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General Category => N Gauge Discussion => Topic started by: Thebaz on September 11, 2019, 01:09:05 PM

Title: Baseboard questions
Post by: Thebaz on September 11, 2019, 01:09:05 PM
Aye up

As a first-timer I'm trying to get a basic model up-and-running. I've bought a few trains and now need to get some track and a controller! I've picked up lots of useful tips reading this and other forums; one of which is how to stop my trains from falling to the floor - which is something that had previously never crossed my mind :goggleeyes:! So my thoughts have turned straight away to baseboards with a bit of edging. I didn't realise quite how much was involved in just getting started! I've seen a lot of talk about using insulation board due to its light weight and durability, so I'm thinking this is probably the way to go for an initial 2m x 1m (ish layout). The aim would be to be able to put it on the dining table (for both work and "play") but for it to be split lengthways so I could get it through the lot hatch out of the way if needed. So I have some questions..

Some questions: :D
Would the 25m thick insul board board be too lightweight? Should I go for the 50mm board instead?
Suggestions where to buy this stuff cheaply (
As an alternative have people tried styrofoam? Or is that too destructible?
What type of ply is the best? and what thickness would be fine for the edging?
Should I edge with ply between the lengthwise split (in essence creating two separate 2mx 0.5m boards? My initial though would be to do this as it would prevent the foam from getting damaged an make for a much more sturdy join. If so what would be a good way of getting a tight join between the boards?
Any tips for track good track joinage at the split?
Should I cork the top of the insul board as well or is that overkill (I'm thinking noise reduction), or maybe just use cork for raised track shoulders?

I'm sure I've forgotten something.. anyway any advice greatly appreciated

K


Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: ntpntpntp on September 11, 2019, 01:30:10 PM
You'll get loads of differing opinions and recommendations on this one!   

Personally I wouldn't use "insulation board", the stuff I've encountered that goes by that general description is pretty fluffy stuff and doesn't take pins securely.   

I've not played with styrofoam board etc., I think some on here have? 

I'm a bit traditional in my approach, I use 9mm ply for the baseboard surfaces - and actually also for the sides as as I make my baseboards as open "boxes" and only use the ply for the track bed and under buildings etc. The rest is left open so tha scenery can go below the track height as well as above, and later filled in with polystyrene to form the contours etc.. I have a pet hate of totally covered flat top boards except where necessary to support the scene, but I will admit they are easiest when starting out. The good old traditional board with 2x1 or 3x1 timber framing has worked fine for many people starting out.

As for providing an edge, well I would argue that a better approach is NOT to have the track laid right on the edges in the first place!  Try and introduce a little height to the scenery round the edge (even if only a couple of cm or so) to make it less easy for something to fly right off the edge.  You could also consider putting perspex or similar clear sheet around the edge, but it does tend to affect the view of the trains!

This is what I mean about constructing each board from ply sides as an open "box":
(https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/gallery/64/5885-230418205326.jpeg)

Oh, if if you're planning on your layout having two or more boards which join together and which have tracks across the joins, it's vital to ensure that the boards align accurately and securely. For alignment I use Pattern Makers' dowels like these, set into the ends of the boards:
(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/wq4AAOSw42JZM9p2/s-l640.jpg)


Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Philip. on September 11, 2019, 02:02:32 PM
Another vote for 9mm ply, cheap as chips from your local builders merchant
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Thebaz on September 11, 2019, 02:32:58 PM
I really like the idea of being able to put scenery below track level but I feel that is something best left for when I have more experience and build something a bit more permanent, especially if made from ply. Then again I could maybe manage this kind of thing by contouring styro and elevating the track. He says.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 11, 2019, 05:23:45 PM
I use 50mm extruded polystyrene, this is stiffer and more solid than the  expanded  white bubbly stuff...
You need at least 50mm  without digging land scape into it. So some of my boards are 50+50 with the top one carved..

If you are  using this method then only 5mm cheap  ply is needed  as it's only protecting the edges. This might have  to be doubled at the ends depending on your joining / alignment method.  1inch square battens are let into the foam corners to screw as well as glue the ply into.  Oh use a " just like nails" type non solvent adhesive..  I use the cheap screwfix type..

My favourite connection method is  to use adjustable latches.  Just type that into amazon you'll see them. Even if you don't buy them from there..
Then for alignment dowels as above..
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Newportnobby on September 11, 2019, 08:22:55 PM
A great source for all things baseboard and good service from experience. Check out their 'Baseboard fittings' for dowels and latches etc.......

https://www.stationroadbaseboards.co.uk (https://www.stationroadbaseboards.co.uk)

You could also consider putting perspex or similar clear sheet around the edge, but it does tend to affect the view of the trains!


