Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Roadbed for the HO model railroad

The model railroad in the down stairs guest room is progressing. I have the benchwork up, and a layer of 2 inch blue insulating foam down, all around the room. Roadbed comes next. The foam is too soft to take track nails or spikes, and the only commercial roadbed is cork, which isn't much better at taking nails and spikes. Most folk using cork on foam glue all the track down with latex caulk.
This works, but it is unforgiving. If you make a mistake and get a kink in the track (an easy goof to make) repair is hard. The glue is unyielding. More repairable is to fasten the track down with nails. Should you need to realign the track to make changes or get rid of kinks, you just pull up t he nails with long nose pliers and press on.
To nail down track, (or hand lay track) you need a roadbed that takes and holds nails and spikes, like basswood or white pine. Local lumber yards have plenty of pine, but it comes 3/4" thick. Roadbed wants to be 1/4" thick to look right. No problem, I got a band saw off Craig's list. With a new sharp 1/2" blade, and a home made fence, I can resaw pine boards up to six inches wide. The re sawn surfaces are smooth and flat, and with a home brew fence that is truly a right angle and clamped to the table, I can resaw to 1/4" and the stuff looks good. Progress.
So all I have to do, is bandsaw all the curved trackwork out of resawn pine and stick it down with latex caulk. So. Ho, to the stationary store I go, and buy poster board to cover the whole layout. Draw the track plan out full scale on the poster board and cut each piece of road bed out on the band saw. This should keep me out of trouble for weeks.

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