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Scale Cork Roadbed

Scale Cork Roadbed

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What is a Scale Cork Roadbed for model trains?

Scale Cork roadbed is a commonly used material in the hobby of model railroading. They serve as a foundation for model train tracks, providing a realistic and functional base for creating miniature layouts. These materials are designed to mimic the appearance and function of real railway roadbeds, enhancing the overall realism of the model train experience.

These are made from sheets or strips of natural cork material that are typically cut into the shape of the track's cross-section. It is used to elevate and cushion the model train tracks, cushion the installation of the tracks to avoid wear and tear and deterioration over time, as well as reduce the amount of noise, as well as simulate the ballast and roadbed found on real railroads. They are available at Green Stuff World in various widths to accommodate different types and scales.

These types of elements are widely used in model railroading, also known as model railroading, which is an exciting hobby that revolves around collecting and building scale models of trains and railroad tracks. This fascinating practice has deep roots and is one of the foundations of the traditional hobby. The most popular scales are H0 (1/87) and N (1/160), which make it possible to create detailed worlds in a small size.

Model railroading encompasses both the collector and the artistic side of the miniature train, creating a universe in which the passion for railroads comes to life.

In order to achieve very realistic finishes, it is advisable to complement with different types of hobby sand, modeling glues such as PVA glue, or Medium Decoupage (better the matte version in its function of glue), as well as any other decorative element, miniature basing materials or some vegetation.

How to Use a Cork Underlay for Model Railways

Using track beds as Cork underlay for Model Railways involves a few steps:

  1. Plan Layout: Decide on the layout of your model train track. Determine where you want curves, straights, and any elevation changes.
  2. Prepare Surface: Ensure the surface is clean, smooth, and level. If needed, you can use adhesive or glue to secure the roadbed in place.
  3. Lay Roadbed: Cut it to shape or use pre-shaped beds to match the desired track configuration. Lay the roadbed on the prepared surface, making sure to follow the curves and elevation changes of your layout plan.
  4. Secure Tracks: Attach the model train tracks to the roadbed using appropriate nails or adhesive. Make sure they are aligned and secured properly.
  5. Ballast: Once the tracks are in place, you can add ballast material (usually a fine gravel-like substance) between the tracks to simulate the ballast found on real railways.
  6. Detailing: After they have been secured and ballasted, you can add additional details such as scenery, buildings, vegetation, and other elements to complete the realistic look of your model train layout.

Do you need a Cork track bed for the model railway?

It is not an absolute necessity for building a model railway, but it offers several advantages that many model railroaders find beneficial. Whether or not you choose to use a cork track bed depends on your specific goals, preferences, and the level of realism you want to achieve in your model railway layout.

Advantages of using them:

  • Realism: the model railway cork underlay adds realism to the whole layout by simulating the appearance of real railway roadbeds and ballast.
  • Cushioning: They provide a slight cushioning effect between the tracks and the layout surface, which can help reduce noise and prevent damage.
  • Easier Installation: they are sold pre-shaped to simplify the process of creating elevated sections and curves on your layout, resulting in smoother track transitions.
  • Vibration Dampening: These materials can help absorb vibrations caused by running trains, leading to a smoother and quieter operation.
  • Easy Ballasting: The raised edges of the model train underlay can make ballasting the tracks more manageable, ensuring that the ballast material stays in place.
  • Professional Look: The use of them contributes to a more polished and professional appearance of your train layout.

In summary, track beds are popular choices among railroaders for creating realistic and functional foundations for their train tracks. They enhance the visual appeal and operational quality of the layout, making the model train experience more enjoyable and immersive.

cork roadbeds - trackbeds

What thickness of Cork for Model Railway?

A standard thickness of 5mm is often a practical choice for various model railway scales. This thickness provides a versatile foundation that works well across scales while allowing room for customization. Whether you're working with HO, N, O, or even G scale, this consistent thickness simplifies planning and installation.

By using the 5mm material, model railroaders can maintain a consistent level of realism and track elevation changes, making it easier to build and modify layouts. The adaptability of this thickness means you can adjust the appearance of the ballast and track bed as needed to match the specific characteristics of your chosen scale.

Additionally, its combination with hobby sand and ballast allows for further customization and fine-tuning. This approach empowers modelers to create lifelike landscapes and smooth transitions, while still adhering to the inherent qualities of each scale.

Adopting a 5mm as a standard for all scales streamlines the construction process, promotes consistent design principles, and provides ample flexibility for adjusting scenic details. This thickness acts as a solid foundation upon which the intricacies of each scale can be uniquely realized through the careful incorporation of sand and ballast.

How are curved railroad tracks made?

Creating curves using cork roadbeds for model railroads is a common practice to ensure smooth and realistic-looking tracks. If you want to increase the flexibility of the cork roadbed, you can cut it into two parts along its length. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to make curves using cork roadbed and how to cut it for increased flexibility:


  1. Plan Your Layout: Decide on the layout and design of your model railroad track, including the desired curve radius. Use a track template or a flexible track guide to determine the curvature you want.
  2. Mark the Roadbed and using a metallic hobby ruler, mark the centerline of the curve on the strip. This will serve as a guide for cutting. To increase the flexibility of the strips, cut them into two parts along their length. 
  3. Make sure both halves are of equal width to maintain track alignment and smooth transitions.
  4. Lay down the two halves on your layout to check how well they fit the desired curve. Adjust the positioning if necessary to achieve a smooth and natural-looking curve.
  5. Once you're satisfied with the fit, apply a small amount of PVA glue along the cut edges of the cork roadbed. Press the two halves together, aligning them accurately. The glue will hold them in place and maintain the flexibility you desire.
  6. If you want an even smoother transition between the two halves, you can gently sand the edges where they were cut. This will help create a seamless appearance when the track is laid.
  7. Lay your model train tracks on the cork roadbed, following the curve you've created. The cork roadbed will provide a cushioned and realistic base.
  8. Ballast and Finish: Once everything is in place, you can add ballast to the sides of the road and finish detailing the surrounding area to complete the realistic look of your model railroad.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Take your time, measure accurately, and be patient while cutting and assembling the cork roadbed. Flexibility is important for smooth curves, so be sure to test and adjust as needed before permanently securing the roadbed in place.