Not sure I agree with that. Check out my 'temporary' edging using a product called 'Liteglaze' but it's the 2nd pass of the class 26 that shows best.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/31337/48718653637_58889407b4_t.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2he6QoR)Dapol class 26 on Kimbolted (https://flic.kr/p/2he6QoR) by Mick Hollyoake (https://www.flickr.com/photos/182878845@N04/), on Flickr

Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: PostModN66 on September 11, 2019, 09:32:14 PM
Hi Thebaz

There are two main schools of thought for lightweight baseboards, the foam approach as you have described and the flush door approach.  Both have one main disadvantage, that it is more difficult to mount point motors as you can’t just fix them under the board.  If you can get round this they have loads of advantages; stiffer, lighter and quicker to build than conventional boards.

Ways round the point motors issue:

Use “wire in tube”
Use Kato track with built in motors
Surface mount the motors

My approach is the Flush door approach (used on both Deansmoor and Lofthole, see links below.) As it happens the 78” by 30” of a typical door is not so far away from your proposed size of 2m x 1m.

Lofthole is so called because the size allows it to be shoved up my Lofthole!

And yes, you can create track raised above scenery by using an extra layer of foam, on top of either type of board ( this is approximately what I have done on Deansmoor).

Hope this is helpful!

Cheers Jon 😀
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: ntpntpntp on September 11, 2019, 09:41:34 PM

You could also consider putting perspex or similar clear sheet around the edge, but it does tend to affect the view of the trains!


Not sure I agree with that. Check out my 'temporary' edging using a product called 'Liteglaze' but it's the 2nd pass of the class 26 that shows best.

(https://live.staticflickr.com/31337/48718653637_58889407b4_t.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/2he6QoR)Dapol class 26 on Kimbolted (https://flic.kr/p/2he6QoR) by Mick Hollyoake (https://www.flickr.com/photos/182878845@N04/), on Flickr

Nah, I'm afraid that would really irritate me - the obvious line at the cut edge plus all the reflections. 

I've only ever used it in one place, where the "water" of my harbour meets the edge of the baseboard, to keep little fingers off the surface at shows, and then only an inch or so high so as not to obstruct the view of the trains.


(https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/gallery/81/5885-110919214019.jpeg) (https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?action=gallery;sa=view&id=81316)
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: dannyboy on September 11, 2019, 10:04:37 PM
Any relation?

(https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/gallery/81/4209-110919220313.jpeg)
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Merrylee on September 11, 2019, 11:12:28 PM
If going down the door route, Howdens do 2040 x 526 flush lightweight plywood doors.
Joined on the length will give you 2040 x 1052, slightly bigger than your 2000 x 1000.
They also do 1980 x 458, 532, 610 so plenty sizes to play around with.

Ron
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 12, 2019, 07:48:23 AM
Providing there are only a couple of them in a sheet of foam, then you can excavate a 4 inch square hole into the bottom sheet of foam, glue a ply square beneath the point and mount the point motor as Normal under the point.
 I believe this is the method used by Gorden Gravett..

My own preference is, to mount the point motors on the back of the layout (front if at home not exhibited)  and use wire and tube to the point, it's easy enough to carve a slot for the wire through the foam...

 It keeps most of the wiring on the back , no more grovelling underneath for repairs.., a couple of full width battons above and below the point motors act as a channel for the wiring and motor protection.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Newportnobby on September 12, 2019, 10:18:15 AM
Any relation?

(https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/gallery/81/4209-110919220313.jpeg)

I bet they think they're the bees knees. Worst case of hives I've ever seen :-X
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: silly moo on September 12, 2019, 10:30:08 AM
Like The Q, I use styrofoam for baseboards. There are both advantages and disadvantages. I am presently building a layout that fits onto a plastic garden table. I think you do need something rigid such as a table for foam layouts to rest on.

The main advantage from my point of view is avoiding carpentry which I don't have the tools or skills for and the portability and lightweight nature of foam layouts. I can easily lift the whole layout up, move it out of the way and even turn it upside down for wiring.

I am building up quite complicated scenery using more styrofoam and lightweight filler. The foam is easy if a bit messy to shape but it is dry mess as opposed to wet mess. I have attached track using Woodland Scenics track underlay. My points will be wire in tube operated.

