Old-Timer Needs an Opinion...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by abutt, May 1, 2008.

  1. abutt

    abutt Member

    I have a new layout open-frame base awaiting a table top. I had planned to use 1/4" plywood and Homasote. I'm now wondering if I can get away with just the screwed and glued Homasote? None of the framing is more than 12" apart. This would save me a lot of labor (and $s) and might just be strong enough. This will be a short-line. No fancy ballasting, just track laid right down on the Homasote. Would like opinions from some fellow oldies that have made most of the mistakes in this hobby already.

  2. FiatFan

    FiatFan Member

    I wouldn't recommend it. The Homasote can sag even with such short spans. Given the short spans, the 1/4 plywood should provide adequate support for the Homasote.

  3. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    I agree with FiatFan. Homasote can soak up moisture in the air and sag terribly, this comes from experience! Why no go with 5/8" Plywood only if you want to save money? (Not that I really recommend just plywood alone.)
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I would use the plywood under the homasote. Out here in Cali, the thinnest plywood stocked by the home centers is 3/8. I like luan door skin type plywood for thin stuff. It is available in either 4 x 8 sheets or door sized sheets for reskinning hollow core doors.
  5. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I agree: the plywood is necessary. You could skip the Homasote if you want to save money, and lay the track right on the plywood. Don't waste your money on veneered finishes either - 3/8" sheathing plywood is plenty strong and its spruce composition is easy to drive track spikes into, using pliers. That's what I plan to use for the second level of my layout.

  6. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    I have used Homasote in the past and it works real good. For plywood under it, just use the cheapest, raunchiest you can get. Any ply will work, and the Homasote covers the ply. Then paint the Homasote real good to seal it enough that moisture from scenery won't swell it. It should give you no problems, especially with bracing at 12".

  7. abutt

    abutt Member

    You guys...Wayne, I wouldn't drop the Homasote, I like the sound deadening quality it has. I definitely wouldn't go just on plywood for the track. Even cork roadbed on ply is noisy. I think I can get away with 1/4 ply. I wonder if running 1 x 2 stringers between the existing 1 x 4 stringers at 90 degrees would prevent sagging? I'm also trying to avoid "cookie-cutting" shapes in two materials.
  8. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    I didn't mean that you should drop the Homasote, only that if you could only afford one or the other, go with the plywood. ;):-D:-D
    I have track both on bare plywood, and on cork atop plywood, and find neither particularly noisy, although all of the track is ballasted.

  9. abutt

    abutt Member

    Remember Truscale wooden roadbed? My third, and largest layout was entirely Truscale stained road bed on Homasote. It was so quiet you could hear the screws drop out of my brass Seirra's drivers. Those were the days. It's not a matter of cost. Having some old-age pulminary problems, and was trying to get out of the labor. But. alas, seems not to be. I value all your opinions and shall go the long way.:cry:
  10. sgtcarl

    sgtcarl Member

    If I may, a reminder that if you saw Homasote, it creates a very fine dust. So if you use it, be sure to wear one of the blue particle masks. They cost more, but they keep out the finest particles. This info from the company that invented the stuff.:thumb:
  11. RonP

    RonP Member of the WMRC

    Oh geez I can't wait to see this...
  12. abutt

    abutt Member

    I know, and plan to the cutting outside, and then vacuum the pieces before I bring them in...all this while wearing a mask! And thanks for the alert. I hope a lot of the new kids read this and act accordingly. Like spray painting and airbrushing. All this from a guy who's having pulminary problems right now at age 78, possibly going back to early, careless days.wall1
  13. abutt

    abutt Member

    Homasote problem solved -- Don't Use It!

