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Thread: Open Grid Benchwork Infill

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    Default Open Grid Benchwork Infill

    Looking for ideas on filling in the area around my open grid benchwork for scenery.

    I've always had the best luck working with insulating foam, but it appears to be a lot of material when my roadbed is 4-6 inches above the stringers. I attempted to fill in some areas with 1 inch foam supported on risers on the stringers, but it moves too much. If you have a layout that is filled with foam, do you fill all the empty space, both vertically and horizontally? Or support somehow so it spans between stringers.

    I've also seen wonderful things done with rosin paper and glue for a base. This is followed up with plaster or sculptamold and your regular scenery materials. I feel like this method would require a lot a plaster or sculptamold on top of the rosin paper for a good solid base. I'm not interested in using plaster cloth; mixed plaster would be ok.

    Thanks.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


    Visit my blog at parkerlocoworks.blogspot.com to see more of my models
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    It depends on the terrain you are modelling - if it rolling hills perhaps screen wire for a base to apply the foam? Other options include cardboard strips with plaster towels, commercial products like resin foam with chickenwire, styrofoam layers etc.

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    Didn't even think to mention that. The area is the desert southwest, 75% on it is flat desert with minor variations in height. The areas that will have more relief, I'll build foam up in layers.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


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    I ended up stapling cardboard about an inch below where I wanted to slopes to be as backer and just fill in with Great Stuff. As long as you are running beads all the way to wood its super solid once it cures. Takes some getting used to though - as it expands it moves anything not nailed down. Read the instructions and best to mask any nearby track. Hopefully these show the process.
    IMG_7211.jpg IMG_7214.jpg IMG_7217.jpg

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    You might try some like this:

    Foam Risers.PNG

    Everything's glued together with your favorite foam safe construction adhesive.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    Have you tried 2” foam? It is harder to find at big bix stores, and you may be able to special order it. Unlike the 1” foam it should be ridgid enough to sit on the risers and not bend. A layer of Sculpt-a-mold over it will also harden it. I used to use plaster over cardboard strips, but changed over to foam for all new scenery and love that it is so lightweight and easy to shape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim R View Post
    You might try some like this:

    Foam Risers.PNG

    Everything's glued together with your favorite foam safe construction adhesive.
    This looks like a pretty easy solution, thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by danb View Post
    Have you tried 2” foam? It is harder to find at big bix stores, and you may be able to special order it. Unlike the 1” foam it should be ridgid enough to sit on the risers and not bend. A layer of Sculpt-a-mold over it will also harden it. I used to use plaster over cardboard strips, but changed over to foam for all new scenery and love that it is so lightweight and easy to shape.
    Getting 2" foam is pretty easy here in Colorado, though I haven't tried yet, just with 1/2" and 1". I was more concerned with cutting the 2" to fill gaps as it is harder to score and snap.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


    Visit my blog at parkerlocoworks.blogspot.com to see more of my models
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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    I ended up stapling cardboard about an inch below where I wanted to slopes to be as backer and just fill in with Great Stuff. As long as you are running beads all the way to wood its super solid once it cures. Takes some getting used to though - as it expands it moves anything not nailed down. Read the instructions and best to mask any nearby track. Hopefully these show the process.
    Interesting. Maybe laying sheets of cardboard on the stringers and then using Great Stuff to build up in the void, then placing insulating foam on top would be a good way to go. I'd basically be filling in the benchwork like they do when insulating a wall.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


    Visit my blog at parkerlocoworks.blogspot.com to see more of my models
    Visit my Facebook page www.facebook.com/nscalearzc to see more of my layout build

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    After a few days of glue setting, things were much stiffer. I've also used Great Stuff to fill small gaps and that helped glued the foam to the benchwork. A little bit of spackle to smooth things out after carving and I believe I've found a good way to use the foam for scenery without wasting layers underneath.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


    Visit my blog at parkerlocoworks.blogspot.com to see more of my models
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    Doug,
    Beware of them pesky stampeding Mooses.
    I'd get some pics loaded up asap to avoid the possibility.
    The Little Rock Line blog


    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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    Default Photos of the process

    A few photos of the process.

