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Are Track Screws Better Than Nails and/or Glue?

Kris would like to know what others think:

“In another week or so I will be ready to fix down my HO track. I saw several bulk packs of track screws for ho, n, z scale on Amazon and eBay. Prices varied, but around $15 seems average for 1000. Before I buy screws, nails or glue I thought I would see what others who have used screws or nails have to say. I suspect that screws, although very tiny, could be easier to remove than nails and glue? I could be wrong. What do others recommend?”

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12 Responses to Are Track Screws Better Than Nails and/or Glue?

  • phil johnsonsays:

    I would recommend track nails to hold your track in place until ballasting. Screws are unsightly and a pain. The problem I’ve seen with glue is it doesn’t allow for expansion and contraction of the track.

  • Ken Bristowsays:

    I have used track nails and screws and there is no way I would go back to track nails, they are a pain to insert and a pain to remove, if for some reason the track plan does not work out, if you want to modify or make additions to your layout, nails and glue are a lot of extra work. Glue makes it just about impossible to remove the track or change it for the same above reasons, and you may need a big chisel to remove the track and it is highly possible you will destroy the track . Screws are adjustable and all though tedious to fit, more practical. Some say unsightly but it all depends on your point of view, and ultimately it is your choice.
    Ken B..

    • Terry Bellsays:

      I agree.
      I have posted about my brad nailer method below.

  • tom croftonsays:

    most folks are using latex caulk and temporary weights, no metal fasteners

    • Sheldon Clarksays:

      I would use fine track pins (not nails) to hold the track in place until gluing and/or ballasting has been carried out & the adhesive has set. The pins should not be driven fully home, so that they may be more easily removed with fine pliers. Track should be weighted down until the glue has set as pins not driven fully home will not hold it flat to the baseboard – the pins are there purely to ensure lateral alignment is not disturbed.

  • Morgan Bilbosays:

    May I endorse caulk? I use DAP Alex, about $2.84 at HD or Lowes in a 10 oz tube. I do know that it is nice for me. I have had to pry up the track, and/or roadbed (both held in place only by the caulk. No nails, screws, nor glue. Do NOT use Liquid Nails.) The prying up was easy, no mess. And to replace and re-caulk was just as easy. This was on painted pink foam. I do suggest painting under the roadbed. Even if plywood. Caulk on paint holding cork or foam holding plastic ties track. Works for me. But you may wish to visit some layouts near where you live to see what effect weather or humidity may have. I found this much easier than nails. Nails or screws can dent the ties, affecting the gauge. I weighed the sandwich down with 2×4’s. In other words, light weight is all that is needed. Various YouTube videos on how to pry up. I used putty knife. Some use dental floss.

  • ROBERT SCHWORMsays:

    I prefer Liquid Nails Foam For Projects. My deck is 1/2 inch plywood with 1 inch blue foam board over it. I locate the track plan and lay down a smear of this material over the center line. I then install woodland scenics foam trackbed. Then I place the track over this with one inch nails with a very small head. The nail goes down thru the roadbed, thru the smear, into the foam. The smear expands and grips the nail shank like crazy. Later if necessary if you must move the track, grab onto the nail head and it will pull back up thru the smear. A flat putty knife will very nicely slice under the roadbed and thru the smear and release it from the foam board. DO NOT ballast for at least one year until you have faithfully run all trains and stock many times over all your track without a single issue. Then consider ballast but it becomes damn permanent. You do not ballast yards or industrial areas, only main lines and spurs.

  • Dereksays:

    I’m in the middle of doing my layout in the UK and would recommend screws, if you have to do some adjustment it’s easier to do. I have used Gaugemaster self ballasted underlay with a 10/12mm screw, longer one used on points. Screws are very good especially if you use flexi track.

  • Stevesays:

    I use Du-Bro no. 2 x 3/8 button head screws when I attach my kato track to the 1/2 in plywood because you get a good tight connection between the allen driver and the screw…no slipping like with phillips or straight slot screw drivers. I f you do not like the shiny screw heads , you can darken them with a magic marker.They are easy to remove also!

  • Rudolph Blawsays:

    For my layout I used DAP Dynaflex 230 available in different colors at Home Depot here in the U.S. I used “cedar tan”. At some point I had to make a modification during which I found out that the track was not too hard to remove by carefully using a thin and sharp putty knife. My track is Shinohara and ME flextrack. The Dynaflex 230 stays flexible. I did not want to see nails in my ties.

  • Morgan Bilbosays:

    I’d like to comment on what others have said. And this is IMHO. I used DAP Dynaflex 230 and also the DAP Alex. Alex is cheaper than 230. And on all the track where I did both of these caulks is still in fine shape. No problems with either. So your choice. I caution against Liquid Nails. That is permanent and you must make sure it’s plastic compatible – if you are using foam. Both the DAP’s are good on plastic and easy to pry up if needed for repair or “just moving over a bit”. To all. Please take no offense. This is just my opinion based upon my experience.

  • Terry Bellsays:

    I have pulled up my (HO) railyard (Glue) big mess and hard to get rid of the glue even though I used water soluable glue. I decided that was not the way for me to go with my new yard.
    screws seem too tiny to even hold while screwing them.
    Nails are difficult to both nail in and remove. I came up with an different plan that I have never heard of anyone doing.
    I have an 18 gage brad nailer as well as a stapler, and the brads just fit those little holes in the ties. I can make an adapter to hot glue to the nailer that aligns the nail with the hole. Now the nails are longer than the table top is thick and if I want to take the rail up again I can just get under the table and tap the nail out until I can get ahold of the head and pull it out. Tests prove it does not damage the tie when removed.
    Likewise the staples from the stapler just fit over the ties and do no damage to the ties. this I use on the turnouts on the backsides where no one looks.

    I have not tried this on a massive scale but only on test pieces.

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