    I've made my decision. No Homasote. I think my using it would be asking for health trouble with my breathing, which I've got enough already. I'm going back to what the last layout was; cork roadbed on plywood, although this time I'll look at Woodland Scenics new roadbed, which I think is kind of a hard foam. Anybody have any experience with it? I trust Woodland, I've used many of their products for years.
  14. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    A friend of mine has used the WS foam, but it's atop extruded styrofoam - not a very solid base if you use nails to hold your track in place. Ballasting may improve the situation, but I didn't enjoy working with it. It may work better using latex caulk to affix the track, but my preference would still be for the cork, as it's easy to sand out any high spots and also easy when you need to to bring the track level down, such as at sidings. We found this out when attempting to lay track to a turntable that was already installed, with the top of the pit flush with the plywood which formed the top of that part of the layout. Our solution was to glue down a length of cork, then taper it down by sanding as it neared the turntable. The foam roadbed is very soft, almost like the stuff that they pack around new locos, so any height adjustments or bumps need to be removed before the roadbed is put down. Personally, I prefer the solid construction of cork glued on wood, with the track spiked in place. Ballasting makes the whole works even more solid.

  15. abutt

    abutt Member

    Wayne...Like your reasoning about cork. I've used it on three layouts without problems. I do like to spike down my track and that's the one thing about using the new stuff that's bothering me. My hobby dealer has done three layouts using Woodland's own glue and likes it, I think I'll do a test stretch of track with the foam stuff and see how I feel. I value your opinion. I've seen your pictures and know you know what it's all about. I'd show you mine but the Gauge lost them a year ago. I still have originals if you're interested, and can email them direct if you care to send me an email for address.

  16. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    We spiked down the track on the WS foam atop blue styrofoam, and the track will stay in place, although it's easy to lift it, without tools. I assume that ballasting with white glue would make the whole thing more permanent, especially laterally.
    On my own layout, I put the cork down using yellow carpenters glue, then tack it in place with 2 1/2" nails every few inches (I had about 2/3 of a 50 lb. box of 'em leftover from building my house) - I just tap them in far enough to grab the subroadbed, then pull them out by hand the next day. A quick pass with some #36 sandpaper on a block of wood evens out any irregularities, and you can taper a 3' section from full height down to nothing at the opposite end, using the same method, in only 4 or 5 minutes. I used Atlas track and their track nails to secure the track, both on the cork and directly on the plywood subroadbed - they say that you can remove the track nails after ballasting, but I didn't bother.
    With the WS foam roadbed atop styrofoam, it's pretty much impossible to drive the track nails too tight, as the foam doesn't grip them at all - the nail gets pulled back up as the bent tie flexes back to its normal shape. Cork holds the nails a bit better, and if the track nail goes into the wooden subroadbed, you have to be careful to not drive it too far, as it will deform the tie (pulling the rails out-of-gauge) and not return as the wood will grip the nail firmly.
    We'll probably be doing some ballasting on the WS roadbed sometime this year, so we'll see if it's as easy as on cork and if it holds everything in place as well, too.
    Allan, I'd like to see your pictures: you can create an album here in the Gallery or on photobucket, then post your pictures from either place right to this Thread.

  17. abutt

    abutt Member

    OK posted four pics from the last layout. We moved and the layout was sold in five, 10' sections to RR antique/ice cream shop in Windsor, CT. New one in the works, as you know. Finally made up my mind (with your's and other's help..) new layout will be CORK roadbed on ply. The CNE rr as shown was just that; cork on ply. It worked fine. Why change?
  18. abutt

    abutt Member

    Wayne...I posted pics to the Gallery, which I can't seem to get back to. Couldn't figure how to post pics to this particular thread. Help!
  19. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Go to your images in the Gallery, then right click on the image you want to show here. Dependent on your browser, but you should have something like "copy image location" select and left click on that. What that does is store a link to your image on your clipboard. Start a new post, and left click on the picture "Inset image" icon in the composition window. A small window will come up, right click on the window and then select "paste" from the list, or do a "ctrl-V" to paste the link in the window. Click on "OK" and proceed. Your image should be embedded in your post like this:
  20. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    For me, I just click on the thumbnail, then "Copy" the BB code line (img). Then go to your "Reply to Thread" window and "Paste" the code where you want it. It will appear as a line of code in the composition window, but show as a picture as soon as you "Post".


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