Favoured Baseboard Materials

 
  darsamalx Locomotive Fireman

I would just like to ask a really simple question on the above.

I’ve not modelled for nearly 20+ years now but would like to return to the hobby and was simply wondering what is the best type of board to use given the climate we live in, inclusive of extreme heat and air-con in summer.

The layout is likely to be in a ‘fixed’ position in a spare room and no more than a small depot or station size, approx 12 foot in length by 3 or 4 foot wide.

My apologies if this has been discussed previously, I have done a quick search but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for.

Any help would be greatly received.

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  a6et Minister for Railways

I would just like to ask a really simple question on the above.

I’ve not modelled for nearly 20+ years now but would like to return to the hobby and was simply wondering what is the best type of board to use given the climate we live in, inclusive of extreme heat and air-con in summer.

The layout is likely to be in a ‘fixed’ position in a spare room and no more than a small depot or station size, approx 12 foot in length by 3 or 4 foot wide.

My apologies if this has been discussed previously, I have done a quick search but couldn’t quite find what I was looking for.

Any help would be greatly received.
darsamalx
There has been discussions in the past and there are many different thoughts.

I started out using MDF with an aluminium tube frame, worst thing I did especially for a largish layout, while that was larger than yours, when I realised even the smaller parts with the aluminium was not stable I got rid of it when we moved house.

I am currently in the process of rebuilding my layout, using pretty much all of the layout I built following the move mentioned above.  We moved to the Central coast where there was a lot of humidity so, it ruled out the use of MDF, but I would not use it for the baseboard for a layout unless you can seal all of it from any humidity that will course the MDF to flake. It needs total coverage top- bottom and all sides.

I now use 13mm non structural ply for the base, its a bit hard to get now, and they are also a bit smaller rather than the 2440x1220 size they are 2400x1200.  For the frame and supports, I used non structural 70x38 pine for the legs of the layout. For the main framing, as the layout is not that big, as mine is a lot larger, I still find that the frame work and under layout cross supports, using 40x20mm radiata pine is all you should need.
  NSWRcars Assistant Commissioner

Generally agree with a6et, pine frame with plywood top. Forget MDF. On a layout I built 20+ years ago, I used 42x19mm pine with a 9mm plywood top. The layout is still good.
  darsamalx Locomotive Fireman

Thank you very much for the replies so far.

I must admit my last layout was built using MDF boards and I can clearly recollect them warping over time.

In saying that, whilst researching I’ve noticed ‘moisture resistant’ MDF boards amongst other materials, would that make any difference or is it best just to take the Plywood route?

One thing that has interested me is Laserply but i take it that would be more for use in building actual model structures etc?
  NSWRcars Assistant Commissioner

Thank you very much for the replies so far.

I must admit my last layout was built using MDF boards and I can clearly recollect them warping over time.

In saying that, whilst researching I’ve noticed ‘moisture resistant’ MDF boards amongst other materials, would that make any difference or is it best just to take the Plywood route?

One thing that has interested me is Laserply but i take it that would be more for use in building actual model structures etc?
darsamalx
Plywood comes in various grades, almost any of them will be OK for a baseboard top. I think Laserply is optimised for laser cutting, so might be unnecessary overkill, but should work.

I wouldn't bother with any sort of MDF or particle board; they might work but will be heavier and less durable than plywood.
A pine frame with plywood top is very light and robust, and will not be unduly affected by moisture (such as when ballasting or adding scenery).
  darsamalx Locomotive Fireman

Excellent advice.

Looks like a trip to the nations favourite hardware store is in order this weekend to see what can be had!

Thanks once again.
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Some try to build entirely out of ply so the material are all consistant.  Ply L girders and  Ply L girder legs. some also use Extruded foam as the top baseboard as well ( with a ply  basic frame) - do not use the white foam at all.  MDF always a long term issue to avoid.

Some say paint the wood after building to help stop moisture. Other make a strong frame you could probally walk over.

if you are returning to the hobby , and when  virus restrictions ease - find a exhibition to ask about all this - or see if someone can show you their model railway for this purpose to see how they do it and you can work out what  will work for you.

Regards,
David Head
  lkernan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
In reference to what David mentioned, I've used foam board from Bunnings on pine frames for my current layout.  
Worked ok until I moved house and had to separate the modules for the first time.  Since then getting them to line up properly is a nightmare, the foam has moved and compressed around the edges and the joins are awful looking.

I'm seriously considering pulling it apart and redoing it with ply secured to the frame instead.
  darsamalx Locomotive Fireman

Thank you for the further options, I’ve obviously got more to consider than I thought!

David, I’ve actually got a couple of colleagues that have established and recently built layouts but for whatever reason it never crossed my mind to speak to them about their construction. Something I can do when I’m back at work, the simplest solutions are often closest to home.

