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Model Railroad Design - Roadbeds Vs. Standard Track

Feb 25, 2008
With model railroading just as with real railroads it all comes down to the tracks on which the trains roll. If they are stable and well designed the trains will safely make their journeys year after year. If not they may not be able to complete even a single trip without problems or derailment " so what goes into the creation of a safe and stable track system?

In the real world deep gravel beds supporting heavy wooden beams are used to anchor and place the tracks. On most prototype systems however the creation of miniature roadbeds is bypassed for a quicker and less work-intensive standardized track system which can be simply glued or nailed down to the table surface.

Most of the standard tracks provide at least some detail to help emulate the look of a real track, in the more exotic cases even simulating the gravel roadbed in various materials including cork or rubber, and these are the most common products that hobbyists utilize.

Just as in real life creating a true roadbed from scratch involves a lot of work and necessitates some upkeep that these standard tracks help the hobbyists to avoid, and there is very little to be gained from creating the roadbed yourself - what it really all comes down to is two things:

- The level of realism you want to achieve

- How much of the work you want to do yourself

If you merely want a functional rail system and want to focus your efforts on dioramas and other aspects of prototyping, or find yourself completely satisfied with the look simulated on standard track systems then it makes sense not to invest the time and costs of creating a roadbed and meticulously laying out track by hand. Its faster, cheaper and almost as effective to just glue down existing track systems after all " but if you are detail conscious and proud of the amount of work you are putting into your prototyping then you may want to go ahead and include your rail system in your hand-crafted techniques.

Either way the end result is bound to be spectacular " its all just a matter of choice.
About the Author
Looking for more ideas for model railroad scenery? Visit The Model Railroader at http://www.themodelrailroader.com for lots of helpful tips & ideas and to get your free copy of my report on designing model railways.
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