This is a series of Queries and Answers from and to Anthony in the USA regarding his proposed Z scale Magnorail layout and he road surface thickness and materials to use.
When I search for A3 laminating pouches I see them with 3 mil and 5 mil thicknesses. Isn't this too thick? I thought if using photo paper you don't want it more than .4 mils.
I tried printing out some samples of road patterns from the site in N scale size and only get something so small you can't really see what the pattern is. Maybe I need to play with my printer adjustments. I have seen some fairly thin laser cut cardstock roads that may work though I am concerned a little about their thickness. I believe they are all under 1mm thick.
If you are laminating, the paper can be 80gsm or standard copy paper. The laminating process automatically enhances the photo or artwork.
I am sure you can find laminating pouches which are thinner as well as photo paper which is more light weight. Some pouches are heavier gauge as they want the finished product to be more robust for menus or placemats.
If you go to https://www.globalplasticsheeting.com/mil-thickness-compared-to-mm-millimeter-and-inches you will see that US mil is totally different to international metric millimetres - so it is all in the translation - so you should be looking at about 1mil if you can get it. We also classify our pouches in microns and 80 microns is the standard laminate thickness here.
I would suggest going to Staples or Office Depot and see if they have any off cuts from their laminating service area and check them in a micrometer so you know exactly the thickness you need.
As you are you using z or N scale? The vehicles are lighter and the magnetism factor is enhanced I would assume and road bed thickness may not be as critical as you are moving lighter vehicles.
A bit of trial and error, but I have found the Matt laminating surface to be reliable and also cleanable as slider residue can build up.
The original suggestions for using photopaper recommended spraying with a matte medium after painting or coloring it. Does the friction from the sliders wear it away over time? does it need to be refreshed? I'm not sure yet which surface option I will go with but if I wanted to use the photo paper or a thin cardstock I want to make sure it doesn't get ruined in short time.
After 30 hours of continuous action at exhibitions, I generally get a soft cloth and some multi purpose cleaner and give the track a good rub down. This generally gets rid of any residue from the sliders plus all the dust and muck that accumulates from being in a dusty public place - just like trains, you need to maintain the track, so you want the roadbed to be reasonably durable which I have found my laminating option to work well.
As you were talking about Z scale, I would suggest that any vehicles you have will be extremely light and you may get away with attaching magnets directly to the body of the vehicle.
I have done this with the John Deere lawn mower you will see in some of my latest videos. I actually drilled out a small cavity so the magnets sit up in the body so that when placed on the track, they do not actually make contact but the magnets are strong enough to attract the the track magnets and get pulled along.
With Z scale you should be able to get away with possibly even the pin head size magnets that came with your sliders and would normally be stuck on the sliders.
I then stick a small piece of velour (comes in rolls with self adhesive back - craft shops or hardware stores should have it) and is used on ornament bases to stop them scratching bench tops.
This has to be attached with the pile going the correct way so that it is smooth when the vehicle goes forward and reduces friction. Doing it this way means that your vehicle is running on its wheels but still being pulled along and if the bottom does touch the road surface, the velour should not mark the roadbed as easily whilst not impeding the movement.
Hope this helps - try some experimenting. Remember if you use superglue and need to remove a magnet that might have flipped and reversed the polarity, you cause nail polish remover with acetone in it which frees the glue but be careful that you don’t melt your vehicle in the process if it is a light plastic.
Clyde has been involved for many years with the Magnorail system having initially built his own layout "Echo Lakes" featuring two concepts using the Magnorail System. In 2019 he rebirthed his layout as Echo Lakes featuring four Magnorail circuits plus an Ho3 train line around the perimeter which is now the Magnorail flagship for exhibitions.