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Before I place all of my model buildings on the living room floor for my temporary layout, I was thinking of placing them on some sort of base, so I could add "grass" and dirt and maybe build in a few elevation changes. I was thinking of using masonite or something, but at Loew's I saw white urethane foam--the stuff ice chests are made of--and wondered how it would work. It comes in 4 x 8- foot sheets of different thicknesses and what's neat is that it is light (cheap too at $12.95) and that you can glue more uerathane to it in layers to build up the scenery. I was thinking of just plopping it down on the carpet and running the track around the edges. Temporarily, of course, as I hope 2009 will be the year of my outdoor railway. Or not.

Your thoughts? About the foam...
 

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It sounds like a good idea to me. Particularly in your situation. Are you talking about Urethane or Styrofoam. The price you mentioned sounds too low for Urethane. The Styrofoam will be a little less messy to work with. You would need to paint it with a latex paint, unless you don't mind the pink color. It glues together easily with most construction adhesives. Just be sure the adhesive you use is compatable with Styrofoam. The track can be held in place with finish nails pressed into the foam through the holes in the track ties. Good luck, and try to post some photos.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Dan, it sure sounds like Styrofoam, although I swear the tag said urethane. Anyway, it is not the so-called Blue Foam that is used as insulation. I'm guessing this stuff is used for insulating too, since I discovered it among all the roll insulation and stuff. But it has the same structure as the picnic cooler stuff (breaks up easily), so you're probably right in saying it's Styrofoam.

As for finishing, I was thinking of gluing on some thin layers to simulate terrain, then using Scultamold to smooth out the contours. Then I'd paint it and cover it with dirt, grass, etc. My wife says she'd rather look at our freshly-cleaned carpet, but how realistic is that?!

To get off on a tangent--one of our neighbors was sweping up all her Liquidambar leaves (they're like maple leaves) and I thought briefly of gathering 'em up and taking them home, to grind them up and make realsitic ground cover, as I have read in all the modeling articles. But then I reminded myself that I already have a garage full of cardboard, glass jars, plastic boxes, Popsicle sticks and every solvent, glue and paint known to man, and that I didn't need to collect dead leaves. Oh, I also have dead tree branches, just in case I decide to model trees. :)
 
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using foam i just cut it with sharp(!) kitchenknives, glue it with white glue for carpentry, then rasp it to form with a wire-brush.(*)
after that i paint it either with thin plaster or with that silicone stuff, that one uses to mend cracks in plastered walls. - upon that i can finish with anything.

(*i normally plan that step for nightwork, just before my job gives me an excuse to be away from home for a day or two.
that step is really messy)
 

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I use Styrofoam as a temporary base for the out door Christmas train as well as a base for about 20 feet of track that curves around the furnace and hot water heater inside. It works very well, keeps the noise down and paints and weathers very easily. I've had both for about 8 years now and it holds up well.

Give it a try.

Dave
 

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The hot wire works very well, and you can find them at craft stores. If I tried to cut tat stuff with a knife or a saw or a rasp my wife would kill me--little sticky-clingy shavings everywhere!

If you don't want to spring for a hot wire tool you can wrap solid wire around a soldering iron and it will get hot enough
 

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Clem's portable layout [ Warrior Run Loco Works ] is entirely foam with a perimeter of 1x4 soft pine.



The modules are made from 2" pink construction foam. There are flat wooden supports between the sidepieces to keep the foam from falling out. The biggest issue is finding a glue that glues rather than dissolving the foam.

Here's a photo of the logging side of the layout, with Mike Peterlin's Shay.

http://gold.mylargescale.com/petethornton/photos/P5170016mikes-shay.jpg

And here's a couple of modules that were built for that layout (and are installed in the first photos at opposite sides.) The RH module has the pink foam surface and is visible in the first pic.

 

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Joe,

Not to belabor the subject, but if the foam you are buying has a paper or foil covering on each side, then it is probably urethane. It will break apart more easily than styrofaom, and is alittle messey as it leaves alot of crumbs. Anyway the styrofoam is most likely safer to use, as is debris doesn't break up in as fine a particle as urethane.

You might mention to your wife that the trains could possibly soil the carpeting or rug, and I don't think she would rather see that after the holidays.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No, Dan, it is the plain ol' white stuff with no backing. Just like the picnic cooler material, only in large sheets. I was kinda trying to picture how it might look, maybe with a small hill on the back side, which faces the French windows to our yard. I could put a building on the rise, which would serve as a cut for the tracks to go through. Stuff like that. Unfortunately, I am accumlulating too many buildings and at this rate, this will become a city scene, rather than a town. And I have three more in the works!
 

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That's the problem I have with my garden railway. Too many buildings and not enough carpenters, painters, and electricians to maintain them properly.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
And it's not over yet. I am already ploting my next project--either a large barn or a single-stall engine house (I've had a cardboard mockup for a year), so things will only get worse.
 

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My benchwork top is 1/2" plywood and I use the 1" pink extruded foam for roadbed. I use a hotwire foam cutter as suggested above to slope/bevel the edges of the roadbed. I like using it this way as it creates a raised roadbed. I then paint it black. I very rarely use a rasp as that creates quite a mess. To glue it down I've been using a fairly new product made by Loctite called PowerGrab Foamboard Construction Adhesive sold in caulking tubes and it really does grab instantly!!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just so you know what I am refering to, here's my Living Room Central railroad. Note the recently cleaned, off-white carpet. My wife deeded me this corner of the living room and moved all but the table lamp into the other half of the room. What a great lady. Before putting down the track, I washed it all in the sink, so as not to leave tracks (ha, ha). I also dusted and damp wiped the two Bachmann 10-wheelers (but not my two Bachmann Connies, which won't negotiate the sharp curves) and the rolling stock you see in the photo. I have about 20 more cars that are stored away or in need of cleaning. The automobiles are Hubley kits, which I assembled. I have 12 of 'em but only a few are shown here. The buidings in the photo are Korber, Railroad Ave, and scratchbuilt, including the general store and my famous styrene station, which is hiding in the background. Not displayed, because they're not finished, are my Orbisonia firehouse, Rider's Crossing store, and old time gas station, all about 80-90 percent complete. This summer, I hope to take over part of the backyard and lay some permanent track. But the buildings will be stored inside, 'cause they're too purty to live outdoors.
 

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"recently cleaned, off-white carpet"



You're a brave man Joe.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Dan, I am that!

On the other hand, I also have learned to confess to my wife whenever I screw something up. Like today, I dug out a bottle of Polly Scale "Rust" from my I Got Too Much Paint collection, and immediately shook it up, to see what the color looks like. I then started to wander through the house, only to discover that I had paint on my hand! Turns out the lid was not very tight and allowed paint to seep out. Panicked, I retraced my steps to see if there was an collateral damage. Yep, right on the off-white throw rug (but thank God, not the carpet) was a spot of Rust. I got out the carpet cleaning solution and scrubbed away, but those dang acrylics set up real fast and stick to everything. Thinking the carpet could be laundered (it can't) I 'fessed up. Although my wife was a bit put out at first, she got to laughing about it saying, "I don't know how I can ever live with a modeler." She gave it her best shot and it looks better, or we'll know better after it dries. The moral of the story: take up stamp collecting. :)
 

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lol Joe your post had me cracking up! Just give your wife the puppy dog eyes, I hear it works really well ;-P
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Engineercub, I do puppy dog eys all the time. BTW, the rug came out not so bad. It is drying on the shower enclosure, as it can't go into the dryer.

All youse other guys--I appreciate your ideas on uerathan and other stuff and will give 'em further thought when we are back in LA from our January thawing out trip.
 
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