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Preschool Module Progress

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I've been asked to talk about trains, train safety and model trains for my son's preschool this March. So I'm building a module for the preschoolers to play with.

This module began as a test for an N-Trak module, using mainly 1/4" plywood. I thought the module was too flimsy for N-Trak use, but perfect for a small kids layout.

A couple of weeks ago I topped that module with foam and dubbed it the Preschool Module. This afternoon, I added legs and tested (see Started some oNeTrak modules - blog entry) out some Unitrack.

I started by making pockets for the legs.

I cut 24" legs and installed set screw and eye bolts for adjustable feet.

I used cabinet catches to hold the legs in place.

The legs were wobbly so I installed lots of bracing.

I opted for simple 9 3/4" radius Unitrack oval.

And the boys loved it! We played trains right up until bed time.

I'm really liking building this module as it is giving me an opportunity to test out new techniques.

More photos in my Preschool Module album.

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  1. Stourbridge Lion's Avatar
    Your a Good Man & Father!!!!!!! :D :D
  2. gregamer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Stourbridge Lion
    Your a Good Man & Father!!!!!!! :D :D
    Thanks Darren.
  3. gregamer's Avatar
    I took advantage of naptime to get started on the fascia and skyboard.

    The fascia is 1/8" tempered hardboard. The skyboard is 1/4" plywood. (I had a lot of 1/4" plywood) I cut landforms with a jigsaw. And painted with Rust-O-leum Harbor Blue. The fascia is attached to the module with brads from my nail gun, the sky board will be screwed in from below.

    Looks good so far and the boys really like it.
  4. gregamer's Avatar
    Still single track, but a little longer and added an industrial spur.

    The skyboard is set at a 15 degree angle. There will be mountains and a river on one side of the layout and a small industrial spur track and town on the opposite side of the layout. To that end, I bought a Unitrack bridge and a #6 turnout.

  5. gregamer's Avatar

    I added a turnout for some operations

    Kato #6. I just need one more peice of 2 7/16" Unitrack to complete the loop.
  6. gregamer's Avatar

  7. gregamer's Avatar

    I used Sculpt-a-mold to smooth out the contours. I plan on hitting this with another layer.
  8. gregamer's Avatar

    The boys really liked this part of the project.
  9. gregamer's Avatar

    I used 3mm tan craft foam to raise the town up a little. Also completed plastering. I used Sculpt-a-Mold to cover the mountain and riverside contours.
  10. gregamer's Avatar

    Severeal coats of paint and ground cover to get the river looking decent.

    The green hill is covered with a vinyl grass mat that was formed using a heat gun. Not the easiest thing. It takes a while to get it to form to the contour, and the exposed foam near the area melted away.
  11. gregamer's Avatar

    I painted the mountain with a few washes of brown and gray paint. Then I sprinkled ground foam on to highlight the nooks and cranny's.

    After looking at this picture, it looks like the base color is too light. I'll have to darken it up next time.

    Trees. I placed smaller trees near the rear for a forced perspective forest at the end of the river.
    Updated March 14th, 2011 at 05:42 AM by gregamer
  12. JSL's Avatar
    That sure look like there having fun. It looks great.

  13. Flashwave's Avatar
    Gotta sk, the wobble in the kegs, is that from the cabinet latches or what? It seems like a good idea but not if the ground ain;t sturdy.
  14. gregamer's Avatar
    The cabinet catches simply act as a retainer to keep the legs from falling out when you lift the table, many people use thumb screws to accomplish this. I think the wobble is partially due to the shallowness of the pocket and the inherent wobbliness of individual legs holding anything up. The bracing helps to stiffen up the
    legs considerably. However, I used 1/4" plywood for bracing and I think I may use something a little thicker next time around.
  15. gregamer's Avatar

    I made my first pour a few days ago. I think I did it wrong because it is still tacky.
    So tacky in fact that after Patrick decided to run a dump truck through it it looked a little less placid.

    I was able to smooth it out a little with heat. But overall, I think I need to repour because I didn't end up with a hard surface. I'm thinking about just sealing this first pour up, instead of scraping it off and having to redress the shoreline.
  16. gregamer's Avatar

    As it turns out, the tire tracks are underneath the bridge and not really noticeable from the above angle.
  17. gregamer's Avatar

    I guess I really need a name for this town. I didn't really finish it. I still wanted to put more background flats against the skyboard, and I wanted to paint the pavement areas and transition to earth at the edges.

    I glued everything down with tacky glue. I hope that holds for a while, I ran out of hot glue sticks.
  18. gregamer's Avatar
    I'll be bringing the module to my son's preschool tomorrow morning and again in the afternoon. I guess that will be the true test of sucess for this project. I just hope that the kids can take turns and enjoy the layout with minimal damage.

    I have a locomotive and a box of freight cars to run on the layout. Come to think of it, I probably should bring a back-up locomotive. I was going to also run a couple of new cars I got for my sons, but I think I'll hold those as a special after school prize for them.

    I've spent a little less than a month and am pretty happy with the results I've been able to accomplish. It's been a fun project that allowed me to try some aspects of model railroading I've never tried. Mainly scenery.
  19. gregamer's Avatar
    I brought the preschool layout to Lorenzo's school Monday and gave my presentation on trains, train safety and model trains. There were two presentations: one in the morning with 26 kids and one in the afternoon with 7 kids. Each kid got to run the train for a few laps.

    Preschoolers are great and they had all types of questions ranging from the bizarre ("Can you throw a hand grenade to stop the train") to the very intelligent ("Where are the brakes on a train and how long does it take to stop."). All the kids had a great idea about train safety. Most of the kids were very gentle with the layout.

    That was fun!
  20. PW&NJ's Avatar
    Just stumbled across this. Looks great and the kids certainly seem to dig it!
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