Baseboard materials

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Peter Brechfa

Baseboard materials

Postby Peter Brechfa » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:34 pm

Having just joined the society I am keen to start my first layout.I have constructed a beam type of framework as per Barry Norman's excellent book but when it comes to the top ,on which the track will run,he only mentions chipboard.My query is what thickness should the board be and is there any lighter material that I can use e.g. MDF?
Peter Brechfa

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Flymo748
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Flymo748 » Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:07 pm

Peter Brechfa wrote:Having just joined the society I am keen to start my first layout.I have constructed a beam type of framework as per Barry Norman's excellent book but when it comes to the top ,on which the track will run,he only mentions chipboard.My query is what thickness should the board be and is there any lighter material that I can use e.g. MDF?


Hi Peter,

First of all, welcome to the Society!

I think that you've asked a question that has a number of "right" answers, and one or two words of warning. I saw Barry Norman's demonstration of how he makes his girder beams from light ply and softwood at Missenden a couple of weeks ago, and as a means of making framework I'm a complete convert.

For the surface, there are a number of choices. To start off with, I'd say that in my opinion MDF is a poor choice. It's cheap(ish) and easy to work, but it has no natural rigidity and most fundamentally is very susceptible to damp. Certainly the spare bits of offcut that I store in the garage seem to swell or disintegrate with annoying frequency whenever I want to use them for domestic purposes.

Chipboard is also (IMHO) less than ideal as it can be heavy and again less rigid than you may think.

Recently I've started building a demonstration board, and this is from good quality 6mm ply, including the top surface. It's braced in a triangulated fashion in the same way as Barry recommends. I used a hot glue gun, backed up with strategic use of some panel pins and a spot of ResinW glue for extra certainty.

Demo board 016 (Large).jpg


Now, if I was (as I will be) constructing a larger layout, but still with the possibility of being portable, I'm going to be looking at the extruded polystyrene insulation boards. I've got a pack of three in the garage for just this purpose and I'm amazed by how light they are. They do need proper bracing underneath though.

And an idea that I've only recently heard, but I like the sound of, is 10mm balsa wood board. I didn't know that it was available in suitable sizes, but if it is, then it offers lots of advantages.

So I hope that this gives you plenty to think about, and I'm sure that there will be others along with other suggestions soon.

Cheers
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Russ Elliott
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Russ Elliott » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:30 pm

Peter - do you need a full-area top?

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Re6/6
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Re6/6 » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:42 am

Hi Peter and welcome!

I would avoid MDF like the plague, unless you can guarantee a totally dry environment. We used it as the top surface on our layout and have regretted it ever since. We have had to remove the track and rebuild all the board join end areas with quality ply, because the wretched MDF had taken on moisture and thickened by up to 1.5mm thus giving awful uneven track at the joints.

Invest in quality ply IMHO. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that I live a 100yds away from a salt water creek!

Regards

John
John

nberrington
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby nberrington » Tue Mar 30, 2010 12:34 pm

Does anyone have experience with "Gatorboard"?

Seems extraordinarily strong for its weight. It is a tad dear, but then hopefully you won't need a massive amount. An 8x4' sheet of the 1/2" is about $130. (The 3/16" is $80) I was thinking an 8x4 sheet would do the frame and top for at least one baseboard.
There is also a version that has a plastic coating rather than resin and wood.

http://www.artsupply.com/foamcore/gatorboardsheets.htm

Cheers

NB

David Knight
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby David Knight » Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:25 pm

Nick,

One of our local group has used Gatorboard successfully for scenic purposes as it is quite stable and does not warp when brickpaper, paint, etc. is applied to it. I suspect it might be a bit of a sounding board if used to support track though.

HTH

David

Andrew Ullyott
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Andrew Ullyott » Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:58 pm

I've attached a photo of a board I've made using 50mm thick extruded polystyrene foam, obtained from Trylon. Edged with 100mm deep 4mm and 9mm ply. Supported by 20mm square softwood legs which hinge up under the board. At the moment I've cross braced with metal rods obtained from Ikea for £1. Another 2 boards (fiddle yards) are propped up behind. Very impressed with the material so far, though I will be adding a longitudinal T beam to provide support against long term sagging.
Attachments
IMG_4444.JPG
Foam baseboard
IMG_4444.JPG (46.88 KiB) Viewed 9736 times

nigelcliffe
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby nigelcliffe » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:27 pm

I'll just add that "quality ply" to my mind means thin layers of birch through the whole thickness of the sheet.

That rules out everything I've seen in UK DIY sheds for at least the last ten years, as well as most routine timber merchants; their stock appears to be birch face with rubbish red wood plus filler for the core.

"Flymo" could have cut more weight reduction and wiring passage holes in the cross bracing without any ill effects on the boards illustrated.

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LesGros
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby LesGros » Wed Mar 31, 2010 2:22 pm

davknigh wrote:Nick,

One of our local group has used Gatorboard successfully for scenic purposes as it is quite stable and does not warp when brickpaper, paint, etc. is applied to it. I suspect it might be a bit of a sounding board if used to support track though.

