any advice on nailing track to cork roadbed on 5/8 plywood

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by PennCentralFan, Jun 18, 2007.

  1. PennCentralFan

    PennCentralFan Member

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    I'm using atlas sectional track code 80. I've decided to try nailing track down. I was able to nail down the cork and I sort of liked the result. Now, I've tested out nailing one piece of track and I ruined two little nail holes because if the nail goes in the least bit crooked the plastic tie breaks. With cork it's not that bad since I can straighten out or pull the nail and nail down a new one. Previously I've glued track to the cork and glued cork.

    I'm using atlas N/HO nails. I have a feeling that I may destroy my track. I'd like to try using nails. Any advice? I've been using a small hammer and a punch but that does not guarantee I'll pound the nails straight?

    I may end up gluing, but it becomes a hassle at turnouts. What have you guys done?
  2. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

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    I'm assuming that you're not using cork roadbed because you don't want the appearance of built-up ballast. If you're going directly into plywood, I wouldn't use nails because you'll wind up with the problems you're having, around 99.999% of the time. I'd glue the track to the plywood. If you still want to use nails, then I'd suggest you drill a pilot hole in the plywood first.

    You asked what we do. Me, I use cork roadbed over foam and can for the most part push in the nails with my fingers. or with a light tap on a hammer.
  3. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

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    I'd glue it to the cork as well...
    There's no need to nail down N scale track...That's like hunting rabbit with an elephant gun...
  4. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

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    If you still want to stick with nails, make sure the hole in the tie is at least the same diameter as the nail. A loose fit. Instead of using a hammer directly, use a nail set and be very gentle. I could see using an occasional nail on a curve but glue will get the job done with less trouble. Temporarily pin the track until the glue has set and weight the track down.
  5. Boilerman

    Boilerman Member

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    Use Glue, Not Nails!
  6. CraigN

    CraigN New Member

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    The latest and greatest way to lay track and cork is with latex caulk.

    Just buy a tube of the cheap stuff and go at it. Latex caulk cleans up easy.

    To lay cork:


    A. Draw out track plan on plywood or foam board.

    B. Lay a bead of caulk on the lines.

    C. Spread thin with a putty knife.

    D. Lay down the cork on the caulk.

    E. Let it dry overnight.

    F. Sand down the top surface of all joints for a smooth surface to lay track on.


    To lay track: ( I prefer using flex track but sectional track uses the same methods )

    A. Test fit all pieces of track for proper lengths.

    B. Lay down a bead of caulk.

    C. Spread thin with a putty knife.

    D. Lay down your track. Make sure that the caulk does not come up between the ties. Don't put any caulk under the switches. You don't want to glue the points down.

    E. Put some weight like soda cans on your track or pin down the track with push pins untill the caulk has dried.


    It's that easy!!

    If you want to change things later on, just pry the cork and track up with a putty knife, clean off the bottom of the track and try again.

    I used latex caulk adhesive when I laid my track. I had excellent results
    but it will be harder to make changes that just plain latex caulk.

    Hope this helps.
    Craig
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

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    If I remember right the Atlas track nails are more like wire brads. They bend real easy. Go to the hardware store and get nails there.
    And another thing, don't hammer the nails in to far. Leave a little gap ( about the thickness of a playing card ) between the tie and the nail head. Otherwise you'll bend the tie and change the gauge of the track.
    All of my track is nailed down, I too like using nails in case I want to change something.

    Loren
  8. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

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    This recent thread by Biased Turkey helped me:

    http://forum.zealot.com/t117455/

    I've just layed and glued the last set of risers using liquid nails, and plan to lay the track tmrw using clear latex calk. An interesting side effect of using caulk is that it soaks up a little noise. When i test ran my trains i noticed less noise from the latex caulk than from the liquid nails.

    I'm using caulk for just about everything :) i found it for 2$ a tube at home depot on the clearnce shelf. I guess people don't caulk things in the summer time on the east coast ?
  9. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

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    Yummy is right about noise. Nailing track to plywood, even if it is sitting on cork roadbed, will cause noise to be transmitted throught the nails to the plywood. I have my cork on top of homasote and even there I can notice a difference in noise (slight - but there) where I have used track nails on curves. I have removed the nails on the straight rails and there is no track noise there. I am going to go back and put the caulk under the track to get rid of the nails all around.

