Extruded Foam, now at Bunnings

 
  danpickard Junior Train Controller

Location: Geelong
Hi all,
Just thought I send out a quick heads up, that my latest Bunnings catalogue has just come out, with an announcement that they are now stocking sheets of "multi-purpose foam board" aka extruded foam sheets.  Previously this has been a bit tricky to source (apart from a few specialist suppliers in bigger cities).  The good thing with the Bunnings source, just for a change, is it is reasonably priced.  Currently advertised at $12 for a 1200mm x 600mm x 30mm sheet (or $20 for a 50mm thick sheet).  Compared to say the aluminium tube they sell (for module framing), which is almost double the price of getting it from somewhere like Metaland, these foam sheets are now handy and quite affordable.

Cheers,
Dan Pickard

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  Prof_Klyzlr Station Staff

Dear Dan,

Yep, the foam itself is "Clima Foam" XPS "Knauf" from QLD.
http://www.knaufinsulation.com.au/en-au/insulation/climafoam-xps-board.aspx

NB that the rated density/compressive-strength is 300kpa, which exceeds that successfully used by "Swans Crossing" and "Broughton Vale" over 20 years ago.
(higher density = higher weight per sheet for a given dimension).

NB also that while the foam will work to give a quick "flat tabletop" surface to work with,
it is simply not capable of supporting any truly-reliable and "road ready" high-accuracy alignment or module-locking system in and of itself.

With suitable end-plates and a 4x4 "ladder frame" qublelok frame as was fully explored at the 2013 Aust NG Convention, this foam could be quite useful.
However, you're a long way from eliminating Qubelok altogether, esp if the layout in question requires any more than 1x module...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

PS Capral and a decent hacksaw rip all over Bunnings for aluminium tubing price. As a live-fire comparison, my last layout project
(2x scenic'd modules + train-turntable staging module + drop-leaf traverser + legs) worth of aluminium and joiners priced out at well over $500 via Bunnings "Connect-It" range
(as supplied by MetalMate/RCR http://www.rcr.com.au/metalmate/metal-mate-diy-connect-it-system/ )

In comparison, raw Qubelok tube + joiners from Capral,
+ a case of beer and a day at a local sympathetic metalworker/model RRer's place
(I piggybacked on their already-scheduled layout module-aluminium source+cutting day)
= well-under half that price...
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
saw the foam at Preston- vic Bunnings today. didn't buy any though.

David Head
  micksheedy Station Staff

I was talking with a mate today about this product, so this is ok to use for the surface area to lay cork and track on instead of ply?
Mick Sheedy
  lkernan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I've just picked up a sheet of the 30mm thick one to finish off a project. They even list model train bases as one of the primary uses on the label.
  danpickard Junior Train Controller

Location: Geelong
Thanks Prof for the further info.  I would still always rely of aluminium or timber as extra frame strength, but the extruded foam is a great product for terrain and rock carving for scenery projects.  Would hate to weigh the plaster equivelant with some of the rock forms I've done lately.  The extruded foam is also th much cleaner option when carving and cutting, wit no 1001 white polystyrene beads littering the whole house.

Mick, can certainly lay cork straight onto this extruded foam as a trackbed (far lighter than a bed of ply for a start), but when running locos it may have a slight drumming/aplified effect on the running noise of the motor unit.

Cheers,
Dan Pickard
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Will this foam affect wire insulation, it is easy enough to get around if it doesn't but not every one realizes that some foams and plastics are not compatible. Some foams can break down the insulation on wiring etc. Just asking as I was reading a article in an American model magazine a while back on this very subject.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Conduit any plastic sheathed wiring running through any form of styrene foam.
  trawny Train Controller

Location: Victoria
What section is it in? Had a quick look today but didn't find it.