HTH

David


A link to a uk supplier of Gator board: http://www.conservation-by-design.co.uk ... rds22.html
Code Code Size (metric) Size (imperial) Gauge (mm) Gauge (imp) Price by Quantity Purchased (£)

Has anyone this side of the pond tried it ?

regards
LesG

The man who never made a mistake
never made anything useful

Peter Brechfa

Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Peter Brechfa » Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:56 pm

Thanks for all the replies they have given me plenty to think about.As the atmosphere in Wales is very damp MDF is out.For my purposes I think that ply or Gator board will be the most suitable.The first board is 4' x 2'6" with a support beam dividing the 4' into Two.As it covers the station area the baseboard will cover the whole area.
Cheers Peter

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Tim V
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Tim V » Fri Apr 02, 2010 4:10 pm

Any boat building suppliers near you? Excellent for plywood, of various specifications.
Tim V

Terry Bendall
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Terry Bendall » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:20 am

I have said this before but at the risk of being tiresome, I will repeat it again. In my view as someone who used to teach woodwork in schools, the best material for baseboards is 12mm thick birch plywood. It must be birch, not any other timber and is by no means cheap, probably now in the UK about £38 for an 8 ft x 4ft sheet. You will need to buy it from a proper timber merchant - as Nigel said, most of what you buy in the average DIY shop is not good enough and in these places it is more expensive than birch anyway. Most timber yards will do one cut free of charge to help you get it home - subsequent cuts may cost you 50p or so, or else get it delivered which a decent firm will do free of charge. Finding a decent timber yard may be part of the problem. All the baseboards on the layouts that I have been involved with have been made from birch ply. Those on Pulborough are now about 27 years old and are still flat and level.

There are lots of ways of constructing the baseboards. Again my view is that they can be unecessarily complicated. A simple box construction with diagonal bracing on larger ones has worked for me every time. Some people like to make them as light as possible and this does depend on the size and, if it is an exhibition layout, how the boards are transported. Some people like to bolt two boards together face to face for transportation. This means of course you have twice the weight to lift. The layouts that I have been involved with have all been designed for exhibition and each board has a simple carrying case that bolts over the board so the weight is not usually a major problem although one of the Pulborough boards is 3 ft wide and 5 ft long.

I hope the glue on Flymo's board works since I have a vested interest in it. If you use a glue gun you have to be very quick to get the parts together before the glue goes cold. My preference is for a good quality PVA glue - I use Resin W and this is reinforced by wood screws or panel pins where needed.

Terry Bendall

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MarkS
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby MarkS » Sat Apr 03, 2010 9:29 pm

Has anybody used or have experience with Kerdi Board? http://kerdi-board.co.uk/products.aspx
The U shape and different thickness panels look like they could be made into warp free, lightweight baseboards. Waterproof, and scenic materials will stick to it...
Perhaps a bit pricey, but then so is good quality wood.
Cheers,

Mark.
"In the end, when all is said and done, more will have been said than done..."

allanferguson
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby allanferguson » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:36 am

[quote="Terry Bendall"]I have said this before but at the risk of being tiresome, I will repeat it again. In my view as someone who used to teach woodwork in schools, the best material for baseboards is 12mm thick birch plywood. It must be birch, not any other timber and is by no means cheap, probably now in the UK about £38 for an 8 ft x 4ft sheet.

When I first joined the Protofour Society very many years ago the gospel presented was that baseboards had to be built of best quality marine ply. Nobody ever talked about the price -- but it was one of the things which put me off building a layout for many years. And where was I in those days going to get marine ply?

In later years I became a boat owner, and used marine ply from time to time -- but the last time I bought an 8' x 4' sheet of half inch it cost me £108 from a boatyard -- and that was 15 years ago.

If I had thought that I was going to have to pay that amount for the materials for a layout I would have been constrained to a very small portable setup. But when I became able to build my own permanent layout in the loft five years ago, economics dictated that the material for baseboards would be half inch MDF. This is well supported on 2" x 1" bearers -- the max unsupported area is about 400 x 500mm, and the whole assembly is very securely braced and firmly attached to the structure of the house.

In that time there has been no discernable warping or distortion of the baseboard surfaces, and the layout is at least as stable as the timber framed house to which it is attached. The loft is dry and well ventilated -- and unheated. And since the loft is 14m long and the baseboard runs down both sides, though only 400mm wide, the amount of material is considerable, and I simply could not have afforded best quality ply in these quantities.

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby grovenor-2685 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 9:34 am

When I first joined the Protofour Society very many years ago the gospel presented was that baseboards had to be built of best quality marine ply.

Interesting, perhaps things were different when you had to rely on the publications rather than word of mouth. My recollection is that chipboard was the recommended material, often called 'weyrock' then. and the small layout I had in my bedsit I duly converted from its original thin ply to chipboard when I altered it to P4, in 1968. The boards and track concerned are part of my layout to this day and still in good shape.
The relevant reference in the P4 Manual is in here http://www.scalefour.org/history/manual/P4-417.htm recommending chipboard.
Keith

Alan Turner
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Alan Turner » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:00 pm

The only thing "special" about marine ply is that every laminate is of hardwood. It's no more stable than any other WBP ply. For baseboard construction I wouldn't use anything other than Birch ply - but remember this comes in different grades, principaly to do with surface finish of the outer laminates.

