Getting into Part 3 of our series, we’ll talk about laying down pink construction foam and one of the techniques I use to create land contours. Here is the original Franksville single module that I previously built:

The above module will now become the north franksville module. I needed to get it up and running for a train show, so I completed the trackwork, wired it up, put the foam in place, added the masonite sides and painted the pink foam a light brown color. The masonite sides that are exposed also get a coat of green paint that matches all the rest of the modules. You can also see where I was doodling the locations of streets and such before I decided to split this into two modules.

So the first thing I did was cut a land contour into the front face of the masonite with a jig saw. I cut through the masonite with the foam in place on purpose (which I’ll show why in a second):

So the foam is exposed now and the masonite face is trimmed. Next I took a Tippy hot wire foam cutter tool:

and made an angle cut just to the outside of the maintenance of way area:

This takes a little bit of patience to let the foam cutting tool melt its way through the foam. If you try and force it along too hard you’ll bend the hot wire. The fumes from the melting foam aren’t particularly good for your health so do this in a well ventilated place.

After I make the angle cut I then go and use the hot wire tool with a different attachment to cut the side profile of the foam. You can see the original cut through the front masonite fascia left a nice cut through the foam about 2.5 inches in:

Again use patience and let the tool do the work. Also if you avoid a cutting motion back and forth you’ll have less sanding and shaping to get things smooth later on. After cutting through the foam following the fascia profile it looked like this:

Then I broke the remaining foam piece off:

and yes, Wisconsin is *not* all flat level farmland – there are gentle rolling hills everywhere. So this is what the final looked like after I sanded a few rough edges smooth with sandpaper:

I’ll go over the landforms with lightweight spackle to fill in voids, add some variation and a few other things prior to paint and scenery.If you have any questions or comments on this story, click on the green button below to go to our discussion forums.


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<– Franksville Part 2 Franksville Part 4 –>