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Platform Construction

The following images show a quick 'step by step' guide to making straight platforms. The techniques used work on any scale but are shown on OO/4mm. Curved platforms are a little more involved, please see the images lower down this page.

Straight Platform Construction

In OO gauge the platform needs to be approximately 15mm high if you are using Peco Code 100 track from the base of the sleeper. To ensure a neat join between the track and the platform lay the track onto 1/8" (3mm) cork sheet or strip and ballast as described in our ballasting section. Once the ballast is dry cut away the cork at the correct distance from your largest locomotive. The image shows a pencil fixed to the side of a locomotive with masking tape. This will draw the clearance line for cutting the cork. Note when making curve platforms or curved ramps mark the greatest overhang of the loco, this is with the pencil fixed to the middle of the loco for inside curves, and at the end for outside curves.
Once the cork has been cut away the shape of the platform becomes clear. The 3mm of cork that has been removed allows for the use of standard 18mm MDF or Chipboard to be used for the platform blind. By sinking the base into the cork a neat join will be formed once the ballasting is finished up to the completed platform.
This straight platform has a curve at the end to match the track profile. Using the same technique as used for removing the cork, mark a piece of thin card or paper that has been cut to fit between the rails. To achieve the initial fit between the rails simply masking tape the paper/thin card in place and rub the rail top with the side of a pencil. This will show the exact location of the rails. When making platforms that are fully curved, use wallpaper lining to mark the rail positions before placing between the rails.  
If you look carefully at the paper profile below you will note that the pencil line drawn by the locomotive does not match the shape of the track profile. This is because it is marking the shape of the overhang to prevent the locomotive fouling on the platform. Once this shape is known it can be used to form the platform blind.

The actual platform width will depend upon the thickness of the material used for covering the platform. In this case we are using Wills Scenic materials platforms and platform ramps. With the lugs removed the platform blind needs to be 3mm less that the marked width if the Wills system is to be used on both sides. 

The curve profile is then stuck to the platform blind using masking tape before carefully cutting with a jigsaw or band saw before sanding. 

The image shows the Class 44 used to mark the profile at the side of the machined platform blind. Note how the shape again does not match that of the rail but retains the correct clearance from the locomotive.


With the platforms cut to the correct shape to allow clearance for the stock to be run on the layout, machine the platform ramp to match the chosen finish. The upper image shows the Wills ramp profile marked onto the 18mm chipboard platform blind. The lower image shows the machined profile shaped by a band sander.

Note the gap below the profile and the bottom of the 18mm blind. This is to allow the platform to 'sink' into the cork sheet.

The finished and shaped platform blinds fitted onto the layout by cutting the cork to the platform shape with a Stanley knife. The platforms are fixed from below with woodscrews via pre-drilled holes. Remember to check under the layout before drilling any holes to ensure it is safe to do so without damaging anything beneath the layout.
The Wills platform sections are fixed to the blind using 'No Nails' or similar. Where platforms are shaped to fit the track gently curve the plastic before applying the adhesive. If possible use a solvent free version to prevent fume inhalation and also reduce the risk of the solvent damaging the plastic. Before fitting the platform sections are trimmed with a Stanley knife to remove the 'sprue' pips and fixings for standard assembly to allow the plastic to lie flat on the chipboard face and cleanly but up to each other. No Nails is an extremely useful adhesive which will stick most scenic items including the Wills plastic sheets. It is also a good filler when working with these sheets.
With the platform sections fixed, trim up the white paving slab edge and fix in place again with No Nails. With platforms serving tracks on both sides measure the distance between the white edging and cut the paving slabs with a craft knife. If using the Wills material packs score and snap. The platform in the image has two rows of paving slabs with a central tarmac infill. Use plenty of adhesive if possible allowing a small amount to fill any gaps between the butted up pieces. Clean and remove  any excess with a damp cloth.
When filling in the gap on a profiled platform, initially make a paper template as shown in the upper image. This is simply done using a sheet of paper the appropriate size which is masking taped over the platform. Using a scalpel or craft knife carefully follow the inside edge of the white platform edging to produce an exact template of the shape required. 

The template is then placed over the material to be used for the platform surface - in this location Wills paving slabs. The shape is then carefully cut following the profile. Even with a shape as shown in the lower image, it is possible to score and cut rather than try and cut all the way through the plastic sheet.

The finished platform ramp awaiting final ballasting. The ramp is finished in paving slabs and is the section to be cut in the above image. Two rows of paving slabs have been fitted adjacent to the white edge with a central tarmac infill. The 'No Nails' can be seen as the white lines filling the gaps between the sheets. With a small amount of cleaning up this platform is ready for painting. Mask off the white edge to prevent any overspill when painting the slabs or tarmac. Slabs are best painted from a mix of three grey colours - do not use all the paint to make the mix. Use the remainder to highlight individual slabs using the three single colours.


Curve Platform Construction

Using good quality lining paper or roll ends of wall paper use masking tape to fix the paper to the baseboard over the required platform area. Lower quality papers may stretch or miss-shape when glue is applied later.
Mark the location of the rails using a pencil or thin felt tip pen, or progress to the next stage by carefully using a scalpel to cut the paper adjacent to the rails.
If you prefer not to use a scalpel cut the paper along the pencil lines to infill the platform space and any area required for buildings etc.
Using the longest item of rolling stock e.g. a coach or locomotive (large diesel or steam locomotive with outside cylinders) mark the mid point and leading edge line required for clearance (explained above). This image shows the mark of the leading and mid point lines using a red fine felt tip pen on the lining paper. 
Cut out the lining paper along the inner line. This will give the clearance for both the mid point and leading edge. Remember to allow for any platform edge or finish.
Using PVA adhesive stick the paper to the chosen platform material.
Cut the platform out using a band saw or jigsaw. Cut just off the required line to allow a hand finish with rasps and sanders.
The platform profile ready to finish.


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