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GridNorth

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Be gentle, I'm sure this has been done to death but many of the suggestions I've looked at reference out of date and invalid links and are full of contradictions and confusing advice some of which is no longer relevant.

 

I've decided that I will be purchasing the Hornby Western Master with E-link and add the extension packs as this seems like an easy and quick way to get started with an interesting enough layout to keep me occupied. My problem, and I've been struggling with this for a fortnight, is how to build a baseboard. I have a room available to me that is 8' x 5'.  I have considered a 6' x 4' rectangle using foam insulating board and a folding table.  This would allow an oval layout based on a suggested theme suitable for the track I buy and using all that track i.e. an oval with all the extension packs and easy to take down if required. This looks very simple to achieve but if all the track and accessories are used is it likely to be too heavy? The alternative is to have some form of end to end with shunting etc. but this would require building some form of structure and I don't really want to get into any woodworking other than the very basics. An L shape or U shape might be possible but limited to 28" height.

 

I've been into a local modelling shop.  They advised against 50mm insulating foam but it seems to be popular with some for it's ease of use.  Instead they suggested Sundeala but I have heard others advise against it. They also suggested using bookcases to avoid any woodworking but I am finding it difficult to source any of the right dimensions.

 

It's all very confusing and stopping me from getting started.

 

Al

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If your worried about the folding table being too flimsy, rickety then you can use folding saw horses, trestles

 

Like  https://www.screwfix.com/p/folding-saw-horses-pack-of-2/7965p#product_additional_details_container

 

I've used these to support a layout temporarily, it ended up on them for quite some time and was surprisingly stable. If your worried about the board sagging you can just lay a couple of decent battens on the trestles and then the board on top. The other advantage using these is you can have wiring under the board without it being crushed against  the table top

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20 minutes ago, GridNorth said:

... Instead they suggested Sundeala ...

 

Maybe they've still got some sheets left from the days when folk used it because Sundeala was recommended in "Railway Modeller"every month, and they'd dearly love to see the back of it?

 

Whatever, I just wanted to welcome you to the forum and say that having used Sundeala myself 40 years ago when I knew even less than I know now, I wouldn't use it again even if it was given to me.  If nothing else, it's very heavy, and IMO has no advantages whatsoever over sensible materials like birch ply.  

 

 

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I can just about manage a simple 6' x 4' baseboard but what do I stand it on?  Will I be able to lift it when it's fully loaded?

 

Al

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3 hours ago, spikey said:

 

Maybe they've still got some sheets left from the days when folk used it because Sundeala was recommended in "Railway Modeller"every month, and they'd dearly love to see the back of it?

 

Whatever, I just wanted to welcome you to the forum and say that having used Sundeala myself 40 years ago when I knew even less than I know now, I wouldn't use it again even if it was given to me.  If nothing else, it's very heavy, and IMO has no advantages whatsoever over sensible materials like birch ply.  

 

 


I be interested to know your issues with sundeala, having extensively used it on my layout with proper support I have never had any issues. The most problem with it now is most sellers charge the earth for it, but I’m lucky I found a seller who is very cheap for it :D

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3 hours ago, Andymsa said:


I be interested to know your issues with sundeala, having extensively used it on my layout with proper support I have never had any issues.

 

OP said he doesn't want to get into woodworking beyond the basics, and as you said, Sundeala does need a lot of support.  Whatever, I hate Sundeala mainly because of the weight and its tendency to sag.  AFAIC 6mm birch ply on top of a simple 70 x 20mm frame round the perimeter until I've got the point motors in place then added any cross-bracing that might be advisable is the way to go.

 

But hey, whatever spins your dreidel ...

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5 hours ago, GridNorth said:

I can just about manage a simple 6' x 4' baseboard but what do I stand it on?  Will I be able to lift it when it's fully loaded?

 

Al

The screwfix trestles mentioned earlier are ideal and recommended if you can't do the woodwork. Bear in mind the b&q (and perhaps others) will cut sheet material for free which takes away the trickiest bit of the work. 

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What do you mean by ‘manage’ a 6 x 4 board?

Is it permanent or storable?  A 6 x 4 board with track, control and scenery will be pretty unwieldy. 
‘if it is permanent a 6x4 board in an 8x5 room doesn’t leave much space to move around it.  Against the walls would make whole sections unreachable.

 

i don’t want to sound negative but these things need thinking through before you commit yourself.

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By manage I meant build. I know these things need thinking about, that's what I'm doing and precisely why I'm seeking advice.

