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Old 7th May 2012, 23:01   #1
AndyB
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Default A newbie again

Some 19 years ago I pulled my 15' X 20' HO layout from my basement boxed, it up and moved house. 10 years later the boxes were still taking up space so I went on e-bay and disposed of 90% of the rolling stock.
Now I have a grandson who has a keen interest in Thomas and is currently still content to push his wooden trains around his wooden track. At 3 years 7 months he really is not ready for an electric train but as I know a good layout takes time. Then 2 weeks ago I picked up 2 Thomas and Friends Fun with Freight sets for less than $100 on e-bay. Then there's the fact I would just like to get involved in trains again

So I want to build a portable layout in sections, one so it can be taken down and stored and also if he shows real interest we can expand it. I intend to use all my old Peco track and switches rather than the E-Z track.

So what is the best material to us as a base, has anyone come up with something lighter than plywood and homosote, a foam perhaps?
Anyone have a small track plan that can be expanded?

Any help appreciated ... Andy
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Old 8th May 2012, 00:53   #2
RW James
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Default Re: A newbie again

Welcome back Andy.

I am in pretty much the same place as you. I started my Thomas layout before my granddaughter was born - however, I am now in the rebuild stage. She is 2 years 9 months. She is still excited about wooden Thomas.

You could lay the track directly on foam. On the museum layout I am a part of, we laid cork roadbed on construction foam and it seems to work well.

I prefer 1/2 inch plywood (cookie-cutter method) with cork roadbed. I am also using plywood for the framing. It seems light enough for me (I want my layout to be portable - I intend to take take it to shows).

As for layout ideas - you could always go back to the original. Rev. Awdry based his stories on a layout he built. It was 4' by 6':

This site has a lot of information about his work: http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/index.html

This site has a lot of photo references from the TV series: http://ttte.wikia.com/wiki/Thomas_%26_Friends

I think you made a good choice to avoid the EZ-Track and go with Peco.

If you have any other questions, don't be shy about asking. I learned a lot in this forum and I'm sure you will, too.
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Old 8th May 2012, 01:49   #3
AndyB
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Default Re: A newbie again

Thanks Rick, what thickness of foam are they using. Any particular brand better than another, pink, blue, white. Where can I get a larger copy of the track plan?

Thanks again
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Old 8th May 2012, 03:08   #4
RW James
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Default Re: A newbie again

We used 2 inch foam - pink, because that's what was available here. It seems to be a regional thing. Some places have blue. Avoid white - it's the wrong product. You want extruded foam (colored) not expanded foam (white).

The track plan is from the www.pegnsean.net site I cited above. I'm not sure where it could be found larger.
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Old 8th May 2012, 04:49   #5
BR60103
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Default Re: A newbie again

Hi Andy.
Pink and Blue foams are brand differences.
I used 2" foam for my wife's Lionel layout. You can always add layers of foam to build up scenery and cut away to make rivers/depressions.
As Rick said, avoid the foam made up of little beads. Even the good foam will make horrible sawdust if cut with a toothed blade. I use a hot wire or sharp knife.
Woodland Scenics make trackbeds of foam plus grades. Also a special glue. And rubber roadbed.

Worst problem with foam is that it doesn't hold nails or screws well. You need extra work to add, say, a switch machine below the foam. But you can stick pins in it easily to hold things down (people, trees, telegraph poles) but they come out easily too.

When I made our layout I started with a box of wood (1x2, inverted L girder) with braces across.
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Old 8th May 2012, 12:32   #6
AndyB
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Default Re: A newbie again

Thanks David I assume the 1x2 girder frames the foam? Also you mention "rubber" road bed, does this have an advantage over cork? I ask because I also have a bunch of cork from my previous experience.
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Old 8th May 2012, 14:24   #7
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Default Re: A newbie again

Andy,
Rick is correct on his foam type explanation. The 2" is pretty rigid but it either needs to be on the floor or a table. You could skip the roadbed and use a vinyl adhesive caulk to 'glue' the track to the foam. The vinyl caulks are compatible with the foam base and can be removed later on if you want to make changes. I prefer the Homasote roadbed over cork but that seems to be a personal choice for many.
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Old 9th May 2012, 03:28   #8
BR60103
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Default Re: A newbie again

Pictures of my construction. Note that the framework is being built upside down. The original section is beside it.

The rubber roadbed is a WS product. It doesn't dry out like cork (I never had much success with cork) but it doesn't hold nails or spikes. On my HO layout I used long pins to position the track and contact cement (plastic compatible) for the final, permanent assembly.
My own preference for roadbed is Homasote, with foam scenery hung from it, but we didn't have actual track plans for this layout, as well as needing flexibility.

For the Lionel layout, I use 2" pins with large heads to hold the track, just to keep it from shifting.
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Old 9th May 2012, 11:52   #9
AndyB
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Default Re: A newbie again

Thanks David.
Off topic I think I might have followed you yesterday, a gold (I think) Astro van with vinyl graphics in the windows?
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Old 10th May 2012, 04:11   #10
BR60103
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Default Re: A newbie again

Definitely not me; silver Focus wagon and very definitely no graphics. I didn't notice your location! If you need urgent consultation, PM me.
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