Woodland Scenics do a whole styrofoam based layout system https://youtu.be/FclA5ABnwPA you don't need to make use of styrofoam to that extent but it does show it can work well for smaller layouts.

Wiring that travels through styrofoam needs to be insulated because the styrofoam (apparently) reacts with the coating of the wires and degrades it, I've yet to come across this happening but feed my wiring through plastic straws as a precaution.

Cutting styrofoam with a wire cutter causes toxic fumes so you need to wear a mask and work in a well ventilated area. I can take my layout outside into the garden if needs be.

I think that styrofoam can be used very successfully as a baseboard for smaller layouts but once you start building a large layout some sort of wooden framework is needed.

 :NGaugersRule:

Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 12, 2019, 10:49:19 AM
 My home layout which isn't being worked on all boards are effectively on worktops, with cupboards and shelves beneath.
Some have used struts across the bottom of the foam boards, but I'm not sure it's needed. All my scenery is built up from the bottom board, using more foam boards,  / pieces of,  if required the track base is not at baseboard level but above it, to get a down slope from the track.

If filing a extruded foam board wear a mask, the dust it puts out is not for breathing in.. If you are getting bubbles not dust, then it's the wrong type of foam for a baseboard.

I've experience of the mess putting polystyrene in contact with cables can cause. We unpacked a cable box that had spent ten years in Saudi in a un-airconditioned hanger.. the peanut poly bubbles had melted onto the cable surfaces what a mess..
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Thebaz on September 12, 2019, 09:28:31 PM
Great replies so far - I've learned a lot already and have some good ideas how to proceed. There's so much more to think about than I ever thought, especially making the thing future-proof. At the start it will be a simple manual railway but I will definitely have to look into mounting point motors and wiring. Will also be looking to DCC in the future too.
 
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: chrism on September 13, 2019, 06:31:35 AM
One thing I haven't seen mentioned about the extruded foam (eg Celotex/Kingspan stuff) is that it can shrink like heck after cutting.
I used it for the scenery on Coniston and one length I cut and carved to make the cliff behind the goods yard went like a banana surprisingly quickly because the underside was the original surface as manufactured and the upper side was carved.
Therefore it's important to seal any cut surfaces as soon as you can - you don't want baseboard edges shrinking away from their framing or from each other.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 13, 2019, 09:04:15 AM
Technically Celotex is not any form of Polystyrene, its polyisocyanurate Foam with a sheet of tin foil top and bottom..

 If you use Celotex, the strength is in the tin foil, if you remove one side it will turn into a banana. You have to use a complete sheet WITHOUT carving as a baseboard, Glue another on top and carve that.

I've not had any problem with shrinkage because once a board is cut to size, then edging is imediately glued on, including as a single piece that for the edges of any upper layers..
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Thebaz on September 13, 2019, 02:14:58 PM
One thing I haven't seen mentioned about the extruded foam (eg Celotex/Kingspan stuff) is that it can shrink like heck after cutting.
I used it for the scenery on Coniston and one length I cut and carved to make the cliff behind the goods yard went like a banana surprisingly quickly because the underside was the original surface as manufactured and the upper side was carved.
Therefore it's important to seal any cut surfaces as soon as you can - you don't want baseboard edges shrinking away from their framing or from each other.

What would you use to seal the edges? Should this be done after I split the boards (and before I add the ply frame?)
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: chrism on September 13, 2019, 04:04:59 PM
One thing I haven't seen mentioned about the extruded foam (eg Celotex/Kingspan stuff) is that it can shrink like heck after cutting.
I used it for the scenery on Coniston and one length I cut and carved to make the cliff behind the goods yard went like a banana surprisingly quickly because the underside was the original surface as manufactured and the upper side was carved.
Therefore it's important to seal any cut surfaces as soon as you can - you don't want baseboard edges shrinking away from their framing or from each other.

What would you use to seal the edges? Should this be done after I split the boards (and before I add the ply frame?)

A liberal coating of PVA seemed to fix mine OK. Obviously, being just scenery, it soon got paint, etc. on top as well.
I'd suggest you do it as soon as possible after cutting.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 14, 2019, 04:28:40 PM
One thing I haven't seen mentioned about the extruded foam (eg Celotex/Kingspan stuff) is that it can shrink like heck after cutting.
I used it for the scenery on Coniston and one length I cut and carved to make the cliff behind the goods yard went like a banana surprisingly quickly because the underside was the original surface as manufactured and the upper side was carved.
Therefore it's important to seal any cut surfaces as soon as you can - you don't want baseboard edges shrinking away from their framing or from each other.

