BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Discussion of model railway baseboard design and construction
model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Sat Mar 01, 2014 11:56 am

Firstly I would say that I am new to model trains and in no way say what I have done is right but, for me, it had advantages and I would like to share them with others.

My base board is not large, 7' 6" by 4'6". It has been done to fit in the only place I have, over a single divan bed in the spared bedroom.

The base board is constructed using probably the most common method, a 3x1 frame, with cross members covered in 9mm plywood and screw fixed together.

Initially I considered a raised area, although a nice feature it had its own drawbacks, the gradients being the one most people warned me about, by having the raised loop it restricted the amount of working loops I could have and, although a nice bridge crossing the track from one side to another would be good it restricted me seeing working track behind it. By not having a raised loop it meant all my track was on one level and really didn't want that it needed, for me, to be more natural and more 3D.

The more I considered the railway in my part of the country, north west, south of the lake district, the more I realised, in general, track does not go up hill, it winds round them or goes through them. The more I looked at this the more I saw that track goes through cuttings in small hills, over bridges of rivers, etc., it also flies over villages, etc. It is fields and roads that go up and down not the track so I decided to make my layout to partially replicate these types of feature.

On top of the 9mm plywood I glued a 50mm sheet of cavity wall insulation, I glued it with Copydex and at the four corners fit small pieces of MDF bolted through the insulation sheet and the plywood so that it would never move.

I laid the track and marked it out, then lifted it and cut out for a river. The track was then fixed on to cork which was fixed direct to the foam insulation with Copydex. No nails or other fixing and it sticks solid. Can it be removed to alter later, yes, just run a pallet knife between and it comes away without damage.

After the track was laid I then started to cut out for the lower areas, road, houses, etc, etc. I am working on this now. Once this level is finished I will add a hill and tunnel so in effect I have ground lower than the track and ground higher than the track. The cavity wall insulation has allowed me to do this. It is easy to work with, light, being a fine foam it can be sculptured to any shape. It is also fire proof.

Are you just starting out? Looking for ideas? Well this is another way for you to consider.

Your baseboard is the foundation for your layout, think of the options before you start, make sure it is strong enough, secure, water proof and level. Considering these things now saves problems later. Changing things later can be a major job.

MRF_131104_Glue 50mm cavity insulation foam to plywood cut out for river.jpg
MRF_131104_Glue 50mm cavity insulation foam to plywood cut out for river.jpg (43.3 KiB) Viewed 4998 times


Cavity wall insulation glued with Copydex to 9mm plywood. I have cut out for river now, I will cut out for roads, housing, fishing lake and other items later. Cavity wall insulation is made to British Standards and is Fire Resistant, it is also easy to work with, do not mistake with polystrene which is lumpy and could cause a fire.

MRF_140224_lake_hill_staion_DSCF8482.jpg
MRF_140224_lake_hill_staion_DSCF8482.jpg (64.46 KiB) Viewed 4998 times


See here the different levels. If you start your layout on 50mm cavity wall insulation you can cut downwards. If you fix rail direct to plywood you can't.

Look at railway in real life, rail track is almost level it winds round hills or goes through them, it goes over valleys using bridges, not down and up them. It is the other things, hills and roads go up and down.

I will add a raised section at the end of the board in time and create a hill and tunnel but this is some distance off.

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Sat Mar 01, 2014 12:00 pm

Sorry I meant to add this.....

This is my latest image for the fishing lake

MRF_140227_carp_on_DSC00127.jpg
MRF_140227_carp_on_DSC00127.jpg (97.24 KiB) Viewed 4995 times


A guy enjoying his fishing near the lily pads

Another guy has just had a take, a big **** takes the bait and tries to run. His mate rushes over with the big **** net.

Figures are dart castings, painted with Humbrol paint, matt. The guy with the net is a butterfly catcher but he fits the part here.

User avatar
flying scotsman123
Posts: 2191
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:29 pm
Location: err, down there round the corner... not that one!!!

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby flying scotsman123 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:52 pm

Brilliant idea (although a bit late for me now :? ) out of interest could you lay the track say on top of the insulation material then cut around it to make the track on an embankment or something?

very nice layout, I want to see more!
Image
Stone station in pre-grouping days, my layout.

User avatar
Bufferstop
Posts: 12176
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2010 12:06 pm
Location: Bottom end of N. Warks line

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby Bufferstop » Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:28 pm

Confirmation if you need it that studying the prototype pays dividends in producing a good layout. Those multiple levels look very natural.
Growing old, can't avoid it. Growing up, forget it!
My Layout, My Workbench Blog and My Opinions

b308
Posts: 5006
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 5:48 pm
Location: North Worcs

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby b308 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:35 am

The alternative is what they call "open top" (or "open frame") baseboards where you have the basic framework and then the trackbed is laid on stilts, you can then do what you want with the scenery...