Kind regards.
  Lazarus Train Controller

Location: Missouri, USA
I started out using MDF with an aluminium tube frame, worst thing I did especially for a largish layout, while that was larger than yours, when I realised even the smaller parts with the aluminium was not stable I got rid of it when we moved house.
a6et
I'm curious what sort of tube (and connection methods) you were using? I've just completed two aluminium cart frames, so I'd like to know what issues you had before I proceed to go all in on aluminium framing.
  Lazarus Train Controller

Location: Missouri, USA
In reference to what David mentioned, I've used foam board from Bunnings on pine frames for my current layout.  
Worked ok until I moved house and had to separate the modules for the first time.  Since then getting them to line up properly is a nightmare, the foam has moved and compressed around the edges and the joins are awful looking.

I'm seriously considering pulling it apart and redoing it with ply secured to the frame instead.
lkernan
I'm currently heading down that route with the foam, and that was a huge concern of mine. I haven't implemented it yet, but I've got some aluminium channel I'm putting at the end (only under track areas, and tied directly to the frame) of each module that will locate with a pin and bushing. I'm planning on using epoxy on the end 20-25mm of sleepers so I know it's locked down well. I'm reasonable confident this will work...hopefully.
  a6et Minister for Railways

I started out using MDF with an aluminium tube frame, worst thing I did especially for a largish layout, while that was larger than yours, when I realised even the smaller parts with the aluminium was not stable I got rid of it when we moved house.
I'm curious what sort of tube (and connection methods) you were using? I've just completed two aluminium cart frames, so I'd like to know what issues you had before I proceed to go all in on aluminium framing.
Lazarus
Sorry for late reply, what I found with the aluminium square tubing was that over distances you need quite a few cross braces, much depending on both the length and width, if one stuck to the standard no structural pine of 2440x1220x13mm ply, just using metal screws to secure the ply to the tubes did not give enough strength to pull the tubes up onto the boards underneath was insufficient to hold it tight, especially when the black heavy duty joiners of different styles, that included simple T's, 4way crosses and 6 way cross and supports. I did try short legs at one time under the main frame and they worked loose whether with wheel in the bottom plug or a shorter stand, all of the sections tended to wobble, and more you added and cut sections the worse it became.

In the end it became fairly expensive and for me unstable when compared to the 70x35mm non structural pine legs with the base board support on the top with smaller cross supports around every 1m and same size supports along the outside of the frame with 38x19 pine. Secure screwing holds all in place and have the legs at ends & one or two in the middle, have lower leg cross piece on around 150 - 200mm off the floor to hold it square. The extra supports can be added later if its a permanent layout. Be careful though re the height of the layout, the higher, more cross supports and checking them for being secure and not wobble.

I use 50mm 1gm wood screws, not of the brass types, and its a lot easier then screwing into the tubes.

There has been some articles on building the aluminium frames and think one is in the current edition of AJRM magazine will check in the morning a reply, but there is a lot more in the way they are constructed today. I would suggest that perhaps the big issue may be connected with the aspect is the framing for a portable layout eg: for exhibition layout, or a permanent home layout.
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Personally I have used just open grid frames with ply, and foam for scenery with no weight or structural use.  I used ply for stations, and in many areas used spline roadbed in between.

I would think joining multiple foam baseboards would incur  damage. for that reason the skeleton/frame is the part that joind modules together, not the foam.

And my friend who made his basboard, legs etc out of ply only has a consistand material to work with. He got the layout from melbourne to Tasmania fairly easily as a result.

Regards,
David Head
  Lazarus Train Controller

Location: Missouri, USA
Sorry for late reply, what I found with the aluminium square tubing was that over distances you need quite a few cross braces, much depending on both the length and width, if one stuck to the standard no structural pine of 2440x1220x13mm ply, just using metal screws to secure the ply to the tubes did not give enough strength to pull the tubes up onto the boards underneath was insufficient to hold it tight, especially when the black heavy duty joiners of different styles, that included simple T's, 4way crosses and 6 way cross and supports. I did try short legs at one time under the main frame and they worked loose whether with wheel in the bottom plug or a shorter stand, all of the sections tended to wobble, and more you added and cut sections the worse it became.

In the end it became fairly expensive and for me unstable when compared to the 70x35mm non structural pine legs with the base board support on the top with smaller cross supports around every 1m and same size supports along the outside of the frame with 38x19 pine. Secure screwing holds all in place and have the legs at ends & one or two in the middle, have lower leg cross piece on around 150 - 200mm off the floor to hold it square. The extra supports can be added later if its a permanent layout. Be careful though re the height of the layout, the higher, more cross supports and checking them for being secure and not wobble.

I use 50mm 1gm wood screws, not of the brass types, and its a lot easier then screwing into the tubes.

