Cutting Foam for Scenery
I have moved into adding foam around the track work that has been laid already. I want to run trains in the mountain area without the risk of locos or rolling stock dashing to the floor. Hence the foam.
Now I don't know about you but I have worked with foam before...in the garage...and it can get messy. Well the new layout is in the 'man cave'. This is a "den/extra room" that I installed double doors on and thereby was granted free reign of my new kingdom. Behind closed doors, but nevertheless free reign!!
So anyway, after much experimentation and research of RC plane sites, I decided to make my own foam cutter. They make wings out of foam. I tried the wall wart for a power supply, the 12 volt car battery charger, ni-cad chargeable battery pack and various other styles of power sources. Oh and you can even use a model train power supply, but it needs to be an old style without protection circuit or auto shut off. Most are of the opinion that you need 2 amps at 12 volts to cut foam. And that is fine if it is only an inch thick. But I wanted to cut 2 inch foam as well. And I wanted to do it relatively quick without breaking wires.
So just a little on the wire to use. Most opinions found stated that they used a guitar string. The second one, and for you non-guitar players that's the 'B' string. Well this works for awhile but after being cooked at 2 amps or more while being drug though foam you get weak and snap. So I now use extra wire laying around from my mig welder.
OK.. back to the power supply. I finally went to the Shack and bought a 12 volt 3 amp transformer and two binder posts. I got the binder posts so I could switch out which cutter device I was using. Then I got a cheapo push on/off household dimmer switch. I used a 4 dollar extension cord for wall power connection, a few wire nuts and a custom plastic container.
Here's a picture of the guts. Pretty simple. Got to be for me. If you wanted to spend more you could put an indicator light in the mix and even a fuse. No I didnt put a fuse in...
So that's power. Now you run wires for a length that you think will work for moving around your foam board for the cutting device. You can make it out of all kinds of scrap laying around. For me, I needed to be able to cut 20 inches of depth because that is how deep my bench work is at any given area. So I made a big caliper for deep cuts. Its wood. The long arms relative to only one span block allows for tension on the wire...and you need tension. I saw designs with springs and E-I-E-I-O but this works:
I know its tough to see the wire down there. So here's a pic of the end:
I just used a couple of threaded hooks for a little more adjustment, because you need the tension pretty tight for cutting thick stuff. I also tinned the ends of the wires so they would fray when connecting to the power source binding posts.
So this is too big to handle when sculpting the foam after it is mounted to the bench work. So I made a small version as well. This is a piece of aluminum bar again, just laying around. But you must insulate the ends. So I used both ends of a radiator coolant flush T...just laying around. Drill some tiny holes in each and twist your wire around itself while collapsing the device for the needed tension.
I used alligator clips to attach power to the wire. And before I bent the bar I slid on a piece of pvc pipe for a handle grip (with hot glue).
Of course wire ties keep everything untangled. And they both work very well. I am on my way to achieving my goals for the Labor Day challenge. Are you?
Hope this helps somebody out there.
thanks for looking,
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