Image

Makes for a much lighter board as well...

whynot
Posts: 1962
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:37 pm
Location: Nottingham

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby whynot » Sun Mar 02, 2014 11:19 am

Lots of very useful and helpful "thoughts" and comprehensively and clearly set out. I have "thought" of insulation board for past efforts, but obviously I need to "think harder"!
dave j
Works End 0 16.5
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=49336

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:16 pm

flying scotsman123 wrote:Brilliant idea (although a bit late for me now :? ) out of interest could you lay the track say on top of the insulation material then cut around it to make the track on an embankment or something?

very nice layout, I want to see more!


The cavity wall insulation is stuck to the 9mm plywood with Copydex. For extra security I cut 4 triangles of MDF and bolted these to the corners, through the MDF, insulation board and plywood.

In the image above I cut out for the river first as it would be tricky cutting under the rails after. MDF pieces was glued as bridge bases to the insulation with no nails glue. It stuck like concrete!

Then face of the insulation board was then emulsion-ed with vinyl emulsion, this was to put a seal on the foil and to bind it together. It was incredible actually, any cut foam painted with the vinyl emulsion soaked in and dried with a crust, I was please with it.

Cork was then fitted to the insulation board with Copydex glue and pinned at angles to hold it till set. The pins I used were my wife's (LOL) you will now the type with small plastic ends.

The track was then laid in the cork, stuck down with Copydex and pinned down until the glue had dried.

Holes were drilled through the cork, insulation and plywood for the droppers for the DCC Bus, the wire was passed through plastic straws.

The track is Hornby, the points are Hornby and so are the point motors. I chose to hide these not surface mount them, they slot through the holes in the points from the underside

First I placed the point in position, laid the motor above it and marked it out. I cut the oblong shape with a craft knife down to the plywood. I then drill holes in the four corners and used a jigsaw to cut out the hole.

The point was then fixed to the adjoining rail and with Copydex fitted to the cork. Wiring of the point motor to the DCC Bus and decoder was done later.

Once I had laid my track it was time to (answer your question!) cut out the other areas. It was so easy to do as the insulation board is a fine foam and can be cut n sculptured or large areas can be hacked out with a sharp wood chisel.

MRF_131110_Start to lay track on cork Glue cork and rail with Copydex.jpg
MRF_131110_Start to lay track on cork Glue cork and rail with Copydex.jpg (62.97 KiB) Viewed 4904 times

This was early days (Nov 2013) bit of a mess, stuff every where but track was laid out to get the feel of it. You will see the MDF over the river, bases for bridges and MDF at the corners.
The centre is not carved out yet.

MRF_cut out_lay_road_walls_lake_.jpg
MRF_cut out_lay_road_walls_lake_.jpg (66.81 KiB) Viewed 4904 times

Here I have carved out and prepared for the road, houses, car park etc. Hard to see from this image but the road rises up as it goes round the bend and drops to plywood level at the station car park.

I plan to put houses on the green area and a small industrial site to the right just beyond them, past the wall.
The walls in this image are thin polystyrene, stone marked with a pencil, painted with light grey emulsion and then distressed with Tim Holtz distress ink pad. I will see if I have a closer image for this.

MRF_140128_cut_out_for_houses.jpg
MRF_140128_cut_out_for_houses.jpg (52.57 KiB) Viewed 4904 times

Here you will see I am cutting out for the houses, making sure the foundations are level! It is so easy to work with.

MRF_140130_6_houses_front_view.jpg
MRF_140130_6_houses_front_view.jpg (65.85 KiB) Viewed 4904 times

Here are the Metcalfe terraced houses. You will see they step down the hill. A hole is drilled in the base of the houses, a straw glued through so that lighting can be added next time the board is raised.

The houses are sat on a raft foundation! I will show more in another image if you wish.

I have lots to do yet, but can share images if people want me to.

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:32 pm

b308 wrote:The alternative is what they call "open top" (or "open frame") baseboards where you have the basic framework and then the trackbed is laid on stilts, you can then do what you want with the scenery...

Image

Makes for a much lighter board as well...


Hi b308

Another way to do it, there are many.

It looks good, well cut out and finished off.

Thanks for sharing.

Paul

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:10 pm

Bufferstop wrote:Confirmation if you need it that studying the prototype pays dividends in producing a good layout. Those multiple levels look very natural.


Thank you.

