What type of road bed do you use?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by iis612, Oct 28, 2008.


What type of road bed do you use?

  1. Homasote

    13 vote(s)
  2. Foam

    33 vote(s)
  3. Cork

    72 vote(s)
  4. None/Other

    21 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I have heard pros and cons about the major ones...
    What type to do you use?
    If you use multiple forms, you can select more than one option. I only ask that you elaborate.
    Experience is the best educator.
    I have used cork in the past, and found that it dried out and began to crumble over time.
  2. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    I use WS Foam Track Bed. I love the stuff and its so easy to work with :thumb: The foam doesnt dry out over time and works really well. In some cases, you can even remove the stuff from previous sections or layouts and re-use the stuff depending on the adhesive you use to glue it down with. For and curves, broad or narrow, you simply cut the roadbed down the middle on the line and that allows you to lay the roadbed to any curve with ease :mrgreen:
  3. Go Big1

    Go Big1 Member

    I currently just have a bunch of ez track, so I voted other!
  4. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I selected None/Other, because initially I was not going to use any. I am reconsidering that though.
  5. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Foam rubber. If applied correctly, it can be taken up relatively easily.
  6. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Cork on the main layout, foam in the helix (easier to lay long continuous curves).

    I just like the solidness of cork over the squishy foam.
  7. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    Mine is all EZ-Track, so the roadbed is included. My ballasting is enough that it actually starts arguments among visitors about whether it's sectional track and cork or EZ-Track even though they see the turnouts and crossings.
  8. DeckRoid

    DeckRoid Member

    I have blue foam down, then cork road bed on top of that. I had the foam road bed before, but when the ballast is added, the noise is really carried by the foam, whereas the cork seems to absorb it more...
  9. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I hadn't noticed that. I'll have to listen more closely. Thanks.
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I'm using EZ Track, too, but I'm still using roadbed material up under it to lessen sound transmission through the hollow, rigid structure of the track sections. Right now, I'm working out a way to disguise the turnouts.

    Frankly, I find EZ Track very useful when I know I'm likely to want ot expand or modify a particular section, or best of all, add a turnout.
  11. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    Cork - I buy 1/8" thick sheets from Hobby lobby and cut ~1" wide strips for the road bed. This is strictly for visual appeal - it gives enough rise to easily differentiate it from surrounding track laid straight on the sub-roadbed. Noise-wise, it doesn't appear to be much, if any, quieter than laying flextrack straight on the sub-roadbed.

    I've also experimented with using ballast for the roadbed - like the real thing. Once glued, however, trains make a lot more noise, so I won't repeat the experiment.

  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I put my track on Homasote sheets with the intention of cutting it away to make roadbed. This never happened.
    I built my extension to the continuous run with WS foam on Insulating foam on top of spline sub-roadbed.
    If I was starting over it would be WS on top of Homasote -- need soething to screw the switch machines to.

    I used cork in the '60s -- never again.
  13. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    I use cork roadbed throughout the layout. Cork over wood. I have used this for years with no trouble except when I varied from a good grade of plywood to a much lessor grade of composite wood. :)

    (Soon went back to the plywood)
  14. Roger Hensley

    Roger Hensley Member

    Hmmmm, perhaps I have missed something here. Why won't you use cork again?

    I have used Atlas rubber roadbed until I couldn't get it and homosote in the beginning. Why not cork?
  15. abutt

    abutt Member

    Cork forever!

    I've used cork on three out of four of my layouts. My largest, I used Truescale wooden milled roadbed on plywood. Looked great but was noisy. The last one was cork, and at 15 years old when I moved and sold it, it was fine. It will crumble if you change things, but so what? You're changing things. Your putting new stuff down. The layout under construction now is still cork ( I just finished putting it all down last night) Was considering the new foam stuff, but didn't think it would take spikes well. I tried it and was right. Important to use a sanding block and go over all the cork roadbed before the track goes down. Plywood joints underneath, that screw head that's not quite in, etc. In other words, take it slow and do it right the first time. Over 50 years in the hobby doesn't mean you can't screw something up.

  16. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Cork has a tendency to dry up and become brittle and crumble over time. It's what I used though when I started my efforts. I glued it down gave it a good coat of paint after I glued my ties to it though. So far it seems to be holding up well for my hand laying. It does seem rather noisy though and doesn't appear to be absorbing that wooden sound too well. Then again I could be just nitpicking.

    That said, the extension I'm planning will have a 1/2 Homasote roadbed laid on top of 1/2 ply. It may be also be the deciding factor which may or may not prompt me to do over some of my existing track work.
  17. bob_suruncle

    bob_suruncle Member

    I had a chat with the folks at WS when I was at I-hobby expo weekend before last about using their foam roadbed for hand-laying.... the guy I spoke to said "sure no problem" and that he was a model railroader. Curious about 2 things:

    1. Has anyone actually tried to hand-lay on foam roadbed? I would think that trying to push in the spikes would cause the tie to push down into the roadbed and then pop back up as the pressure is release which would make it difficult to keep things in gauge.

    2. I have read in other posts that the WS roadbed is too wide.... is this true? (I will have a look next time I am in the store) but am curious about others experience.
  18. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    Bob, IIRC, I have. It didn't work too well. The foam is really too soft.

    With flex track, I strongly prefer WS foam.

    For hand laying, cork.

    My current layout is a mix of straight on pink foam and cork on pink foam. I definitely feel that cork on foam is the better of the two (all is hand laid). It is easier to spike it and it does a better job of distributing the weight (remember, real roadbeds are supposed to spread out the weight...notice how real track floats up & down when a train passes over it?)

    Cork or foam loses some of its sound deadening when coated in glue and glue to plywood. I recommend adding a foam base in between the roadbed and plywood. It is far quieter and prevents the vibrations from being transferred through the ballast to lumber. This way, the foam is a sound absorber while the foam shields the plywood from the vibrations. I'll also go very easy on the glue when it is time to ballast. Similarly, I've heard of John Eichman using a double layer of roadbed on his Proto:48 layout to make it silent.

    As far as the width (and the height), just check out the real thing. It is too high for yards, but that's why their are sheets available. I recall it being the same width as Midwest Products cork.
  19. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I'm curious about some of the comments on hand laying with cork. I've used cork with flex track, but found that nails did not hold in cork at all! I had to get the longer nails that Atlas offers and nail through the cork into the plywood sub roadbed. I am not sure what I will use to hand lay switches on my layout when I start building it.
  20. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    The spikes aren't held by the cork, they're held by the ties you've glued to the cork. The problem with foam is that it compresses too much while spiking...you end up having less control. That's the only advantage I feel that cork has over foam. Further, when the foam compresses, it can slight change the direction of force your applying to the spike head and cause it to go somewhere you don't want it to go.

    For with flex track, the theory is that driving a spike through the cork (or foam) into the plywood creates a rigid connection between the vibrating track and the bench work (which acts like an amplifier cabinet)...negating much of sounds deadening advantage of using roadbed.

    It is also worth noting that attempting to hand lay directly into plywood (or especially particle board) is a mistake you won't make twice (unless you love bent spikes or pre-drilling holes)...speaking from experiencewall1

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