Track Laying

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by jlg759, Feb 4, 2007.

  1. jlg759

    jlg759 Member

    I am getting readt to start my new layout an I hae thought about my first stubling block. From previous layouts I used cork roadbed under the track. The new layout is Set in 1950. I sorta think the cork roadbed looks too high. What I am modeling is a branchline point to point. I have watched some video's etc and looking at the trackwork it looks flat on the benchwork not built up like the cork looks. Please send me your thoughts on this.

  2. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    There is black foam roadbed i see at hobby shops that is thinner than the cork.
  3. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    You want to have something under your track to: i) dampen noise from the trains; ii) make it easier to spike the track down and adjust its position, and iii) raise it above the benchwork. It's much easier to raise your scenery to track level than it is to lower your track to scenery level! ;)

    Once upon a time your branchline started off on raised roadbed too, but over time the ditches weren't cleaned properly and filled in with earth and debris.
  4. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    If you have material available like homosote you could make that your scenary and track base with track flat on the board.
  5. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Try using N scale cork. Its not as high as the HO and give the track that "secodary" or branchline look.
  6. J. Steffen

    J. Steffen Member

    I had a roll of that ordered up but I don't know if it's going to work. It looks good but I'm afraid that it will be hard to get the ballast to work with it. We'll see.
  7. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    The Woodland Scenics Trackbed (the foam roll) is also thinner than cork, and takes ballast just fine, as long as you wet the ballast well first with "wet" water or rubbing alcohol. Then soak the ballast with 50:50 white glue/water.

    AMI used to make a sticky roadbed that came in a roll. It was thin, and you peeled the backing, stuck it to the benchwork, then stuck the track to it. I haven't seen it in awhile, but that might work for you too.
  8. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    I have no specifics on foam roadbed, but some foams shrink noticeably as they age. Some also deteriorate with age. I wonder if that brand has a nice long track record, or is it something new? It might be good to know that before using it.
  9. J. Steffen

    J. Steffen Member

    Teach us... seriously, I'm about to lay roadbed and I don't want to have to start over because I screwed up. If you soak the ballast, won't it turn into a paste-like substance? What does wetting it with alcohol do? :confused:

  10. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Wetting with alcohol breaks the surface tension of the glue/water mixture, allowing it to penetrate the ballast. I prefer "wet" water, which is plain tap water with a few drops of liquid dish detergent added: alcohol is for drinking. :thumb: The usual procedure is to spread the ballast mixture "dry", then arrange it with a soft 3/4" brush. When it looks pretty decent, lay the brush handle across the rails, and tap it lightly as you move along the track. This will remove almost all of the stray ballast from the tie-tops. Now, using a sprayer that will allow you to spray a fine mist, thoroughly soak the area with your wetting agent. Apply enough to wet the ballast right down to the base: otherwise you'll end up with a hardened crust on top that's not bonded to the layout. Once the area has been wetted, don't touch it or you will end-up with a pasty mess. When everything is soaked, apply your 50/50 mixture of white glue and water, using something that will allow you to dispense it in drops. You'll see how readily the glue disperses into the ballast: if it doesn't, or if it beads-up, apply more wetting agent. After you've finished, go find something else to do for a day or two, or longer if the ballasted area is particularily deep.
    Here's a photo of an area with deep ballast on top of deep fill. This was all applied at one sitting, and took several days to dry. The ground foam at the base of the rip-rap was added to soak up some of the excess glue that seeped out.

    Btw, I'm not a big fan of the foam roadbed: it's easy to use, as long as you don't have a need to taper it down, as for a yard or industrial siding. I'd also be concerned about its longevity. I know of one modeller who had an extemely well-done N scale layout featuring Horseshoe Curve, using foam roadbed. He ended up tearing out the tracks to get rid of the foam, although I don't recall his exact reasons.

  11. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    Excellent description, and very nice picture. I like rubbing alcohol for very fine ballast, I find it penetrates and wicks the water/glue in better than "wet water". For anything as coarse or coarser than Woodland Scenics "Fine" (which I think is still a little on the coarse side) "wet water" works just fine.

    Some people prefer to use matte medium instead of white glue because it doesn't dry as shiny. Since I tend to weather the track and roadbed after ballasting, it doesn't make much of a difference to me.
  12. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    You can get cork in deffirent sizes- I get it in 1mm, 3mm and 5mm or thicker. Go to a harware store and ask for a sheet of cork for an engine gasket.
  13. Hi Joe,
    I am far from being a pro, as compared to the people on the board, but in my layout I did not use anything. I initially laid my track on the table, experiment to see if the sounds reflecting from the table was more then the engines being used (the noise level was low). After laying the track is used Woodland Scenics "Fine" for ballast. It appears to work fine, if you like to see it, click on the below URL I know there is one close-up so you can see what it looks like.

    Hope that helps.
  14. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I used corke becuase i lucked into some cheap :), but from what i understand cork gets hard and brittle w/ age too, so i guess there is no perfect roadbed.

    The cork has held up well in the 2 months since i layed it hahaha. I even riped some of it up and relaid it becuase i changed a section of my layout :).

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