I started on plywood, didn't get far but realised, looking at the real thing I needed 3 dimensional terrain, there are numerous ways to schieve this, every system having their own advantages and disadvantages, I chose cavity wall insulation it suited me but will notbe for everyone.

IMPORTANT I would say to anyone, don't rush into it, your base board and how you do it is your foundations. Think about it, compare with real life, choose the bestsystem that suits you then prepare it stage by stage to make sure it is right. Most importantly, enjoy it, it is a fantastic hobby.

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:11 pm

b308 wrote:The alternative is what they call "open top" (or "open frame") baseboards where you have the basic framework and then the trackbed is laid on stilts, you can then do what you want with the scenery...

Image

Makes for a much lighter board as well...


Having had time to look again at the layout design you show in your image and the insulation foam board I put as an alternative, there appear to me to be two main differences.

1 - the layout on foam insulation board has the track all on one level and the terrain rolls up and down. The layout in your method allows for track that rises and falls.

2 - the method I have used works with large and small layouts, the layout in yours needs a larger layout.

Both methods have a place, your system is good and professionally manufactured. I did consider a raised area of track in the first instance, it ran from one side of the board, round the bend to the other side, about 140" and raised 3" the aim was 1:50 gradient which was recommended to me, as so many people on the forums have had problems with gradients I chose in the end to leave them alone. The raised track would have gone own the side of the layout, over the hill (to be built at the far end) then returning with a large bridge at the 3" high position, diagonally from one side to the other. Gradients are good, I do not doubt that but, space is needed, they are definitely for larger layouts, I wish I had the space. Why didn't I go ahead with the raised track, the bridge would have formed a nice feature to the layout? There are a few reasons, one I felt too many people were saying they had problems with gradients, two although the bridge was a nice feature it blocked my view beyond it from a scenic point of view and a controlling point of view. Finally I realised to have that one higher loop took away the amount of working rail below. I had 2/3 loops and the higher one, now I have 5 which include 2 station bye-pass tracks. Basically I have the benefit of 5 ovals now and that, for me, out weighed the higher loop.

If I had the space would I have had gradients the answer is yes, would I have still used cavity wall insulation the answer is yes but, this is important, I would have done similar to what you have done for the gradients, they would have been supported and run in MDF or plywood (probably plywood it is better than MDF).

The cavity wall insulation is good, it is light and easy to use, it comes in 25mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm thicknesses and can be purchased from most large DIY stores. It can be used to carve or sculpture hills, roads, etc. It can also be used above the track to form hills and tunnels etc. You can also buy the popular thicknesses in 4' by 2' sheets which are good for the hills and tunnels but for larger areas I would recommend the 8' by 4' sheets

The above information is provided as my experience, it is not for everyone. b308 kindly included his/her way, both systems are good, hopefully by sharing our experiences others can consider them and choose what is right for them, adapting one or both techniques to suit your own layout.

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:15 pm

whynot wrote:Lots of very useful and helpful "thoughts" and comprehensively and clearly set out. I have "thought" of insulation board for past efforts, but obviously I need to "think harder"!


Thank you for your comments.

Good luck with your thoughts :)

b308
Posts: 5006
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 5:48 pm
Location: North Worcs

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby b308 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:23 pm

I have to grovel a bit and say that it wasn't my layout in that photo, though I have done similar. I'm not a fan of solid boards and also prefer to have wood under my track rather than it mounted on foam, though they are just personal preferences. I do use foam or expanded polystyrene as the base for the hills and valleys as it's light and easy to carve. I just put a layer of Modroc on top.

Bear in mind all my layouts are for exhibition use so lightness and strength are priorities.

model-train-hobby
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 3:28 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby model-train-hobby » Tue Mar 04, 2014 6:29 pm

Hi b308

Cavity wall insulation is light, check it out at your DIY store. The other advantage is is is very fine foam compressed unlike polystyrene which is lumpy.

Being a fine compressed foam it is easy to carve to shape with a craft knife.

The small boards are also easy to store, search: Celotex Cavity Wall Board 50mmx1200x450, they are about £4 per sheets

PJ

b308
Posts: 5006
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 5:48 pm
Location: North Worcs

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby b308 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:04 am

Yep, it's just a personal preference, I prefer to have wood as my track base! As I'm already using an open top board the expanded poly stuff is usually cheaper (if not free!) so that's the reason I don't use the stuff you do! I also use chicken wire for hills which is even lighter!

scoops
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 1:30 pm

Re: BASEBOARD - another way to consider

Postby scoops » Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:17 am

Fascinating post and has given me real food for thought! I am about to start construction of an attic layout and this would be perfect. Really nice idea.

Tim


Return to “Baseboard Design and Construction”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest