N scale cork roadbed problem

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Biased turkey, May 1, 2007.

  1. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I have soldered and painted all my tracks and started to do trial tests on how to glue the roadbed to the extruded pink styrene. It allows me to practice trimming the roadbed under the turnouts ( It's not obvious for a newbie ).
    I separeted both halves of the roadbed with an Xacto knive and realised there are 2 problems:
    1) The 2 halves don't have the same width
    2) The bevel angle is different ( both angles should be 45 defrees right ? )
    3) Most important, when both halves are joined together and glued to the styrene the total with of the roadbed is way too large and not realistic.
    When I glued 2 parallel roadbed with their center line 1 1/4 inch apart ( that matchs the center to center distance of 2 Atlas parallel tracks ) they almost contact each other while a prototype railroad has enough space for a ditch between 2 adjacent tracks.

    I went down the local CN track and took some measurements. As a result I have to trim 2 millimeter of the wider half strip and 1millimeter of the narrower one
    A total of 3 millimeter is about 0.12 " or 19 " on a real track.
    I might even have trimmed more.

    Do the N scale modellers who use cork roadbed have the same proble ? or it is just me ?
    I purchased that roadbed at my LHS but it has no brand name.

    P.S. I trimed a 1 yard strip yesterday using an Xacto and a 12" steel ruler ,believe me it's a real pain in the caboose.
    Do you people think it's worth the trouble ?
  2. woodone

    woodone Member

    Well it has been awhile that I have used any cork roadbed, but as I recall the two strips are cut at a 45 degree angle. When you seperate them it seams that the two are not the same width. The prototype roadbed is much less than the 45 degree of the cork roadbed that we modelers use. If you cut the cork you will be in for a lots of work. The effort that it takes to do this is up to you and the look that you are trying to get.
    How are you glueing the cork to the base?
  3. CarlFidy

    CarlFidy Member

    What I have usually found when you seperate the cork roadbed - one 45 is fairly smooth and the other rough. I use the half with smooth 45 towards the front of layout, put the other to the rear. After glueing with full strength Elmer's, I just use a Surform tool to smooth out the rough side. Does a good enough job on the "back" side of the track. Never noticed or worried about the overall width being out of scale. Don't think most people would notice.
  4. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    First, thanks to all the nice members who took some of their time to reply.

    To woodone: I know I'll will be in for a lots of work and a lot of ...Xacto #11 blades .I didn't expect cork to be that hard on Xacto blades.
    And it'll take some time too. I did a test and trimmed a standard 1' length using a 13" steel ruler. I marked a trim line then trimmed holding the ruler by hand on top of the cork, but the cork moves under the ruler while cutting.
    In the future I'll clamp the ruler on top of the cork.
    I'm not a "cork counter" :) but I would like my small layout to have a draining ditch between 2 parallel tracks.

    To Chaparral: I'm surprised you didn't come up with a nice story about cork roadbed trimming :)( Everyone here on The Gauge like the way you tell stories ).
    Trimming the roadbed after the bed is glued down sounds good. I would have to make a slanted template to keep a constant cutting angle.

    To CarlFidy: I agree, sanding the rough edge will improve the look and sanding the shoulder will help the ballast to get a natural slope.
  5. CarlFidy

    CarlFidy Member

  6. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Thanks for the link CarlFidy, it is very much appreciated.
    I didn't even know that such kind of tool exists, now they make a special tool for every kind of work. I hope I can pass the cost of the cutter on my wife scrapbooking budget :)
  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    That sounds like an awful lot of work to me (cutting all your cork). I can see however, how it would look a little better if the cork wasn't so darn wide but it's like counting rivets... most of the time, your the only one that is going to notice the difference and that's the most important person. If you can live with the extra width, forget it, it's not worth it. If it is important to you, go for it, be meticulous, do it and be happy with the results. I do the same thing as somebody else mentioned... I put the rough edge to the back. That's it though. By the time you cover it with ballast, you'll never notice the flaws. Instead of cutting the angle on the front (which seems harder to do) why don't you just take scissors and trim the vertical edge off the back?
  8. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    TrainNut, thanks for your appreciated opinion.
    I'm not a rivet counter, I'm just a little on the meticulous side :)
    I don't mind if the cork roadbed is a few scale inches too wide but in my case it was too obvious. I didn't measure the roadbed width, just by placing a section of track on top of it I realized there was something wrong.That's why I decided to go and measure the ballast width of the real thing.
    AS you suggest I decided to trim the vertical edge and not the angle on the front.
    It won't take too long to cut all the cork because I have a micro layout ( 25" X 36" ) and I just hold each roadbed half between two clamped pieces of wood and make the cut.
    This week I'm making some glue and roadbed trials: I took 1 piece of 1" thick pink extruded styrene. On 1 side I glued some roadbed the way it comes out of the box using yellow carpenter glue. On the other side I'll glue some trimmed roadbed section using DAP Kwick Seal tube & tile adhesive caulking.Of course I'll post the results
    But as you say: the most important point is if I'll be happy with the result. I think I'll be happy with the result.
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I was reading this thread and started wondering. With that much roadbed to trim, are you sure you did not get ho scale roadbed by mistake? Just a thought.

  10. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    grewsome, that was my 1st thought too, but I checked and it is really N scale cork roadbed. I even asked the question at the L.H.S. where I purchased it.
  11. dlinville

    dlinville New Member

    I'm not much for cork roadbed, however I used it years ago on an HO layout for my son. I like the foam roadbed much better and it seems much easier to work with.
  12. Chartiers

    Chartiers Still plays with trains

    I've used Midwest cork roadbed on my three layouts and what you mentioned seems to be typical with the use of cork. A couple of tips that might help:
    1. One edge is a smooth 45-degree and the other side is kind of rough. Don't worry about it at first, just glue the cork down with the rough edge away from the prime viewing angle of the layout.
    2. One piece is a little wider than the other so the center line is a little off. Not a big deal as when you lay the track your going to use the centerline as a guide but place the track in the middle of the roadbed anyway.
    3. When the roadbed is glued down and the glue is dried, take some fine sandpaper, wrapped on a block of wood, and run it on the top of the roadbed to smooth it down and knock down any imperfections.
    4. Hold the Exacto blade at a 45-degree angle and quickly run it along the rough edge of roadbed which will knock the edge off. It should be quick and fast. A swipe with sandpaper will finish the job.
    5. Midwest cork roadbed is about 16 scale feet at the base. If two pieces are run right together, it will give a mainline track spacing of about 1-1/8".
    6. Spray painting the rails and a good ballast job will make the roadbed much less noticeable
  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Is this another irregular verb?
    I am meticulous; you are overly fussy; he is a rivet counter. :twisted:
  14. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    HO roadbed is 1 3/4 inches wide before being separated and a bit less than 3/16th thick. My apologies to our Canadian and European viewers, I didn't have access to my metric ruler. I'm comfused about your statement that one half was wider than the other, but then I'm an HO modeler so that may be the reason I'm easily confused.
  15. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    I trimmed 2 mm on the narrower half and 3mm on the wider half for a total of 5mm ( or 0.2 inch ) that's quite a lot of trimming. But at least I'm pleased with the result.
    At the same time I tested the DAP "KwickSeal"caulking adhesive. The roadbed sticks to the pink extruded foam, but in case of any mistake the roadbed can be removed using a scrapper.


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