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Track On Cork Difficulties

Ron W posted this question to challenge readers:

“This might sound like a stupid question but I want to lay cork using the center of the track. Marking the line with the track in position on plywood is difficult. I need some kind of tool to mark the center line accurately because my eyesight is not good enough. I thought of using a pencil through the hole but this didn’t work. I concluded the marking pencil needs to be securely mounted to the truck hole. Is there a better way of doing this or even a suitable tool available?”

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8 Responses to Track On Cork Difficulties

  • Sheldon Clarksays:

    Draw your line on the baseboard – where you want the centre of the track to be – then cut your cork strip down the centre and glue one half so that one edge is on the line you have drawn. When the glue has dried, glue the other half into place. The narrower cork strip will bend more easil to any curves than a full-width strip would.

  • Sheldon Clarksays:

    Assuming you are starting with a bare baseboard, all you need is a yard or metre ruler for the straight lines and a flexible curve for the curves.

  • Randall Styxsays:

    I’m a little confused, but it seems like you’re going about it backwards – trying to make the cork match the track. What I’ve done is plot out the center line of the track on the plywood first using math and drawing tools (meter stick, bar or string compass, etc.), leaving both track and cork off the table. Plot out the curve radii, the straight sections and the transition curves, if any (there are some tricks for that). That way I can lay the cork to the line and don’t have to worry about slop in the track joints to make sure things line up as designed. Then I lay the track to the cork, using the center line of the cork for a guide. If you don’t have the specs on special track sections (like turnouts) you can trace them and make a paper template to use when plotting out the track center line.

    Now, if your track is already secured to the plywood, and you want to take it off to install cork and make sure it goes back down in exactly the same place (except for the cork), one way to mark the cork location is to mark its edge, not its center. Put a Sharpie or other marker into a spring loaded clothes pin and attach the clothes pin to an old flat car or box car base so that as the car is moved along the track the Sharpie marks a line where the edge of the cork should be. Or make a tool out of a thin piece of wood with grooves to slide along the track and a hole through which you can insert a Sharpie or pencil to mark out the edge location of the cork. Or tape a marker to the edge of a rail gauge tool and trace along the track.

  • Ron Freysays:

    So, Ron, maybe you want to find a very fine nabbed pen to poke through those little holes in the track, or between the tracks. Those pens are available!

    Ron Frey

  • David Stokessays:

    I might be stupid, but I thought commercial cork track underlay was already partially split down the centre at a 45 degree pitch. The idea is you split the cork in half, and lay the “square” edge on your centre line, and the sloping edge give a batter for the ballast.

  • Dale Arendssays:

    Engineering problem… If you are working on a bare base with the track on it, marking the center line is difficult. An easier method is to run a line down both sides of the track. Then secure a pencil to a spare piece of wood cut to the length between the lines. Position the pencil at the midway point of the piece of wood and, after removing the track, run your gauge along the track lines. As long as the pencil is positioned correctly, the line it draws will be the center line.

  • Tim Carrigansays:

    If I understand your issue, your tack is already laid and now you want to relay it with a cork roadbed. You want to know how to make sure the cork is laid with near perfect alignment with your current track position.
    My suggestion is Trace with a marker both outer edges of the ties of your track. Measure the width betwen those marks. Divide by 2. That distance is your track centerline.The mark that distance at various distance with dots. Then connect the dots.

  • Geoffsays:

    It sounds as if you want to lay the track in position first, to work out where the cork needs to go. You don’t say what scale or what brand of track you are using, but my first thought is it should be possible to use a marker (not a pencil, as a marker is easier to see) and put dots in between the ties/sleepers on the centre line.

    If there isn’t enough space in the trackwork for that, then mark the outside of the track – both sides – and then either guesstimate where the centre is or use a ruler, and again use dots to mark it, and then join them up.

    Some of the marker will inevitably get onto the track, so you may want to use a non-permament marker as you should be able to wipe that off. You don’t need to worry about the marks on the plywood as you will end up covering them with the cork.

    As well, you need to think about how you are gluing it. Most glue goes on white, and could easily cover the centre line! I’ve learnt that once you have the centre line, you put the cork down and mark the outside of the cork, spread the glue in between the lines, and then lay the cork using the outside line as a guide. If you are doing it this way, then maybe you only need to mark one side of the outside of the track, as you will then use that as a guide to lay the outside edge of the cork.

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