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Subroadbed, Roadbed and Track

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  • Subroadbed, Roadbed and Track

    This sticky is for discussions about subroadbed, roadbed and track. Please ask your questions and post any pertinent information you have about these topics. Please on track which includes turnouts if the question is about operation of turnouts using DCC then ask the question in the DCC forum. Eddie (the moderator) is very knowledgeable and I would prefer his forum answers these questions.
    <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

  • #2
    Hi all

    Probably the most well known system for installing subroadbed and roadbed is the Woodland Scenic system. They offer risers and inclines (which allow up to a 4% elevation) which is a subroadbed system. Then they have their own roadbed for sale. If interested in their products their web site is

    Here you can read all about how to use their products.

    I am sure many of you have used different systems such as Homosote and cork to achieve the same results.

    If you have a chance please tell us about the system you used under your track.

    <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


    • #3
      This is a posting I found at a Yahoo group about Woodland Scenics Risers but it does include other good information.

      We're using the WS foam risers on a very large layout open to the

      public. Our benchwork is 2 inch extruded foam supported on a steel

      stud frame. I'd recommend all three, i.e., steel studs, foam table

      top, and Woodland Scenics foam risers. The risers go in so very

      quickly. You likely can do a whole layout in a weekend. Put down

      your track centerline and go to it. I've been using neoprene contact

      cement to fasten the risers to the foam base, but I may try out hot

      glue as a quicker, cleaner alternative. With the 2% foam inclline

      you gain 1/2" with every 2 foot section of foam riser. You might

      want to use a little sand paper to smooth the transition from grade

      to flat but the "Starter" incline risers work fine for going from

      flat to grade. Also, use the plaster gauze to cover the risers

      before applying your roadbed. There's no other satisfactory way to

      cover those slots in the risers (at least not that I have found).

      Although I didn't start out doing it this way, I'm going to do much

      of the scenery work before ever putting down track. Look around for

      a medical supply company as a source for the plaster cloth. You'll

      find it a lot cheaper.

      Steel studs are easier to work with than you might think and they

      are always straight. Try to find a straight board at your Lowe's or

      Home Depot! They are also very light. Using extruded foam insulation

      for the table top means no more worry about changing environmental

      conditions affecting dimensional stability. Do be aware that 1" of

      foam insulation isn't precisely the same thickness as the 1" foam

      riser by WS. (Sort of like a 2x4 really isn't 2" by 4".)

      I'm very happy with Woodland Scenics' foam risers and personally

      wouldn't go any other way. Has many of the same benefits as spline

      sub-roadbed without the hassles.

      Jerry Smith

      <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


      • #4
        I have always used 1/2" Chipboard and 1/2" insulation (Sound) board for laying my track onto. Insulation is easy to put track pins (Spikes) into. Makes for quiet running also.Being sound absorbent.



        • #5
          Hi all

          The following was posted by Bill Nanney on keeping your track clean.

          I will discuss the cleaning of the track and wheels. I clean my track with the metal polish MAAS and it is great stuff. Track stays cleaner longer. I have been experimenting with cleaning loco wheels with the same stuff on a cleaning track. It works equally as well on wheels. I put a small amount on a piece of cloth then place the cleaning cloth with polish on it over the cleaning track and spin the wheels on it.
          <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


          • #6
            Hi all

            If you have a chance look at Jim Murray's photo album


            Jim has some excellent photos of his benchwork and roadbed that he has constructed using foam.

            Also the first photo is of a model of his railroad. This method of making a model of what the final product will look like is promoted by Dave Frary in his book Realistic Model Railroad Scenery.

            There is also a picture of Thomas on Jim's layout.

            There are some excellent idea's presented here
            <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


            • #7
              Hi all

              The following was posted on the Atlas Forum on the cleaning of track.


              Several of you folks have been advocating the use of MAAS polish for cleaning trackage, but you never mentioned the method you were using. So, do you follow the directions on the box, use it in track cleaning cars, clean the in-between rail spaces after use or just how do you use it?


              MAAS is one of many cleaners in my arsenal of cleaners. I am pleased

              with it.

              I wrap some old T-shirt material around a small block, like a brite boy.

              Apply the polish across the t-shirt/block and drag it across the rail head. Don't let it dry and follow up with an untreated T-shirt/block.

              The response was from Chuck Walsh who must like the system as he has The Clean Machine from Tony's for sale.

              <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


              • #8
                Hi all

                I am providing a link to a topic for attaching track to foam as there is some excellent information found here. So if the other thread dies off you will still be able to find it here.

