Cork roadbed - shaping shoulders question

Question x posted to uk.models.rail and rec.models.railroad

I am making an HO American outline model. Having read up on various ways of making roadbed I am now experimenting with cork.

I have purchased some cork tiles from B&Q (Home Depot on the US) I have managed to get a semi 'production line', using a paper trimmer, to make strips 20mm (just over 3/8") wide. This approx. half the width required for a single road and is what I've seen suggested [1]

The problem I now have is how to make some sort of 'production line' to make the shoulders (1 side of each strip) to roughly 45 degrees so that I do not use too much ballast.

I have considered trying to lay the cork first them shape it, but I know from previous experience it will always be in most difficult places to reach and so would like to do as much 'on the bench' as possible beforehand.

I have considered (but not yet tried) using my bench grinder and running each strip *lightly* down the smoothest side but don't know whether this would clog up the grinder too much or would cause the cork to burn too easily (I did say lightly!!)

Does anyone else have any suggestions?

[1] 2 x 20 mm strip have the advantage that you can just draw a centre line, lay one alongside it, then lay the second to that. It is also easier to bend than anything thicker would be.
Reply to
Mike Hughes
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If you cut the strips at a 45 degree angle like the ones that Atlas and others sell, you'll have the desired slopes when you pull the two pieces apart and lay them with the vertical sides against each other. The nice thing about this method is that you don't waste any of the cork either!

-- Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?

Reply to
Bob May

One suggestion I remember seeing from an article in MR (I think) many years ago, was to first cut the cork into 50mm strips. Then there was a design for a little gizmo that held a razor blade at 45 deg and cut it in half lengthways when the 50 mm cork strips were pushed through. The two halves were then laid down the centre linne of your track drawing, with each side having its own 45 deg slope thanks to Mr Razorblade.

I dont have the article, maybe someone can help, but IIRC it was quite simple and thinking about it, there is no reason why it shouldnt be esy to make.

Steve Magee Newcastle NSW Aust

Reply to
Steve Magee

Try a cutter designed for making mounts in picture framing. These cut fairly thick card at 45 degrees so may work with cork.


Reply to

Could you use a pizza cutter on a suitable 45 deg frame?????

Reply to
David Miller

I asked myself this series of questions also. Came down to 'do I really need a 45 degree slope?" So I gave it a test try with 90 degree vs 45 degree slopes and put some ballast down. When I was done, you couldn't tell the difference. Well, ok if you looked REAL CLOSE you could see that the stone ballast had 'depth' on the 90 degree cuts, whilst you could see 'cork' on the 45 degree cuts. Do I think that it would make the slightest difference from 2 feet away -> NOT.

I suspect that if you wanted to hide the cork as above, you probably would put down more ballast and it could be that I didn't put done enough in the first place. Your mileage may vary.

Try both and see what you like and which would be easier for your style of modeling!


Reply to

ctclibby spake thus:

Alternatively, you could just cut the edges square, then run a bead of caulk or something in the corner to create a 45° "fillet".

Reply to
David Nebenzahl

in article 4457e73f$0$3699$, David Nebenzahl at wrote on 5/2/06 4:14 PM:

I guess it may save some money, but all these suggestions seem to be a lot of work instead of just buying cork roadbed all beveled and the right size from Midwest products or foam roadbed from Woodland Scenics. Maybe I'm missing something but given the cost of a single good locomotive, the cost of prefabricated roadbed is small.

Reply to
Edward A. Oates

In message , David Nebenzahl writes

Great idea. Hadn't thought of that one!

Will also experiment with 90 degree and add extra ballast. As I'm using cork tiles it should give a lot more depth than 'model' cork thickness.

Reply to
Mike Hughes

In message , Edward A. Oates writes

I'm based in the UK and it's not easy to get over here or I would have considered it :-))

Reply to
Mike Hughes

in article CBO$jOB+, Mike Hughes at wrote on 5/2/06 9:01 PM:

See I was missing something: your location. Places like Walther's charge $5

  • 15 to 20% of the item cost to ship internationally. There must be some UK or EU based internet store from which you can purchase items and have it shipped more reasonably.

Have fun beveling!