I have used it before sandwiched between 3mm ply.
  hilly Locomotive Fireman

Location: Mount Gambier
I suppose we can expect a population explosion of "foamers"Very Happy
  lkernan Deputy Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
What section is it in? Had a quick look today but didn't find it.
trawny


At my local store it was in the main aisle that runs through the middle of the store.  Close to the plywood and MDF.
  Prof_Klyzlr Station Staff

I suppose we can expect a population explosion of "foamers"Very Happy
hilly

Dear Hilly,

If the availability of this foam enables and encourages more modellers to actually get-up and build something,
(esp if that something is a show/exhibition layout, new layouts are always needed),

instead of finding every possible reason not to, then for my mind that can only be a Good Thing...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr
  hilly Locomotive Fireman

Location: Mount Gambier
Dear Hilly,

If the availability of this foam enables and encourages more modellers to actually get-up and build something,
(esp if that something is a show/exhibition layout, new layouts are always needed),

instead of finding every possible reason not to, then for my mind that can only be a Good Thing...

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr
Prof_Klyzlr

Dear Prof,

I did not mean to be critical of modellers.
I was meaning foamer in the following sense: "Foamer is an excessively enthusiastic railway fanatic."
It appealled to my sense of humour that they could now be extruded in sheets. Hence the Very Happy in my post.

Regards,
Hilly
  SAR523 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Chicago, IL
Conduit any plastic sheathed wiring running through any form of styrene foam.
Aaron

Aaron, why is that?  Assuming it's essentially what we get in the US, our EPS has to by code be non-reactive to PVC (and xTFE etc) as it's very likely to be found in direct contact with house wiring and in potentially damp and otherwise undesirable locations (e.g. interior and exterior basement walls).

While I'd normally insert a straw or similar to make feeding small gauge (e.g. your signalling) wires through the foam a little easier (since it doesn't tend to drill or punch out neatly) it's pretty standard practice in the US to just run your droppers straight through it.
  alantrains Train Controller

Location: Brisbane Qld
Not yet available in all warehouses, none at Oxley in Brissy.
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Aaron, why is that? Assuming it's essentially what we get in the US, our EPS has to by code be non-reactive to PVC (and xTFE etc) as it's very likely to be found in direct contact with house wiring and in potentially damp and otherwise undesirable locations (e.g. interior and exterior basement walls).

While I'd normally insert a straw or similar to make feeding small gauge (e.g. your signalling) wires through the foam a little easier (since it doesn't tend to drill or punch out neatly) it's pretty standard practice in the US to just run your droppers straight through it.
SAR523

I asked the original question because this was bought up in a question in the Model Railroader magazine a while back.

This chap had built a layout using foam and had run the wires straight through the foam with out using any sheath around the wires like a straw or something. It worked until he started to do the scenery on the layout from memory then he started get shorts appearing all the time. He finally found the answer in that the foam and the insulation on the model train wire were not compatible and the foam had eaten the insulation off, of the wires and thus shorted them out when + and - were run alongside one another to get to the track etc. This was from memory in the last 4 or so years ago as well.
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
SAR523,

I must admit, I have seen this comment about PVC wiring insulation and polystyrene (expanded or extruded) reacting with each other a couple of times now and have found it quite counter intuitive.

So... as many on here will point out to others, Google is your friend (for what it's worth!) Smile and did a little search and turned up these two New Zealand building code explanations:

http://www.generalcable.co.nz/getattachment/0ebda90b-b4f8-43ae-b622-c9280295116b/PVC-Cables-in-Contact-with-Polystyrene-or-Bitumen.aspx

and

http://www.branz.co.nz/cms_show_download.php?id=fb29a2046d5239aa476f66d111dff072bb3f2153

The upshot is that there is potential for the plasticisers from the PVC migrating from the PVC to the polystyrene. There is also an aspect of the electrical current heating the pvc and consequently accelerating the migration of the plasticisers.

Very interesting....

The other aspect that I'm curious about is that polystyrene is often used as insulation in Nth American houses. Makes you wonder what is going on if electrical wire is run through or on the polystyrene!!!  Hmmmmm.......

