Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

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alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:01 pm

Next stage is to put down some cardboard to create a road at railway height and to allow me to make a level crossing. The road edge also makes a perfect straight-edge to hide the baseboard interface/join. In the far distance I've put down some polystyrene blocks to create a cutting for the railway to run in and to bring a road and bridge to a higher elevation for the town section. This should hide the trains turning the corner when viewed from the centre and will also disguise the place where the trains disappear under the scenic background. Since most of the layout so far is scenic fields, I also want to have a go at a more built-up type of area.
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Card road and polystyrene blocks

As previously, I've cut some orange wire to form cable protection as it passes under the tracks, to connect the dummy point motors to an electrical cabinet, which should add some nice detail to an otherwise stark trackbed. Wooden 'lolly sticks' painted grey form concrete walls either side of the track in this industrial area. The electrical cabinet and base is also made from short cuts from the lolly sticks.
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Points and orange 'cable conduit'

A close view of the level crossing, with cardboard strips stuck down either side of the rails. A careful balance between not being too high that they snag the train wheels or get damaged when cleaning with a track rubber, but also not too low that they look like a massive trough that a car wheel just couldn't negotiate!
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Cardboard level crossing

To create some 3D relief to the road I've also made separate pavements to see how they affect the look. They seem too thin to be to scale, but it will be interesting to see if they make much of a difference.

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Mountain
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby Mountain » Thu Nov 29, 2018 8:45 pm

I like the river you made.

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Sun Dec 02, 2018 4:53 pm

Here is a view of the further building up of the cutting and town area where the road will go. By having two layers of ground, the cutting for the railway is less severe and also the road and bridge don't look like they are so high, which I hope will be a bit more realistic. I've also put an interface block for the road bridge. Another advantage is if a train was to derail, it would be contained in the cutting and couldn't fall off the layout onto the floor! If the tight curves here look too toy-like, the intermediate level could also support a covering sub-module to hide it and keep all visible track to straight lines or gentle curves, with the bridge becoming more of a tunnel opening.
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Cutting through raised town area

Then to create a gradient for the road from the level crossing to join with the town and bridge part. I've also put into place the road bridge over the tracks, which should help hide the curve and create a point for the trains to emerge from.
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Ramped road and bridge over track

A rear view of the town area and the road bridge from behind.
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View of the bridge from 'behind'

The road bridge is made of thin stripwood with round dowel for the vertical columns. This will be painted light grey to look like a modern concrete bridge.
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Close-up of the road bridge

The road bridge is to be removable for good access to the track for cleaning, with the dowels locating into holes in a wooden strip buried into the polystyrene base. I also carved the embankment to the more familiar 45degree angle. This will be covered with grass scatter and a cardboard sheet under the bridge to form a concrete base as with real ones.
P4_74.JPG
Removable bridge and carving of the embankment

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PinkNosedPenguin
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Sun Dec 02, 2018 6:53 pm

You're making great progress - and that road bridge looks excellent! I esp like the way you have locating dowels to make it removable . . .

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Sun Dec 09, 2018 4:03 pm

Road bridge foundations and pillars painted grey and cardboard fitted at the edges to form the vertical walls and angled embankment covering underneath. I've also fillered the surface of the embankments to get rid of the gaps in the polystyrene.
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Painted bridge base

Then to paint the embankments in brown so any gaps in the scatter won't show. Also you can see the cardboard edging that will form the concrete support walls to the road and concrete walls around their edges next to the path. Cheap and simple! They aren't meant for close scrutiny, but do at least make enough of a detail that the road will look right for my purposes. I've also put a wash of dilute filler over the yard to the left of the photo to lose the grain of the polystyrene, surrounding it in lolly stick concrete walls and painting the whole thing a concrete grey.
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Painted filler and roads

Full painting of the road bridge and the card underneath. I will stick coffee stirrer wooden strips to the sides later.
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Painted road bridge - closeup

I've used a similar construction method for the road bridge that will hide the town tunnel opening. A lolly stick split length-ways forms the sides, utilising the curved ends to give a smoother look. As with the other road bridge, this is removable for track access, using the vertical supports as dowels into a wooden piece buried into the polystyrene trackbed.
P4_78.JPG
Tunnel/bridge opening

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joshv8
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby joshv8 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 11:37 am

I really like how this is coming along. You've done yourself a credit with that road surface crossing the tracks. The road over bridge gives a nice scenic break as well.
Its good to see the polystyrene method working so well for you Alan!

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:12 pm

Thanks for the comments - much appreciated :)
I stuck some blocks of polystyrene into the gap between the tracks then broke off the tops and smoothed with lightweight filler. This was then sealed with a thick coat of brown paint. Cardboard strips were stuck to the sides of the cutting, protruding 6mm above the surrounding flat area, which in N-gauge scales to about 3feet/1metre which I figure is about the height of a protecting wall. I've also ballasted the track, leaving the drilled wooden base for the bridge supports exposed, painted concrete grey
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Ballasted curve

Here you can see what will become the building area of the townscape, where I can place some trial buildings and gives a clear view of the retaining walls on two levels. The rough ground between the tracks is also evident and doesn't look overly rough to my eye. Whether such a space would ever be this rough in reality I don't know, but it could be heaps of ballast/spoil that have become overgrown (once scatter applied of course!). The white bits at the ends of the walls are where I have modified the embankments to merge with the walls in a realistic way. The 45degree wall ends have a matchstick stuck to the back of the cardboard face to give some depth to the concrete wall as it would be much thicker than the cardboard if to scale
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Curve and concrete retaining walls

