Foam reflections

I couldn’t resist grabbing a sheet of 1/2″ foam and cutting some to fit into the modules. Since I was on a role with this curious state, I moved the second module into its final location to really take stock of how it will all look.

What I discovered was that 1/2″ extruded foam isn’t consistenly 1/2″ thick. My sheet appears to vary within 1/8″ thicker or thinner. I typically use 1″ and have never had this problem before. These variations are subtle but I’m really concerned about their impact on my trackwork and ultimately the train operation. My immediate options to work around the “sort of 1/2″ thick” foam are:

  1. Use the foam as is and hope for the best
  2. Buy 1″ foam
  3. Install 1/2″ plywood instead

I just don’t feel right about using the foam knowing about the variations in the surface. N scale couplers just don’t offer much vertical room and I’m worried about cars uncoupling as they ride over these humps. I really want that uniform and dead flat track surface. Even keying this now, I know the first option isn’t one.

1″ foam is a real option. It’s lovely to work with and I’ve never had any trouble with variations in thickness. I think I like this option. I always intended to add a face around the perimeter of the layout with something like Masonite so the additional thickness of the foam will be hidden. Shame that it was all nicely recessed. Since lowering the ledger deeper into the frames to accomodate the 1″ foam isn’t an option I could rabbet out the edges so the foam drops down nicely. This might be the messiest option but it has a certain appeal to me. I wonder how easy this could be?

1/2″ plywood is tempting. I see cutting it to some sort of “cookie cutter” style subroadbed. This would recess nicely as I had wanted the foam to. This seems like the most finicky of the three apparent options. This may well be the least likely to actually happen.

The foam is a downer but despite this I’m really pleased with every other part of this project to date. I’m on schedule and am glad I jumped into this project.

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