Anyway, the message is that PVC coated wires, either have to have special coatings, or be kept separate from polystyrene...
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
SAR523,

I must admit, I have seen this comment about PVC wiring insulation and polystyrene (expanded or extruded) reacting with each other a couple of times now and have found it quite counter intuitive.

So... as many on here will point out to others, Google is your friend (for what it's worth!) Smile and did a little search and turned up these two New Zealand building code explanations:

http://www.generalcable.co.nz/getattachment/0ebda90b-b4f8-43ae-b622-c9280295116b/PVC-Cables-in-Contact-with-Polystyrene-or-Bitumen.aspx

and

http://www.branz.co.nz/cms_show_download.php?id=fb29a2046d5239aa476f66d111dff072bb3f2153

The upshot is that there is potential for the plasticisers from the PVC migrating from the PVC to the polystyrene. There is also an aspect of the electrical current heating the pvc and consequently accelerating the migration of the plasticisers.

Very interesting....

The other aspect that I'm curious about is that polystyrene is often used as insulation in Nth American houses. Makes you wonder what is going on if electrical wire is run through or on the polystyrene!!!  Hmmmmm.......

Anyway, the message is that PVC coated wires, either have to have special coatings, or be kept separate from polystyrene...
"SA_trains"
Those links pretty much sum it up, I have never been a fan of the US wiring code anyway, you would never see me run any form of cabling through any type of styrene foam without a conduit. The risk is too high and the cost of prevention is negligible. Note that for a model railway, a 'conduit' might be something as simple as a drinking straw, or a length of cheap PVC tube.
  linton78 Train Controller

Location: South Coast NSW
Those links pretty much sum it up, I have never been a fan of the US wiring code anyway, you would never see me run any form of cabling through any type of styrene foam without a conduit. The risk is too high and the cost of prevention is negligible. Note that for a model railway, a 'conduit' might be something as simple as a drinking straw, or a length of cheap PVC tube.
"Aaron"


I have had this happen to me first hand. My original layouts scenery was formed from poly styrene boxes, the fruit market type ones. I had some sensor wires running directly under the foam and in contact. The whole side of the wire in contact was removed from around the wire and sort of stuck to the foam.

I think separating by what ever means can only be a good precautionary move.

Linton
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
a 'conduit' might be something as simple as a drinking straw, or a length of cheap PVC tube.
Aaron

Assume the drinking straw, which is also plastic is kind of neutral to either wireing plastic and the foam ???

David
  anzac1959 Chief Commissioner

I bought a sheet yesterday at bunnings at narellan In the centre isle $12 abt 500 x 1200 a guess yellow in colour also had 2 thicknesses same price and had heaps of stock: ps also served a purpose of keeping me somewhat dry as it was pouring when running to the car
  Thumpa Chief Train Controller

Location: That's on a need to know basis.
Hi all.

The Knauf, XPS foam, is a brand new product to the Bunnings range. It's on trial ATM to scale the volume of sales for the business, hence not in all stores. If you're really keen to get a couple of sheets or more, speak to the special orders desk at you store. Ask them if they could have it "ETOS" from another store that does have it in stock. This is an internal transfer of stock from store to store limited to the state or territory the store is located in. Pending when and where it is coming from, it can take up to 10 business days for delivery as it has to pass through a local DC for handling during its route.

Thumpa
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Drinking straws are just about inert, it won't react with the PVC insulation and provides quite sufficient barrier to the E or X PS.
  matt_p_m Beginner

Thanks for this heads up. I may go buy a sheet of the 50mm stuff; use that as a base for a simple beginners layout.
My efforts with timber have all fizzled so far, due to not being very good with my hands, resulting in a few pieces of scrap timber being produced.

Maybe this will get me going, after a few years armchair modelling.

Matt.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
Note that for a model railway, a 'conduit' might be something as simple as a drinking straw, or a length of cheap PVC tube.
"Aaron"
I forgot my personal favourite, the black poly, irrigation type pipe, hardware stores will sell you metres of it for bugger all, and if the normal 9 or 12 mm or whatever it is size is too small, they'll have 25 mm for not much more.

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