And finally a view back towards the centre of the layout back towards the level crossing and the field/scenic area. The wall alongside the road gradient allows a sheer drop behind it where I can drop in a removable scenic board with some undecided building/feature.
P4_81.JPG
Long view back to centre of layout

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Sun Dec 16, 2018 2:38 pm

So now the green scatter is applied to the road embankment. Whilst this is the town section, you still see grass in some places so it seems right. The module was removed so once the scatter glue had set, I could hold it upside-down over newspaper sheets, give it a good shake and catch all of the loose scatter to be reused again. The slightly angled road orientation takes away the geometric view of lots of elements on a rectangular layout board. The angle is the same as the short straight of the angled tracks, so still fits with how a real road would run alongside a railway.
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Scatter applied - removed module view

Some mostly brown scatter was applied to the gap between the tracks of the curve, with a little green in the very centre. I've also weathered the concrete retaining walls of the cutting.
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Scattered curve and weathered walls

View of the road embankment towards the road bridge. I've now glued down the wires of the orange wire ends and lined them up with the dummy point motors and the electrical cabinet
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Scattered embankment

I've also fitted the sides to the concrete road bridge (coffee stirring sticks)
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Road bridge sides fitted

The curves are very sharp (unrealistically so, with the inner being 2nd radius) but it does give a couple of feet of extra viewing surface. I can always make a cover if it doesn't work with the rest of the layout, though I think the scenic break of the road bridge will be enough to shield the trains. Rigid wagons look ok when negotiating the bend, but longer bogie wagons and passenger coaches do look very facetted as they go round.

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joshv8
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby joshv8 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 12:02 pm

I think your beating yourself up a little over the curves. I think the bridge disguises them very well. I like the look you ended up with between the tracks. Adding grass over that, shall we say textured section has worked out great.

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:30 pm

Peco fences assembled and fitted by simply pushing into the polystyrene! Then some flock bushes scattered randomly and along the fence edges:
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Fences and flock bushes added1

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Fences and flock bushes added2

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Fences and flock bushes added3

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:59 pm

I spent some time drawing various roads in 'powerpoint' which after scaling on the work laser printer, I was able to print on A4 paper to correct scale. This meant I could create some intricate road markings and design the specific details at my leisure and once happy, then stick down to the grey road bases.
For the level crossing I worked out a spacing to give a nice placement of a cross hatch box-junction (maybe not prototypical, but it looks right for me!). To ensure the grid didn't get distorted when fitting, I cut out 1mm wide slivers where the rails would be, so that the aspect ratio remained constant and the hatching lines aligned either side of the rails:
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Laser printed level crossing hatching glued down

The road system I drew was then pasted down onto the bridge and embankment areas between my slightly raised pavements. The lighting is a bit harsh, but there are double white no-overtaking lines, dashed lines, a give way triangle and double yellow no-parking lines at some of the edges. The sheets end at the bridge interfaces to still allow the road bridges to be removable
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Laser printed roads glued down

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Laser printed roads glued down

The roads seemed to look perfect when loosely laid out and dry, but once they were wetted with glue and stuck down, the joins show up really clearly and the colours have changed slightly between each sheet, which spoils the effect a bit. I used a thin smear of PVA glue, so maybe this isn't the best choice. Maybe I need a less severe glue for this application? It is also surprising how much texture shows through the paper once wet and stuck down. I should have been more thorough in making smooth first! It also highlights the sharp edge at the top of the ramp road rather than a smooth transition, so a detail for me to improve upon next time!
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Laser printed roads glued down

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Laser printed roads glued down

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PinkNosedPenguin
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:12 pm

Well done with the road markings; I think they look great - especially the yellow cross-hatching on the level crossing. It always looks worse in a close-up photo than in real life at a normal operating distance, so I'm sure it looks fantastic in the flesh :D. And of course this is N gauge so its all smaller than it looks in the photos - I used to place a 5p piece to give scale :lol:

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glencairn
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby glencairn » Thu Dec 20, 2018 8:27 pm

Coming along in great style. Well done.

Glencairn
To the world you are someone. To someone you are their world.

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joshv8
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby joshv8 » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:07 am

Extremely well done! Those roads came up a treat. Printing them and gluing them in place was a good idea. Would have taken hours of masking and painting.

alan_r
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Re: Reusable, modular layout base in N-gauge

Postby alan_r » Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:52 pm

I managed to squeeze a bit of time in over Christmas to make a few wagon loads for my MFA spoil wagons which looked a bit bare and the wagon inners had moulding marks, with a grey colour that seemed too light to look right.
I didn't want to permanently damage the wagons as they will stay pristine, so grey painted cardboard rectangles will simply drop into the wells. For the full wagons, these sit higher with bulking cardboard underneath, then expanded polystyrene stuck on top and sealed with paint. The empty wagons have a few scraps of ballast around the edges to look a bit more realistic
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Cardboard load bases

The full loads were further bulked up and smoothed with filler in random forms to give some load variety and tested in the wagons
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Filler to bulk up the loads

Once I was happy, I painted the loads in grey then glued ballast on top. The difference is quite clear with the left wagon having the darker grey base and ballast spillages compared to the empty wagon on the right. The casting marks in the bottom of the empty wagon are also apparent in this shot which seems a poor detail in a model that is otherwise superbly made and decorated
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Scatter glued to surfaces

The loads have certainly improved the look of the wagons even at a distance (those at the back in this picture are deliberately empty for comparison) and of course they can be removed easily, keeping the wagons pristine
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'Before' and 'after' wagons

The compete train I think works well, even if the ballast loads do blend somewhat with the track! Overall a nice little Christmas project :D
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Train of wagons


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