Cork or Foam road bed

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by NewGuy, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. NewGuy

    NewGuy Member

    I am going to build my layout on particle board. What works better for main line, cork or foam roadbed? And what is the best way to transition from mainline into the yards and industry tracks?

  2. Connor

    Connor Member

    I like foam road bed, But I built my layout on 4" thick foam and simply glued my road bed down. (Which comes up rather easily too without damaging the base or the roadbed. if you use foam tack glue) I'm not sure about using particle board. Particle board is heavy, doesn't hold nails very well, and isn't near as strong as plywood.
  3. 13Mtrainer

    13Mtrainer Member

    i also use WS foam road bed, every cheap comparied to cork at my place

  4. NewGuy

    NewGuy Member

    Hmm, interesting. The thing about plywood is it so hard to find in good condition here. Guess I will go with what I have now and see what happens. I know that where I am starting my layout will not be it's final resting place, so I may change the table in the future if it doesn't work out when I move it later on down the road.

  5. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    I second the comment about particle board. If you use 2" foam insulation for your sub-roadbed you can dispense with it and plywood. You just need more cross bracing on the 1x3 frame. And you would then glue your track in place.

    As for roadbed, I bought the foam, but it doesn't curve as readily as cork. It's great for sound deadening, but if you're using the 2" foam base, that won't be an issue. With plywood it is.

  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    I would third the comment about particle board - way too heavy! Check the link in my signature for The Gauge's modular forum - good info there about building lightweight portable modules. You say you might move the layout - with modules, you do not have to scrap the whole thing and start again.

  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you're going to tack the track down, I'd go with cork. It holds nails better than foam.
    I'd probably make my yards on cork sheet (might be at your lumber yard or hardware store). Don't descend into the yard but make a continuous level surface.
  8. Connor

    Connor Member

    2" or 4" Foam (Home Depot, Lows Etc will have 4x8 sheet for around $20.00 for 4"), WS Foam road bed, you can buy it in sheets for the yard too. You can then put it on any table surface you want and EASILY move it later on. Gluing the track down works good too, you can easily pull the track up. Also, you can use regular straight pins in foam and try multiples of layouts before deciding on a finial design. Draw using a sharpie on the foam remove the track and lay the road bed. I did 15" radius curves with it. No biggy. Simply put the glue down.. lay out the roadbed, then put your track back on top and you can adjust the roadbed UNDER the track and pin it down for finial setting. Worked GREAT for me!
  9. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    I use 2" foam as the base and cork as the roadbed.
  10. who_dat73

    who_dat73 Member

    from another new guy

    I am in the process of getting my first layout up and running and I will say I went with the plywood then 2" foam under a cork road bed I am by no streach of the imagnation what most would call great with my hands but I have to say I was pretty happy with cork road bed I have never used foam so I cant speak on that angle but cork worked good for me as a beginer I will make one sugestion on what not to use AMI instant roadbed is not for beginers I had a nightmare of a time with it..
    Have fun with it and it will be good to you and never quite coming up with ideas is my best advice.
  11. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    Maybe. But I'm not. My bench work base is plywood with foam board on top. I like to know that it is solid enough that I can move it (if need be) and that I won't "punch thru the scenery" by accident. The plywood provides a solid base to hook up all electrical connections etc..

    As for roadbed, I use cork available at Home Depot, Rona etc.. hardware store. I cut them to length and voila: Cork roadbed for a fraction of the cost. It also comes in many thicknesses. Yes, I use cork on top of the foam too.

    Just my $0.01 :)
  12. wjstix

    wjstix Member

    Does anyone actually make "foam roadbed"?? Woodland Scenics makes foam subroadbed, but you use that under your cork or other roadbed. It isn't roadbed itself. I use WS foam under Ribbonrail pre-formed upsom-board roadbed.
  13. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Yes, Woodland Scenics also makes foam roadbed in strips and in matching thickness sheets (for turouts and yards). It's made in HO and N and has bevelled edges as well as a cut through the center so you can separate and widen it if desired. It's touted as being much quieter than cork.

  14. 13Mtrainer

    13Mtrainer Member

    spitfire is right i use the WS foam road bed. it is much quiter than cork and less expensive too. i costs me $9 for 24 feet of it. just my 2cents.

  15. KCS

    KCS Member

    Arn't train's supossed to be noisy? lol this isn't Lionel! But yea anyway. I'm working on a prototype roadbed. "IF" it come's out and work's like I am designing it to then it will be flexible, meaning when you watch a train go by you see that the track press's down into the roadbed as a train goes over it. Well I'm pretty much doing the same thing except the track is nailed down and covered with ballast but with still move up and down like the prototype and stay in place. What's making it so hard is that no one make's a rail that flexible. I mean like rail flexible enough in HO that it flex's like the prototype when it has hundred's of tons of weight sitting on it. I am using the new peco code 83 track with the true tie spacing tie plate's and scale spikes. I love this track with a passion. It look's so much better with 4 spikes in each tie plate rather than 1 as the old Atlas code 100 track. After seeing it everything else look's like toys. Oh and for god's sake, get away from that partical board. That's gonna be the biggest mistake you'll ever make if anything at all. For a train table I'd give it six month's a year if your lucky before it start's to fall apart because of the constant temp. change and humidity which will cause the glue to break right up. Using on a house is a different story because it's protected by a barrier on either side.
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you want the strength of plywood with light weight to reinforce the foam, get luan door skins from your local home center and glue the foam to it. Build a frame of 1 x 4s with 1 x 2s for cross bracing. Put the cross braces on 12 inch centers. You will have a very stiff bench work that is very light weight for moving.
  17. emt49

    emt49 Member

    i see alot of you keep saying that woodland scenics foam roadbed is hard to make turn. i have found they have a cut down the middle just like the cork i split it in two and layed one strip at a time it turns verry nicely.
  18. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I built my layout on particle board (chipboard it's called here), and I used foam-type packaging wrap for my roadbed. The sorta stuff that protects fragile stuff in packages. Sort of tough spongey stuff, but very easily cut with a knife, or scissors. You get it in rolls, about 12" wide, and about 20' long for about $5 from office supply shops. It's abouty 1/4" thick, and is fabulous for sound deadening too.

    You just cut out the shape you want, (straight or curved) and don't have to worry about getting cork roadbed to curve!! :eek:

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