much anything I want to the house, my Uncle is our landlord (don't ask...) and has said we could do anything, since we have the "intent" to buy when we are "ready", but I am a pesimist so I never think anybody will give us a loan.. Anyway, that a whole 'nother story... but the whole moving thing might be a concern in the next couple years, and if that the case, I don't want to completely screw up the place... :)

I am sure I will come up with more questions as I continue to prepare my work/layout area and start building this "dream" (and neglecting my retirement...:( ). I just wanted to let everyone know I appreciate it.
 
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RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Richard, do all you can do to your garage before your start on the layout. I wish that I had finished mine off with drywall on all the walls and ceiling, but I didn't. This is not a real big deal since most visitors/guests don't pay any attention, but it would have looked better and probably stayed cleaner. I did however put insulation in the walls and put insulation in-between the ceiling joists (trusses). The way I hung the insulation above was to use wire insulation holders like you would for under-the-floor insulation. You can get them at Lowes for what ever ctrs. your ceiling has, probably 24".

Yes indeed, finish off your floor. I used the kit they advertise on TV that has the epoxy paint, colored paint chips you sprinkle on, and has the floor cleaner you will need to use. It really looks good and is tough. Any good epoxy paint for concrete will work. Later, you can buy you some carpet runners for the aisles.

;) :)
 

Joe Daddy

C & SF, my obsession
I had my doubts about MDF, this just sets it in stone. I will use be using drywall screws for the benchwork and carriage bolts to mount the legs and connect my sections together.

unfinished but the walls have drywall (no insulation though) the ceiling is wide open to the joists of the roof. Richard
Richard,
My son has a 40' square hangar with no ceiling and he wanted to keep the heat in during Colorado winters. His first 'ceiling' as simply to attach clear plastic under 1*2 cleats. That worked remarkably well until the old roof began to leak and puddle on the plastic. After the roof was replaced, he replaced the clear plastic with white 2" bead styrofoam held to the ceiling with more 1 * 2 cleats. Even better and the white color made it much brighter and easier to light.

Anyway, I plan on simply adding some weather stipping to the doors and maybe adding some epoxy concrete sealer. Richard
I'd seal the doors with plastic and foam board. (See fellows, I DO like to use Foam for what it is made for! :p )

For the floor, IF the garage is dry, I'd put down commercial grade carpet without a pad. A little looking around and you might score some used stuff that would work. I find carpeting (Short no shag commercial grade) as my ideal train room flooring. In fact, follow this link to my blog where I actually analyzed different kinds of flooring.

http://wwwjoe-daddy.blogspot.com/2006/12/train-room-floor-covering-assessment.html


Just my 2 cents

Joe
 

rmarriner

Deprived
Yes indeed, finish off your floor. I used the kit they advertise on TV that has the epoxy paint, colored paint chips you sprinkle on, and has the floor cleaner you will need to use. It really looks good and is tough. Any good epoxy paint for concrete will work.
This is kind of what I was hoping to do. I like the idea of the epoxy floor because I still plan on using some parts of the garage for "garage" stuff. :) I found a "kit" online that would do 250 sq ft for like $40. That isn't too bad. I would need two kits though :( If my train room was inside the house I may think about replacing the carpet with commercial style carpet.


Richard,
My son has a 40' square hangar with no ceiling and he wanted to keep the heat in during Colorado winters. His first 'ceiling' as simply to attach clear plastic under 1*2 cleats. That worked remarkably well until the old roof began to leak and puddle on the plastic. After the roof was replaced, he replaced the clear plastic with white 2" bead styrofoam held to the ceiling with more 1 * 2 cleats. Even better and the white color made it much brighter and easier to light.
A hangar? Man you can make one giant model railroad... Is your son a pilot? I like the idea of the styrofoam sheets on the ceiling. I use sheets of plywood on my rafters for storage (oakified, I know...) so anything I use to "insulate" the rafters from the rest of the room would need to be removable in sections so I can get into my storage bins. I think you could do that with what you suggest.

Also back to the original topic of this post, about how I need to start my staging at level 0" and build a frame above it to support my upper track. You did exactly what I was thinking here http://www.joe-daddy.com/1-mrr/PDRRV2 Images/PDRRV2_2006_06 11/PICT7039.JPG Although you appear to be using L-girder it should work basically the same if you are using butt-joint, right? That image helps out tremendously.

You guys are awesome. Again, I appreciate everything.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
A hangar is what I need to build my Ultimate Dream layout, the one I'll build after I win the SuperMegaGinormous Lotto....

:D

Kennedy
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
...because I still plan on using some parts of the garage for "garage" stuff.
Lots of luck! I started with plans to use only half of my 24x40' garage; its now full of layout.:eek: :D :D :D Fortunately, I have an adjoining 18x40 garage that I can use for garage stuff.
 
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JeffShultz

Stay off the tracks!
I'm glad I only have a single car garage, with a concrete floor that appears inadequate for parking a car on for any length of time (cracks). If it had been bigger, my wife might have insisted on our using it to park cars in... instead I've got it for my layout.
 

rmarriner

Deprived
I'm glad I only have a single car garage, with a concrete floor that appears inadequate for parking a car on for any length of time (cracks). If it had been bigger, my wife might have insisted on our using it to park cars in... instead I've got it for my layout.
WHAT!!! Park your car in the garage?? That's what they make drive-ways for... What wives think sometimes!?!? :eek:

Ahh, my wife and I drive old cars anyway, they like it outside (my jeep has told me) :)
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Garages, Wives, Cars? Don't tell my wife, I've got her convinced I need an add-on to a house we buy for a Layout. If she gets the idea that I can put the layout in the garage, then I'll have no place for my Motorcycle, which would make her even happier!
 




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