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I’m currently in the beginning stages of my new layout build and have been considering adding 1-2” pink foam as a base on top of the plywood to give more options in terms of scenery. I had a layout before that had foam as a base, but with MTH buildings and their bases we had to cut out the foam in order to not have an unusually high curb. I was wondering if anyone here has swapped their bases out for something else; maybe a Masonite base that isn’t quite as tall. If anyone has done this please share how it was making this happen, and post pictures if you have them.

Thanks

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I have the Dewey, Cheatem and Howe lawyer building with the thick sidewalk that did not match my Lionel buildings too. I used a dremel to cut off the wire lead attach area molded into the sidewalk and was able to snap the remaining sidewalk portion off of the base of the building by hand. It was only minimally attached with glue. It was a clean break. I then relocated the wire lead section up into the structure using plastic stock I had laying around. That thick sidewalk MTH uses is ridiculous for the scale of the structures.

@John H posted:

IMG_5285IMG_5285I'm with @Rich883 . I used 1/8" masonite sprayed with Rustoleum Desert Bisque. I took the bases off and drilled holes for the screw mounts.

As John’s photo shows it is better to make the Masonite cover the larger area you are building to provide for space between the buildings and the back area.  The. The structure sits in top rather than trying to make a replacement base for each building.  This approach looks more continuous and realistic.

John, this looks great! I have already removed all of my bases and planned on using foam core for the whole city block but I think that the Masonite might be the better choice. I have two questions: how did you mark your holes for drilling? I am not at home with my layout now, so I am having a hard time picturing it. Did you use your removed base as the template? I think I am answering my own question as I am writing it, lol. Now I have to get all of the bases back out from storage. Second question:  Two of my city blocks will be on lift ups for access hatches. Will the Masonite add much weight?

Thanks in advance,

Mikki

@Mikki, I just put a dab of paint on the building screw mounts, but I think your idea of using the base is better. I should darken the scribe lines for the sidewalks. I used the back of a utility knife for them. I think a 2'X2' piece of  1/8" masonite would be about 2 pounds, so not that heavy. Thanks for the compliment. Here is a broader view:village

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Since my bases are packed away your idea of the dab of paint might be easy and I should have thought of that, thanks. I agree, I think a bit of darkness in the lines of the sidewalk would bring them out more. Great scene, it looks like your downtown is a pretty good size. I would love more real estate even though I just moved into a new home with a train room as a mandatory feature.  Never enough!

Mikki

Yeah, I've been wrestling with a series of similar what-do-you-do-with-thick-bases issues.

Most of the pieces I'm working on are animated, with parts of the animation mechanism hidden in the base, so removal and replacement is not easily do-able. What I'm currently working on is a redo of my 'test' layout as an animation showcase, which included covering the original OSB with a half-inch thick sheet of foam board. At the location of each thick-based piece, I cut the footprint out of the foam base after covering the entire top with paper-backed grass sheet. Then, I either just dropped the piece into the hole, or, if I didn't need the full half-inch depth, I strategically shimmed the bottom of the hole with pieces of foamboard or plywood. I've since started adding tar paper roads (and have much fitting and fitting yet to do!), but I think the thick-base issues have either been resolved or are subject to further adjustment as needed.

animation layout5animation layout2animation layout

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How do you guys handle the taps and molded joints that extend into the plastic bases? I agree that the Masonite base levels look best, however I've been reluctant to to cut the tabs and joints off of the buildings, and so have opted to use the bases for the most part and 5/16" foam core board for the street fill in areas. I am still left with a larger than 1/4" to the foot curb, but it doesn't bother me.

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@Paul Kallus posted:

How do you guys handle the taps and molded joints that extend into the plastic bases? I agree that the Masonite base levels look best, however I've been reluctant to to cut the tabs and joints off of the buildings, and so have opted to use the bases for the most part and 5/16" foam core board for the street fill in areas. I am still left with a larger than 1/4" to the foot curb, but it doesn't bother me.