    If you do hammer a nail in too tight you will either break the tie or squeeze the rails enough to throw that little piece of track out of gauge and cause untold frustration as locos and/or cars derail on what looks like a perfectly laid piece of track.:rolleyes: The voice of experience and another reason for going to the caulk.
  10. Denyons

    Denyons Member

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    Track Laying

    Quote.....
    I'm using atlas N/HO nails. I have a feeling that I may destroy my track. I'd like to try using nails. Any advice? I've been using a small hammer and a punch but that does not guarantee I'll pound the nails straight?
    I may end up gluing, but it becomes a hassle at turnouts. What have you guys done?[/quote]

    Did you just nail down the cork?
    I always use white glue and hold it in place with push pins until dry.
    Re. the track laying...Hold the track in place then use a pin vice with a fine drill bit to pre drill through the cork and the plywood.
    You can then tap in your nails easily and push them down (by hand) to the ties. I use the end of a 5/16 bolt to push the track nails down. The bolt has a slight hollow and prevents it slipping off the nail. Don't push the nail in too far or you will bend the tie and buckle the track inwards.
  11. PennCentralFan

    PennCentralFan Member

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    Did you just nail down the cork?
    I always use white glue and hold it in place with push pins until dry.
    Re. the track laying...Hold the track in place then use a pin vice with a fine drill bit to pre drill through the cork and the plywood.
    You can then tap in your nails easily and push them down (by hand) to the ties. I use the end of a 5/16 bolt to push the track nails down. The bolt has a slight hollow and prevents it slipping off the nail. Don't push the nail in too far or you will bend the tie and buckle the track inwards.[/quote]

    Yes, I nailed the cork to the board. I had a few crooked nails. I think I'll glue the track to the cork. I've glued before using Elmer's. Elmer's is cheap and it's pretty good. I just don't like the time factor when you're glueing track. You have about 30 minutes before the glue sets and at times I've had sections of track not exactly tight using the rail joiners and I don't find out until the next day when the glue dries. Plus it's a hassle around the turnouts. I'll try using less glue. The ballasting process also helps to glue the track in place.

    I've had some people tell me that use the ballasting process to hold down the track.

    I'll glue down the track and use stick pins to keep the track down.
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

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    I would try to have nails that don't go through the cork. This may be a bit hard with N gauge cork, but I always found that plywood was too hard to put small nails in.
    I don't put nails through the ties. I like to put them outside the rails and between the ties and then remove them (if I can still find them) after I ballast.
    I don't hammer; I push them in with pliers -- usually long nose or bent nose.
    (Boy, there's a lot of "I" in this post!)
  13. Tommybza

    Tommybza Member

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    One thing I have noticed ,start them ,then use a panneling punch to finish it ?worked for me .
    T
  14. guyvanwettering

    guyvanwettering New Member

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    I have used nails in the past to hold everything down and it just doesn't hold up well. I had noticed that over time the nails holding the track down would eventually work back up making contact with my couplers and causing problems. On my new layout I went with 3/4' plywood, gluing down the cork with wood glue holding it in place with push pins until dry (which does not take long at all), and using Polyseamseal clear caulk adhesive for the track, Holding the track in place with weights. I tried using pins to hold down the track but the weights puts more even pressure over a wider section of track than the pins would. If you want to pull the track up just run a razor knife between the roadbed and track and it comes up easily.
  15. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

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    The first layout I constructed had nails going through the track and cork and into the plywood. Lots of bent nails and broken ties.

    The second time around I used foam insulation underneath the cork and glued the cork and roadbed down. I had a much easier time installing the track. And not a single broken tie.

    If you really want to use nails to hold down the track I would suggest a softer base like strips of pine wood. The plywood is too tough for the little track nails.
  16. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

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    I would also suggest NOT gluing your turnouts down. As has been pointed out in other threads, you want to be able to remove the turnout easily If it needs to be replaced in the future. Generally the turnout will give you more problems that the track so leave them accessible and removable. You definitely do not want to get any of your caulk, glue, or other material near the pivot, points, or throw bars. For that reason alone it is advisable to keep the turnout in place with the joiners on the connecting track. Do not solder that connection either,