Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Discussion of model railway baseboard design and construction
SteveInSurrey
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Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:59 pm

Hi everyone,

I’m looking to construct a oo scale layout (DC for the time being rather than DCC). I don’t have the space for a permanent layout, so I’m looking to construct something that can be set up and stored away as quickly and easily as possible, especially as it will be encircling the sofa in the living room! Lol.

I have measured the space I’m intending to have the layout set up in and the space of the area I have identified to store the pieces of baseboard, which has resulted in the following baseboard design made of 6 pieces that I’m pretty sure will fit (see the uploaded picture – units are in cm).

Baseboard V2 measurements (6 bits).png
These are the dimensions of the pieces of baseboard I need


What would be really useful is some suggestions on how to construct, fit together and support the baseboards. At the moment these are my thoughts:

Construction – I don’t have the tools or space to cut the boards to size myself. With this in mind I have found a local company who can supply 18mm plywood sheets laser cut to size, with the hope that this thickness of ply would be sufficient to support the layout without needing extensive bracing as this would add to the overall thickness of the individual boards, making storage when not in use more of a problem. Alternatively if anyone has any suggestions of companies that build custom baseboards who could construct what I’m looking for that would also be an option.

Fitting together – I’m thinking this could be done with spring toggle catches, but I’m open to suggestions. I’d also be interested to hear peoples thoughts on the best way to deal with the track sections at the joints between the boards. At the moment I’m thinking either have track pieces I just insert across the gap when fitting the boards together or cutting the track and connecting the track via soldered droppers that clip together under the board (would toggle clips hold the sections together tightly enough for this to work or would dowels be needed in addition?).

Supports – I’m intending for the layout to be about 60 cm off the ground, so was thinking either folding legs or trestles ought to do the job? Once again open to suggestions.

I’m sure there will be other issues I simply haven’t considered, so any thoughts about other problems I might come across would be great.

Many thanks

Steve

b308
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Location: North Worcs

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby b308 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:40 pm

Initial thoughts:

That looks like a lot of complicated-shaped baseboards, I would be tempted to make them slightly smaller and regular in shape. They are also quite large and unwieldy.

Making a layout that has that many boards is going to take a while to set up and dismantle - suggestion, less boards and smaller layout.

Legs or trestles work equally well.

When put away that layout will take up a lot of space, especially with those shapes, have you thought about where and how it will be stored.

Connecting the boards, there are many ways, toggle catches are one way, but you always need some way of alligning the boards, the catches are not enough. You need dowels or bolts.

18mm ply is really too thick unless you want to give yourself a heart attack, my exhibition layouts have been an external sides of 9mm with 6mm bracing and top, that's quite heavy enough!

Personally I would have a look at getting pre-cut self assembly baseboards. You can then use the connection methods your chosen manufacturer suggests.

The only problem with baseboard "kits" or pre-made is that they are a lot (and I mean a lot) more expensive than home made. But they will be guaranteed to fit together and in many cases are strong and light.

I know many satisfied customers of this company, though there are plenty of others:

https://www.graingeandhodder.co.uk/

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Mountain
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Location: Somewhere in Wales, UK.

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby Mountain » Sun Feb 02, 2020 6:18 pm

I have a little portable layout in construction. Legs fold into the frame. Joining the boards together is done via the split hinge principle. I had taken the track to the baseboard edge to join it, but a couple of summers ago the rails did show signs of movement where one rail had koved to be higher then the other. Could be a slight distortion in the wood as the badeboard start to age or go dry with the summers heat. So I decided to use short sections of track to bridge over the join as a safer method instead.
I believe I have written about these experiments somewhere in this forum in the section where I also wrote about my models.
I think it is called Llwyndrissi Halt, or Mountain Goats Wagon Works or something like that. I need to check what I called the thread!

Ah. Found it. It is in the "Personal Layouts Under Construction" section and the thread is called "Llwyndrissi Halt". It is somewhere near the bottom of the first page in the list.
You may need to look through a few pages on the thread as I just added to it as I was building and making things, but they should be there somewhere. :D

While the ideas I used may not be the same ones you may end up using, it is worth considering just to get an idea of the varying methods of design out there.

