January 16, 2013

"Baseboard Construction - thinking out loud..."

One of the things I've been thinking over for a good long time is the baseboard conundrum. I have experimented with a short baseboard made out of carbon fibre, with a ply centre to allow for scenic work and track to be fitted.

The biggest obstacle I found with carbon fibre was its cost. It was certainly lighter than wood and also stronger (in a compressive sense, not a tensile one), but was around three times the price dependent on its thickness (where it could even be as ten times the price).

It was, in my view, worth having a go and finding out what it was capable of. As a framework in which to hold, say, plywood or foam board bases, it was superior to wood most certainly in terms of weight saving. It was however, more difficult to work with. Drilling into carbon fibre not recommended except in well ventilated areas whilst wearing a mask, for example. It doesn't react well to glues, and nailing in any form is liable to damage the fibre structure which holds the material together.

So whilst mulling over my Ganwick Curve project, it occurred to me that I could have a go at building a smaller layout with further experimentation of materials for the baseboards. It's Styrofoam which is the subject of my next experiment. I have noted that many modellers use ply to veneer the styrofoam, with a timber or plywood casing. This saves a lot of weight in terms of the construction materials used, but I think we could go further than that by thinking outside the box more, and using some off the shelf plastic products.

While I was at school, a friend built a small display circuit for his collection of remote control cars. This circuit, though small in size and pretty simple in shape (a large rectangle of around 6ft by 2ft), used Styrofoam, veneered in plastic sheet, which was cut to size and glued to the sides of the Styrofoam, and also arranged underneath as a trestle of sorts for strength. The whole 6ft by 2ft circuit could be picked up and carried around almost with one hand, it was so light.

My thought is that this technique could be very easily adapted to a model railway, if also included in the overall construction was an easy means of clipping the separate baseboards together, along with simple plumbing for wiring between boards.

The savings in weight would be drastic, and make such a model railway easier to set up, and then store away. In addition, by careful choice of materials when creating buildings for said model railway, further weight savings can be gained.

There's a very useful thread here which I have pondered on for a few days now. The various techniques and ideas shown there prove there's no one set way to doing this. Several of the posters have thought outside the box, which I like in particular.

I'm away for a prolonged period from next Tuesday, but will have some very, very exciting news up on this blog on the 26th January. It's not related to the BRWS, for a change, and I am certain it will make a lot of people very happy. It has been a long time in the making, that much is certain!

Until next time.

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