There has been some articles on building the aluminium frames and think one is in the current edition of AJRM magazine will check in the morning a reply, but there is a lot more in the way they are constructed today. I would suggest that perhaps the big issue may be connected with the aspect is the framing for a portable layout eg: for exhibition layout, or a permanent home layout.
a6et
Not at all, your reply was the next day. It sounds like you were using an equivalent of the 80/20 quick tube with nylon connectors. I've made my rolling carts out of that, but I do have machined aluminium caster plates locking the base together
(and plan to lock in the nylon connectors by cross-screwing with self-tapping screws). I do need to add some bracing, but it's not bad so far considering how tall the carts are. I agree though, with longer sections it would start to bow a bit. My actual modules are out of the t-slot framing, which is infinitely stiffer, and I'm going with foam on the top, so not much weight to support.

I have several reasons for going this route; It's in a basement, so I want to be able to work on modules or move them out of the way if I'm working on something in the basement. No worries of warping due to humidity, etc. Light for moving and if I do want to show the layout. As my progress is slow, I want this to be able to be moved (back to Australia if needed) and don't want the potential bio-security issue.

I would think joining multiple foam baseboards would incur  damage. for that reason the skeleton/frame is the part that joind modules together, not the foam.
dthead

Definitely. That was one of my concerns after seeing foam layouts at exhibitions. I think I have a solution though because I can't stand gaps or edge damage on modular layouts.


Once I get a bit further along I'll have to post some photos of my setup for you guys to see.
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
Hi Lazurus,

When I was living in the USA, I built a small shelf layout using ply that I had cut up at Home Depot. It is a simple box section with pine framing. Dimensions are 1200mm by 400mm. The height from the backscene is 600mm in these photos but subsequently cut down to 400mm.







For transport to Australia. I used ply as a base to protect the electricals and screw both modules together as a "top n tail". This arrived in Australia with no issues, quarantine or otherwise. But, that was in 2012.....

I have also dabbled with C section light steel modules which shows a lot of promise. I'll post about that soon.

Cheers,

Dan

EDIT: Why is adding a photo here such a pain in the $%#@.... erghhhhhh......
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Here is a long term project for me: and the "baseboards" might be familiar...

http://dth.railpage.org.au/pbr_emerald/up4aug2017.htm



I have not progress with the build as "health concenrs" have slowed it down. I'm no engineer but I can show it is possible. they are strong, rigid which is  a prime concern. Just making legs  and attaching  can be simplified.

I hope it is "lateral thinking"

Regards,
David Head
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
Here is a long term project for me: and the "baseboards" might be familiar...

http://dth.railpage.org.au/pbr_emerald/up4aug2017.htm



I have not progress with the build as "health concenrs" have slowed it down. I'm no engineer but I can show it is possible. they are strong, rigid which is  a prime concern. Just making legs  and attaching  can be simplified.

I hope it is "lateral thinking"

Regards,
David Head
dthead

HMMMmmmmm......

Novel idea! I guess if you have a no longer required ladder......  

I would say, that your benchwork above would be a variation of the "L" girder method.

Cheers!
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
A ladder has to be strong, light and rigid. And th one i got was new off Bunnings.

David
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
A ladder has to be strong, light and rigid. And th one i got was new off Bunnings.

David
dthead

So you used a new ladder? That is surprising. How did that compare price-wise with a traditional L girder? My initial feeling is that a ladder like you have used as about $200ish to purchase.

Interesting concept none-the-less.
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
A ladder has to be strong, light and rigid. And th one i got was new off Bunnings.

David

So you used a new ladder? That is surprising. How did that compare price-wise with a traditional L girder? My initial feeling is that a ladder like you have used as about $200ish to purchase.

Interesting concept none-the-less.
SA_trains
$45 on sale once - to me I cannot make a totally square un twisted wooded baseboard that is light for the strength it offers. So the cost there is equal to skill and time. I occasionally looked at 2nd hand units.

You guys are getting me  almost continuing the  2projects I have Wink

David
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
A ladder has to be strong, light and rigid. And th one i got was new off Bunnings.

David

So you used a new ladder? That is surprising. How did that compare price-wise with a traditional L girder? My initial feeling is that a ladder like you have used as about $200ish to purchase.

Interesting concept none-the-less.
$45 on sale once - to me I cannot make a totally square un twisted wooded baseboard that is light for the strength it offers. So the cost there is equal to skill and time. I occasionally looked at 2nd hand units.

You guys are getting me  almost continuing the  2projects I have Wink

David
dthead

FORTY FIVE BUCKS!!!!! WoW!!!! Bargain! Yes, well that would indeed flip the cost/benefit analysis!

Well done, lucky break!
  NSWGR_23cl Beginner

Location: Knapsack Siding
These are part of my latest layout build, 4'x2' modules, 6mm marine ply surface with 64x19mm dressed pine framing, 300mm boxed sections underside and 42x19mm dressed pine legs 1200mm tall using the 64x19mm pine as leg bracing. Aiming to make at least 6 modules and arrange them in a 10'x6' rectangle with the possibility of adding more to extend either to 12'x6' or 12'x8'.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Q16MFS7PeSVUyHaN6

https://photos.app.goo.gl/Fq7XmA1mo7Ao11oY8

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