Solder is Ok as long as you leave some un-sodered so that the track/wood can expand and contract, although your layout is small enough that you should only have a little of that. Normal electrical tin/lead 44 solder is fine. Rosin flux is easier to deal with in any case. It is a good idea to wire each section of soldered track. Do not depend on the rail joiners to carry current. They will start to fail after a year or so.
I use black craft foam. It comes in a sheets up to 11x17", about 1/16" thick. (you can also get gray and a multitude of other colors - check the craft stores) It cuts easily with scissors, glues well, and is _cheap_.
I do road and parking lot lines with the opaque ink "gel pens", in white, yellow, and blue (for handicapped parking), and a black one to "erase" mistakes. You may have to try a few brands of them before you find one that does it really well. Use a light touch! The results are _great_, tho... looks MUCH better than painted lines or charting tape.
Almost _all_ rail joints should be soldered. Don't rely on joiners to carry current OR hold alignment if they're just slipped on... ESPECIALLY on curves. ALL curves should be soldered before the last bit of rail is bent into position (while the part where the joint is to be is straight) and then curved. This will avoid kinks in the turn - something that can really cause problems in smaller scales
In addition, solder drop wires to the _outside_ of the rails every few feet... it makes for MUCH better performance. Never try to solder in the inside of rails in N... you'll cause running problems that are difficult to clear up.
I've used artist cardboard which has been painted and striped. You can get large sheets of it very inexpensively and you can cut it into different shapes and lengths easily. Additionally, you can easily put it down with a contact glue. There is a commercial product available that is similar to a spackling compound that many like. Several have said that it is good for modeling concrete roads because you can model cracks in it and stain them in a dark color. I hope this helps
Thanks for the advice. Looks like I will be spending some time soldering. Unfortunately I mounted the track already, but I will figure something out. The trains seemed a bit jumpy when I pulled them out for the first time this year. I worked on the clips a little and things got better. Soldering sounds like the answer.
For (blacktop) roads I used standard cork roadbed, and lightly topped it with Woodland Scenics Smooth-It to fill in the creases and sanded it down to a smooth surface, then painted it grimy black. I used cut balsa wood for rail crossings. When I asked this same question at a hobby shop they suggested using sand paper. Good Luck!
I have a few rail joints that I can't seem to get tight with the clips. Can I solder the nickel track and if so what solder should I use?
----------------------------------------------------- When I built my current layout, I used mostly sectional track. When I connected the sections, if the rail joiner wasn't tight, I replaced it with a new one that was tight. I had no problem at all with electrical conductivity as a result. I have only one electrical feeder to the layout and there is no noticable power loss.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad: