Among all the decisions required to make when designing a model railroad, the style of track is very influential to the final outcome. There’s a few factors to consider when it comes time to choose between hand laid track versus flex track. Time and cost are two of the major influences on making that decision, but ultimately, it comes down to personal preference.
Many model railroad enthusiasts stay true to the original modeling technique of hand laying track. This technique offers greater freedom when it comes to planning the track layout compared to track sold in straight and curved sections. Hand laid track also tends to appear more prototypical than flex track. Whether you are new to hand laying track or familiar with it, there’s always new methods and techniques to learn.
Step by Step: Hand Laying Track
In this tutorial, modeler George Sebastian-Coleman demonstrates how to hand lay track. He provides helpful tips on products and tools to use. George begins the tutorial by suggesting his prefered product to use for the roadbed. He uses a Homasote product, which you can buy in big sheets. Cork roadbed is an option as well, but Homasote grips nails well and is easy to spike into.
If you decide to work with Homasote, George offers a couple suggestions to make your experience with the product better. One valuable tip to consider when working with Homasote is to cut the product with a toothless knife-type blade on a saber saw. He also suggests sealing Homasote with a clear shellac to help control expansion and contraction.
Take your time and check your work. George suggests taking a pair of trucks or a complete car and rolling it down the length of a finished track to make sure its rolling smoothly. Once you get the rhythm of laying track, it moves along swiftly. Before you know it, you’ll have smooth flowing trackwork at any radius and any size that you want.