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RAF96
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Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby RAF96 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 7:18 pm

Having just constructed a permanent layout frame system using 18 mm birch ply as the frames and 9 mm ply as the top it weighs a ton. It took two of us to lug the 18 mm ply sheets about so take some muscle with you to the shows.

B&Q told me they will make 15 free cuts to each sheet of board so if you plan the cutting list right you can maybe get them down to car transportable size. I wanted 8 ft x 6” strips which were outsize my car so I cut it at home. Birch ply at that thickness is as hard as nails and a pig to work even with power tools. The formaldehyde glue used in birch ply is also unpleasant when heated by power tools, requiring a fume mask.
RAF Halton Brat - 96th Entry
http://www.halton96th.org.uk/robs_rails.html
β-tester

SteveInSurrey
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:31 pm

b308 wrote:Initial thoughts:

That looks like a lot of complicated-shaped baseboards, I would be tempted to make them slightly smaller and regular in shape. They are also quite large and unwieldy.

Making a layout that has that many boards is going to take a while to set up and dismantle - suggestion, less boards and smaller layout.

Legs or trestles work equally well.

When put away that layout will take up a lot of space, especially with those shapes, have you thought about where and how it will be stored.

Connecting the boards, there are many ways, toggle catches are one way, but you always need some way of alligning the boards, the catches are not enough. You need dowels or bolts.

18mm ply is really too thick unless you want to give yourself a heart attack, my exhibition layouts have been an external sides of 9mm with 6mm bracing and top, that's quite heavy enough!

Personally I would have a look at getting pre-cut self assembly baseboards. You can then use the connection methods your chosen manufacturer suggests.

The only problem with baseboard "kits" or pre-made is that they are a lot (and I mean a lot) more expensive than home made. But they will be guaranteed to fit together and in many cases are strong and light.

I know many satisfied customers of this company, though there are plenty of others:

https://www.graingeandhodder.co.uk/


Thanks for the feedback.

Regarding your points about the size and shape of the baseborads, there’s not really a huge amount I can do about that due to the dimensions of the space the layout will be setup in, I think I’m just going to have to live with the fact it’s going to be a little unwieldy lol

I think a combination of dowels and catches might be the way forward based on your comments.

How heavy do you think sheets of 18mm ply of the sizes I’m looking to use would be? I was thinking that going for slightly thicker sheets might be the way forward as I assume there would be less issues with unwanted flex in the absence of bracing, but if it’s going to be prohibitively heavy then I may need to reconsider.

I think I will definitely look into the pre-cut self-assembly kits, but as you say the dimensions I’m looking at are slightly more complicated than unusual, so I imagine they wouldn’t come cheap! I guess the best thing to do is get in touch with a few companies to get some estimates of feasibility and cost then take things from there.

Many thanks

Steve

SteveInSurrey
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:31 pm

Mountain wrote:I have a little portable layout in construction. Legs fold into the frame. Joining the boards together is done via the split hinge principle. I had taken the track to the baseboard edge to join it, but a couple of summers ago the rails did show signs of movement where one rail had koved to be higher then the other. Could be a slight distortion in the wood as the badeboard start to age or go dry with the summers heat. So I decided to use short sections of track to bridge over the join as a safer method instead.
I believe I have written about these experiments somewhere in this forum in the section where I also wrote about my models.
I think it is called Llwyndrissi Halt, or Mountain Goats Wagon Works or something like that. I need to check what I called the thread!

Ah. Found it. It is in the "Personal Layouts Under Construction" section and the thread is called "Llwyndrissi Halt". It is somewhere near the bottom of the first page in the list.
You may need to look through a few pages on the thread as I just added to it as I was building and making things, but they should be there somewhere. :D

While the ideas I used may not be the same ones you may end up using, it is worth considering just to get an idea of the varying methods of design out there.


Thanks for the feedback. I had a look at the solution you’ve used on your layout and I think I might try something similar as I suspect with the number of places where I’m going to have track going over joints between boards that trying to get them perfectly lined up every time would drive me insane! Lol

Many thanks

Steve

SteveInSurrey
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Mon Feb 03, 2020 1:32 pm

RAF96 wrote:Having just constructed a permanent layout frame system using 18 mm birch ply as the frames and 9 mm ply as the top it weighs a ton. It took two of us to lug the 18 mm ply sheets about so take some muscle with you to the shows.

B&Q told me they will make 15 free cuts to each sheet of board so if you plan the cutting list right you can maybe get them down to car transportable size. I wanted 8 ft x 6” strips which were outsize my car so I cut it at home. Birch ply at that thickness is as hard as nails and a pig to work even with power tools. The formaldehyde glue used in birch ply is also unpleasant when heated by power tools, requiring a fume mask.



Thanks for the feedback. I’m not likely to be taking this layout to shows just yet, so thankfully I’d only have to lug the boards from the storage cupboard in the landing to the living room lol, but I’m getting the impression from the responses I’ve had that I may be underestimating just how heavy the individual boards are going to be if they’re made from 18mm Ply!

B&Q could be a good shout for at least the more “basic” shapes I’m looking for, I’ll have to see if I can come up with a cutting list plan that would do that job (and measure in the inside of my car by the sounds of it!).

Many thanks

Steve

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

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby b308 » Tue Feb 04, 2020 10:21 am

The point is you don't need to use 18mm ply! I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion you do?! For the boards you are building 9mm ply with 6mm bracing will be fine and a darn sight easier to handle when you are putting the layout up or dismantling it.

The reason I mentioned the shape of the boards is that they will be a nightmare to store, irregular shapes just don't fit easily into cupboards or are easy to move around, especially when they have track, scenery and buildings on them which will be easily damaged with some of the shapes some of those boards have .

Looking at your drawing I get the impression that you will be having them round the inside walls of a room avoiding some furniture around the edges and operating from the middle? If so I'd cut back on the space in the middle and use conventional sized boards (4x2, etc.,) instead, moving the outside edges of the layout inwards. They will be easier to take apart and store. You will lose a little but you will also be using deeper boards so be able to fit more on.

One final thing, try to avoid having curves on the baseboard joints...

SteveInSurrey
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Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Tue Feb 04, 2020 5:27 pm

b308 wrote:The point is you don't need to use 18mm ply! I'm not sure how you came to the conclusion you do?! For the boards you are building 9mm ply with 6mm bracing will be fine and a darn sight easier to handle when you are putting the layout up or dismantling it.

The reason I mentioned the shape of the boards is that they will be a nightmare to store, irregular shapes just don't fit easily into cupboards or are easy to move around, especially when they have track, scenery and buildings on them which will be easily damaged with some of the shapes some of those boards have .

Looking at your drawing I get the impression that you will be having them round the inside walls of a room avoiding some furniture around the edges and operating from the middle? If so I'd cut back on the space in the middle and use conventional sized boards (4x2, etc.,) instead, moving the outside edges of the layout inwards. They will be easier to take apart and store. You will lose a little but you will also be using deeper boards so be able to fit more on.

One final thing, try to avoid having curves on the baseboard joints...


The main thinking behind the 18mm ply is that if I’m building the baseboard from scratch I don’t have the tools/space to construct the bracing myself and that the extra rigidity of the 18mm ply, relative to 9mm or 6mm ply, would negate the need for any bracing (although I may be wrong about this). Of course, if I were to get the boards custom made by a professional, I’d certainly go for a thinner ply with bracing.

I can’t really cut back on the space in the middle as it will be pretty much full of sofa lol. The odd shape of the boards is mainly a result of the layout of the furniture in the room so I’m pretty much stuck with what I have. I’m not too concerned about the storage even with the irregular shaped boards as it shouldn’t be a problem in the space I’ve earmarked for them. Also, other than track there probably won’t be anything else permanently on them, especially as they’ll need to be stored on their sides leaning against each other. Any scenery and buildings will have to be free standing and just placed on each time the boards are set up, anything more elaborate than that will have to wait for a more permanent setup, which I’ll need to move house for lol (although I’m hoping I’ll be able to do that in the next year or two :) ).

b308
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Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby b308 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 9:34 am

18mm ply will still bend and flex, also you will need something to attach the dowels and catches to, the edges of 18mm ply won't work! So you will need edging/bracing of some sort. What you are proposing is quite a challenge even for someone who has built boards in the past to get set up and working correctly, especially in that environment. I suspect that setting it up and taking it down will take quite a while, especially trying to get everything level and working, so much so it may put you off. Personally, if I were a beginner, I'd look for something more simple, even an end to end layout. You asked us for advice, I've given it together with my reasoning, but you seem set on the way you were initially. Good luck, I have nothing else to add.