Reply to
Edward A. Oates

Thanks for your feedback here's the results of experiments so far.

I've tried the bench grinder using some of my first (less successful) 'production line' strips of cork

Tried 'fine' end first: did not seem to make much impression with light pressure, pushed harder then it dug into the cork. After a few more passes worked out the pressure required and how fast to move along the edge.

Tried 'coarse' grinding wheel: Better and more easily controlled results with this, again once correct pressure has been established (by feel)

Both wheels give quite a lot of dust so I'll probably have to fit an extraction device of some sort (vacuum cleaner taped to bottom of grinding wheel table) and wear a mask. The other problem is that the lead in and exit from the strips of cork is not as even as the rest of the length, possibly due to position of hands holding cork. Maybe I can rig up some sort of jig to overcome this (and give correct angle).

Overall thoughts are that this could become a method of producing the strips at home as it gives me time with the 'domestic authority' when I'm cutting the cork into 20 mm strips (we both watch TV at the same time!) and it does give a smooth finish to the cork. Downside is that there is some time to be taken in learning the skills to get right pressure. Also there is a time/mess side to getting the bevel right.

In the meantime I'm considering trying some other methods so if anyone has any further suggestions feel free to tell me.

Reply to
Mike Hughes

Its readily available in the UK and has been for many years. Try

and scroll down to C1081, Carrs Sliced Cork 6m. £ 8.70

Another supplier often available in modelshops is (or was) Jarvis of Stockport. Keith

Ready bevelled does make it easier but to bevel it yourself forget grindersw, use a knife, cork cuts very easily. Keith

Reply to

No "r" in "Javis" .

See item JTRACK00 at :-

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Dave W

Reply to
David Westerman

Carrs do sliced cork (2 strips per track) with the angle already done for you.

Reply to

Hmmmm, haven't put down any cork lately have ya? I am looking at 300 to 400 feet and 25.00 for 10 3 foot sections from Midwest I could buy a few of good loco's. Cork in sheets seems to be the cheapest and easiest to get. Sheet cork is easy to setup a jig for cutting. I have looked into 'close cell foam' and it seems cheaper than cork but I haven't gone down that road yet. Note that NONE of the above includes shipping or driving.


Reply to

Hi Mike,

I'm coming in very late on this, but my suggestion would be to cut a

45 deg groove in a piece of MDF board and hot-glue a knife blade into it, and glue a strip of timber the width of your required trackbed away from it, and then push the cork across this - provided the cork is rigid enough of course?

This would (in two passes) cut to width and profile in one go.

Just a thought!


Reply to

Good idea, but the trick is to measure a vertical the thickness of the cork to the blade. Then measure half the width of the cork stock and put a guide either side of the blade. Then with one cut you have the two halves necessary to lay the roadbed with no waste. It also lays, glues and bends better since the vertical sides can be precisely placed along a drawn center line on the subroadbed.


Reply to

Great idea which I may try with my next lot of cork tiles.

In the meantime here is the progress to date. I tried using the 'square cut' cork 2 days ago (Tuesday). The cork strips are 4mm (approx 1/6 inch) thick, 20 mm 4/5") wide and 300 mm (12") long. I found that I could bend these relatively easily to the minimum 24" radius on my layout (most curves are 30" or greater except in a few places which go down to 24", where there will be speed restrictions).

Having bought some of the American 'How to' books I marked the centreline of my track, laid one strip up to this, put white PVA glue on the cork, laid it in place and then used some small round headed nails to hold this in place. I left this in place for 24 hours to dry then butted the next strip up to this and left it to dry also. Where the glue seeped out from under the outer edges of the cork I just spread along the edge of the cork to help to provide an angled edge. I intend to use a 'Stanley' knife with a curved blade to cut away the top rectangular edge then rub this down with sandpaper.

I have laid strips down where a point (switch) goes, including leaving space for the tie bar. I think that this might be easier with longer strips. The whole thing has been left to dry until I can get back to it next week.

Watch this space for further instalments:-)

Reply to
Mike Hughes

Just a thought how about using DS foam tape instead.

Once it is ballasted you do not know what is underneath no glueing, cutting or pins needed and easy to lay.


Reply to
Peter Prewett

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