Finally after two years! all the baseboards are now finished. Including the open frame boards that now have all the track beds in place. As I said many months ago I decided to go for a lightweight design. Using extruded 5cm thick floor insulating foam to give strength. This gave me an more than four feet long baseboard that is so stiff that it carries my 75+Kgs without bending with just a trestle at each end, but it weighs less than 4Kg including the support for the trestles.
As you can see from this picture the foam has been used to support track beds on the open section as well. This has worked really well. There are three main advantages.
· The beds are really firm and require much less of a framework to support them. This really helps with the weight.
· By gluing the foam to the 5mm plywood while it is lying flat on the floor, you get nice even inclines with no sagging in between the supports even if they are two feet apart.
· The foam works well as sound deadening. There is a lot less wheel noise when running trains across sections of track bed that have foam on the underside.
I bought one pack of xps 300 5 cm foam which had 6 panels each 120cm X 60 cm. It cost about £60 in Denmark. But was enough for all the baseboards. The frames are made up of 8 cm deep 9mm plywood glued and screwed.
The trestles are my own design. They have a top beam that fits into a corresponding plywood supports with a central groove that matches the width of the trestle's top beam on the underside of each end of the baseboard. These plywood support grroves are glued to plywood spacers on the underside of the foam to give space for wiring to pass through them Originally, I thought that I would have to use string to stop the legs from sliding apart. But the ‘sitting on the thing’ test proved that because the ends are om carpet that the legs do not slide even with 75 Kg vertical pressure. I have used DCCConcepts dowels to hold them in position in relation to each other and toggle clamps to hold them together. The layout is not meant to be portable. But it has been built with an expectation that we might move to a new house in its lifetime!
This means that the wiring is self-contained within each baseboard, using a 4 pin XLR plug and socket to connect each board. Track will be ‘prepared’ for cutting between boards. I intend to solder the rails to copper screws each side of the baseboard joins, but not actually cut the rails. This way I won’t have to worry about misalignment until the layout actually has to be moved. Scenery will be built with joins at each baseboard using a pair of hardboard (3mm mdf?) profiles mounted on each side the join to match the scenery levels across the joins, Any buildings, platforms etc that cross boards will be removeable.
So what next? Obviously trackwork. I have laid the first metre of track and am using thinned copydex to hold both track and ballast in place. It seems to work OK. Here is the test section which has not yet been painted. (I’m not sure about the colour of the ballast).
The other project that needs to be started is the control panels. More on that in the next instalment of this blog… probably in 2018.