Friday, December 23, 2011

How to build L structure, part 2 - Materials

Materials list:
The structure is a combination of MDF, basswood and styrene. The girders are MDF, the columns and girder flanges and basswood and the details are styrene.
I chose MDF for the girders as I found it to be the most economical material as compared to styrene or basswood. It is easily found in 2 x 4 sheets, inexpensive, glues well and takes paint nicely. However, one large drawback is the amount of dust generated while cutting.
Note – my structure is built out of two types of MDF. 1 / 4“ thick and 1 / 8” thick. The 1 / 4” thick panels are found at Home Depot for approx. $5 for a 2 x 4 sheet. This is what I built the Sheridan Road station and structure out of.  I recently found 1/8” MDF sheets at a specialty lumber yard (Owl Lumber in Chicago). A 4 x 8 sheet was approx. $10. Since I bought two sheets of the 1/8” thick MDF, all currently structure is built out of the 1/8” MDF. The construction methods for the two thicknesses are the same. Just the column size and flanges are modified. I will list materials for both types. The pictures showing construction will be of the structure built with 1/4 “ thick MDF.
Check at a specialty lumber yard for 1 / 8” MDF. It is used for furniture and cabinet making. A big box home improvement store won’t carry it. The effect of using the thinner MDF is nice.
I would not recommend using the 1 / 8” Masonite / hardboard panels that folks use for backdrops. These are the 2 x 4’ panels that are smooth on one side and have a texture on the other. They don’t cut as cleanly as the MDF and the textured side could cause problems.
Either thickness will work. The 1 / 4” is more readily available, the 1 / 8” looks a little less beefy.
Structure built using 1 / 4 “ MDF:
1 / 4 “ MDF – for girders, cut into strips for the girder’s height
1/16 “ x 1/2 “ basswood strip – for girder flanges and column flanges
1 / 4 “ x 1 / 4 “ basswood strip – for columns
.030” x .125” Evergreen Strip part # 125 – for column detail
1 / 4” Evergreen L angle, part # 297 - for girder attachment reinforcement
Structure built using 1 / 8 “ MDF
1 / 8 “ MDF - for girders cut, into strips the the girder’s height
1/16 “ x 3/8” basswood strip – for girder flanges and column flanges
3 / 16” x 3 / 16” basswood strip – for columns
.030” x .100” Evergreen Strip, part # 135 – for column detail
5 / 32” Evergreen L angle, part # 295 - for girder attachment reinforcement
Materials Common for both methods:
                For the vertical stiffeners on the girders – two choices: The using the angles are easier to glue. Using the strips is cheaper.
                .080” Evergreen Styrene L Angle, part #  292 – for vertical stiffeners on girders
                .030” x 0.080” Evergreen Styrene strip, part # 134 – for vertical stiffeners on girders
                .040” Sheet styrene, any brand, for column bases
                1 / 8” x 1 / 8” basswood – for diagonal stiffeners between girders
Size of girders:
Your prototype will determine what size girders use will use. For my Chicago prototype, I use a scale 4 feet or 1 inch tall girder. New York structure might be better represented by 5 scale feet or 1.25 inches (both O scale). I cut the MDF into the strips using a base model Craftsman table saw. A table saw is probably the only way to get consistent widths on the girders. The economics of the MDF are apparent as a 2 x 4 foot sheet of MDF will yield a lot of strips to be used as girders.
Quantities: Quantities of the materials will depend on how much structure you build. But, I built approx. 8 feet of L out of one 2 x 4 sheet of 1 / 4” MDF. The basswood strips used for the flanges will require a significantly larger amount.

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