    This one shows where I have started to put spackle down on the sanded foam to help fill all the minor gaps and provide a smooth-ish base for paint and sand.
    IMG_3179.JPG

    A second view of the same area.
    IMG_3180.JPG

    This photo shows the area around the curve where I've got the pink foam and the Great Stuff installed, but have not cut and sanded yet. The Great Stuff fills the space between the pink foam and benchwork wonderfully and also glues it to the benchwork, creating a very rigid base.
    IMG_3181.jpg

    I need to come back and cut the profile into my fascia now with an oscilating saw. The hope is that the Great Stuff expanded downward as well to where I want to cut and that area will already be filled in.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


    Visit my blog at parkerlocoworks.blogspot.com to see more of my models
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    As you get more comfortable with getting the Great Stuff where it needs to go and in the right quantity, you may find as I did that there is no real need for the pink foam. The roughly 6 inches of foreground that you filled with pink here is similar to a scene I did recently, where I just took some masking tape to make a weave, going from the bottom of the sub roadbed over to the fascia (about an inch or so down from the target ground height). I just put enough tape in place to give me a back-stop against which I could spray the foam, with some gaps still present. The first Great Stuff on scene goes against the tape, and in about a half hour it is stiff enough to support adjacent infill, so you spray against that, until you close in the space.

    The advantage of doing it all in Great Stuff is that you end up with randomized topography. Of course, you come back after the fact and slice/dice it down to the contours you want, but you can get some happy accidents from the unpredictable expansion that may give you neat undulations; this won't happen with pink foam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WP&P View Post
    you may find as I did that there is no real need for the pink foam.
    Exactly. It's cheaper to set up a carboard base and use GS on that for mountains than it is to use the foam sheets. But foam sheets are still good for flat areas.

    Some pointers from someone who as gone thru dozens of cans:
    For carving I've settled on a serrated steak knife with a slightly flexible blade.
    Curing requires moisture. Spritzing with water after the surface skins over speeds up the curing process.
    Static electricity when carving drives me nuts. I've seen small pieces of foam fly sideways and stick themselves to a wall a foot away. Spritzing to add humidity helps.
    Wait a day before carving. If there is any kind of stickiness in the center of the foam when carving, spritz and wait.
    Avoid putting down thick blobs all at once as they tend to form large hollow bubbles in the middle and the center takes forever to cure. Best to add a layer later.
    Plaster and Sculptamold won't stick to the shiny skin surface. You have to carve it first to expose the open-celled foam under the skin, and then start the plastering or Sculptamold by smearing some into the bubbles.
    Shelf life is limited; last year's GS definitely doesn't expand as much or as quickly as this year's. Having said that, GS usually goes on sale here in January and I've been known to buy a case.
    This year they added a plug for closing the tube. But still, don't expect a half-empty can to be usable a week later, as the foam eventually cures back into the can itself.

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    Thanks for the hints guys.

    I'm going to stick with the pink foam as most of my landscape on the top level is flat desert. On the lower level I'll have some canyons and more uneven terrain. I've always enjoyed working with the stacked pink stuff. The Great Stuff is really just a filler and binder for me as it's tough to cut foam sheet exactly as you need it.

    The worst part of using the Great Stuff is the shelf life and how short it is once you start using it.
    Doug M.
    Modeling the Arizona & California Railroad in N Scale


    Visit my blog at parkerlocoworks.blogspot.com to see more of my models
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    When using foam board I use a palm sander (quarter sheet sander) with 60 grit paper. This is after general shaping with the bandsaw or knife. While sanding with one hand I hold the Shop Vac nozzle next to the sander.

    I can get some nice smooth contours this way and I switch to 120 grit for areas that need a less coarse surface.

    Using the Shop Vac, the process is not as messy as one might think.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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