Roadbed – Thinking about it

I’d like to start working on my second iteration test of spiked trackwork in N. I would really like to try a turnout next but in preparing for this I really need to think about roadbed. I was thinking about cork and have some Midwest cork on hand right now. I don’t mind cork but dislike the poor cut lines I find that are a trait of their N scale cork. Basically I’d like to have those nice chamfered edges the HO folks have. I’ve been thinking about alternatives again.

Last night I posted a picture of my first complete attempt to the Atlas N scale forum and later read this note from Ben Scaro in the Sunday Night Photo Fun thread:

Chris: Don’t bother with the cork. I tried it years ago, and it doesn’t hold spikes either. Surprisingly, hard balsa will, but the best roadbed for N scale spikes is either pine or Homasote. Pine is probably easier to find. Poplar is far too hard, and warps badly at any hint of water. In roadbed thicknesses, 1/4 or so, gluing the ties down will warp poplar. I used balsa for my roadbed, and spikes hold fine in it. It helps that water soaks into balsa without warping it, and ballast glue seals the spikes in.

That could work. I have the tools and it wouldn’t be that hard to try some. My main problem is finding some 3/32″ thick pine. Any ideas?

Then it occured to me that for a test all I’d need is a straight strip of pine and I could probably rip that off the side of a 2×4 offcut. I think I’ll try that this evening. I should be able to then just rip the chamfer onto the sides for the ballast profile and wind up with something that looks a lot like the old Truescale roadbed product.

I may try the cork anyway.



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