Sunday, October 8, 2017

Workin' workin' workin'.

So yesterday and today I did more on the baseboard modules I am working on for the "Model Railways for a Day" convention next Sunday. I will also have Wed, Thu, Fri and Sat to work on them as well since I am on holidays again as of Wednesday :-)

So I did some more on the three non-foam modules yesterday while down at the club - messy stuff is plaster. So I messed up the club floor rather then my own at home. This plaster over a mesh is normally referred to as "Hard Shell" scenery.

For my first one I chose the wire insect screen module and used plaster pre-impregnated gauze bandage, the stuff they wrap your broken arm in. Now if you know a Nurse or Doctor who can get their hands on expired stock of this it is cheap - free. If you have to buy it, it is definitely not a cheap way of doing a layout. 

Mind you it is easy to use as you cut it up into 4 or 6 inch lengths (that's 100 to 150 mm for you modern kids), soak in warm water for a very short time and then place on the mesh. Now this could also have easily been the chook wire or cardboard I was laying it on. You layer it on overlapping your previous strip to allow for strength and thickness. I reckon 3 layers is good all up. But of course, more is stronger, so it depends on what knocks you expect the scenery to need to survive.

With your last layer being the top one, you smooth it over with your fingers to make the plaster cover all the gaps in the bandage. After only half an hour, but still sopping wet, you can feel the plaster already setup and the strength in the structure. But it will take many hours to dry.

Now for the front half of the same module, I used just plain 'ol bandage material. I had a few packs of swabs kicking around. I'd gotten the swabs as they were out of date items from a friendly Pharmacist. 

So with it being free, it was good. I used normal old Plaster of Paris as the binding material. So an ice-cream bucket with a few cm of water in it and then a cup of plaster in it and a good stir up and away I went making a Sara Lee cake - layer upon layer upon layer of gauze, making sure to overlap.

When looking at the gauze before I laid it down you'd swear there wasn't enough plaster and it looked too watery, but it was totally fine. As you got your way through the ice-cream container of mix it gets thicker and thicker - add more water - keep it like a very thin pumpkin soup.

When you think it feels about right, I smeared some of the thicker mix over the top to thicken it up a bit.

So that was the fly screen module plastered and ready for scenic materials.

The next module to be played with was the cardboard strips. These strips were of course just from various delivery boxes I had and beer cartons. Now being as they were of tree based material, I thought why not use the paper towel method over the top of them. 

So I got some thick paper towels, they work best, and proceeded to put them on like I did the gauze swaps on the previous model. Same plaster mix was used and a good hand smear at the end to smooth it out.

The last module I did on Saturday was the chook wire one. Of the three, I liked the potential of chook wire. It is easy to manipulate into all sorts of shapes like canyons, gullies, hills and such. If I was to use a hard shell method, this is the base I'd use for a very good terrain result.

I decided to use Chux over the top with the plaster on this one. I cut the Chux up into 25-30 mm wide by 100 to 150 mm long strips and dunked them one buy one into the plaster mix in the ice-cream bucket and then onto the wire, with of course a good overlay and made it about 3 or so layers thick.  A good finger smoothing at the end and I reckon she'll be good to go.

So then it was time to clean up and head home and do my weekly shoppin' and washin'.

Sunday dawned and the usual multiple hours of online news and comment reading, then out for coffee with family. After lunch I decided to go make a mess out back, so I got the fourth module out, the one that will be the foam based one.

Now I do prefer foam to build scenery. It is lightweight and rigid. It is easy to carve and shape. AND after it is done you can EASILY modify it. Try cutting into a chook wire and plaster hill to make a flat area for a new building !  Foam done the way I do it (not invented by me by any means - I'm just good at copying others!) with No More Gaps to seal it, it is light, strong, rigid and easily modifiable in the future.

Anyway, so I got my foam sheets out that I'd gotten from Bunnings - the Extruded stuff. 

I had the 25 and 50 mm thick ones on hand. I also have some of the normal Expanded foam - the beaded stuff. So I used the Extruded on the back half of the module and the beaded Expanded stuff on the front part of the module. This is so people can see they both do the same job. The Extruded does cost money but is well worth it. It is about 20 bucks for a "Knauf Insulation 1200 x 600 x 50mm XPS Multi-Use Foam Board" from Bunnings.

The Extruded is more rigid than the Expanded - much more rigid. In fact I reckon you could use the foam itself to lay your track cork on without the need for plywood - but, I do prefer to make things bullet proof, so would add in a 4-5 mm plywood strip where the cork is to go just to make sure. Or like in the module, you use 9 or 12 mm ply to make the outline of the track area and then cork on top etc, with the foam butting up to the edges.

The Expanded foam is pretty good too and it is usual free - hunt around and you can find it on building sites (ask nicely and ye shall receive). It is in packaging it is everywhere. just DON'T use the really soft version - it's crap.

Anyway, with my trusted Surform tool for shaping both types of foam, my handsaw for the larger cuts of foam and a small saw and box cutter for carving, away I went. Liquid Nails (water based version) was used to glue it together.

Next I suppose it is getting colour and skin on th module and colour onto the 3 plaster ones. Then for scenery. Stay tuned.

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