Make a Template you dope

Some times, I wonder how I get anything done at all on the layout. I’ve been struggling with figuring out how to make some bits of the sidewalk where there are tricky curves or hydro poles sticking out of them. Of course, the answer was staring me square in the face from something else I have done on the layout but haven’t written about before. Make a template!!!

A switch sunk in concrete, not an easy thing to deal with in HO Scale, but using cheap crafters foam, doable.

Some time ago in a magazine I had seen an article about using crafters foam to make concrete inserts at level crossings. This actually works really well for me, as one of my level crossings has moving switch parts in it as you can see above. Methods that become hard pavement like plaster or styrene sheet don’t work, but a thin, soft, pliable foam would. The other nice thing about the foam, is you can press it into things and it takes an imprint of them, creating, an instant template to cut out and transfer to another material, or the shape of your crossing if you are using foam in it! The crafters foam comes in a variety of sizes and colours, I buy mine at Michaels, in single 12″x18″ sheets of 2mm thick material.

The issue immediately at hand, is as I said, how to create the sidewalks without wasting stacks of styrene getting the size of the pieces wrong and getting corner shapes. For this, its a pretty simple process. Cut a square of the foam, press it into the space. The foam takes an imprint objects it is pressed into. Its not permanent, but it will last plenty long to cut out the shape after. With this, all of a sudden the few areas with complex shapes or curves will be done with ease.

The corner at hand, and working through making a cutting template for a styrene sidewalk with crafting foam, pressing it in to get an imprint, the imprint, cutting it out, and checking it fits before creating in styrene.

Once the template is made, trace it onto a piece of Styrene. I am using scraps largely to make use of leftover materials, waste not want not right? As you can see from the pictures, its a small area of sidewalk by the Foundry Building that I need, but its curved and has a hydro pole sticking out of it! I traced the foam pattern onto a 0.040″ piece of styrene sheet. Tracing the pattern makes a shape that is going to be slightly oversized, but this is OK as its much easier to trim and sand to fit, than it is to make the part bigger once you’ve cut it.

Transferring the shape to styrene, cutting out the piece, and getting it fit into the space.

Once the styrene is cut, its a sand, file and trim to shape. I was pretty good in some spots, less so in others, but all in, between the realization I had foam and could make a template, to the blank being in place and fit took 15 minutes last night. This is the kind of short project I can get behind. Saturday night, done watching the Leafs game, not ready for bed, so lets do something! The final steps or preparing it for painting of marking and filing in some expansion joints and it will be ready to paint and glue in place. Onto some other templates now for the rest of the layout.

Ready to scribe some expansion joints and paint. A quick Saturday night project.

2 thoughts on “Make a Template you dope

  1. That’s a really neat idea to create a template. Makes me think that thin foam “meat trays” from the grocery store might work too. I have some street trackage I need to deal with soon on Coy and I’m going to keep this in mind as I’m dreading this phase of construction.

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