Sunday 15 November 2020

Lightweight baseboards

 The first board for the new Rhiw or Rhiw 2 or something else that rhymes. After the marginally heavyweight pre-cut boards, it's back to my own from 6mm MDF. The last lot had reduced cross framing, now I've gone the whole hog and done the side frames too. Debating whether to link the holes into long ovals. You wouldn't think this made a difference, but compared to the last efforts, the above is almost down to grams. It does feel slightly over the top, but then I remembered reading about touring cyclists drilling holes in plastic spoons to cut weight so...

Compared to Mk 1 it's positively frantic with track, but in reality it is a different beast and hopefully replicated all the good bits of Hopwood, while removing the bad bits and all in a little less space.


  1. Looks long and this your standard 40something inches boards?
    I did a bit of a double take at first thinking it looked like "Minories" but then saw wher the crossover is...I take it that it'll be single track like No.1 with the second line going somewhere industrial.
    Will watch with interest, while trying not to look too hard at all the lovely 0 gauge stuff I've managed to ignore up to now.

  2. Simon, you are supremely qualified to build your own, without paying £200+ per loco. it's a lovely scale.I'm rubbish at building working chassis so I use cut-down Atlas switcher ones from eBay, which are bomb-proof. Pop over and have a look somewhen.

    1. Thank you Les!
      I can resist at the moment but we're planning to move in the next 18 months or so and an outbuilding I can be banished to is on the list of requirements so I'll hopefully have room for something a bit larger than my usual 2 points on an odd lump of wood...we'll see how things turn out!

  3. May I presume to offer an alternative view on this matter?

    I have said it before, but perchance it is worth repeating.

    Yes, on the one hand I appreciate that MDF has a surface which is easily painted or varnished, looks good, and does not splinter when cut like plywood.

    However, on the other hand - and your theme in this blog posting is "Lighweight baseboards" - for a given area and thickness MDF is something like 30% to 50% heavier than plywood.

    You have not given dimensions of the baseboard in question, but I am guessing there are to be two of these (maybe x3 to inc the FY) for "RHIW 2".

    If you were to have used plywood of nominal 4mm (rather than 6mm) thickness that would have cut the weight by a third.

    Thus consider (for example) a baseboard that weighs 1 kilo using your 6mm MDF replaced by 4mm plywood.

    Work out the maths:

    1,000 x 100/130 x 2/3 = 20,000/39 = 512.8

    It is almost half the weight before you consider cutting out holes (which is tedious) or (as I did with the PVR) using foamcore board for the top surface.

    Also 4mm nominal plywood is often actually 3.6mm thick - a further saving.

    Christopher Payne

  4. Nearly agreeing with Mr Payne here. I would and do always, now, go for 4mm ply. How about MDF for the framing, as it looks good and is easy to make more presentable. Plywood for the top, easy to cut (Stanley Knife) and takes pins, glue and paint with great ease. If the boards are narrow, around 12" wide and 1m to 4ft (like the mixture there?) under board bracing is not necessary, but can be added post construction if you like. An easy way of missing, ash pits, point motors and the such.

    I like the plan moving further South are we? Bottom end of The Valleys or right up North, Wrexham ish? In that case I'll let Mr Jones know! Good luck with the new scheme :-)
    Andrew K

    1. Whilst it isn't going to happen (or would it make a good RM article?), it might be interesting to have a serious comparitive test - a number of identical size baseboards built using different methods and materials to check the various resulting weights (and strengths).

      Picking up what Andrew has said, one might consider a combination of 4mm MDF for its appearance combined with 5mm foamcore board for the top surface. For a small board (again as Andrew suggets maybe 1ft x 1m) it might give the best of both worlds.

      Another thought would be a complete foamcore board baseboard structure clad on the outside with the thinnest possible MDF. A thickness of 3mm seems to be ubiquitous (available from B&Q), but I have found 2mm on the web. In that case issues of minimum quantity and delivery would need to be taken into account.

      Christopher Payne

    2. On th esubject of light weight baseboards. Maybe it can be taken too far? Some years back, in the early days of using FoamCore for this sort of thing, I did construct a module for my then loft empire completely out of the stuff. It worked fine, it was the thin soft version from my local sationers shop. I was invited to bring this along to a local model railway club's exhibition, where it worked fine.
      The problem came in the trip from car to exhibition hall on setting up night, there was a strong gale blowing its way down The Channel. The trip from the boot of the car was quite an adventure, this thin FoamCore was not overly strong in itself so hanging onto the layout in the gusts was an "interesting" experience. The last day of the show was a flat calm, much safer. The module lasted a few more years before the Ahern County RR was remodellled.

    3. I should have signed as
      Andrew Knights, as I see I am otherwise Unknown. AK (Unknown)?

  5. Again taking up the point made by Andrew, an all foamcore board layout structure would ideally be transported to and from exhibitions in a protective case.

    For this reason designing to fit specific sizes of Really Useful Box makes a great deal of sense. Unfortunately the largest of these only reach the size of 77 litres, 145 litres, and 160 litres respectively giving a baseboard area of approximately 44ins x 8.5ins, 27.5ins x 20ins, and 35ins x15ins.

    Christopher Payne

  6. Just caught up with this post. I like the Minories-alike plan, with aeronautical baseboard construction.

    CP's suggestion of foamcore baseboards faced with thin MDF or ply (3mm) is someI have done a few times, and works well, but can have its complications. The facing protects the foam board and helps rigidity, and gives enough weight to prevent windy day accidents.