Cork Roadbed poor outer shape?

WFOJeff Jan 20, 2019

  1. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

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    I normally have used the foam roadbed but going forward for module building I will be using cork roadbed-

    I had recently purchased a box of 25 3' lengths of cork road bed (MFG name to be withheld due to Trainboard sensitivity)

    When I went to use one of the 3' strips and seperate the 2 halves I found that their center cut to allow the inner 90 degree edge and the 45 degree (outer) edge were really bad that I had to go shape my own 45 degree outer edge on each piece.

    All of the cork 3' lengths were the same poor manufactured condition.

    If anyone cares to share through the message feature a cork product that they have had good luck with and not have to shape your own outer I would appreciate that and then can share who this manufacturer is in case you suggest same (perhaps a bad lot I encountered).
    thanks
     
  2. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi Jeff,

    That has always been an issue with cork road bed materials that I have used with one side being worse than the other. I always reshape the outer edges after I have installed it.
     
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  3. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

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    Okay, onwards I go - thank you for that insight...I end up adding ballast so it hides much of the misshapen edges.
    Thank you Brad
     
  4. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    I always appreciated that. The 90 degree edges are supposed to abut and be flush with each other under the track (and unseen). The outer doesn't look perfect, no. I've never seen raised roadbed in the real world that wasn't a bit ragged down the side.
     
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  5. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    Yes. That has always been the case, but to me it was never a problem. On both the N and HO cork (I use both) the 45degree was always rough, as the roadbed is made of ground fork, likely a byproduct of cork production, and some little chunks are quite tough and others more cork-like. I had assumed that they used knives to make the cuts, probably dozens of strips from a large roll in one cut, and wome of the blades got a bit dull in use.

    I, like most of the rest of the world, just add a bit of ballast. I realized that whatever you used to hold down flex track, ballast is what really does the job. So it's foolish to skimp on ballast.
     
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  6. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Long time ago I was told that after the cork was glued down you should sand the top and the sides and also stager the joints between strips. The cork is designed to replicate Class 1 mainline track contour so if you are doing something other where track speeds and track maintenance are a bit less than the ideal then you may want to consider substituting thinner sheet cork or some other material.
     
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  7. Boilerman

    Boilerman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have always just trimmed the ragged edge off with a #11 x-acto and then laid it and I have laid about 900 ft.
     
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  8. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

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    I used to bother with that precut cork. I’d wrasp the edges down with a surform. I also had to cut it to a better width. Then I realized how much work I was doing. It is less work to just cut your own sheet cork to size, so I’ve been doing that ever since. It’s cheaper too!
     
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  9. WFOJeff

    WFOJeff TrainBoard Member

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    Can you refer me to what kind of sheet cork you are mentioning? Is it in 3' lengths like the railroad hobby cork roadbed sold or do you just cut many shorter lengths - I agree with everyone's response about it can be dressed up later with ballast later.
    I've only seen thin squares of cork sheets browsing around.

    You could send me a PM if any store names are discussed so we abide by rules here.
    thanks
     
  10. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    I use sheet cork in self adhesive rolls and it can be found with the shelf paper in stores like Home Depot, Lowes, or a good hardware store. It is intended for lining shelves or drawers. Some other sheet cork can probably be found in craft stores. It is thin about 1mm thick or about 6 N scale inches. I use it to shim up structures or track and as siding roadbed and also to layout streets.

    I am on my third roll on this current layout build, the streets in Friday Harbor are black painted cork, one of the piers has the rails set in by laying cork around and in between the track. Some of the harbor modules have been raised with several layers of cork under them to match height where needed.. The Moly mine spur has this cork leveling the transition from the regular cork track roadbed down grade and the sidings for the brewery and mills are using this.

    As far as the cuts being ragged in roadbed cork this is not something new but has been around as long as I have been in N scale. Some of the cork I have recently used has been manufactured over 20 years ago and you always seem to have one ragged edge when the cork is separated. However with ballasting it becomes a non issue.
     
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  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I cannot recall buying manufactured cork roadbed, with matching well profiled outer edges. There has always seemed to be one side which I must build up with ballast or other scenic materials.
     
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  12. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    Once you put ballast on the track, you can not really see it anymore, can you?
     
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  13. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    "Once you put ballast on the track, you can not really see it anymore, can you?"

    David, you are quite right. This whole thing is an example of what we now call a "First World Problem."

    AS to the subject of sheet cork, it is generally sold by the foot off a big roll. It is lighter and more uniform in color than the cork roadbed, it appears that it is the same as the sheet cork used to make bulletin boards. I suspect that the production of cork has a large amount of wast, just as any other wood product. Our roadbed is made to make money out of things that were once thrown away or burned, like particle board.
     
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  14. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

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    Actually, you can see it, that’s the problem. To cover that poorly cut corner, you have to use an excessive amount of ballast, creating an incorrect ballast profile. Even if you sand it back it’s still too far off the end of the ties.
     
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  15. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not sure what you mean by too far off the end of the ties. This is a 1 to 1 photo here.
    And my ballasted rail is very close to that on my double track sections using the cork roadbed. What might help is to cut the sections of cork roadbed using a single edge razor blade to separate the strips rather than pull them apart. You end up with a sharper profile.
     
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  16. jpwisc

    jpwisc TrainBoard Member

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    That may be good for your proto John, but mine layout isn’t Class 1 Mainline. My ballast has to drop off at the end of the ties. To get out of the box cork to work for this took enough work to make it ineffective. I had to cut 3/16” off one side. Photos by me.
    CF21ECE1-28D8-483E-A544-BBED2F98699B.jpeg 365569C9-634F-47E5-AF40-67FA23DE05AC.jpeg
     
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  17. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

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    Other than using built up sheet cork or cutting the cork roadbed, I am not aware of any other available product that meets your needs. I believe the foam roadbed has the same wide shoulders as the cork but I may be wrong on that as I have never used it. You might want to try HO roadbed. Use only one half of the strip and keep the sloped side to the front of the layout. The rear side could be sloped with Scultamold or a similar product. The HO cork may be a little higher than the N scale product but some scenery techniques could reduce the effect.
     
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  18. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    Inkaneer,

    That's almost what I did with my Cajon layout. Since I was modeling Cajon Pass, the mains had to be the best possible, so I used on half a piece of HO cork, which is perfect for the higher profile of ATSF mains. I was going to build up the square edge of the cord with spackling or Sculptamold but I realized quickkly that that was an unneeded use of time and money. I just built it up with ballast. Now I will point out that I wasn't using ground walnut shell ballast, but Arizona Rock and Mineral. Don't know if they are still in business, but their product is inexpensive and much more realistic in appearance. I just put extra on the square side and built it up like the prototype.

    I then used N scale cork for sidings, and a similar thickness of sheet cork for yards.
     
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  19. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

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    While killing a little time waiting for glue and paint to dry I did a little bit of research. Using my calipers my cork is about 3mm tall or when referred to a N scale rule 1 and 1/2 N scale feet tall. So I went to the internet and did a short search and found 3mm cork. I found that it is used for a floor underlayment in rolls several hundred feet long and very expensive for the modeler. Looking further I found sheet cork in 3 mm thickness in 24 by 36 inch sheets at a cost of about $16 a sheet with a minimum order of five sheets required. So there are cork supply alternatives out there one just has to take a stroll on the internet. For folks with a Dremel table saw using the right blade would yield the right angle and width.
     
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  20. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    I got so frustrated with the cork, I went to using the foam roadbed and never thought about cork again. I used HO roadbed for my higher ATSF track level.
     
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