Attaching unitrack to felt over MDF

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by MarcO, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. MarcO

    MarcO Member

    Hello, I have a casual 4x8' N-scale unitrack set-up. I say casual because its laid out on felt which is glued to a sheet of 3/4" MDF. Its in the kitchen and looks good enough for the wife to let it stay provided I can move it when The President and first lady show up for dinner.
    Id like to attach the track now but not sure which way to go.

    Adhesive: Might work ok, the felt is firmly and fully glued down like a pool table but Id have to undo it all and re-lay it as I glue right?. I read somewhere that one of the caulk type products works well. Anybody know which one? I search but I cannot find -

    Screws: ( the track has guides ) but it seems like alot of work, drilling holes ruins the track and I worry the track will not be smooth if I just use a few and too many will detrack from the looks. Anybody have a line on the best screws? Ill the ones I find are too big.

    Nail: Still need to drill holes but a tiny finishing nail would look better ( we are talking MDF here not plywood).

    Any guidance, you guys are always helpful, Thx.


  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Any decent caulk is pretty much OK, but if you use a latex one it makes clean-up, which only requires soap and water, really easy. If you do use caulk, and you are not covering the ground with ballast or anything, be sure the caulk is on the track and nothing else, or wipe up any excess with a damp cloth before it dires. I suspect that once it bonds to the felt, it will become a permanent part of your layout - not sure; I never worked with felt before the way you're doing.

    I guess I am wondering if fastening your track down more or less permanently to your felt top layer is the best thing to do. I can't put my finger on it, but I keep thinking it might backfire somehow. One problem if you ballast or landscape will be water soaking into the felt.

    Very small screws are available from major hardware outlets such as Home Depot, and from specialty woodworking places as well. The kind you are looking for are the tiny little ones used in small furniture hinges and fixtures, such as "piano" type hinges. Also used in doll houses, and often available through such a store.

    I personally prefer screws over nails because I always seem to have to alter or re-do something, and unscrewing it is usally a whole lot easier than pulling out a nail - less damaging, too - but that's just my personal preference. The leading modellers in this field regularly spike down their track without worries or problems and it seems to last them forever, so it's pretty much your call. I suppose it depends on hiow permanent you want the set-up to be.

    Whatever you choose to do, good luck! :thumb:
  3. MarcO

    MarcO Member

    I wont be using ballast etc, Just unitrack on felt + some buildings/signals but I feel the same way about the caulk. If it sqeezes out is going to get ugly. I didnt see any tiny screws at home depot, must be online somewhere I just hant found them yet.
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Look in the section that has the fancy hinges and such. they usually sell the tiny screws there.

    I have seen articles by modellers that used UniTrack and similar, and then ballasted to make it look like regular track. I am using the Bachmann version to lay out trial trackplans, but could just as easily fasten it down when I get what I want and add just enough ballast to conceal the snap track. Just a matter of preference, really.
  5. MarcO

    MarcO Member

    Well -
    Drilling does not work. A 1/16 bit makes a 1/8 hole because the track melts after it picks up some threads from the felt. Nice place to put a photosensor for my signals though!

    Im going to try latex caulk next.
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    To drill through plastic, go slow and use a sharp bit. Military modellers, working almost entirely with plastic kits, have had this problem forever.
  7. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    I'm not sure what unitrak is, or what the bottom of it looks like. I use latex caulk for my "just plain" HO track. It takes a very small bead, then use your finger to flatten and spread, then set the track down. It should be plenty sticky to hold it in place. If not, a little weight for a short period of time, And it is done. Works for me on foam, and I believe felt will hold it just as well.


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