I’ve always glued the pieces of the layout together. I feel pretty comfortable in my ability to make a “forever” layout that will fight back against time and the environment. It just that, it’s a pity that some projects never get finished. Since I enjoy the hobby as much as a way to use basic modelling as an extension of design as I do building and owning a finished model railroad it doesn’t bother me that most of these layouts are no more. Well, that’s a lie. It does bother me quite a lot when I consider the environmental waste. So, most of the things never make it off the back of pieces of scrap paper as a way to minimize the waste. In the last few years I’ve moved toward wondering how much of material invested into the layout could be used in a way that minimizes their dedication to singular consumption.
I am choosing to use Ikea Ivar components as the frame of the layout. As I’m between workshops and will continue to be without one for the next while I appreciate that these components subtract the woodworking stage from layout construction. Since my consciousness of waste outweighs my desire to build a model railroad I also like that if the layout fails the Ivar components can still be used as shelving either here at home or at a friend’s house and they’ll be no less useful. But if I start glueing foam to this thing I instantly convert reusable components into single-use waste.
So, I thought: why am I glueing this all together? What are my options? The centre sketch in the above series of three shows what I consider to be the current approach. Moving across those three sketches from left to right:
- At the core of this is relying on a pine shelf at the top of the Ivar unit. The layout rests on this shelf. This design isn’t glued to that shelf but is, in ways, attached.
- The fascia can be attached using angle brackets from the hardware store. These inexpensive bits of metal, bent in a right angle, are screwed into the back of the fascia and the top of the shelf. Attached from the back results in a fascia free of hardware too.
- Where possible the whole design is screwed together in a sequence. The purpose here allows components to be disassembled more cleanly than if glued which should reduce the amount of material wasted.
- Wood lath strips are used as blocking to raise a sheet of extruded foam above that pine shelf. A screw driven up from the underside of the shelf attaches the lath to the shelf. Ivar units are multiples of sixteen and thirty-two inch units so this lath “blocking”, running continuously the full eight feet of the shelf, literally ties the surface together. Air space created by this blocking can be a home for stray wires and also raises above the brackets used to attach the fascia.
- We use fender washers to attach foam sheathing to a house’s walls and I’d just use the same method screwing through a fender washer down into that lath but not into the shelf below to attach the foam. In this way the layout could be removed if needed by unscrewing the lath..
The layout’s area is eight feet in length and a foot deep. I’d lay the foam in a single piece since the project here should be designed to be taken apart in an almost literal sense but does not need to be modular. If I “need” two layers of foam, I’m tempted to simply use longer screws but still rely on that fender washer/vinyl siding installer method.
I still need to glue things together but past experience has proven it’s so easy to strip track or scenery from the foam core because of the weaker bond of scenery-to-foam compared to the construction grade adhesives we usually use to bond the foam to the benchwork.
I thought that, because the “benchwork” itself was modular the layout sections also needed to be modular and I was getting trapped into methods of joining them together and running tracks and wires across section breaks. “Screw that”. Literally. If I just use continuous materials on the layout itself but don’t glue the mess together I can still take it apart when it’s time to move. If what I’ve done needs to start over the materials are joined in ways that make it easier to plan their reuse.
Categories: How I think