foam panels with fiber reinforced facing for shelf benchwork?

S t e f a n Sep 24, 2020

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Is this material going to work by itself (no wood or particle board underneath)?

  1. Yes, I have used this or a similar board, and it works great.

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  2. No, I have tried it, and it failed miserably.

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  3. I think it should work, although I have not tried it myself.

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  4. Nope, won't work; didn't even need to try it.

    2 vote(s)
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  1. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Due to a slight mishap (dowels pulling out of drywall when relocating my shelf layout) I have to rebuild.
    I want to use something lighter than the heavy 3/4" wood panels that contributed to the mishap.

    In the past I have built a 2" thick lightweight box beam from 1/2" foam core poster board for part of the layout, which has proven to be sturdy and lightweight, but that stuff is quite expensive. I had good results building a beer keg cooling enclosure from foil-faced polyisocyanurate foam, so I am thinking of using a similar material. The foil facing on the 1" material buckles easily under bending pressure, so I found similar sheets with fiber glass reinforced facing that I hope will be sturdier: https://www.jm.com/en/building-insu...am-board---sheathing/r-panel-roof-insulation/
    r-panel sheet.jpg

    Does anybody have experience with this material? I special ordered a 2" thick sheet from Menards - apparently it is not popular enough for roofing applications in this area to be kept in stock.

    My plan is to support 8' wide 2' deep panels on a few (three?) wall support arms. The layout is L-shaped, consisting of two panels with 6" extensions for turnaround loops (N scale).
     
  2. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Why not drop some legs off the wall supports, or drop some chains from the ceiling?
     
  3. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions, TGB. I need to keep the area under the layout clear, so no feet. (I might be able to put one support from my desk below under the turntable area, but would like to avoid that). I have used pulleys attached to the ceiling before, but it's a bit too messy looking for my office, I'm afraid. If the cantilevering from the wall does not suffice, then I might have to revisit the ceiling wire option.
     
    BNSF FAN likes this.
  4. OlyPen

    OlyPen TrainBoard Member

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    Why not use 2" thick extruded foam?

    Also, you might want to look at a Bill Darnaby article in MR circa 1995 about his using extruded foam supported only with 1x2" brackets. I've seen it in person, and it works.
     
  5. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    I assume the polyiso foam is extruded? I'm just adding the fiber reinforced facing, or rather buying the foam that has it.
    I have a digital MR subscription, so maybe I have access to the archives. I did not keep all my old MR volumes.
     
  6. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Update: it's not so easy to get this foam from Menards. The special order was finally was delivered to my local store yesterday, but when trying to pick it up today it turned out that somebody had driven a forklift into the panel. They had done a nice job sandwiching it between two sheets of plywood; or so they thought.

    Well, what's a few more weeks... They are reordering it.
     
  7. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

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    What are the measurements of panels? You can definitely get a price discount and probably cut around the forklift damage. When I buy insulation foam I always look for damaged panels to save money. Sometimes you have to ask if they have some in the back that is damaged, one time got it half off.

    Joe
     
  8. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    How deep is your shelf ?

    Most self layouts up to 18" deep can be supported quite well by stamped metal shelf brackets. Going around an inside corner for an around the room layout also adds strength. For even better support or greater depth there are closet shelf type brackets that have an angle support.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2020
    Joe Lovett likes this.
  9. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the feedback and suggestions! Unfortunately I need the full sheet. Whatever I cut from the 2 foot deep parts I add to get wider turn around loops. It just works out.
    I had actually mentally prepared myself for some corner damage that I would have to accept. But they did a good job driving a forklift fork about 5 inches into an edge of the panel, ripping both the plywood packaging and the foam sheet apart, and I can't work around that. It's a bummer that this type of material is not in stock.

    The layout will be mostly 24" deep; it does go around an inside corner. I have some experience with the same size predecessor (never finished), which I made mostly from solid wood sheets. I adapted the wall brackets based on that experience. This is also what led me to the 2" foam as base material; the wood was just ridiculously heavy.
     
  10. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Update: The replacement board showed up in two days! They might have sent a truck from Wisconsin just for this order.
    Of course it would be even more impressive if they hadn't driven a forklift through it the first time.

    This time the 2" foam board came packaged between two oversize 3/4 inch MDF sheets. It's a bummer that I have no place to store this stuff, otherwise I think it would have almost been a good deal.

    The full 4' by 8' sheet fit onto the roof of my car, secured with some packing tape to the roof rails. (I had decided against cutting it at the store, since I came up with a different layout in the mean time: no more turnaround loops at the ends of the 8' by 8' L, instead there will be a double track crossover diagonally through my office! It requires more complicated cutting though, since as before I'm using every last square inch of the base board. I also switched back to paper and pencil for planning.)

    While loading I quickly noticed why nobody uses this fiber glass reinforced foam board: the fiber glass is not sealed in. So before bringing it inside, I got some old paint and sealed both sides. Next step: cutting.

    With the new plan I should be able to fit almost 24' of double track mainline, with 2' radii at the three corners! Here's the base plate cut plan, with 24" radii sketched in (dashed lines). The diagonal has to be pieced together from the hashed cutoffs. Maybe it's better to cut the diagonal as one solid piece from the top edge of the 4' by 8' (top in the sketch), and replace that strip with the hashed cutaways, since those will be sitting on the wall supports.
    Actually, I have an already painted 8' by 1.5' extruded polystyrene foam board somewhere, so I should probably just use that.

    layout.jpg
     
    gmorider likes this.
  11. S t e f a n

    S t e f a n TrainBoard Member

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    Update:

    • Built the shelf benchwork from 2" foam board with fiber glass reinforced facing, supported by a combination of Ikea bent wood shelf brackets and home made brackets
    • Suspended the benchwork at two locations from a steel wire cable strung between a door frame, a window frame and a cabinet
    • Added the diagonal connector/crossover made from 2" extruded polystyrene foam board
    • Sealed the top and bottom fiber surfaces with house paint (actually before cutting the 8' by 4' sheet)
    • Sealed the edges with paper strips overlapping top and bottom by about 1" -- I decided to wait before adding a valance from more substantial material, like cardboard or foam board
    New thread for the layout: https://www.trainboard.com/highball...gular-office-layout-with-broad-curves.134297/
     

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