Laying track on styrofoam

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Chuffchuff
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Laying track on styrofoam

#1

Post by Chuffchuff » Wed Mar 27, 2019 11:54 am

I would welcome some advice (all conflicting :mrgreen: ) on how to lay OO track on styrofoam. I have ideas for a 12ft by 12ft attic layout,

I am a novice and envisage a lot of "fiddling" to get the track right. I have taken a look around the web and seen some methods using glue onto the styrofoam. Which to seems fine if you know what you are doing and what you want to achieve. I have finally got to a stage where i feel my intended layout might work (taken about a year to get that far , my previous thoughts never seemed to gel , as I had / have little concept of the space required For track radii and buildings.)

Being old school, I was thinking of using mini Phillips screws to fix the track , they are about the same size of a track pin.

My supply of 25mm styrofoam has a conductive foil on it, which seem wise to remove on the top side although it does hold a screw , sort of !

So I was thinking of either using cork or 3 mm ply as a track bed stuck to the foam. I could thicken up locally to provide support for point motors.

i realise that having a base of 9 mm ply, with 25mm styrene , and 3 ply may be be a bit much. But it maybe a bit late in the day to change the base. However, having the start of a baseboard has enabled me to get some idea scale etc

Just wondering if anyone had tried or thoughts of the above?

Thanks

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IanS
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#2

Post by IanS » Wed Mar 27, 2019 12:08 pm

If you're not sure of the layout (or if it fits/looks right once down) try double sided carpet tape. I used this with some success instead of pinning or gluing when starting out. Small pieces the width of the track are easy to lay at the ends of Peco or Hornby standard track. I've not used it with flexi-track but it was fairly strong so should work OK for testing purposes. Once the track plan has been (almost) finalised on the board you can test run locos. Once that has been done you can either add pins without removing the tape (it comes in various colours such as grey or yellow or white) and wouldn't be seen if you ballast, or you can lift the track & remove the tape and glue/pin it down.

In my case I used the foam as a base on the bare baseboard and stuck it down as well as the track using tape. Ordinary double sided tape didn't seem strong enough which is why I went with carpet tape.

I then lifted it all! But by then I'd a much better idea of the track plan so it really helped. For me, part of the fun is laying the track without a plan in mind, just doing it! (I did spend years trying different plans on the AnyRail program, but in the end did it without a plan!)

My attempts at screwing into the foam I used failed to secure it enough.

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Walkingthedog
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#3

Post by Walkingthedog » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:49 pm

I’d ditch the foam and use 9 or 12mm ply on a firm 2x1 inch frame.
Nurse, the screens!

Bandit Mick
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#4

Post by Bandit Mick » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:37 pm

I'm with WTD on that one - I laid directly to the ply and have no problems. The advice I've received from WTD on a number of questions has been spot on.

Tricky Dicky
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#5

Post by Tricky Dicky » Thu Mar 28, 2019 9:15 am

You could try to put a top layer of thin ply say 3-4mm, this simply needs glueing on with PVA then you will have a normal wood surface to work on that to some extent would take small screws. What you need to do is apply pressure evenly while the PVA sets, you may also need to put a balancer layer on the underside to prevent bowing. Perhaps some experimenting required. All the above will add some weight but not as much as a fully framed ply baseboard.

Woodlands Scenics do a lot polystyrene products to build complete layouts from they recommend covering it all with plasterbandage to produce a rigid surface before track laying, you really need a fully worked out layout for that to work as alterations are difficult once you have fixed the scenics.

Richard

Paul-H
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#6

Post by Paul-H » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:36 am

You could also, after doing a test lay of the track, inset and glue small wooden blocks every 18/24 inches, the pin the track to the blocks, also put them either side of the baseboard joins, if you plane on having it dismantable.

Paul

footplate1947
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#7

Post by footplate1947 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:49 am

I agree with the last posts saying don't use foam. It is lot of work and messing about and at the end of the day it will not last as well as fixing down on ply.
Somebody said stick it down with double sided tape but some of it does not stick well. (I don't think pins will hold in foam so why use pins) If you must use the foam stuff (I cant think why) then use the double sided tape which is sold in car accessory shops for number plates. It is the strongest type of double sided tape you can buy. As you will find if you try to remove a number plate. :o I have used it for years for all sorts of things................John
If only there was enough hours in the day..................John

footplate1947
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#8

Post by footplate1947 » Thu Mar 28, 2019 10:55 am

Just to mention, some foam will destroy wiring insulation which can cause problems later on I would think.
If only there was enough hours in the day..................John

Chuffchuff
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#9

Post by Chuffchuff » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:45 pm

Many thanks for your replies.

I should have said in my original post that the reason for using styafoam was to have a level below the rail bed for scenic use.

Seems to that the better solution is to finalise my track work, get it working,, then mount the track on ply on mini pillars high enough to either at the same height, or just above ,the foam.

That would seem a more stable fixing, provide a foam free route for wiring, and keep me occupied for another year :roll:

Rgds

Mountain Goat
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Re: Laying track on styrofoam

#10

Post by Mountain Goat » Thu Mar 28, 2019 3:50 pm

A good idea is to take a look how an open framed layout is made and see if you can mix an open framed design with the styrofoam? (Open frame where the track is layed onto plywood). I am not saying you must adopt the idea I have given. Is just a thought of how I would do it to get the best of both worlds.
Try to keep electrical wire away from styrofoam or polysterene. If one has no choice feed wires through a plastic tube. While most wires are ammune to reacting with foam based sheets, even today imported wire is still made which can react where the insulation starts to melt. A couple of decades ago I had this issue with expanding foam and low voltage wires. A potential fire risk. Keep them seperate and all will be fine.
Then, once you have your foam sheets in place, carve away to create some fantastic scenery!
Enjoying freelance modelling in 7mm narrow gauge Feel free to ask questions relating to the Mountain Goats Waggon & Carriage Works thread.

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