The Roadbed Factory

Here I describe how I manufacture cord roadbed from rolls of cork floor underlayment. For other topics, click on the text links below.

Super-elevating the curves

Finding the layout's "Zero," or starting, elevation

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04-07-12 Roadbed Factory.JPG (71760 bytes)Here you see all that's necessary for creating cork roadbed from a large roll of cork. The list of items include: A table to work on, a 1X4 board to keep from damaging the table with the cutter, a four-foot steel rule that acts as a cutting guide, a combination square, a utility knife, three clamps for securing the cutting guide, cork and board to the table, and a couple of scraps of wood to keep the roll of cork under control.

04-07-04 walt about to cut roadbed.JPG (53042 bytes)Here fellow model railroad and my good friend Walt is setting up to cut a strip of roadbed. I cut my roadbed in 5/8 inch strips. Like the commercial cork roadbed, I use two parallel strips to make the roadbed. That way I can bend them easily around curves, and lay them along the track centerlines drawn on the plywood subroadbed.

The combination square is set so that 5/8 inch of the ruler protrudes from the 90-degree face. I butt this face against the edge of the cork, and the end of the rule locates the cutting guide to give me the roadbed width I want. That makes it really easy to cut wider sections of roadbed for yards and other areas that would benefit from larger expanses of cork.

One end of the cutting guide is set to expose the right width of cork for cutting and clamped in place. The other end is then done in the same way. The third clamp goes right in the middle of the cutting guide - with four feet between ends of the cork roll, the center also needs support or the cork will move under the cutting guide, and the roadbed won't be uniform in width.

04-07-04 walt cutting roadbed.JPG (100036 bytes)So now we cut the strip.

This is real simple - Holding down on the cutting guide with one hand (adds a little more stiffness to the guide), simply cut the cork strip off the sheet. I cut the areas that are clear of the clamps first, then go back and release each clamp and cut the cork under where it was, starting with the center clamp first. And voila, a strip of roadbed ready for use!

I'm using two thicknesses of cork - 1/4 inch for the mainline, and 1/8 inch for sidings and other secondary tracks.


Construction Methods