Roadbed, Foam or Cork?

jhn_plsn Aug 26, 2022

  1. jhn_plsn

    jhn_plsn TrainBoard Supporter

    I am about to embark on a fair sized N scale railroad and am looking at the nice profile of the foam roadbed versus the cok that requires a fair bit of touch up. Would you folks have any experiences to share? Givens and druthers? I have built some layouts small and medium with cork but the profile on one side always annoyed me.
    Also what did you use toe secure the roadbed and track?

  2. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

    Use cork.
    minesweeper likes this.
  3. wvgca

    wvgca TrainBoard Member

    i used foam for everything, worked well and a little quieter than cork i think ... foam and track was held down with dap adhesive, a little bit of give to quieten it a bit further
    CSX Robert, Kurt Moose and gmorider like this.
  4. Bumbazene

    Bumbazene New Member

    I used foam, I don't remember why, it was a long time ago. I started out trying to put it down with double-sided carpet tape but that didn't work in the corners, so I glued it down. I held the track itself down with track nails because it was a lot easier to fix problems during testing and I ended up just leaving the nails in. When done properly they aren't a problem. I used a tack hammer and small needle nosed pliers to set them to just the right height. I don't remember what kind of glue I used, probably Elmers something-or-other or Ailenes Tacky glue. It's been a long, long time and that layout went away when we moved.
    Someday I'll build another one.
  5. Hoghead2

    Hoghead2 TrainBoard Member

    Don't like foam , lots of good cork products out there -the better you get, the less prep. Used cork for 50 years now, if i'd used the foam offered back then it'd be dust by now! Just laid another 60 ft, now time for ballast....
    Oh yeah-used PVA white glue to glue down the track bed , with steel strip and weights on top whilst it dries. Use PECO trackpins and radius gauges to lay /secure the track .
    20220819_192944 (1).jpg
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2022
    CNE1899, gjslsffan and Kurt Moose like this.
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Cork. Tried foam once. As it has been a long time since then, I don't recall why, but just preferred the old method instead.
  7. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

    i dont use any at all. but i did use foam once and it seemed easier to layout and trains ran quiet . cork was a pain to cut ect. but now i dont use any at all but im kato track guy. use what ya want in the end its all gunna be torn up any way. nothing is permanent unless your building a very large layout that you have no intention of removing.
    Shortround likes this.
  8. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

    I used cork again on my new layout. I have some experiences with foam in the past and the long term reliability was not good. I’ve also helped a friend with homasote roadbed (he hand lays all of his track) and while I did like it better than foam, it seemed to be harder to flex and cut on the spot than cork.

    Cork is flexible yet durable and insulates yet it’s solid. You can pry up track and relay it without destroying the cork (with the right adhesive) and it can be cut neat and clean with a reasonably sharp blade.

    I use the cheapest liquid nails caulk adhesive I can find. It is in a red tube now (used to be gold). Thin layer under the cork and a thin layer under the flex track. You can also get a putty knife under the track and carefully pop it loose if you need to make an adjustment.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Shortround and BoxcabE50 like this.
  9. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

    I prefer the foam roadbed as well, I find it easier to work with and quiter.

    Today's foam is much better. Cork is cheaper, but roadbed's not that big of an expense either way compared to the rest of the layout. I would suggest just doing a diorama sized section of track and see how you like working with it. They'll both do the job and the cost difference isn't significant, so to me the logical choice is whichever one you're the most comfortable working with.
    CNE1899 likes this.
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    After all of the decades I have been model RRing, I have never noticed a difference between cork and foam, insofar as noise.
  11. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    I prefer cork. The only foam I tried was next to impossible to form into curves without wrinkling. Also, foam is more susceptible to breaking down.....I still have a box (probably 10 years old) that is starting to come apart. Cork will dry out over time, but it stays together.....when we moved, found a few pieces that were probably 20 years old. It was a little less flexible, but it stayed in one piece unless you tried to flex it too much. and once it's laid, it's stable. Foam works OK if you are gluing everything, but if you try to nail your track down it has too much give and it's almost impossible to get your track flat ....every nail goes in to a different depth.
    Doug Gosha, BoxcabE50 and JimJ like this.
  12. Kitbash

    Kitbash TrainBoard Supporter

    Used homasote on all mainlines and major sidings. Used cork on minor sidings and in tunnels.

    Also used cork as fill on turnouts.

    CNE1899, fordy744, GP30 and 4 others like this.
  13. sams

    sams TrainBoard Member

    Lol … uhh. Silly question? What is Hom a sote ?

    I see it is not a soup yet sounds like a soup lol
  14. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

    Homasote is a fibrous composition board first proposed, back in the sixties, to use as a layout base. It has also been used as a roadbed material as it is somewhat flexible. It needs more support than plywood or it can sag.

    I used it back in the seventies on a layout and it was fine.

  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Company history here:
  16. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    It was used instead of drywall in the farm house second floor where I grew up. Also in the second floor of my first house in West Allis (Milwaukee).
  17. fordy744

    fordy744 TrainBoard Member

    I use cork, always have. It a lot more durable, doesn't break down and I end up reusing it a few times dependant on how i've attached it in the first place.

    You can get cork with profiled shoulders like the foam but it £££, or $$$ in US, and not worth it in my opinion. Given ballast is so expensive I object to filling the shamfer void with it so a thin layer of sculptamold on the edge of the cork at 45degrees replicates the shoulder and saves the expensive ballast...

    Personally I think the foam is extremely overpriced for what it is.

    Horses for Courses really, I know people who swear by the foam so really it down to what works for you.
  18. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

    If I remember right I also hated cutting it with a circular saw as the dust or whatever you want to call it was a real mess and it is also know to be hard on saw blades. Use a metal blade in a jigsaw/saber saw to help with that.

    My favorite blade is a Bosch T101BR5. They are made for cutting countertops so cut on the downstroke, which means you have to hold the jigsaw down as the blade it trying to push it up. For me that is worth it as I can cut from the finished side and get a smooth cut on that side. They seem to last longer in wood vs. a regular wood blade. To get them to fit in my older Sears saber saw I grind the tabs on the sides off. Doesn't hurt them working fine in the saw.

    fordy744 and CNE1899 like this.

Share This Page