My thinking so far has led me to the conclusion that I have two choices.  A 6' x 4' base which would have to be built on foam insulating board because of the weight and my unwillingness to get involved in carpentry work or a 7' x 2' L shaped end to end layout probably mounted on a couple of cheap desks using plywood.

 

Al

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Avoid Sundeala and MDF board; they are heavy, awkward, sag under their own weight, and MDF goes soggy if it gets damp.  The choice between 6x4 continuous loop and 7x2 L shaped end to end layout depends on the sort of trains you want to run.  Do you want to watch trains passing you or do you want to shunt?

 

There's no doubt what I'd want; the end to end offers more operation and is easier to fit into your space because it can hug the wall; the centre of the room is then available for other purposes.  Mine is built on skip-raided Ikea 'Lack' shelves supported by desks, old tables, and drawer units with skip raided battens to maintain level, because I'm a woodworking numpty that also needs to avoid complex carpentry. 

 

Hornby's Western Master is indeed a good starter and it'll get you running, but not much more.  You may want to consider how much of what you've bought is going to provide good future service.  The 2721 loco with this set is a very old and crude tooling and as you find out more about what is available you may become dissatisfied with it, and the stock is 'Railroad' items that are not really up to the mark by modern standards.  You mention taking the layout down, which will in practice need modular baseboards unless you want to completely dismantle it each time, which will be hard on your track connectors!  Track should be at least semi-permanently laid and firmly fixed to the boards, or your running will suffer as things are pulled out of alignment and derailments occur.  Unreliable running is very frustrating!

 

If things have to be put away at the end of each running session, and got out at the start, this will eat into your operating time; the more you can manage in the way of permanently fixed track and stock that lives permanently on the layout the better, but I appreciate that in a family home where other considerations have to be taken into account this is not always possible.  If you can't avoid it, try to avoid buying too much stock, but most of us will tell you that this is not easy in practice. and we all have way more stuff than we will ever need.

 

I'd suggest considering not just weight but size of components; a 6x4 board is the size of a double bed, has delicate models on one side, and delicate wiring on the other.  It is an awkward lump (not that I hold any moral high ground in such matters) that is difficult to handle with 2 people, much more so if you are on your own.

 

Thought and planning at this stage will save you money, ensure that you spend wisely, and enjoy your layout.  This forum is very good for both general and specific advice, but you will obviously have your own ideas to put into practice.  But I will make one serious recommendation; change your model shop.  If he's trying to sell you Sundeala he's stuck in a 1960s time warp and no advice at all is better than clearly bad advice.  I didn't even know they still made Sundeala.

 

Welcome to the madness, I mean hobby!

Edited by The Johnster
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Sundeala is fine, but expensive for what it is and there are better alternatives available now I feel.

 

You need to fit a frame to it though. A 2" by 1" approximately a foot apart. With any frame make sure where things like point motors and wiring are going before fixing. It's difficult to sort out after construction.

 

I know why they recommended it though. At least you knew what you were getting rather than some of the awful woods that was often stored outside for years on end in timber yards.

 

Remember that very coarse chipboard stuff which was popular in the 1980s? Now that was bad. :bad:

 

 

 

 

Jason

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Hi GridNorth,

If the room is 8 by 5 then I don't think a 6 by 4 board would fit in it along with an operator...

By 7 by 2 L shaped do you mean a 7 by 2 rectangle with a 5 by 2 rectangle at right angles? (A 2ft by 2ft arm wouldn't be much use.)

Everyone building a small model railway wants more space. It's probably best to do the woodwork now to make best use of the room even though it might seem daunting, because it will pay you back many times over.

You can get someone to make baseboards for you - there are a number of good kit manufacturers.

Unless you're just going to knock something quick up to play with, I suggest you don't make the baseboards before you design the layout. The layout should determine the boards, not the other way around.

 

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Well, one thing you do know now is that opinion is divided when it comes to Sundeala; it is the Marmite/Brexit of manufactured board.

 

A couple of very practical alternative light, rigid, carpentry-free, and cheap baseboards, both of which are actually manufactured in much the same way:

 

- Ikea Linnmon table tops. These come in quite a range of sizes, which might suit either an L or a circuit if joined together, and the range includes a good corner one; or,

 

- classic-style flush interior doors from a DIY warehouse. This one for instance https://www.diy.com/departments/flush-primed-white-smooth-internal-door-h-2040mm-w-726mm/175465_BQ.prd Clearly, the range of sizes is a bit limited, but they are good is you want a circuit layout and only one baseboard joint.

 

Both are basically a light frame, skinned with MDF, hardboard, or some strange stuff that might be recycled plastic, packed internally with either a fibreboard or plastic honeycomb structure, and they are made to take a fair bit of punishment, while remaining flat and square. And, they cost probably no more than the materials to make decent baseboards of the same size.

