Foam or not to foam......that is the question/.

  • Before you begin to wonder, this blog is not about Cujo foaming at the mouth nor is it some twisted form of MacBeth. It is the age old question of whether as you begin your layout, should you layer it in foam or leave it bare. I have read views from all sides. From those that talk about it's ability to insulate and lower noise to it's ability to be formed, shaped, and painted to resemble landscape, whether mountains, hills, walls, ponds and lakes, etc. Others have talked about how messy it is to work with, about how you have to watch what you use on it because some compounds can "melt" it. Thus the question, to foam or not to foam? I have seen some incredible work done with foam and I have seen work done without, equally incredible. And before I go any farther, maybe I should state that I am talking about foam as the base for my layout. I have seen those who have used a wood base and use foam to create hills and mountains and I have seen those who have used foam as the base and cut out sections to create valleys, rivers, and lakes. There are pros, and there are cons. Thus the dilema. I want to create ditches near some of my track and in some areas I want to do small hills. The hills? No problem. The ditches? Well, without a foam base, do I cut into the wood with my Dreimel tool to create? What about the future should I decide to redo the layout. What about the cutout wood then? While I love this site and all the many talented people that are in this hobby, sometimes it is a curse because instead of just blindly going along and doing my own thing and not knowing any better, I know have hundreds, if not thousands of ideas flowing through my head. To foam base the whole layout would mean to take up all my track, thus "throwing away" all the money, time and effort already put in it. But to not do it leaves questions unanswered. I have wrote a blog somewhat like this but it was more about an idea as to the whole subject of my layout rather than just the physical makeup of it. I have decided to stay with my original layout idea instead of following all the various others out there but this is a little different. This is more about the actual physical makeup of my layout and how to go about it. I am sure there are plenty of thoughts out there and I welcome them all. Just one thing.............HURRY!  I am getting ready to take up SOME of my track to redo my industrial area and need to decide pretty soon. LOL I want my ditches.......how do I get them? To foam or not to foam..........the dilema continues.

5 comments
  • Matt Jackson
    Matt Jackson It works well for scenery foundation, especially in O scale because you can gain the requisite size of mountains, etc. without a radical increase in weight (unless you go overboard with the plaster.) Problem is that it's hard to find in some places (south...  more
    February 10, 2012
  • Justin Martin
    Justin Martin Well sir, why not enjoy both, I used foam to go above grade on my modules, I have made ditches going front to back with cuts through base, then glue wood below and using foam to make banks. Ultimately it is your layout, so you have to decide what is righ...  more
    February 10, 2012 - 1 likes this
  • Rick Phipps
    Rick Phipps Justin, not sure how I missed your comment but I like the idea. I have had a few people tell me to cut and then use cardboard strips and plaster to form it but ither way, it's the same concept. I know I am cutting the wood out and making a "drop box&...  more
    March 7, 2012
  • Justin Martin
    Justin Martin I have been slowly building modules and most will not agree with my methods. I use 1/4 birch ply on top of 1 x 3 douglas fir, in typical 2 foot intervals, if it is over 2 feet I use 1 x 2 douglas fir. for road base, I use concrete expansion boards on th...  more
    March 7, 2012