Attaching homasote?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by spitfire, Apr 25, 2003.

  1. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    last time I bought it, it was a lumber dealer in North York; I forget the name, but near the top in the yellow pages; either 3rd one down or a C----. This was 8 years ago. And even North York is gone now.
    Our local lumber yard took my money, had no stock, and refunded it after 3 months when nothing came in (They did have a slot for it!)
  2. TampaTrainDude

    TampaTrainDude New Member

    I have tried and tried to find that extruded foam board, also known as Dow board. Here in Tampa all I can find is 1/4" which really isnt very helpful. Anyone know a common place to find it? Homosote (sp?) used to be used for bulletin boards I believe, as others have said its pretty much just used for model rr now, hence the unreal price! Id love to be able to find some extruded foam if anyone from my area knows where I can find it.
  3. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    I haven't bought any Homasote for nearly 15 years now, but even then , it was a custom-ordered product for our local lumberyard, [ in a very small town ]. I believe it was over $35CDN a sheet even back then.
    Unlike sometimes-substituted materials, it is very heavy, AND unlike any other paper-type product that I've seen tried, it holds spikes or track nails well. It does warp over time, if not glued down to a solid base.
    It should never be used 'unsupported' between the open spaces in open grid, or L-girder joists.
    The only place I've ever seen use it for a regular building purpose, is on an old TV episode of Norm Abrams' "New Yankee Workshop", where he used it for the ceiling covering in a garage workshop....he never showed it being hefted up into position though..better him than me. ;)
    The pics from David and Robin are the 'real deal' for sure, afraid I never heard of Sundeala.
    Would I use Homasote again if starting over ?...YES, for yards.
    For regular track base, I switched to cork over spline roadbed a few years ago.
    best regards / Mike:D
  4. Hank Gortzen

    Hank Gortzen New Member

    Hi guy's
    I have a question for you to.I am working on my model rail road and was going to use Homasote , but now i see that some people prefer foam board.
    Now comes my question , i have the Maerklin metal track which needs to be screwed down.
    I think that screws won't work very wel in foam.
    Does anybody have any idea if this would work :D :D :D
    Hopefully somebody tried this before.
    Thanks Hank
  5. Relic

    Relic Member

    Ok ,I'll cheer you guys up, what the heck is homasote?? Is that the stuff that used to be called "buffalo board" ?? Kind of a pressed paper kind of stuff with tarpaper sort o stuff on one side??
  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    it's a proprietary product. I heard that it's made out of recycled paperback books. There's no tarpaper on any that I've seen.
  7. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Relic, read the whole page #3 of this thread, then you should get the idea what kind of stuff Homasote is. And no, there's definitely no tarpaper side on Homasote.

    Since Homasote is a brand name, it's probably called differently when you are not living in USA/Canada. (Here in Switzerland it's called Pavatex. :confused:)

  8. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    To answer your question, Homasote does hold screws, and even nails. The fibers appear to have "spring" in them which cause them to grip anything inserted into them. That's why it's so ideal for spiking track. For a long time, Homasote was promoted as a sound insulation board, to be used in walls to reduce sound transmittal (think hotel rooms). So it has 2 properties modelers like for roadbed - reduces sound, and holds spikes. It is very messy to cut. I have seen Homasote strips - 3.5 inches wide by 10ft long by 1/2 inch thick for $3.29 - in the Home Depot concrete section where it is intended to be used for concrete forms and gaps. Seems to me it has to be fairly stable in the presence of water or it couldn't be used for pouring concrete.

    Model railroading is fun - look how much you learn!
  9. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    I don't see much advantage in Homasote as a base, unless you are not using any roadbed.
    Using Homasote roadbed, however, seems very advantageous as regards nailing track,
    allowing a little slack for expansion and ease of removal for changes and adjustment. I've
    been using cork and glue, but I think I'm going to Homasote and nails. I believe the ideal
    would be foam base or sub-roadbed with Homasote (Pavatex, Sundeala, Railroad board)
    as the actual roadbed. The foam gives a lot of flexibility to create terrain variations, but
    doesn't lock you in to a configuration as do splines or "cookie-cutter."announce1 MHO:D
  10. Hank Gortzen

    Hank Gortzen New Member

    screws & nails

    Thanks Fred,
    That is what i tought that homasote would be the better one to use instead of extruded foam board.
    So i will go with the homasote.
    Thanks again
  11. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    My first use of Homasote (actually not Homasote but similar) was 30 years ago. I used it as the roadbed on top of 1/2" plywood cookie-cutter style. Spiked my own code 70 rail on redwood ties. Was quite happy, the 4x8 layout lasted through 5 moves and being cut down to 4x6. Started in Oregon, went to Florida, and later to Indiana.

    Will probably build a shelf layout after my next move (this summer). I'm currently planning on a subroadbed of 1/4" plywood and 1" foam with Homasote for the roadbed. I need light weight, subroadbed thin enough to bend into smooth 6-7% grades, and Homasote for hand laying my track. Will glue the plywood, foam and Homasote to prevent any expansion/contraction issues.

    Hope this helps.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    When you see Homasote in the press, it is usually being used as roadbed. For those spiking their own track, it holds better than either cork or rubber. It can be carved with a knife and a lot of patience; layers can be removed if required.
    I take a risk and use it as my full layout surface; the original plan was to cut it down the side of the track, but I never did.
    I try to saw it with a jigsaw and a toothless blade. I've now pushed too hard on all my blades and they've been cooked. The toothless blade cuts without dust and gives an unbelievable finish to the cut edge.
  13. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    This is a (not so good :( ) pic of a layout of which I started construction in 1975, but I never finished it.

    As you see, I used that material as an additional layer over a plywood base. After drawing up the track centerlines (black) I cut the Homasote/Pavatex into individual tiles like pieces of a puzzle. The pieces with the bigger part of the tracks without structures were glued in place. But I could lift out individual pieces for structures to take them to the workbench for easier construction. This is a big advantage for detailing the structure and to 'plant' it firmly into the ground. After setting the structure back into the layout it isn't difficult to cover up the fine cracks between the tiles.

    Here the tile with a (Campbell) sandhouse is more or less finished. On other tiles you see the outine of planned buildings in red: An enginehouse in the left foregroud, and the FSM water tower/tool shed behind the sandhouse. In the background the station building would have found its place. (But this never was to be... :cry:)

    BTW, I plan to use the same technique on my actual layout again.


    Attached Files:

  14. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    That's a neat idea Ron. I can see that you obviously plan in advance... :D

  15. Hank Gortzen

    Hank Gortzen New Member

    Thanks again . I started to glue my homasote already on top of my 3/8 plywood.
    It looks that it will work just fine. Cutting the homasote is actual a pain but what can you doe.


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