When laying track on a train table or any plywood base, you could use tacks or small nails to secure track, but you risk warping the plastic ties and bending the rails if you hammer too hard. Gluing track down is becoming more common, and even necessary, since extruded foam in sheets of pink insulation has become popular as a base upon which to build a model railroad. The trick is to be sure you know where you want your track to run before gluing it in place.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Cork roadbed
- White glue
- Rubbing alcohol
- Tacks or T-pins
Mark where you'll be laying track by placing it loosely on the surface until you're satisfied your plan is accurate. With a felt pen, mark a series of dots between the ties and halfway between the rails to leave a dotted line where the tracks will be secured. Put aside the tracks.
Using white glue, attach commercially available cork roadbed where you'll be laying track. You can find the roadbed in most hobby stores. It comes in 36-inch strips that split lengthwise in two. Lay one side of the strip down, with the bevelled edge along the outside, and the inner edge lined up against the dotted line. Then lay the other side of the roadbed. Temporarily tack or pin down the cork if needed to hold in place, or place weights on top of it. Trim the cork as needed around curves.
Spread onto the cork a diluted mixture of white glue, water, and a small amount of rubbing alcohol to let the glue spread easily, and lay down the track. If you're using Flex Track, temporarily tack the track down or place a weight on it so the track keeps its shape until the glue dries. If laying track on a foam base, use T-pins to secure the track in place. If using rigid sectional track, pinning it down or using weights, while unnecessary to hold the track's shape, will help the glue hold.
Lay ballast along the tracks appropriate to the scale of your model railroad, and match its colour to the region your railroad depicts. Spread the ballast along the inside of the rails so that you see the ties, and along the outside so it matches the bevel of the cork roadbed.
Place drops of the diluted glue onto the ballast. The ballast will spread between the "rocks" in the ballast and help keep the tracks in place. Wipe any glue off the top of the rails.
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