What would you use to seal the edges? Should this be done after I split the boards (and before I add the ply frame?)
If you are putting the frame on then the liberal coat of PVA can be used to glue the frame on at the same time..
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Thebaz on September 24, 2019, 05:09:17 PM
Well, I've been doing my homework and I've settled upon a foam baseboard design which incorporates many of your suggestions from the dowels to the toggle catch. Utilised my AutoCAD skills to knock up a plan that I'm happy with and will be able to take off the quantities to make sure I'm buying the right amount number of bits (shouldn't be too hard tbh!!)

See pdf attachment for plans and let  me know if you have any comments  :)
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 24, 2019, 08:28:59 PM
I note you've marked up for expanded polystyrene,  I would recommend extruded polystyrene it's much stiffer and better for baseboards..
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: jpendle on September 25, 2019, 01:33:58 AM
Yes you absolutely need to use XPS, Extruded Polystyrene. Here in the US its used as wall insulation and is available 1/2", 1", and 2" thick. It is much denser than white polystyrene foam used as packing material, so it can be cut much more accurately, without a lot of mess.

Regards,

John P

Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Thebaz on September 25, 2019, 09:04:41 AM
I note you've marked up for expanded polystyrene,  I would recommend extruded polystyrene it's much stiffer and better for baseboards..
Yes you absolutely need to use XPS, Extruded Polystyrene. Here in the US its used as wall insulation and is available 1/2", 1", and 2" thick. It is much denser than white polystyrene foam used as packing material, so it can be cut much more accurately, without a lot of mess.


Thanks for looking at my plans and commenting. Truth is I haven't yet decided whether to use polystyrene or say, the Kingspan stuff. I've read of people making a success out of using polystyrene, so I wanted to keep that as an option especially as the XPS stuff is about 400% more expensive! I note your points about XPS being a lot easier and therefoere, neater to cut so I suspect I will probably go down that road in the end.

My main concern now is cutting the ply as I only have a manual carpenters' saw. Should I try to get hold of better cutting equipment or would I do fine with the manual saw. I've read about the correct side up to place it for cutting so presumably if I stick to that I should be okay?
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: ntpntpntp on September 25, 2019, 10:15:09 AM

My main concern now is cutting the ply as I only have a manual carpenters' saw. Should I try to get hold of better cutting equipment or would I do fine with the manual saw.
Although I have electric circular saws, jig saws, and a band saw, I still prefer to cut ply baseboard frame pieces with a hand saw on a Workmate. Just make sure the teeth are in good condition and sharp. Cut with the teeth running on the outside edge of the cut line, go gently without lots of pressure and let the saw do the work.

Quote
I've read about the correct side up to place it for cutting so presumably if I stick to that I should be okay?
Don't think I've ever heard of that in all the decades I've been cutting ply. Presume it's maybe something to do with grain direction when cutting?  I've never had a problem.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Bealman on September 25, 2019, 10:19:50 AM
I have cut  thick (9mm) ply with a jigsaw all me life without problem.

And that includes a circular hole for a Fleischmann  turntable!

However, eye protection is recommended.  :beers:
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: chrism on September 25, 2019, 10:26:51 AM
I've read about the correct side up to place it for cutting so presumably if I stick to that I should be okay?
Don't think I've ever heard of that in all the decades I've been cutting ply. Presume it's maybe something to do with grain direction when cutting?  I've never had a problem.

Since most ply is an odd number of layers, the grain will run the same way on both surfaces so I doubt it's that. Ive never had a problem either, cutting in whichever direction I wish.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: Bealman on September 25, 2019, 10:32:10 AM
If it is warped, I cut from the up side, while trying to keep the ends level.

I do this on a driveway, which itself is on a slope!  :beers:

I think that have a clear game plan, and take care is the solution here.
Title: Re: Baseboard questions
Post by: The Q on September 25, 2019, 12:02:39 PM
Some Plywoods are "Good One Side" that means the top layer one side should have no blemishes or patches. The really cheap DIY shed stuff is often of this type.
If you are using it varnished in furniture you need to cut and use the correct side visible.
For a model railway you're going to cover it in paint and polyfilla anyway so for a flat earth top it doesn't matter. If you are however going to use it for say a lighting arch facia. Then get the correct side facing out, you don't want the patches showing through the paint.

As for what to use, a electric jigsaw with a comparitively smooth blade is good for cutting precision smooth edges. But Chippendale used hand tools, you can produce quality work with hand tools, it just takes longer.
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