Track Road Bed..

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by kwstang1990, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. kwstang1990

    kwstang1990 New Member

    Ok, a new person to the group and hobby!! I'm sure its been covered but read past posts and need some guidance.

    Working on an 8x10 layout (HO), built the table out of 1/2" plywood and quickly discovered that it is a challenge driving the track nails through the wood. So, a little research and figured I could use foam.

    Went to my local HD and Lowes in Florida and found 1/2 foam board (white) purchased some spray paint and went to town! Did not think that the paint and foam board would react. Oh well, only cost $5.00! But the stuff is very brittle. Did a test and not satisifed with the stability of the track with the cork road bed glued down (using traditional track nails).

    I read in here about using "blue or "pink" Owens/ Corning insulation. But unable to find. Does anyone have any other tips or products they used???

    Thanks for the help! kw
  2. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Hi kwstang1990, and :welcome1: to the Gauge.

    I'm not sure why the proper type of foam seems hard to find in areas of warmer climate, as insulation will save homeowners on air conditioning costs just as it does on heating for those of us coping with cold winters.
    If your HD or Lowes doesn't carry the stuff, they should be able to get it for you - all of those stores here in Canada carry it, as do most smaller lumber yards. The stuff you want is called extruded polystyrene insulation board: it comes in several thicknesses and in various-size sheets. The white stuff is expanded foam and is not as suitable for layout building. The extruded stuff comes in blue, pink, and green, depending on the manufacturer, but all are basically the same.
    Solvent-based paints, glues, and adhesives will attack any foam, so always check the label to see if a product is safe for such use. Latex paint is safe on foam, when you need to colour those pink or blue expanses. ;):-D As for the layout building applications, check around the Gauge for more info - I use old-fashioned wood, screen, and plaster.

  3. Kevinkrey

    Kevinkrey Member

    Sounds like your problem could also be how your attaching the stuff. Are you glueing the cork to the foam?
  4. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    If you want to use track nails to fasten the track, I strongly recommend Homasote instead of cork. Homasote is the best roadbed material to push spikes (for handlaid track) or nails into, yet will not yield and will hold screws, nails, and spikes well.

    Homasote is not always easy to find. Check their web site, and call first. It's usually not found at Lowe's or Home Depot; you have to go to a real lumber yard or building supply. Homasote and foam are comparable in price per sheet (1/2" Homasote vs 2" foam), but foam is more easily used to construct scenery in addition to being roadbed.

    I have had the same difficulties in finding the blue, pink, or green foam in milder climate areas in the US. Lowe's and Home Depot just don't carry the stuff in those areas. I expect very little in customer service from Lowe's or Home Depot, and I am seldom pleasantly surprised. I've never had a successful special order from one of them. Even here in Colorado Springs, the selection of sizes of foam is very limited unless you go to the real lumber yards or building supply.

    Cork on extruded foam is not going to hold track nails very well. If you use foam for a subroadbed, glued construction is the overwhelming preference. There are several foam-compatible adhesives, with a very thin layer of latex caulk being my preference. White/yellow glue also works well.

    Hope this helps.
  5. kwstang

    kwstang New Member


    When I tried the white foam, I glued the road bed cork to the foam then attached the track with track nails. It did not seem very stable. I had someone mention glueing the track to the cork road bed, but that seems like a bad idea if you want to move the track around at a later date.

    I'll look for the Homasote at my local construction yard, though may have to wait till next week :mad:. Another product I found was "Gatorboard", though this costs $75.00+ for an 8x10 peice.

    Of course speaking of customer service in lowes, thought I found something that could be used, but when I asked the floor tech if he could cut into manageable peices (2 or 3) he looked at me like I was nuts! sign1
    Oh well..what do you expect!

    Thanks for the tips and I'll keep reading. Appreciate!
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    If you affix your cork (or other roadbed) to the foam with adhesive or latex caulking, you can remove it later with a putty knife if necessary. Same for the cork to track interface. You only need a very thin layer - if it oozes up between the ties, it's too much...

  7. kwstang

    kwstang New Member

    Thanks..will have to wait a few days (work .. :curse: ). I'll try the caulk to add stability when I pick up the correct board. I'll post back progress and maybe some pictures!

    Thanks for the beginner help...and on to more advanced stuff!

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Someone reported that their local store was willing to order either the foam or the Homasote for them; minimum order of 50 sheets.
    You may just have to call all the lumber stores in the Yellow Pages. If you have to explain too long what you want, just giv up on them.
    I like Homasote for track laying and foam for scenery, although I've done it the other way as well. Homasote takes nails, spikes and screws in a way that foam won't, and you can just push the spikes in.
  9. Dave1905

    Dave1905 Member

    Instead of nails use latex adhesive caulk. Then you can use push pins to hold the cork/track in line until the caulk sets. White foam is nasty.

    Dave H.
  10. kwstang

    kwstang New Member

    Well, could not find Homasote in town, but did manage to find the "pink" insulation in 3/4 inch for only $13.00! Have to figure out some time to run down to the lumber yard since they are not open on weekends.

    I'll try the latex adhesive caulk. I have the basic layout but have identified an area that I want for future expansion. If all goes well with the first part!
    And, yes the white foam is nasty! Though kind of fun watching the spray paint eat away at the foam.

    Question..did anyone pre-paint the insulation before putting it on the backboard, or just leave it as is then paint the areas left showing later?
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think I've done both. Any exposed foam, even undersides, should be painted. You will find that hotwire tools do not go though paint, so do any of that sculpting before painting.
    I do some of my "painting" with WS paste or flex (forget what they call it) mixed with the acrylic paint from the craft store (bought when it went down to .79) as this will take out lesser errors on cutting. Major cutting errors should be glued back on.

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