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Hi
What is the Forum's collective wisdom on Sundeala?
My layout-under-construction is based on a ring of bolted-together baseboards consisting of 4x2ft x 9mm (9mm?, I think) Sundeala sheets screwed-and-glued onto a frame of 2"x1" untreated pine. More to experiment than anything else, I also have a short section of the same construction but using MDF. All has been sealed using heavy-duty thinned grey primer.
I have found:
1) The Sundeala fibreboard is a far easier material to work with than MDF. It accepts track pins easily, and cutting holes for point motors etc is simple (you can hack through it with a knife). It is also light, and quiet in operation. And its dust is ( I believe) non-toxic.
2) The MDF is hard, heavy and relatively noisy but it provides a firmer, less 'bumpy' surface for the trackwork. Pinning is a pain but I have found you CAN get even the thin Peco track pins in if you have a good, small-headed hammer (mine is an antique from my grandfather, haven't found anything better in today's toolshops), guide the pin in with point-nosed pliers and hit ACCURATELY.
3) Unexpectedly, I find the MDF seems to be less stable with regard to heat and humidity changes than the Sundeala.
4) I originally planned to underlay all my track with 3mm cork tile, but have only done this on the elevated section. I am not sold on the idea of underlay.

What has been others' experiences with these materials?
 

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Having used sundeala for the latest incarnation of the layout, I must admit to having second thoughts. Yes it is very easy to pin down track and cut holes for point motors, turntables and inspection pits, but it is starting to warp. I'm going to paint the underside, when I get the chance, to try and reduce the amount of water absorption (it is in the loft).

The club layout I am helping to construct uses plywood on a softwood frame and although it is more difficult to cut holes in for accessories, it is significantly more stiffer and robust.

Regards,

Dan
 

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Hi Mike,
My boards are MDF on 2''X1'' frames with an underfloor covering all over them woodland scenic trackbed under the track i find runs quietly, with the track i dont pin in the sleepers but put pins in the board either side of the track ....... like you i use flexitrack the pins stop the track from moving about once i'm happy with the layout i ballast add PVA mix and allow it to dry sets like concrete remove the pins and its done if you ever need or want to move the track its a lot easier without the pins no damage to the sleepers.
 

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To take advantage of the past offering on a forum like this and much wise comment that has been made - make full use of the search facility.

Put "Sundeala" into the search box and see what comes up.

Regarding underlay, I used to use Cork, but I find foam is cheaper and quieter.
 

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Make sure you "size" it to prevent it changing shape as the environment changes. Whether or not that is completely possible or not I don't know. I have found that it is not suitable for my attic layout as it grows and shrinks with the weather. I am in the process of switching to 12mm ply.

David
 

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I'm using 12mm ply in 100mm & 150mm wide strips (depending on required levels) at 250mm centres to form an open grid baseboard system which will be topped with 9mm ply wherever there is trackwork. The ply will all be varnished to prevent any moisture penetration (to avoid warping). Solid as a rock and totally stable.
 

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*** Why avoid MDF - it must be a very different material in UK if thats valid, as quality MDF is as stable as anything if properly used and far, far better as a layout material than any form of Sundeala type board.

My current prefernce is Ply but thats really only a weight thing - I actually like working with MDF for permanent layout construction that does not have to be moved...

What I have noticed in many threads is modellers seem to use material I regard as far too thin - but with both MDF and Ply, I'd never use less than 12mm in simple form (ie not laminated etc) as trackbed unless reinforcement was almost continuous along its length.

Richard
 

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The original builder of SL used Sundeler board with a very ;ightweight MDF frame. When we took over the layout the baseboards were very unstable, so we ended up making an 8mm plywood "shell" to add support & stability.

My material of choice in the future will be well braced ply, at least 15mm & painted (as well as the supports) both sides for a good firm & level trackbed.
 

