Built By:Kent Smiley
Description:Using the popular pink or blue foam for scenery works great for many modules and layouts, no matter the standard however, pink or blue insulation foam is very rigid and can stand alone in being the basis for a module.
As a member of the Independent N Scalers in Denver, Colorado, I was introduced to their ‘Foam Rail’ standard using foam as the basis for their modules. You can check out their standard here. When I initially met these guys, they only used 4” Masonite glued to the outside of the foam and Velcro to hold them together. Over time, they added the wood frame for durability and to protect the foam from dings when transporting it.
So onto the T-Trak version. I needed to test out the DC Junction modules alignment and the best way to do that was to build two 180deg end caps and two 90deg standard corners. I’d already spent time cutting 2” foam before and realized a 2ft by 8ft sheet was more than enough to build the 4 modules I needed. Cutting 2” foam seems easy, just grab a knife with a long blade and off you go. However, keeping that blade 90deg to the surface isn’t easy and takes some concentration or a spotter to make sure you’re doing it right.
As for size, it’s no different than a standard corner, end cap, or single for that matter. I did make one concession to the fragility of foam over time. I used Craft Foam, something available from your local craft store or craft section at a big box store. It’s about 3mm thick so I deducted 6mm from the length and width of the standard corner. Again, check the dimensions of the module you are building, and the thickness of the protectant material, make any necessary adjustments to ensure you have a 1mm overlap of the track over the base.
I still needed to be able to level the module so I cut 2 strips of 2x1 the length of the slightly reduced foam square, drilled some holes a little smaller than a #20 nut, and banged in the nut into the hole. These were just to test the alignment of the DC Crossing remember. Once these nuts were secure, a bit of wood glue helped, I glued the strips of wood to the bottom of the foam. I cut the craft foam to match the depth of the foam and wood strips so it would present a clean look on the table.
I wanted to power the modules so soldered wire to the middle of the joiners in the middle and attached the wires into a terminal strip.
Track was glued on using Loctite Power Grab. This seems to work well where screws won’t.
So in summary, be careful and keep your blade square to the surface when you cut the foam, add some wood to hold leveling screws, and protect it with Crazy Foam or whatever you choose to use. Using foam gets you past the T-Trak base very quickly.
Update Labor Day 2016. The foam is now permanently attached to the base, ballast filled in around the tracks, trees and forest debris added. I would call it finished but its really just moving from building to maintenance mode.