Monday, February 24, 2020

Don't try this at home

I'm not kidding, this is not the right way to build a modular extension for the ocean end of the Ocean Park Loop - or for any modular layout come to think of it ;-)

I'm deliberately taking a risk to see what's the lightest construction I can get away with for this module. This thing isn't going to see regular use, and will be stowed away most of the time, so I thought I'd play around with scrap materials I have and try to build something very light. As light as I can.

I had some leftover white styrofoam pieces from an insulation project and glued them to a 2'x3' poplar panel I had bought several months ago. I bought some 0.25" x 1.5" x 3' poplar strips to act as stiffeners for the foam cantilever. The strips were glued and screwed to the wood panel with metal angles.

I glued up everything on the basement floor and used bar clamps and whatever heavy things I could find to hold the components in place while the glue dried.

Here it is after all the foam pieces had been glued in place and had a chance to dry. The template is stuck to the foam with glue drips. I outlined it on the foam with a black sharpie before removing.

Here it is all ready for cutting. Before doing so I bolted the wood panel end to the layout to keep the module in place before cutting the final profile with a small toolbox saw.

I checked the level. Not perfect, but not too bad considering the rather crude conditions and building process.

A rasp was used to smooth the edges and surface. 

Then there was a very, very long session with the ShopVac to clean up all the styrofoam beads :-) I think I still have some in my hair.

Acrylic raw sienna was used to paint the foam to kill the weird white colour.

So, this thing isn't rugged enough to stand up to shows, children, leaners, louts, or those seeking a coffee table. The cantilever definitely has some flex to it, and it might require an additional support, but I'm going to hold off on that for awhile. I want to push this thing and see what it can take. I hope my resolve will hold :-) Although, I am going to add a piece of plastic trim to finish the outer edge to help prevent edge erosion on the foam panels, and make it look a little more finished. 

Nothing heavy is going to be placed on this end; no buildings; no trains; just a streetcar or two and some flat beach scenery with an open field and a few trees around the track loop. 

And speaking of track, that's next. 


  1. Go on with your rebel self. Oh, and I have had great luck cutting such foam with a sharp, smooth-edged long knife. Short strokes and even pressure will result in a clean edge without beads going everywhere.

    1. I'll hold off on a tattoo.... :-)

      Thanks for the information about the beads!