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I don't understand this attachment to heavy unstable materials for base boards. My layout is entirely built from 4mm plywood. It is constructed as a series of 'eggboxes' six inches deep by roughly 12 inches square with all the joints reinforced with a triangular wood fillet of about 1" side. The top surface is present only where track or structures appear. Every where else is sceniced with a paper lattice and papiermache. The bottom surface is complete but with large lightening/access holes. A 12 ft length of this board 3 ft wide can be easily picked up by one person and turned over to wire it etc. With this method you can have dropped down sections ( I have a lovely viaduct) and raised up sections for tunnels or hills and variable formation height. I would not touch Sundeala, chipboard, MDF or any heavy plywood as these will all warp in time. Think 'de Havilland Mosquito' when designing your baseboard. My current layout has been in place (well three places actually) for twenty two years now and no sign of any warping or distortion. PVA glue was used mostly and the board interfaces are locally stiffened with 1" thick squares of wood where the coachbolts are located. If you pm me your address I will send you a set of drawings showing the baseboards for 'Killiecrankie'.

Alistair Wright
'5522' Models
 

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*** I don't disagree with you in principal Alistair, but the carpentry skills of most modellers are simply not up to it.... it takes a good deal more time and skill than most are prepared to use (and more or better tools than most have) The practical replacement for less construction is more stability in the base material, which usually means thickness.

Experience has taught me to use and prefer a much heavier trackbed than you though (I also use a totally open baseboard with trackbed only where needed, however I use 100mm x 12mm ply for the frame, also block reinforced and like you can still carry a large board without too much stress).

I've also used thinner ply laminated for curves or trussed using wood blocks, but use no solid surface top or bottom. I have the benefit of patience, good tools and at thanks to a crafstman as a father, reasonable woodworking skill - many simply do not!

Richard
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Dec 2008, 06:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>*** I don't disagree with you in principal Alistair, but the carpentry skills of most modellers are simply not up to it.... it takes a good deal more time and skill than most are prepared to use (and more or better tools than most have)

Richard

I have to disagree. The carpentry skills required to do 'eggbox' construction is no more difficult than your suggested method. The tools I used were a saw, a square, some clamps, a rule and some PVA. You do need to plan what your are going to do though. Just slapping sheets of whatever on to 2x4 frames can be done without any plan at all. I am amazed to hear that folk build a baseboard first and then decide what layout they will put on it!! This is only one stage up from toy trains on the lounge floor.

The wonder of our great hobby is that it converts people who have no manual skills at the outset into capable woodworkers, electricians and painters. Like you I have had considerable training in manual skills even though I am a chartered engineer, but these have been honed over the years of 4mm modelling, never mind the kit design which followed.

Alistair
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
QUOTE (Stanier6256 @ 5 Dec 2008, 10:00) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I am amazed to hear that folk build a baseboard first and then decide what layout they will put on it!! This is only one stage up from toy trains on the lounge floor.

Alistair

I think this is a tad harsh. I would love to be able to construct the sort of open-frame baseboard you describe but I do not have the skills or the time. Many modellers, myself included, have to work with what they have, and that includes not only space, money and so on, but time and skills as well. I agree planning is esssential, but there is a vast gap between constructing a foundation for your layout then working out exactly what will fit, and running toy trains on the carpet!
 

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QUOTE (Mike H. @ 5 Dec 2008, 12:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I think this is a tad harsh. I would love to be able to construct the sort of open-frame baseboard you describe but I do not have the skills or the time. Many modellers, myself included, have to work with what they have, and that includes not only space, money and so on, but time and skills as well. I agree planning is esssential, but there is a vast gap between constructing a foundation for your layout then working out exactly what will fit, and running toy trains on the carpet!

Hi Mike,

If you have access to a Jigsaw, drill, tape, right angle and of course PVA it is a good start as that is the basis for my toolbox (the PVA bought from the builders yard in half gallon containers a lot more economical) ...... i use my local builders yard for my timber and get them to cut as much as possible for me especially the large sheets into managable sizes to save a lot of work ........ often it is free cutting and delivery very handy for me as i have restricted space to build the layout.

