Best method for layout construction

Best method for layout construction

Post by Chris Bo » Fri, 28 Feb 1997 04:00:00



I am just starting to design and build my first HO layout after 25+ years
away from the hobby (It's for my children....if you believe that I have a
bridge to sell you).

My proposed layout will be 2' x 9' shelf switchback layout on 2 to 3
different levels with a few trestles and a tunnel. I plan to build this at
the end of my ba***t shop (9' x 14'). Later I hope to extend 1'x4' wings on
either side for more sidings and maybe run a single track around the shop
for continous running.

I plan to run mostly small to medium steam engines (0-4-0, 0-6-0, 4-4-0,
2-6-0, 2-8-0, etc) and short freight and passenger trains (4-8 cars) (Late
1800s to early 1900s).

I want to use under table switch machines for the turnouts.

I have started with a 1"x4" grid type benchwork on 1' centers that I have
hung from the wall. This benchwork is on one level. I currently have
1/8" Luan plywood on top of the benchwork (lightweight and easy to cut).

My questions are these:

A. What is the best method for constructing the different levelsand scenery?
I want the scenery to be lightweight and relatively easy to build.

1. The traditional method is to use wooden risers with plywood roadbed.
The scenery is constructed using plaster over window screen.

2. I have also seen scenery built from foam insulation. The foam is shaped
to provide different contours. I don't know how it is covered. The roadbed
and track is placed on top of the foam.

3. Combination of (1) and (2)=> wooden risers w/plywood roadbed and foam
for scenery.

B. What are the advantages and disadvantages of homosote vs. cork roadbed?
Do you need to place the homosote on top of plywood?

I also want to know of any good books or articles in MR that would provide
advice on building scenery.

Thanks im advance.

Christopher Boit
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Best method for layout construction

Post by TOM HEFNE » Sat, 01 Mar 1997 04:00:00


I will give you my two cents.


snip snip

Quote:

> My questions are these:

> A. What is the best method for constructing the different levelsand
scenery?
> I want the scenery to be lightweight and relatively easy to build.

> 1. The traditional method is to use wooden risers with plywood roadbed.
> The scenery is constructed using plaster over window screen.

This method has been around forever and is probably the most proven, but
should also be the heaviest, if weight is a concern.

One alternative to the screen and plaster route that a member of the
modular group I am in showed me is to make the usual supports from heavy
cardboard or, in our case, 1/2" beaded foam glued together.  He covers this
support network with wide masking tape for a base and then covers that with
the Woodland Scenics Plaster Cloth.  It makes a very lightweight scenery
base with the "Lightweight Hydrocal" that Woodland Scenics sells.  We brush
an earth colored***paint over this and apply the ground cover to that
while it is still wet.  (Adapted from Dave Frary's techniques) You can also
add other coats of plaster or rock castings to that as well.

Quote:
> 2. I have also seen scenery built from foam insulation. The foam is
shaped
> to provide different contours. I don't know how it is covered. The
roadbed
> and track is placed on top of the foam.

I have seen articles about N Gage layouts made entirely of foam with no
wood at all.  Don't know if it has ever been done for HO or not.  Covering
the foam is not difficult.  You can use a product such as Woodland Scenics
Paste or Polyterrain's equivalent.  I mix a bit of the earth tone's with
the paste so that it is not white and apply it with a cheap brush. I have
also heard of folks using a thinned Structolite drywall compound, but have
not found any around here to try.

Quote:
> 3. Combination of (1) and (2)=> wooden risers w/plywood roadbed and foam
> for scenery.

This is my preference.  No particular reason but I like the support under
the track.

Quote:
> B. What are the advantages and disadvantages of homosote vs. cork
roadbed?
> Do you need to place the homosote on top of plywood?

Homosote needs some sort of support as it will sag by itself, particularly
if in a damp environment.  I use 3/8" or 1/2" plywood and glue the homosote
down with carpenters glue or elmers white glue.  The modular group I am in
uses a 1/4" Luan combination and that has worked well. I use Homosote in
the flat yard areas.  
The biggest advantage that I have found with Homostoe is the fact that
track can be laid with a pair of needle-nose pliers.  It is also very easy
to re-arrange and re-lay the track which I have done many times.  For my
mainline areas, I will use cork on top of the homosote to give me the
roadbed profile. My first layout was cork directly on plywood and I just
hated driving those nails.

Quote:
> I also want to know of any good books or articles in MR that would
provide
> advice on building scenery.

Kalmbach's Scenery book is excellent.  Woodland Scenics Book is also good,
as is the Video.  Dave Frary also has a video on the subject, but I have
not yet seen it.

Quote:
> Thanks im advance.

> Christopher Boit
> --

Happy Modeling

Tom Hefner
Greenbrier Valley & Potomac Rwy, (Piedmont Division)