Alan

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Flymo748
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Flymo748 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:47 am

Terry Bendall wrote:I hope the glue on Flymo's board works since I have a vested interest in it. If you use a glue gun you have to be very quick to get the parts together before the glue goes cold. My preference is for a good quality PVA glue - I use Resin W and this is reinforced by wood screws or panel pins where needed.


Well, all is good so far... A couple of points to add are that the bracing in corners (1" square softwood) was glued in place with Resin W and pinned, rather than using the glue gun. The hot glue was used chiefly for reinforcement, as it gives the added bonus of a solid fillet to prevent lateral movement, rather like running a fillet of solder down a seam.

The board is progressing well, although activity has stalled for a couple of weekends due to family events. Only the three-way point to finish building and the tracklaying can commence.

Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Un_Train_de_Retard
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Un_Train_de_Retard » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:33 am

Good morning to all

Did someone try once aluminium profile to built the frame of his baseboard ? I used some in the industry. It is an interresting alternative to wood : its light, rigid and offers the possibility to join two baseboards with great precision.

I am thinking of using them for my future baseboard.

Any advices or point of view ?

Thanks

William

Example of profiles : http://www.elcom.fr/
William GUILLETON from France

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Flymo748
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Flymo748 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:20 pm

Un_Train_de_Retard wrote:Good morning to all

Did someone try once aluminium profile to built the frame of his baseboard ? I used some in the industry. It is an interresting alternative to wood : its light, rigid and offers the possibility to join two baseboards with great precision.

I am thinking of using them for my future baseboard.

Any advices or point of view ?

Hi William,

I believe that Iain Rice used them for the legs and frame of the East Suffolk Light Railway. That's a vague recollection from an article in Model Railways circa 1985. Someone here that knew the layout in detail may be able to add further information.

I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work. I met a local aluminium welder last year at the TT, and have been meaning to give him a call to sort a design out for me.

Good luck with your efforts, and do let us know how you get on.
Cheers
Flymi
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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Mark Tatlow
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Mark Tatlow » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:38 pm

Un_Train_de_Retard wrote:Good morning to all

Did someone try once aluminium profile to built the frame of his baseboard ? I used some in the industry. It is an interresting alternative to wood : its light, rigid and offers the possibility to join two baseboards with great precision.

I am thinking of using them for my future baseboard.

Any advices or point of view ?

Thanks

William

Example of profiles : http://www.elcom.fr/


One of our members is making almost all of his baseboard from extruded aluminium.

See this thread viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3542 or its precursor on RMweb http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index. ... 71/page-10
Mark Tatlow

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jim s-w
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby jim s-w » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:17 pm

The WFRM guys built an aluminium sub frame for charlotte road in the past.

Hth

Jim

beachboy
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby beachboy » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:39 am

Hi William,

This may not be so relevant, and not wish to knock new idea's.

i used Ali L section to make two loco size cassettes for Fiddle Yard. Being to brace the cassette board flat.
The Ali drilled & screwed to the board.

One still retains a slight bend, despite the Ali. being checked as being flat. The deck material having the slight bend, and one out over the L section. I added two ali. long u shape handles to the L section which straightened it out to some degree.

I used steel L section to brace a long F. Yard turntable ( same deck material ), and that remains flat for several years now.

May be a combination of materials may be worth considering.

Rgds Steve

Philip Hall
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Philip Hall » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:38 pm

Paul, you're quite right, the ESLR did have legs and baseboard frame from aluminium sections. Iain had them made by Jackson Tasker Engineering of Crediton. It was indeed very light and quite rigid, but light meant that it swayed in the breeze a bit, unlike the (heavy) main section of my own layout at the time which you could happily lean against or almost sit on, the opposite.

Philip

Terry Bendall
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Terry Bendall » Wed Feb 05, 2014 7:18 am

beachboy wrote:i used Ali L section to make two loco size cassettes for Fiddle Yard.


We have used aluminium angle, 16mm x 16mm x 1.5mm thick for loco cassettes which are just under 300mm long since they are for diesel locos. No problem with warping when used with 12mm thick MDF. We have also got some 600mm long used for 2 car electric multiple units and in the past have used some 1200mm long for complete trains. On Brighton Road the cassetts are 1500mm long. If there is slight bowing in the longer ones a few minutes with a plane soon sorts things out.

William's idea may well work, but I am not convinced there would be great saving in weight, especially if a wooden box beam was used. There are also the problems of joining the material. It can of course be welded but needs someone with the right equipment and the skill to do the work. Cutting the ends so that they are a 90 degree angle would probably need to be done on a machine which could be an extra cost.

Terry Bendall

Natalie Graham
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Re: Baseboard materials

Postby Natalie Graham » Wed Feb 05, 2014 10:47 am

I can't help feeling there are more gains to be made through appropriate design than by using different materials. There is an historic tendency with model railway baseboards to take a sheet of board, put a frame round the edge, a leg on each corner, then wonder why it sags in the middle.


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