Well, like I said, anything on/in a base that seems related to function I tend to leave in place, opting instead either to recess the base into the top or, as you suggest, build up the surrounding surface to fit. Perhaps if one piece in a grouping (like your very nice street scene!) needed to be modified to fit the rest (a unified sidewalk, for instance), I'd screw up my courage and attempt surgery, but ISTM it's generally not worth the effort, especially when there are usually safer alternatives that are just as visually effective, as you note. Also, if you have any thought about eventual resale value, IMHO avoiding radical surgery will make it easier to pass it on down the road. Just sayin' . . .

Steve, your practice of leaving things intact reminded me of a retrofit I did a few years ago: the base was too big for the area I wanted to use it, and so I used 1/2" foam core board to match the Railking base height and then an exacto knife to carve out slots so that the building's "tongues" fit in. With some craft paint, I was able to match the color fairly well.

@Paul Kallus posted:

Steve, your practice of leaving things intact reminded me of a retrofit I did a few years ago: the base was too big for the area I wanted to use it, and so I used 1/2" foam core board to match the Railking base height and then an exacto knife to carve out slots so that the building's "tongues" fit in. With some craft paint, I was able to match the color fairly well.

Yeah, those somewhat-too-thick bases are a continuing challenge to our crafting skills IMHO. It's interesting to see how many different solutions have been used, to good effect!

@Mikki posted:

It isn't JUST unrealistic height of the base that bothers me but the fact that you basically HAVE to have an alley between each building. I am too short on real estate AND the area that I want to represent would all be attached storefronts, no alley! Therefore NO bases.

Fair points, but since to date I've not attempted a cheek-and-jowl urban scene, that's not a factor that I've yet had to deal with. Instead, the base is often a critical part of the animation or scene, and cannot simply be discarded. Hence, workarounds rather than surgery . . . different situations, different solutions.

@452 Card posted:

A question for all Masoniters out there- how do you cut it to size to form the new bottom surface for the buildings? I remember trying to cut some a long time ago and it made a mess in addition to leaving fuzzy burrs along the cut edge. I really like the look that JohnH and Norton obtained.

In my case the buildings just sit on top of the MDF. Also they are not on a permanent layout rather portable modules that have to be taken down and transported to shows. Power is wired under each building and coax plugs allow quick connect and disconnect.

Here is my town in the Black Hall at York.

IMG_3372

Pete

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Last edited by Norton

This thread has started me on a research project to determine what will be the structures I have accumulated over the years for my in-construction layout. They will be removed from the totes where they are sleeping to be test fitted, to approximately where they will eventually be. Bases will be removed if necessary to accomplish the desired "low look". I have 21 MTH and Lionel units to test and a K-Line construction backhoe unit to try to fit in the village I plan to model.

Thanks so much for the input of others here on the forum for suggesting such good ideas. I never thought of doing these mods until I found this thread.

@452 Card posted:

This thread has started me on a research project to determine what will be the structures I have accumulated over the years for my in-construction layout. They will be removed from the totes where they are sleeping to be test fitted, to approximately where they will eventually be. Bases will be removed if necessary to accomplish the desired "low look". I have 21 MTH and Lionel units to test and a K-Line construction backhoe unit to try to fit in the village I plan to model.

Thanks so much for the input of others here on the forum for suggesting such good ideas. I never thought of doing these mods until I found this thread.

For me you hit the nail on the head, removing the bases and making something like using Masonite and such to create a single complete base and sidewalk for a street length allows mixing and matching brands of budlings Lionel, MTH, ORG Ameritown, Korber menards, Atlas, DPM...... so you get the cohesiveness a typical city or small town block has, but with the diversity of constructions so they don't all look a like. 

While there are a few outliers that have animations like the MTH McDonalds and car wash 99 percent of all buildings on the layout don't have those limitation, so no real surgery required.   Even the MTH A&W stand (and its other versions), look more realistic with the base removed and adding period appropriate tables outside, the molded plastic ones in the base are really not to lifelike.

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