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Thread: What should I use for a base in this situation.....

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    Default What should I use for a base in this situation.....

    Hello guys. I am redoing a 2'x4' layout that I did when I was 19. It looks unrealistic, flat, and toy like. I am scrapping it and starting over. I want to make a multi-dimensional layout with a lake, a bridge, and hills, etc. I think you got the picture. Now it's important to know that this 2x4 plank of wood that my layout is on is laying directly on my furniture(a 3 drawer dresser/chest). Moving forward, would I be ok with just using a 2x4 of extruded polystyrene? Please keep in mind that my layout can only be put on this dresser. As always, I appreciate everyone's time and consideration.
    -Christian

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    Quote Originally Posted by cboisits View Post
    Moving forward, would I be ok with just using a 2x4 of extruded polystyrene?
    Sure you could. I'd consider protecting the edges with luan plywood, gatorboard or foamcore glued to the edges of the extruded foam board.

    You can route wiring to track feeders and the like via shallow troughs carved in the foam.

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    And may I suggest you use 2 inch thick foam for rigidity? Or two layers of 1 inch. That would enable you to have a base layer, pre-carve a river and pond into the 2nd layer, and add hills with the scraps. All of this can be shaped with a serrated knife and 60 grit sandpaper in a palm sander. Do the sanding outside or keep a vacuum cleaner sucking the foam dust as you go.

    This way you can shape hills and the slight valleys alongside the subroadbed.

    One of the things that bothers me about many layouts (and mine, too, in retrospect) is that most of us forget the minor undulations of the ground above and below the roadbed.

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    In the past, when I had a small space to work with, I had the mindset that what I built could be added to a larger layout in the future. I was thinking about a small switching layout like the one I have included below.
    IMG_2558.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by prunk606 View Post
    In the past, when I had a small space to work with, I had the mindset that what I built could be added to a larger layout in the future. I was thinking about a small switching layout like the one I have included below.
    IMG_2558.jpg
    Ah, yes, "101 Track Plans for Model Railroaders", Linn Westcott's classic. Lots of old-school ideas, but glimpses of the new school here and there.

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    Good stuff guys. I can feel my confidence growing to actually begin the layout.

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    +1 to the 2" thick foam. You can do quite a bit with it, and the scraps work great for building hills etc. Here's a photo of my recently scrapped 2'x4' layout with which I followed exactly the same model you're describing.
    WP_20140824_004.jpg

    The one thing I did wrong with that layout was that even though I had a water feature, a tunnel and a cut-through, a lot of the layout was still very flat. I would've varied it a lot more if I was doing it all over again. Also the hill with the tunnel was waaay too steep for the rest of the terrain. A cut-through looks a lot nicer, and still gives the visual separation of scenes when viewed at eye level. Here's an example of what I'm talking about from a 3'x7' layout that's even from farther back in time.
    13a - Plexiglass Guard.jpg


    Another thing I would suggest is to use cassettes for staging that dock to the end of your source of cars for your switching layout. I've been using these for a while and they're a great way to handle/store/swap out your rolling stock.
    Serdar

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    Ok. So what I should do is start with a 2x4 extruded polystyrene base and then use 2 layers of 1" thick foam. Is there any special type of foam I should use?

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    I have been very happy with the extruded foam insulation (the pink dense foam stuff) you can find at hardware stores. You can cut it any which way you like, sand it etc. It's more rigid than the standard white foam and it doesn't flake.
    Serdar

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    I prefer blue foam (same as the pink, no difference ). I also use the 1/2" thick foam structurally, to support my upper deck. Photos on my layout thread somewhere. I cut arches into it for access and weight reduction.

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