A few thoughts hopefully to help you on your way to building the layout.
 

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I use 9mm MDF or ply as a baseboard top covering a framework of either pine or sometimes very high quality thick veneered ply scrounged from local boatyards.The track areas are covered with with good old insulation board which my local branch of Godfreys DIY sell as "suitable for Model railways ".As well as being a good sound proofing against drumming it also takes pins and raises the roadbed up and creates a more realistic setting for streams and roads .If I have to span a fairly wide area with out the need for legs ,say between 2 walls I will use substantial L girders as the main framing and just cover it as above with MDF ,ply and insulation board .The L girders are very strong and dont droop or warp . I always thought Sundeala to be fairly horrible stuff ,being neither strong enough to support a layout without putting a lot of framing in or very easy to work with ,but as zillions of people use it must have its advantages .Any baseboard system is OK as long as it fulfills the parameters you want,everyone has different requirements .It can be super heavy and strong if its not going to be lugged around much .I tend to overkill and keep it heavyish within reason .As long as I can actually carry it just about or maybe 2 of us can do it ,then its OK for me .
 

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QUOTE (Mike H. @ 1 Dec 2008, 19:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>2) The MDF is hard, heavy and relatively noisy but it provides a firmer, less 'bumpy' surface for the trackwork. Pinning is a pain but I have found you CAN get even the thin Peco track pins in if you have a good, small-headed hammer (mine is an antique from my grandfather, haven't found anything better in today's toolshops), guide the pin in with point-nosed pliers and hit ACCURATELY.
Have you tried a proper pin pusher? Shesto do one, and probably others. I got mine from the local HobbyCraft.

Andrew
 

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Any particle board is absorbent to liquids with disastrous results, they swell, warp and in extreme cases burst. Plywood will absorb liquids but provide a good quality multi-ply grade is used, it will remain stable for decades.

I recently carried out a survey on a plywood skinned airframe that was built in the 40's and it is still serviceable and airworthy.

My layout uses boards made from 6mm multiply, adequately braced to resist and relieve stress distortion and yet it weighs 50% less than similar size baseboards made from particle board.

Be aware that cutting dust from MDF is seriously carcinogenic and breathing masks must be worn when cutting (don't hang around the saw table at B&Q.)
 

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For installing track pins if required into MDF, etc ,use a pin vice - adequately described in the Hornby Mag Dec 08, page 86. I use the pin vice -Micro Hand drill - part #60348 from http://www.micromark.com/.
 

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I used MDF on a 6ft x 2ft 3"x1" frame with no cross-bracing for my Z scale layout. The damp atmosphere doesn't seem to be a problem but, as a beginner, I decided not to ballast until the last stage of construction. Pinning is pretty hellish but using a panel pin pusher is pretty reliable as long as I make sure that it cannot move sideways when pushing the pin home. But, never again. It is far too hard.

Sundela is a total no-no up here as the only builders' merchant on the island (Jewson) will not obtain it. Also, they cannot cut anything to size due to COSHH regs so 8 by 4 sheet has to go on the roof of the car and one has to choose a dry day!

Plywood (3/8") will be my next try. At least it should be easier for driving in the pins.

My board is covered overall with cork which gives a nice effect.. It will be less noticeable once I start working on landscaping.

Chris.
 

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QUOTE (Sol @ 16 Dec 2008, 22:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>For installing track pins if required into MDF, etc ,use a pin vice - adequately described in the Hornby Mag Dec 08, page 86. I use the pin vice -Micro Hand drill - part #60348 from http://www.micromark.com/.
A pin vice or pin chuck, as it's name suggests, is designed to grip an object. It must be a real PITA to have to release the chuck every time.

Just use a proper pin pusher as in my earlier post.

Here's a link this time: http://www.shesto.co.uk/p115/Pin_Pusher_(N...oduct_info.html

Andrew
 
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