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Ive been watching many videos on model railroads trying to take in as much info and ideas as i can and ive noticed that not many people use track with the road bed built in. Ive never built a real layout so I was wondering why? Could you guys please explain the pros and cons to the various different styles of track? If this has already been explained, I appologize.:confused:
 

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Matt, for my old AF stuff, there's tons of track and roadbed still around. Even at 50+ years old, it's still about $2.50/length plus shipping for the rubber roadbed, or $3.50/length in the LHS. For a good-sized layout, that's around $240. In return, you get sound-deadening and a realistic look that's not so realistic-looking. Neat, cookie-cutter mounds under your tracks does not have the variation normal in railroad track; moreover, the first thing people do to try to improve on it is add ballast to cover it up, again. Tankist gave you a very good, concise list of what the pros and cons are. Personally, I like the sound of trains and don't like the look of that rubber stuff. The cork looks nice, but too neat and regular for me. I imagine that, when I finally get to throw mine together, I'll put down sheet-cork cut to length and shape. The advantage is that the cork glues well to the foam base, and the track to the cork. After that, ballast that will have the irregular, sloppy look of a conventional train's bed.

An afterthought...I'll probably try to stain the cork dark brown with an irregular black smear down the middle. Old earth, and trains drip oil. I'll probably drizzle a lil black stain down the middle of the ballast for the same reason.
 

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Hey matt...I imagine there are pro's and con's with different types of track. I have not used the track with road bed built in. I would not be opposed to using it though, especially if one doesn't mind the fixed radii (like tank said). I would think it would be a great option if you don't like to take time to ballast track.

I have always used code 100 flextrack. It affords you the freedom to lay it however you like. I actually lay mine down without roadbed (nailed directly to the plywood beneath). I still ballast it with a fine "play sand" that is not even glued down. I do this so it is easy to make a change if I should choose. I simply vacuum up the sand, and I can make changes to the track easily. I would say the different types of track definitely come down to personal preference.

Chad
 

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Hey matt...I imagine there are pro's and con's with different types of track. I have not used the track with road bed built in. I would not be opposed to using it though, especially if one doesn't mind the fixed radii (like tank said). I would think it would be a great option if you don't like to take time to ballast track.

I have always used code 100 flextrack. It affords you the freedom to lay it however you like. I actually lay mine down without roadbed (nailed directly to the plywood beneath). I still ballast it with a fine "play sand" that is not even glued down. I do this so it is easy to make a change if I should choose. I simply vacuum up the sand, and I can make changes to the track easily. I would say the different types of track definitely come down to personal preference.

Chad
Hey Chad,

I don't have anything meaningful to add because this is all new to me, except to say that I really like your idea, and have never cared for the look of raised roadbeded tracks.

Greg
 

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Hey Greg...I suppose one advantage to the raised roadbed track is that it might keep more debris and obstructions off the track. I would think engines could get tipped on their side if they should happen to derail though. I would think arguments can be made for or against almost anything.

Chad
 

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I have not seen very many roadbeds not raised to some degree. The modeler can always scenic the surrounding area higher. In modeling, it's all about perception and there are many tricks to make the eye see what you want it to see.

In the REAL world, tracks were raised for drainage. Nothing worse than a "soggy" track. Without a dry substrate the track would just sink in the mud, commonly known as a "washout". In some areas where laying the track somewhat above the natural lay of the land could not be achieved, deep broad ditches were dug to carry off the water of rain and melting snow.

I use cork roadbed. It helps to deaden the sound and provides a nice base for the track and ballast. Some use a foam roadbed, thinner profile than cork, though, personally, I don't like working with it.

In the old days of the hobby, wood strips were used. That must have been a tough way to go. And not much sound deadening as the sound would just "couple with the strips and be magnified by the sheet board used as a base.

Bob
 

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I've seen some of those old how-to articles, Bob. "First, get a ping-pong table. Now, go buy some 1 x 4's and bevel the edges on a 30-degree angle. For curves, start chopping angled cuts and piecing them together. Now, nail them all to the table: ta-da!!! Roadbed! Paint it brown, green or white, nail your tracks to it and fire up those trains!"
 

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I've actually seen a couple of OLD layouts that used wood as a road bed. The road bed looked to be ripped down to about 1/4". I don't know whether a band saw or table saw was used, either way, I'd bet a few fingers got chopped off or at least gashed badly.

I'm glad the hobby has progressed from the days of massive blood-letting.

Bob
 

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Bob...you bring up some good points! I completely understand why real railroads have elevated roadbeds. I assume the ballast they use helps to keep the track in place to some degree, while also providing some drainage benefits.

I really DO like the look of an elevated roadbed...I just didn't like creating one. In one of my first attempts at a railroad, I did use the cork roadbed. I made a big mistake though. As a beginner, I didn't really take any time to plot out a nice radius on the curves. I had at least one area that was a little tight for the locos. At this point, I had already glued down the roadbed, so that made tweaking the track tough. Trying to scrape up and salvage roadbed is tough to do w/o ruining it. Obviously, if I would use cork roadbed now, I would plot out nice curves first.

To sum it up, I guess I just wanted the ability to make changes easily. I have not made a lot of changes, but I did add on to my layout about a year ago, and I was SO GLAD I didn't have things too permanent. Don't get me wrong, I like the method you guys describe of ballasting with a white glue mix on top of cork roadbed. I just didn't want to be that permanent, especially a guy like me who is prone to errors!

Chad
 

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Hey Reck! Looks like another good day to talk about trains! Yes, you are right! I try to keep that advice in mind, even when what makes sense to me doesn't always...well...make sense! I guess we all try to find methods that work for us. I wouldn't recommend that anyone follow my path...I am too UNethical...he he!

Chad
 

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Bob...you bring up some good points! I completely understand why real railroads have elevated roadbeds. I assume the ballast they use helps to keep the track in place to some degree, while also providing some drainage benefits.

I really DO like the look of an elevated roadbed...I just didn't like creating one. In one of my first attempts at a railroad, I did use the cork roadbed. I made a big mistake though. As a beginner, I didn't really take any time to plot out a nice radius on the curves. I had at least one area that was a little tight for the locos. At this point, I had already glued down the roadbed, so that made tweaking the track tough. Trying to scrape up and salvage roadbed is tough to do w/o ruining it. Obviously, if I would use cork roadbed now, I would plot out nice curves first.

To sum it up, I guess I just wanted the ability to make changes easily. I have not made a lot of changes, but I did add on to my layout about a year ago, and I was SO GLAD I didn't have things too permanent. Don't get me wrong, I like the method you guys describe of ballasting with a white glue mix on top of cork roadbed. I just didn't want to be that permanent, especially a guy like me who is prone to errors!

Chad
I share your view on changeability, especially since I've never modeled a layout. I'm going to use small dots of clear silicone under the track to fasten it instead of nails so I can simply peel it back up with a putty knife when (not if:rolleyes:) I need to change it. I'm not willing to paint myself into a corner until I have a better handle on what I'm doing.

Greg
 

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Hey Greg...I have heard that the white glue/water mix applied to ballast can become "as hard as asphalt." As long as one has planned things out carefully, and doesn't anticipate changing the plan down the road, then this method is a great way to go. I just don't trust myself...I am always second guessing and like the freedom to "change my mind."

Chad
 

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Brad...when you say "change elevations," I assume you mean to have your tracks climb a grade. If that is what you mean, I would think that might be a little tough...unless you could start a grade on a 3' long piece. I don't even think True-Track comes in 3' lengths. I think Bachmann E-Z Track does though. I don't have any knowledge about the roadbed-style track. Maybe someone else can help you on that one.

Chad
 

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Brad and Chad, I've never seen Bachmann EZ Track in 3' sections. I didn't know it existed. I will need to look for it as my "alternate track" is laid with EZ track.

A rise in elevation can be done, but one needs to be VERY careful. A 1% grade, or less, would be best, and most practical. Be careful not to break the "catches" on each section and would stay away from having to change elevations on a curve, for good measure.

Bob
 

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I have become partial to the Life Like Power Loc track. (Built in roadbed)
So here's what I can tell you through my experience.

First of all, it's easy to work with.(And I'm basicly lazy, so that works for me.:) ) I have been experimenting with painting a few pieces of my track and it doesn't look too bad.

Second, it needs to be mounted on foam, or rubber mat. Because on wood.....it's noisy!!

Lastly, it can be elevated. Most makers of the built in roadbed track make trestles for their track. I have even experimented with making a helix with some of mine.

That's about it.

Jody
 

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Hey Bob and Jody...

Bob, great advice, as always! I don't have any grades on my layout, but if I did, I would try not to exceed 1% like you said (for roadbed track). I don't even think I would exceed 2% with ordinary flextrack. I like to occasionally pull a long train.

Jody, I am lazy as well, and I would use track w/built-in roadbed. My layout is about 12x26...so the flextrack allowed me to make some curves that I could not with a built-in roadbed. If I had a smaller layout, I would not be opposed to using it at all.

Oh Bob, I just looked at a couple sites that had Bachmann E-Z Track in 3' lengths. They also offer a lot of different radii too. If I were to build it all over again, I would maybe consider doing even a big layout with the E-Z Track, as it really isn't that much more than the flextrack. Ok, maybe it is a few dollars more, but...hey...you get built-in roadbed!

Chad
 
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