Cork Roadbed Alternative

ModelRailroadForums.com is a free Model Railroad Discussion Forum and photo gallery. We cover all scales and sizes of model railroads. Whether you're a master model railroader or just getting started, you'll find something of interest here.


D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
With the price of cork roadbed going up and the plans for about 6 scale miles of double track being executed, I need some ideas for roadbed instead of the cork.
I will be doing ballast on the roadbed and the construction surface will be the extruded foam.
I am considering just using corrugated cardboard, caulked to the foam.
I have heard of some other kind of thin insulating material but I haven't seen it at Lowes or Home depot.

Suggestions of stuff that you know works?
 
Are you looking for Homasote or Built Rite?
There are a couple of names for the product. I have heard it call built rite. homasote, sound board and fiber board. I can get the buit rite brand where I live and it works well. Two problems that I have come across.
Water if it gets wet it swells and then falls apart when dry.
Cutting it can be dusty.
It is great for sound deading.
It is easy to bend so it easy to make transtions for grades.

Here is Homasote's web page they might be able to help you find there product in stock near you.
http://www.homasote.com/
 

GN.2-6-8-0

Member
Many folks use Homasote which normally comes in a 4x8 sheets.This matieral is very good for sound insulating and holds track spikes much better than cork if you every concider trying your hand at handlaying track plus dollar for dollar should be cheaper.
Downside is theres alot more work cutting' shaping 'mess etc. when using it.

Would not recommend any type of Cardboard as any moisture such as when laying ballast will cause warping and other problems.

If you are just starting out you might just need to bit the bullet and go with the cork roadbed,by all means shop around for the best price,And keep in mind cork bought by the case will be a better bargain than getting a few strips at a time.
 

AL1

Shortliner
I am going to use vinylbed material for my next layout. The website offers a sample of the material for about $2. It isn't all that expensive, and they make different heights and even sub-roadbed. It takes glue and ballast quite well, the only gripe I have is that the company seems to take forever to ship stuff to you.

Here is the website:
www.vinylbed.com

I used cork on my last layout, and even though it was nice and easy to lay, the stuff becomes brittle over time, and even when covered with ballast is crumbles occasionally. If you want to go back and replace the track segment, you have to completely replace the roadbed too.

The vinyl sample I received held up well to glue and ballast, it is pretty cheap too (if bought by the case).
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
I am considering just using corrugated cardboard, caulked to the foam.
Don't think I'd want to do that, moisture concerns, and when ballasting it may be a disaster in waiting.
I use cork, hardware stores sell it for many uses. It's about 3/16" thick and about 3 ft wide and sold by the foot off a large roll. I usually buy 2 ft at a time. I made a sort of cutting jig, Just a 30" board, a strip nailed on one side acts as a stop. Then two nails to hold a piece of angle aluminum (cutting guide) 1/2 track width from the stop. The 2 ft width is aligned with the stop, the cutting guide is held in place then I make a straight cut with one of those cheap utility knives. I also find that the non tapered edge is better for ballasting. Works for me and a lot cheaper than the formed roadbed.

Don't know if the photo shows this well enough, but it should serve to give you an idea

Cheers
Willis
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I was doing a little surfing and found some companies that sell cork sheets for wall applications, but they want me to contact them for a price. I think that translates into EXPENSIVE.
The previous D&J Railroad had cork roadbed over most of the mainline. I'm very familiar with its properities and how to use it. The new layout is starting with an empty room/basement, and will be about 6 scale miles of double track mainline. An awful lot of cork would be needed that would bust the budget.
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
the cork for wall applications is either very thin, like 1/16" or less; or it is the dark, extremely large grain cork that is sold in 12" squares for wall decor.

You can buy the thin stuff in places like Hobby Lobby, Michael's, it is often used to make bulletin boards. You could use multiple layers to get it to the correct thickness for roadbed, which iirc was about 1/4" meaing you would need 4 layers of the wall stuff.
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
If my calculations are right, you're going to need about 390 feet of roadbed. You can get 24 feet of Woodland Scenics foam roadbed, which I like way better than cork, for $7.49 at http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/product_p/woo-st1474.htm. That would be about $130 for all the roadbed you need including shipping. You can get the same amount of cork at http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/product_p/mid-3013.htm for about $110 including shipping. Either way, it's going to cost a few bucks but, unless your budget is really tight, I would buy the Woodland Scenics product.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
the cork for wall applications is either very thin, like 1/16" or less; or it is the dark, extremely large grain cork that is sold in 12" squares for wall decor.
Nope look in your lumber & Hardware dealer stores, you'll find it being sold by the ft. The large rolls it comes off of are 3 ft wide. Just measured the thickness, 3/16" or 5mm same as the custom cork roadbed (Atlas I think it was) anyway it's a lot cheaper. When I get to laying track again I'll be buying more.
Willis

Six feet (3 x 6) should be around $25 but it's been awhile since I bought any.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

railBuilderDhd

Active Member
Why would you use the Woodland Scenics product? Has anyone thought about buying a roll of cork and cutting into section for each. I'm trying to get interest in a local free-mo group to buy a bulk order of cork or maybe some other product for a discounted price.
Dave
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
ModelTrainStuff has always given me excellent prices and service. I've never used the vinyl roadbed product nor seen it used but the prices are good if you buy in bulk. I'd certainly order a few pieces and see how it does. The problem I've always had with ordering cork sheet in bulk is that it's normally too thin and someone has to bevel the edges after you cut if you want a good ballast profile.
 

jrbernier

Milw Road in SW Wisconsin
A friend has used Vinylbed for his 'basement' size layout. The stuff looks good, but is more expensive than cork. Also, it is not 'split' down the middle, so he had to mark lines on either side as a guide when laying it. He did have some problems getting it on one of his orders. It appears that they make it between runs of other stuff and his order sat for several weeks before it was shipped.
I used Homabed roadbed. It is pre-cut Homasote roadbed. It is more expensive than cork but does not have the 'crumble' issues that some folks run into. I also use cork for the sidings and the yard - I have not had 'crumble' issies since it was laid in 1988. I 'sand' all of my cork after it is laid(Sureform tool) to take off the 'edge' on the bevel and make it smooth.

That web URL if for M B Klein - I have ordered from them many times and get good service.

Here is the URL for Homabed:

http://www.homabed.com/

Jim Bernier
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
... Can anyone tell me how their experience ordering from http://www.modeltrainstuff.com has been? ...
Dave, they [MB Klein] have become my number one source for trains and supplies. They're the only place I've seen that actually posts the exact quantity available of each item in their store, right on their website. Then you can order the item online and 'claim' it, and [in my case] drive to the store and pick it up.

Next time you come to Timonium for a train show, drop me a line and I'll take you to their store - they're only a five-minute drive north of Timonium.
 

railBuilderDhd

Active Member
Thanks Ken. I have gone to that shop before when I was at a train show. When I first posted this post I didn't realize the site was new(er) site to M.B. Klein.
Maybe we can go anyway during the next show.
Dave
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I just received my shipment of 8 scale miles of cork roadbed from M.B. Klein. As advertised, cork split down the middle on a slant, flexes nicely for the curves, dark in color in bundles of 25 pieces.
 




Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)


ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

Top