Foam, Cork, & Track

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by riverotter, Apr 20, 2007.

  1. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    I'm finally biting the bullet on layout #3 and selling off all the EZ Track (I really love those 35" radius curves!) and going with all flextrack.

    I've never been able to lay curved flextrack without derailment-prone kinks in the joints, so any advice about that is beaucoup welcome.

    I'm also trying out foam board instead of plywood or hardboard. Now I just need advice about methods for attaching the cork roadbed to the foam board, and then attaching the track to the cork -- keeping in mind that I expect to change aspects of the track work if I discover something that doesn't work like I thought it would on paper.

    I did have a brainstorm about how to lay out the curves accurately: use the EZ Track like a template (doh!) :rolleyes:

    Thanks for any and all your thoughts!
  2. zachary

    zachary Member

    for the track and roadbed use latex caulking you can lay the roadbed and the track and balast at the same time and if you need to pull it up take a putty knife and slide between the track and it comes right up thats all i can help you with zacharyf
  3. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    One thing I read a while back and successfully put to use was to pre-solder together pairs of flex track with the slip rail on the same side before you put them into place, making 6' sections instead of 3' sections. That way you get at least a few joints that are really well done :)
  4. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Another thing you can do is stagger the rail joints so there not together on the curves.

  5. 91rioja

    91rioja Member


    If you are using the extruded foam (pink or blue stuff) as a base, then don't forget to take off the plastic film before trying to use anything as an adhesive. Layout number 2 was done that way, and nothing would stick to the film for long.
  6. myltlpny

    myltlpny Member

    When I laid my roadbed I glued the cork roadbed down to the plywood sub-roadbed with carpenters glue and a few staples to hold it in place while the glue set. My track is then white glued to the roadbed, using making tape to hold the track down while the glue dried. This, in theory at least, should allow me to soften the glue with water to remove the track. I'll be testing that theory soon, as I made a mistake and put a double track mainline too close at one point.:oops:
    When running my flex track, I never used the soldered joint technique. You know how on flex track, one rail is fixed and the other not? I oriented my flex track so I could take the long rail and feed it into the next section of flex track. At that point I used a regular rail joiner, chiseling down into the ties to make it sit flat. It staggered the joints nicely and gave a nice, smooth transition to the next section of track. In fact the only place on the entire layout I have a problem is on the fixed rail side where I couldn't get the curve to transition smoothly through the rail joiner. Something else to work on.
  7. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    IF it has it - my blue foam did not.

    - George
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    There was an article in one of the recent Model Railroad mags about this problem. The author in this case used a plywood template to aid in conforming his Flextrack to the desired curve without kinking, and then ran a gauge along the rails to insure proper seperation all along the curve.
  9. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I found that soldering lengths of track together before laying them on a curve gives smooth results: you can solder all of the track for the curve together before laying it, or add it a section at a time, but before curving the piece immediately before the latest one. In other words, do the soldering while the track is still straight. Staggering the rail joints so that the joints in both rails don't fall on the same spot is also a good idea. The rail "creep" as you form the curve will take care of that, although you'll need to remove more ties than on straight track in order to accomodate the rail joiners. If the curve is particularily long, and the rail "creep" becomes excessive, you could always tack the track roughly in place around the curve before soldering, then cut off the excess. When you re-straighten the track to do the soldering, you can carefully feed the sliding rail of the next section into the now empty spike heads, and, of course, remove ties where appropriate to complete the soldering. I'm a big fan of soldering all rail joints on the layout, then going back later with a razor saw or cut-off disc in a Dremel to cut gaps where require. I've experienced no problems with expansion or contraction on my room-size layout, although it may cause problems if your layout experiences more severe conditions.

  10. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    I do what Wayne does. (Thanks for writing all of that stuff Wayne, you made it easy!) :)
  11. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    You're most welcome, Ralph: most folks get bored before they manage to read to the end of some of my posts! :rolleyes: :D :D

  12. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    Thanks everybody! Lots of very good ideas here, and I'm sure I'll try several of them.
  13. 0-4-0 Steamer

    0-4-0 Steamer New Member

    yep, I solder several pieces of flex together first. I glue the road bed down with latex caulk and then glue the track down the same way and use push pins to hold it down while the caulking sets. If I need to remove any, just like someone else said, I slide a putty knife under and pop it up. I have had to spike a few pieces here and there, but it works really well. Good luck!
  14. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    If you do have problems with expansion and contraction, cut some small (1/8 inch or less) expansion gaps in the track on a straight section. It obviously gets very hot here in AZ, so we see a lot of expansion.
  15. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    For me, the correct technique depends upon the type of flex track I am using. If using the "springy" Atlas (or similar) flex track, the soldering technique explained by Dr. Wayne seems to be the best method for preventing misalignment at the rail joints on curves.

    If using flex track that holds a curve once bent - Micro Engineering is the most common example - pre-bending the track around a template seem to be the best way, as Mountain Man suggests. Once the track is properly pre-bent to the correct curve, you can simply lay the track in place; rail joiners are optional. Just be sure to cut off the very ends where you can't get a smooth curve pre-bent into the track before using.

    my thoughts and experiences, your choices

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