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Monday, January 15, 2007


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Well, I remain undecided about roadbed, not so much as to what to use, but where or if to use it. Looking at dozens of prototype pictures as well as many very high Q layouts, I have come to these conclusions:

1 - NO roadbed inside of downtowns or in yards. Period.

2 - The only place to put a roadbed is on a mainline, outside of downtown of a city.

3 - Cork roadbed is TOO HIGH when or if I should choose to use it, most of the time. Excellent models blend and feather the edges of the roadbed into the scenery. It seems to me that Cork roadbed would suit my needs better if it was about 1/2 its current height, i.e. 1/8 instead of 1/4 high.

4 - When the track is multi tracked, the roadbed should be flat between the tracks, by that I mean the roadbed should be wide enough to have both sets of tracks side by side on the same level.

5 - Staging yards should have no roadbed, however, something like homosote or some other sound deadening is acceptable.

Still more learning to do on this and if you look at my layout, you will see that I have violated these rules myself, especially #4!

As to what to use as roadbed, Cork is the favorite of most modelers by a 4 to one majority. Follow this LINK to see and participate in a poll I started on Trainboard about this subject.

Sub-roadbed (work in progress)
  • I prefer a solid and sturdy roadbed.
  • I like the flexibility of a ribbon type roadbed, meaning one that is only a little wider than the roadbed (cork) with open space between the roadbed.
  • Probably because of not wanting my layout to look like a simple plywood table, I don't like flat table tops very much. Although, after spending some time with friends who have large, table top layouts, their are some great advantages to that method as well.
  • All of my track work is supported by a 3/4 5 ply plywood subroadbed.
  • Almost none of my track is 'flat', except for areas where I have crossovers, the track is rising or falling.
  • When I make the roadbed ribbons too small, I use 3/4 masonite strips and glue them to the side of the plywood to make the roadbed wider. I use the same technique as spline roadbed builders. It has saved my bacon several times when my calculations and measurements were off.



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