Track Bed

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Old_Bob, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Old_Bob

    Old_Bob Member

    Newbie here, obviously. Trying out the site as much as anything this time. My only experience with HO gauge is a simple oval under a Christmas tree, a Bachmann set I bought at ACE Hardware. I fastened it down to a 1/2" plywood base. But that was some time ago.

    No layout as yet - still a dream for the place we will be moving to in CO sometime soon. I'm thinking in terms of a near eyelevel shelf layout around a good size basement room, but something simple for starters.

    Question is about roadbed. In my case, a decorative veneer plywood base seems right since the bottom will be visible. I am a retiring contractor and cabinetwork is old hat to me. Some folks here talk about extruded foam and Homesote under the tracks.

    Why? For sound deadening? Any reason to use both? I would prefer to not mess with foam, unless I want to do some carving in the landscape. Is the Homesote enough to keep the plywood from resonating? Is it necessary for the spikes? I'm thinking I would like to use flex track as much as practical.

    Are there stock roadbed materials that could be used instead of Homesote, or in addition to it? That might be a problem with long radius curves. I can envision the Homesote being dusty to cut into roadbed width. With this elevated roadbed, I will have to get creative with electrical connections to hide them, but I'm confident I can do that.

  2. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Cork is fairly popular. Or was. I'm not really sure anymore :)

    Comes precut to fit under a lot of track pieces or in rolls for lots of flex track. Usually it's two strips that you can bend and flex a fair amount.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi Bob. welcome in.
    My own practice is to use Homasote without the sub-roadbed. (But that's me). Homasote had the advantage of being reasonably solid and holding nails or screws well. You can push spikes in with a small pair of pliers and then remove them. There seem to be varying opinions about its reaction to moisture -- I've never had a problem.
    Worst problem with Homasote is the dust when it's sawn. It should really be cut to roadbed width with a ballast slope on it.
    It does act as a sound insulator between train and plywood, unless you gue ballast all the way down to the ply, or run fasteners through. Homasote is the only way to go if you plan to spike your own track.
    Foam also has sound insulating qualities. It's also light. It won't take nails or spikes; where I've used it I glued the track down. I used the rubber roadbed over a foam insulation base, and put a wood base under that (special situation: lift out section). I did a Lionel layout using 2" foam with wood bracing every 16". Foam is also fragile: you can poke holes and dents in it easily and our kitten chews it.
    Plywood I've usually found hard to put spikes into.
    I knew one fellow that used door-skins for roadbed, over plywood.
    My preferred method is Homasote to support the track and carved foam for the scenic areas.
  4. Old_Bob

    Old_Bob Member

    Thanks, guys. I haven't used Homasote in so long I have forgotten its properties. Sounds like a winner for model RR use.

    That cork link was interesting. It is amazing how much I learn from each diversion, but then I have a lot to learn!:D
  5. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    The cork roadbed works well for me. I use carpenters glue to hold it in place on either wood or foam, I will suggest a test piece of your shelving plan, maybe a couple of feet long. Try out some of your ideas and some of the things you read about here. Just have fun while you are experimenting.
  6. Old_Bob

    Old_Bob Member

    When we get to our new location, I will have to do a lot of experimenting, I guess. But have to build the basement rooms first!
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Welcome to The Gauge!

    There are so many "right answers" to this question - as there are for just about any model railroad question.

    I have friends whose entire top level benchwork is foam - 2" foam deck, foam roadbed (instead of cork), and all of it is glued together. Others have a plywood deck completely covered with homasote, no roadbed, and handlaid track spiked directly to the homasote "ground". Still others have the "traditional" set-up: plywood deck with cork glued to it, but flextrack spiked through the cork.

    The trick is to find the right answer for you ;) :D


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