A GeoFoam Tutorial
Posted with permission from www.ronsworld.com
"Beach Cities Junction"
"Beach Cities Junction" is the center of attention at Ron's World. The layout has been a project for Ron and the members of his Tuesday night layout class. The "Beach Cities Junction" layout is unique in that most layouts don't accomodate 3 different gauges of trains in a single setting, "G", "O" and "HO". At Ron's World we have worked hard on integrating the 3 guages and making sure that things look right when we did so.
Below is a pictorial history of how we went about creating the layout, and some discussion about the materials used.
All of the materials that we used were taken directly from Ron's World. Should you have any questions about the materials, on their use, or how to purchase them, contact Ron by email, or by phone (714) 361-5596.
To give you some basic idea of how we started, we built our table, and established a position for a control desk that would allow us to see the whole layout from a single positon. When we started, the majority of the "G" gauge layout was already completed by Ron, but the class needed to do some alternate routing to the engine house, and some wiring.
Probably the largest challenge was to create this layout, but still keep the effort under control. After all, the layout is in a fully functional business establishment. We always had Ron letting us know that "Hey guys.....I've still got a business to run, keep it clean!" So needless to say, we had to carefully plan how we were going to proceed: do a little bit of work each week, and make sure it all ran for the customers the rest of the time.
The table layout for our project was a fairly simple "U" shape. On the largest part of the table, at the top of the graphic, is where the "HO" and "O" gauges are kept. The "G" gauge wraps itself from the bottom leg of the "U" and up to the top and through our mountain.
The table was constructed using pine board framing of 1x2 and 1x4 sizes, and the supports holding up the table are 2x2. The top itself was 1/2" plywood sheets, and on top of that was 1/2" Homosote.
First, our Heisler could handle the grade even with a tender and several log cars attached. We were skeptical at first, but our little engine seemed to be able to handle almost anything we could throw at it. The second reason for increasing the slope was to have the elevation finish at a point where we could integrate our waterfall and still keep things looking good.
Now that the supports were in place, we could start attaching the portals for the "G" gauge, and the foam core supports for the top of our mountain. Moira, the artist of our group, helped us create the foam core cutouts. She made sure that the cutouts were attached securely with a hot glue gun to the top of the wooden supports, and that they looked like a real mountain landscape would.
This is the beginning stage for our mountain to begin taking shape in order to support the geodesic foam sheets that we would be using to form the actual body of the mountain.
Now the fun begins. We used a new product on the market from Bragdon Enterprises
to createour mountain.
The whole process uses bubble-wrap, window screen, and a special foaming
resin to create "sheets" of any size and shape to create a structure. Once
the resin sets up and the screen is in place, the sheet can be molded and
cut into any shape and attached using a hot glue gun.
Once we had all of the foam sheets in place, we used a lightweight joint compond (white lines) from DAP to take care of the seams. In the foreground of the picture we were finalizing the placement of the "HO" track. The sweeping curve going up the hill took some time to figure out, even using flex track!
On the extreme ends of the mountain you will notice that we also have started placing our "rock" molds. This is another product from the folks at Bragdon Enterprises. Basically the process is similar to the foam sheets. In this case we used rubber molds stretched insided a wooden frame (all the details are covered in a video that comes with the product) that we filled with another resin mixture. Once the molds have setup (about 20 minutes), they can be removed from the mold and applied over the foam sheets with a hot glue gun.
From what we could tell, Bragdon did a great job with the molds as well. Using the resin to create the rock is a two step process. The first resin sets up hard right away, and you have to add a foaming resin to the backside to give it a little more substance. However, once you lift it out of the mold, it is flexible and cuttable just like the foam sheets. HINT: When using this process to bring rocks right up to an edge, use the resins very sparingly, and you will get nice thin edges that make a nice gradual transition of the rock to another surface. Just be careful pulling them out of the mold; being so thin they have a tendancy to tear.
Once that we were satisfied with the placement of the rock molds, we wanted to cover the remainder of the mountain with some type of uniform texture or coating to add another layer to the mountain and help hide some of the construction.
Adding realism to the layout was a big concern with the class, and we spent a long time talking about different ideas. One idea that wouldn't go away, much to Ron's dismay, was the idea of including "live" water in our layout. After kicking it around for a couple of weeks, Ron finally gave in and he purchased a waterfall fixture that we could build directly into the layout.
This is also a good close up of how the dry tempra paint looks. This is a huge difference from that stark white that the rock molds have after they are poured. Sorry about the flash.....
We will continue to update this page on a regular basis (as soon as we learn how to use a camera flash :-) ) so please stay tuned and visit this site often. If you have any questions for us on how we started our layout or how we did some of the construction send an email to Ron. He can also help you obtain any of the materials that we have used. Ron's World will ship anywhere on the planet, so send an email, or give him a call at (714) 361-5596