 

They do have disadvantages compared to, say, DIY plywood boards (which are the best, but need a bit of care/skill to make). The three main down-sides are:

 

- the skin material is very hard, to resist knocks, so you can't easily put things like track-pins into it without drilling a tiny pilot-hole first; 

 

- they are relatively thick (30-40mm), so fitting point-motors under one needs long drive-rods to the points, so you might consider mounting any point-motors above baseboard if you aren't confident to sort that out on a first essay; and,

 

- you need to fit supplementary sides using strips of ply  or small battens to protect any under-baseboard point motors or wiring, so the easiest thing to do as a newbie is fit the wiring on the top surface, which, if done thoughtfully, isn't actually a huge issue, because it can be hidden under scenic items.

 

I'd strongly recommend either of these to someone starting out, and I think you will find that there are a fair few small layouts on RMWeb that are built on one or the other. You can walk into a shop, walk out with a durable baseboard, go home and be playing trains in an hour.

 

Ikea are, of course, good for shelving units, cupboards etc of uniform height upon which to sit such boards, and also sell a wide range of trestles, some of which are adjustable-height.

 

And no, I don't rate Sundeala highly at all, or actually own any shares in Ikea (pity that, really).

 

Kevin

 

 

 

 

Edited by Nearholmer
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The sizes are for the space I have available. 7' being the vertical part of the L end to end and 5' the horizontal from end to end.  Could I use 9mm ply screwed to a coupe of desks and make a couple of legs to support the excess, the desks being 4' wide each? I think the L shape is going to be the better way to go.  Should I cover this with something like insulating foam. This would be cheap, one desk is already in place and I can get another for a few pounds.

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“Could I use 9mm ply screwed to a coupe of desks and make a couple of legs to support the excess, the desks being 4' wide each? “


You could, but if you do, make sure that any overhang is supported not only by legs, but at least a basic framework of, say, 20mmx45mm softwood underneath.

 

The Ikea Linnmon table tops might be a better bet for you than 9mm ply, because they don’t need extra framing, but it’s your decision.

 

 

 

 

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I like Sundela but it costs an arm and a leg from models shops which is why they recommend it.   If you want light and strong enough, just, domestic interior doors with ply outer skins and cardboard honeycomb interiors are great,  Get them from skips, ask the blokes first they are usually delighted to be shot of them. You can easily shorten then by sawing the end off and refitting the end timber.    But and here is the but, either the whole length needs to be supported on a continuous beam, or or you need three tree sets of legs so the middle is supported or the layout will sag in the middle.    

To a large extent a baseboard is unnecessary if you build to a fixed track plan, My bed room layout had no baseboard, it was a wall hugger, and my infamous 76 X 54" Bed layout has a base of pallet slats  for the lowest hidden level and individual narrow track bases for middle and upper levels The Americans like L girder frames with individual track beds and this results in much more realistic layouts, the real scenery extends below track level yet mots layouts have the track bed as base plane.

If its your six year olds first train then a Hornby train set and extra track with a 8X4 board is the way to go, that way he/she can change the trackplan and learn geometry fault finding.   Nailing set track down seems to defeat the object.   For portability 6X4 just about goes through doorways and down stairs, It takes up full height of a wall and 4ft sideways when stood on  end   . Solid 8X4 forget it,  if you take it down it  will be too much hassle to put up again, much better to use 2  X 4X4 boards on three sets of legs.

 

Edited by DavidCBroad

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So you're talking about something like this, right?

GridNorth1.png.be80060251e4ac3f99af7707f1d04dc1.png

 

I've shown two 3*2 boards and a 2*4, because you could buy kits for those sizes that wouldn't cost the earth and that just glue together. Search for "Laser cut baseboards".

 

Edit: You could add two thinner boards to get round-the-room running:

GridNorth2.png.c7c14639bcac3d29ceba820e7c3c7b30.png

 

That would probably require part of the boards to lift out, depending on where the door is and how it opens. That's not too difficult.

 

Edited by Harlequin

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I know I’m obsessed by theseLinnmon table tops, but they do them in 1000mmx600mm (£6 each) and 1200mmx600mm (£12 each), which would match Harlequin’s drawing, if you have a few inches to spare each end.

 

£24 for a set of rigid baseboards - bargain!!

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I like the look of the Linnmon solution although I will probably go for the full desk and not just the tops thus solving my carpentry issues. I watched a video of someone sitting on one so I wouldn't think strength is an issue.

 

Thank you, I think I will be following this up.

 

Al

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