                <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


                • #9
                  For O'scales and especially hi-rail, I am using Vinylbed from Hobby Innovations. Made entirely out of recycled vinyl particals, this reasonably-scale-looking product has some nice advantages. Mainly, it bends to tight radii without needing cutting and it is quiet. Using big o'gauge monster engines on plywood makes a terrible racket unless using some sound-deadening under the track. Vinylbed works well for this as long as you don't screw the track down through the roadbed.

                  I use either Liquid Nails or water-based urethane cements and it works fine to hold both the vinyl to the sub-roadbed and the track to the vinyl. Product isn't cheap, but it does everything the manufacturer says it does. Here is a pic of the installation under way.

                  It has a nice gray color that even before ballasting, which I am going to do, it doesn't look bad. You can get away with it a while during construction. The beveled edge is already there and the ends are beveled with positive and negative alternating angles so they nest together very closely. Use a sharp utility knife to cut it, but it is somewhat abrasive and dulls the blade fairly fast. Keep sharp blades handy.



                  • #10
                    Has anybody used Vinylbed for N scale ?


                    • #11
                      Has anyone here used the AMI Instand roadbed material?

                      My Local Train shop is carrying this and he swears by it. No glue required at all to either lay the track or ballast it and you can remove the track and roadbed after if needed without destroying it as well.

                      It sounds like a good product but I wanted to know if anyone here had used it before and could give an impression.

                      I am seriously thinking of getting this product and giving it a try if no one has used it to give my impressions of it when I begin my redo of my layout. If it works out I will definitely be stocking up on this product in the future as it seems like it would offer a great shortcut method of laying track and ballasting as well as sidewalks, roads and pretty much any other type of surface you may need in model railroading.


                      • #12
                        Hi All:

                        Call me old fashioned but I still like 1/2 inch plywood with homosote on the top. I also don't like cork roadbed. I lay my track right on top of the homosote. Before laying the track I nip of about every 5th tie on both sides so as to make the ties uneven on the ends. Then the track is layed. Next it is painted with Floquil rail brown spray paint. Then the tops of the rails are cleaned off after the pait is dry by dragging a single edged razor blade over them and finished up with a bright boy. Then I stain the ties with oak stain and then every 5th tie or so is stained grey to represent rotted ties. Then track is ballasted with Highball HO dark grey genuine limestone ballast available from Walthers. I put it down dry and get it just right with a soft brush. After I have it the way I want it I use an eye dropper and apply rubbing alcohal to the ballast as a wetting agent. Then I use an eyedropper and apply Woodland Scenics scenic cement. I allow this to dry overnight. The next day after all is dry I mix Artists oil lamp black and turpintine as a wash and this is applied down the center of the track. Then I take Polyscale Rust and drybrush the ties and ballast on the outsides of the rails. I know this sounds like a lot of work but when finished you have track that is a model in itself.

                        Karl S.


                        • #13
                          I am embarrassed to put these pictures up on this forum but I did say I would share some with you as my layout starts to progress. Only basic stuff done right now but I will update next week as I plan on getting some ground cover and ballast done on the risers this weekend.

                          Started the various hills and cliffs to hold the risers in place, etc. Track laying has begun.

                          Started running trains to test track, etc.

                          Track is completed, place is cleaned up, base coat of paint is down, wind turbines are on Cajon Pass and now to start the real scenery stuff.

                          First steps are to cover the risers as if they are retaining walls due to space limitations on this part of the layout. Cover is stone so that it looks presentable rather than just putting simple concrete or concrete blocks on it.

                          SO - You see, I am getting it done - slowly but surely.


                          • #14
                            Looks good Bill.

                            Did you find the WS risers and inclines easy to work with.

                            Also did you just glue the sectional track to the risers.

                            Please also feel free to add more pictures of your progress to this thread as I am sure your progress with be a help to others in the future.
                            <img src="" alt="" /><br /><br>John Bagley<br /><br>Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.


                            • #15
                              In doing some track laying I was forced to remember an old trick that I had not used in a while. We have been laying Atlas switches on cork roadbed over blue foamboard. We came up with a switch that had the end broken on the turnout throwbar. Seven year old boys have been nearby. [:-baseball]

                              That left us with a problem attaching the Caboose Industries ground throw. I have also had times when due to nearby track, buildings, or other reasons, I have wanted to change the side where the throw was mounted. [!]

                              With a bit of piano wire and some bending it is possible to mount the throw wherever you want.

                              Bend the piano wire up 90 degrees and then again 90 degrees to lock it on the throw and the turnout throw bar.

                              Drill holes to match your wire size in both bars and force the wire through. The two bends in each end will hold the wire in place. Cut out the area under the switch throwbar and you're done with the modification. Hope you can find it handy. Richard