Friday, August 5, 2016

Friday Feature: Fascia for Foamboard

When I decided to try foamboard for the Essex-East Haddam portion of the railroad, one of the things that puzzled me was how to attach fascia board. In traditional L-girder construction, attaching fascia is pretty straightforward - you typically have joists that come out perpendicular to the aisle and you just screw the fascia into the ends of the joists. If your fascia is especially tall/deep, you can also reinforce this connection by first attaching a vertical "backer" to the joist and screwing the fascia to both the joist and the backer. Thusly:
Clamps and levels are your friends. Level to ensure that the backer/support is nice and vertical; clamps to hold things in place while screwing it all together.

Finished product looking toward Middletown. Note splice plate (1x4) behind joint in masonite.
However, I didn't find things quite so straightforward when dealing with foamboard, primarily since I laid the joists on their side, like bed slats, both to reduce the height of the foamboard (long story), and to provide the maximum contact area for gluing.

How do you attach fascia to this?

Here's what I did:

First, I cut the foam board back to what I wanted my aisles to be (keeping my trackplan in mind, of course) and then trimmed the slats back to the end/edge of the foamboard. Since I still didn't think the foamboard edge and slat-end would be enough to attach fascia (even if glued to the foam and screwed to the end of the slat), I came up with 1x3 verticals, as you see above. They're just screwed to the side of the slat and provide a surprising amount of rigidity.

Now that's enough to glue and screw to!

At the end of the peninsula, where the slats run in line with the aisle, rather than perpendicular to it, I just added cross pieces - as you can see above.

Finally, any joints between the ends of the fascia/masonite were dealt with by gluing a splice piece of more masonite, as above.

In Essex, since the foamboard runs right along the L-girder, I had to be more creative - using a scrap 1x3 on edge to provide a sturdy backing for the fascia in this area.

The result is a nice clean look.

One final bit - Though it's difficult sometimes to know ahead of time where your hills and dales are going to be, if you do know, try and cut your fascia to match. As you can see above, there's going to be a LARGE hill between East Haddam (in the right foreground) and Shailerville Bridge (where Bill is standing) that will also act as a viewblock. Cutting the fascia to match the expected hillside will make for a much-more-professional look. But you have to know this ahead of time. Or be willing to rip out and replace fascia later.

So that's how I attach fascia to foamboard. If you have a different technique, please share it!


  1. Hey Chris......I used giant strips of Velcro for my foam-to-Masonite attaching needs. I've also used much lighter (but heavy thickness) Illustration Board, Gator Board and styrene, when and where it was needed/available/cheap to use. Sorry, no pics available, I'm at work right now!

    Ralph Heiss

    1. Sorry, should have been more descriptive in my last post. I use the extra thick (2 inch) insulation foam board in most places, so I had plenty of foam surface to stick one side of the Velcro to, and my fascia is also not very big (at the most, 1 foot in width, and always straight cuts). Also, I attached my below fascia "drapery" to cover the stuff UNDER the layout with Velcro, too, but I could use the small cheap stuff for that. Having a girlfriend who can sew doesn't hurt, either!
      Oh, and when I didn't have the extra thick foam to mount too, I've been known to use those REALLY long deck screws....They're still holding on, LOL!

    2. Hi Ralph and thanks much for weighing in. How's the velcro holding up?(pun intended) - I'm surprised that it's strong enough to hold up Masonite - well, I figure the bond between the two sides of the velcro is strong enough, but what did you use to attach the velcro to the foam? I would have thought the weight of the masonite - and with the curtain added - would have pulled it away.

  2. The Velcro has been keep up it's end of the bargain so far, for the most part. There are places I've snagged it getting things out from underneath the layout, but there are other places that I've been just as nasty to, and it's held firm. Go figure. As for fixatives? Oh, I've tried a little bit of everything, my layout is a regular R&D testing facility of unconventional layout construction. I used the adhesive the Velcro comes with, large 3/4 inch staples, Silicone adhesive, 3M adhesive tape, foam camper tape, all with varying success and ease of use in the mounting situation" where appropriate (or as I ran out of supplies, most of the time!) next time you come to NJ, you'll have to visit....Of course, that requires me to clean up the basement that looks like a brewery truck overturned in it, amongst other things.....

    - Ralph

    1. Interesting - I suppose I would have have gone with the "mechanical" connection of staples. Certainly less elegant though. I'll let you know when I'm in NJ so I can see it in person!