SteveInSurrey
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Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Wed Feb 05, 2020 3:08 pm

b308 wrote:18mm ply will still bend and flex, also you will need something to attach the dowels and catches to, the edges of 18mm ply won't work! So you will need edging/bracing of some sort. What you are proposing is quite a challenge even for someone who has built boards in the past to get set up and working correctly, especially in that environment. I suspect that setting it up and taking it down will take quite a while, especially trying to get everything level and working, so much so it may put you off. Personally, if I were a beginner, I'd look for something more simple, even an end to end layout. You asked us for advice, I've given it together with my reasoning, but you seem set on the way you were initially. Good luck, I have nothing else to add.


Thanks for the info about the flex of 18mm ply, I think based on your comments I’ll look to go for a different building material/method for the boards.

I’ve had smaller layouts in the past that have been fine, but not great for running trains with longer rakes, which is why I’m looking to construct something more elaborate now, and with the make up of space available to me at the moment the sort of thing I’m planning is the only real solution open to me. I’m under no illusions that it’s going to be easy, but what is life without a little challenge! lol

b308
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Location: North Worcs

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby b308 » Wed Feb 05, 2020 4:23 pm

SteveInSurrey wrote:I’ll look to go for a different building material/method for the boards.


I've already suggested how to do it, 9mm ply outer edged boxes with 6mm bracing and surface. I'd suggest 4" deep sides would be fine. That way you'd have light and strong boards with a good depth of ends so when lining them up and attaching them they will be sturdy.If you want to see how they are constructed have a look at the baseboard manufacturers links I put up earlier, that shows the construction. There's good reason they use this method - it works!!

Make one board with braced legs at each end and them attach the next board with legs at the far end and so on and work your way round the circuit when putting it together (I hope that makes sense!). Reverse procedure when taking it down.

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Mountain
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Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby Mountain » Wed Feb 05, 2020 8:14 pm

SteveInSurrey wrote:
Mountain wrote:I have a little portable layout in construction. Legs fold into the frame. Joining the boards together is done via the split hinge principle. I had taken the track to the baseboard edge to join it, but a couple of summers ago the rails did show signs of movement where one rail had koved to be higher then the other. Could be a slight distortion in the wood as the badeboard start to age or go dry with the summers heat. So I decided to use short sections of track to bridge over the join as a safer method instead.
I believe I have written about these experiments somewhere in this forum in the section where I also wrote about my models.
I think it is called Llwyndrissi Halt, or Mountain Goats Wagon Works or something like that. I need to check what I called the thread!

Ah. Found it. It is in the "Personal Layouts Under Construction" section and the thread is called "Llwyndrissi Halt". It is somewhere near the bottom of the first page in the list.
You may need to look through a few pages on the thread as I just added to it as I was building and making things, but they should be there somewhere. :D

While the ideas I used may not be the same ones you may end up using, it is worth considering just to get an idea of the varying methods of design out there.


Thanks for the feedback. I had a look at the solution you’ve used on your layout and I think I might try something similar as I suspect with the number of places where I’m going to have track going over joints between boards that trying to get them perfectly lined up every time would drive me insane! Lol

Many thanks

Steve


Just a small point to know. The little pieces of track that go over the baseboard joints do need sufficient space so the railjoiners can slide enough to allow the short track pieces to be lifted, so if using 00 gauge track, you may need to remove sleepers to allow this. Of corse, dummy sleepers can be made to allow for this if needed.
The good thing about using this method is it is more forgiving to any unevenness or distortion in the baseboards or track over time.
The downside is that the short rails need a little bit more thought to hide them when ballasting is done. It can be done via some thin flase floor under these rails. As long as it allows for the sleepers to slide for removal all is ok.

