Securing track to benchwork?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by vanda32547, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    The benchwork is almost complete and it will soon be time to lay the track.
    (My goal is to have trains running by Christmas)

    I was wondering if there are any new ways of doing it besides nailing it down with those tiny little spikes with my tiny little hammer that ALWAYS smashes my HUGE fingers? :D Any new and simpler ways of laying track? Most will be flextrack code 100 but I do have many turnouts on this new layout (approx. 13)

    Thanks...Any suggestions would be appreciated,
  2. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    The new and "in vogue" way is to glue track down with products such as latex liquid nails or contact cement. I prefer NOT to use glue and let me tell you why: When building a layout and laying track, there is a period of time that you need to be able to put track down and test it and become satisfied that you want it perminent. I still advocate Atlas track nails because they can be pulled up fairly easily without damaging the track. Usually a thin screw driver or flat chisel blade can be used to gently pry nails up and they can be pulled free with needle nose pliers. So with track nails, your track can be temporarily secured (or left perminent too) with the option of taking it back up if you wish to move it or try a different plan. Generally it is much more difficult to remove track and re-use without damage it if you use glue.

    Here is a tip for nailing track down - buy a small "nail set" which will fit tiny brad nails like Atlas track nails. You can get the nail started by poking it in place with a little pressure, then with the nail set and hammer, you can drive the nail down so it barely touches the top of tie. Nail set's can be obtained at hardware stores and will help save your fingers!

    Of course once you are happy with the track and it is tested, you can add ballast and secure it more peminently with glue.

    Cheers, Jim
  3. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    What RioGrande say is a great valid point, if the base is wood (plywood). Those little nails don't hold too well in foam. For foam I use straight pins like use to come on new shirts (remember that?). Now, another way I have done temp. trial track on plywood is use a hot melt glue gun to tack the track down. It isn't a real good bond and can be broken and cleaned off fairly easy. Just push the track down and apply a spot through the ties until it beads a tad over the ties. Hold it a few seconds (experience will dictate how long), and there you have it. Do this every 3 inches to 3 foot depending on straight v curves. Later if it passes trim it with a scraper blade and cover with ballast. Hot melt don't work with foam thought, it melts it. Fred
  4. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Member

    I'm also getting ready to (hopefully) permanently attach my track to my cork roadbed. I've read alot of suggestions about Liquid Nails, caulk, white and yellow glues, etc. I've also heard of a couple guys that have just temporarily secured the track with pins and then ballasted, letting the 50/50 glue/water mixture cement everything in place, ballast and track. Anybody tried this?
    Thanks, Doc
  5. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Yes, that's how I do it. The ballast is the best way hold track down; bar none. But use blue washerfluid/white glue. It soaks in faster and you can use less glue. I have had great results using 10% glue and spraying it on with a 409 bottle until it puddles. This way you don't displace ballast like you can dribbling and or pouring. Another neat trick on ballast is apply an india ink/alcohol wash after it dries to give it contrast. Fred
  6. cobra

    cobra Member

    Bob , you didn't say what the sub-roadbed is . I still like Homasote for various reasons of which it takes spikes easily and firmly . No hammering required , I simply push the spike in ( code 100 rail ) and set it to the level of the tie with the needle nose pliers . Cork sub-roadbed is a little thinner but still should only require pushing the spikes in with pliers .
    When laying out the track , I secure everything with stick pins like you use on a bulletin board . Invariably you may change things a little as you go , and the pins make it easy to put and take . I don't glue track down incase of future changes of mind . If you are using foam sub roadbed , it's a different story as it won't take spikes .

  7. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    Neil makes a good point about subroadbed. Homosote can be used by just pressing the nails or spikes home with needle nose plyers. I've used both Homosote (in yards) and cork (on the mainline).

    The dilute white glue mixture works to seal the ballast and fix the track in place one you are happy with the arrangement and want to make it perminent. Some use Matt medium, which is a bit more costly but it is less likely to leave a glossy finish on the ties - not really an issue if you weather your track by std or air brush method.
  8. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    The inkahol will knock off any sheen left from the white glue. Here's an example of white glue/washerfluid foloowed by an Inkahol wash. Fred

  9. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I've found that cork won't take spikes any better than the foam. When I use cork, I need to use the longer spikes to get them through the cork and into the plywood underneath. I like glue better, but I'd never thought of using hot glue for a temporary fix until I had the track where I wanted it, and then to glue it down permanently. Good idea, Fred. Thanks.
  10. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member


    Cork isn't really supposed to hold spikes or nails, nor is foam. People who use foam as a subroadbed use glue. I don't think I'll ever use foam as subroadbed because I don't want to secure my track with glue - old fashion I guess and I like having the option of removing it or movingi t without ruining it.
  11. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    Well Rio, if you use liquid nails or brown wood glue its true, you have a hard time reusing track. But if you use white glue it can be removed with blue washer solvent, alcohol, or soapy water and reused. There was a thread no too long ago where Robin was soaking cork in soapy water to lossen the glue and ballast so he could reuse it. In foam the way I do it is pin it with metal sewing pins, then ballast it with white glue/blue solvent mix with either real sand/dirt or woodland scenics ballast. You can pull or just leave in the pins when the ballast drys. Later if you want it up you just pour on some washer solvent, soapy water, or alcohol, wait 1/2 hour and pull it right up. I myself have fell in love with blue washer fluid. It's cheap and makes nice wet glue that will soak in and glue 3 inches of sand if need be. It's amazing stuff, and cheap at about a dollar per gallon. Fred
  12. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    Thanks for all the input ya'll. I am tacking directly to a plywood roadbed, never really liked working with that cork stuff although I'll admit it does quiet things down alot. I thought about hot glue for the temporary tack but thought it might melt the plastic ties....any problems with that?

  13. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    dash - I have heard of folks using white glue to hold track down and water or other solvents to remove it. Certainly that is an options for folks to consider. I'd prefer not to go that route since white glue would probably too slow for me and removing it would be messy. Nails are quick to use and less messy to remove later. I had to salvage all my track when I moved out of my last house and I"m really glad I used spikes and track nails since I was at the plywood pacific stage.
  14. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Bob, one of the best things about homasote is the ease of laying track on top of it. It holds track nails perfectly -- all you have to do is push them in with a needle nose pliers. I start them with the pliers upright, and then push the rest of the way with the side of the pliers.

    I tried to save some time on my trolley module by skipping the homasote and spiking directly to plywood and I'll never do it again. The spikes would go only so far and then they would bend. I have to pre-drill every single hole. So much for saving time!

    If you do decide to use homasote, remember to seal it first with a coat of primer. It helps stop water absorption which is the primary cause of expansion.

  15. RioGrande

    RioGrande Member

    To add to Val's commments on homosote,

    I find Homosote sometimes has bowing or warping. If you use a good flat and true plywood base underneath, liberal use of 1-inch drywall screws will pull out the warps of sheet homosote (such as in yards). As he mentioned, give it a coat of latex paint to seal out the moisture and give it some color too.

    You can use 1/2-inch homosote rather than the expensive homabed on mainlines by cutting long 2-inch wide strips. If you "kerf" saw it, put cuts into the side about every 1 to 1-1/2 inches, you can bend it into curves too.

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