I have used old Lima railjoiners as they are very supportive and can be easily adjusted if they open up and become loose on the rails with use. Hornby and Peco railjoiners will work fine, but their design is slightly less accomodating so one may need to replace them now and then as they become slack with use.

The rails to bridge the joints could be sectional track if required. If these sections need to be curved, it may help a little to use more rigid sectional track or use flexible track and solder a few PCB type sleepers to make the track a little more rigid sonit will keep its curve. Straight track is easier as one can use flexible track which will be easier as the flexibility can help when removing etc. I have seen layouts that have used these "Bridge rails" where they balasted and the sleepers fit into the solid balast space and then they just slide the joiners across with a pair of pliers.

SteveInSurrey
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:07 pm

b308 wrote:
SteveInSurrey wrote:I’ll look to go for a different building material/method for the boards.


I've already suggested how to do it, 9mm ply outer edged boxes with 6mm bracing and surface. I'd suggest 4" deep sides would be fine. That way you'd have light and strong boards with a good depth of ends so when lining them up and attaching them they will be sturdy.If you want to see how they are constructed have a look at the baseboard manufacturers links I put up earlier, that shows the construction. There's good reason they use this method - it works!!

Make one board with braced legs at each end and them attach the next board with legs at the far end and so on and work your way round the circuit when putting it together (I hope that makes sense!). Reverse procedure when taking it down.



I'll have to have a close look at their website and see if I can cobble together something similar

SteveInSurrey
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 01, 2020 2:31 pm

Re: Looking to construct a non-permanent layout on modular baseboards

Postby SteveInSurrey » Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:19 pm

Mountain wrote:
SteveInSurrey wrote:
Mountain wrote:I have a little portable layout in construction. Legs fold into the frame. Joining the boards together is done via the split hinge principle. I had taken the track to the baseboard edge to join it, but a couple of summers ago the rails did show signs of movement where one rail had koved to be higher then the other. Could be a slight distortion in the wood as the badeboard start to age or go dry with the summers heat. So I decided to use short sections of track to bridge over the join as a safer method instead.
I believe I have written about these experiments somewhere in this forum in the section where I also wrote about my models.
I think it is called Llwyndrissi Halt, or Mountain Goats Wagon Works or something like that. I need to check what I called the thread!

Ah. Found it. It is in the "Personal Layouts Under Construction" section and the thread is called "Llwyndrissi Halt". It is somewhere near the bottom of the first page in the list.
You may need to look through a few pages on the thread as I just added to it as I was building and making things, but they should be there somewhere. :D

While the ideas I used may not be the same ones you may end up using, it is worth considering just to get an idea of the varying methods of design out there.


Thanks for the feedback. I had a look at the solution you’ve used on your layout and I think I might try something similar as I suspect with the number of places where I’m going to have track going over joints between boards that trying to get them perfectly lined up every time would drive me insane! Lol

Many thanks

Steve


Just a small point to know. The little pieces of track that go over the baseboard joints do need sufficient space so the railjoiners can slide enough to allow the short track pieces to be lifted, so if using 00 gauge track, you may need to remove sleepers to allow this. Of corse, dummy sleepers can be made to allow for this if needed.
The good thing about using this method is it is more forgiving to any unevenness or distortion in the baseboards or track over time.
The downside is that the short rails need a little bit more thought to hide them when ballasting is done. It can be done via some thin flase floor under these rails. As long as it allows for the sleepers to slide for removal all is ok.

I have used old Lima railjoiners as they are very supportive and can be easily adjusted if they open up and become loose on the rails with use. Hornby and Peco railjoiners will work fine, but their design is slightly less accomodating so one may need to replace them now and then as they become slack with use.

The rails to bridge the joints could be sectional track if required. If these sections need to be curved, it may help a little to use more rigid sectional track or use flexible track and solder a few PCB type sleepers to make the track a little more rigid sonit will keep its curve. Straight track is easier as one can use flexible track which will be easier as the flexibility can help when removing etc. I have seen layouts that have used these "Bridge rails" where they balasted and the sleepers fit into the solid balast space and then they just slide the joiners across with a pair of pliers.



I was thinking set track to cover the gaps would be the best way do to it. I'll look into picking up some lima railjoiners as well if they'll do a better job than the hornby ones I have in


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