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Better Solution for Track Nailing?

Started by douglas, February 12, 2017, 11:16:35 PM

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Hey guys. I'm laying sectional track with cork roadbed, and am getting really frustrated with nailing the track down. I've tried using a craft hammer as well as a normal-sized hammer, and both are very iffy to work with. I've dented more than one piece of track just making sure the nails are in deep enough so they don't scrape the chassis of my engines; and I've gotten plenty of nails in just enough so that they do just that, and removing them is damaging the track.

Any advice on what to do here? Would something like a tiny nail gun (such as this) work?


I've always just used white glue. Much less work.



White-gluing the track to the cork? Seems like that would damage the ties just as much as my current hammer-and-nails method.

James in FL

If you want to continue with track nails, after you get them started in place, then use a nail punch like this;

To remove the nails use needle nose pliers.

I prefer clear silicone caulk similar to this;

Good luck

plas man

try a carpenters pin pusher used for panel and veneer pins , most tool shops should stock them , or internet shopping .
alternate method is to drill (pin vice) small hole through sleeper/tie and push track pin  through tie into cork bed .


Douglas,your reply to mark from spookshow was a bit harsh. this gentleman has done more to promote model railroading as much as anyone i know.if you have a minute i would suggest you go to his website and have a good look. his site is the bible on loco reviews etc.he has also built many layouts with step by step instructions,and when he recommends something it usually has merits.i am not trying to insult you by any means just a little tip that maybe you were quick to comment before thinking about the answer he gave.also i am surprised you have not taken your track gauge out of gauge by using a hammer to install those peskey little nails. myself i use kato track &secure it with little drops of epoxy from my glue gun in the section of track every 2 ft or so and never had a problem if having to remove a section of track.personally i haven't used track nails in many yrs and attach my track directly to the foam bed with no cork roadbed,but that is up to the modellers choosing as what works best for him.trusting the answers you get here will help you to resolve the track laying issues you are having .there are many folks here on this forum and others that are so giving and willing to help others it has been a god send to me and has helped me as an individual to resolve many problems and issues during my many yrs in this hobby..let us know how you make out/ regards&later KEWATIN


As Spookshow suggested, you use Elmer's, which does not damage the track.  You can use a nail here or there, if you want to do that.  Plas man has good advice on the use of a pin vise.  Do take care not to snap the pin vise.  The Elmer's works well, I have used it myself.   Once you are sure that everything is allright with the track and it is time to ballast, you will use Elmer's thinned with water which will add to the hold.

Elmer's does not attack plastic or cork.

Woodland Scenics sells pins that you can use to hold down the cork or the track until the Elmer's dries.


While I use a lot of Woodland Scenics material, you can get "T" pins at most fabric and craft stores for about 1/3 the cost of the Woodland Scenics pins.

If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.

Fred Klein

The nice thing with Elmer's glue is that if you want to remove the track, all you have to do is wet the glue and it becomes soft again. Then, once you have the track section removed, you can soak it in a little water for a few minutes and the Elmer's glue will wash right off, leaving the track as good as new.

Hope this helps.
Fred Klein
Okeechobee, FL

plas man

most important of all white glue Elmer's/Woodland or other makes - dry's clear .


Another option I've had success with is 'Low Temp' hot melt glue. Just a dab every foot or so, to hold things in place until the ballast is in place and locking things down. Like white glue, it's easy to pop loose with a putty knife. The key is to make sure to use a 'Low Temp' glue gun, or a dual mode that's set to 'Low'. The 'High' setting is hot enough to damage plastic ties.

If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.


First off I have 3/8 cork under my entire 2 x 4 layout, but since you said you are using cork roadbed it might work. I like to be able to move my track easily so I do not use glue. You have to cut them to the correct length and try them. Works perfect for me and my layout I am working on and very inexpensive.

I got them at Michaels Craft Store, and they were $1.79 I think for 150 0f them:

I use needle nose pliers to install them after I have cut them to the length I want. Might work, or might not, but really cheap to try. I am using them in Atlas code 80 track sections.

And best of all, if I change my mind, super simple to remove and change my track layout.


I use a pin vise with a drill just a few ths smaller than the nail. Drill the hole deeper than the nail, then use a nail set to push in the nail just above the tie. After your satisfied with the track you can ballast and glue.  When dry you can remove the nails very easy.   If you select the correct drill size the nails will go in fairly easy but still hold.   


Based on having an n-scale home railroad since 1975 and trying homasote, plywood and 2 inch extruded polystyrene as a base, about 2000,  I elected to use one of the brands of sectional track that comes with the roadbed attached. [Okay, so I know I am not answering directly about nailing the track.] 

I found with the extruded foam, the track can be fixed in place with straight pins.  I find route of the right of way of my home railroad has always been dynamic.  I do not want to glue or nail track in place only to create extract effort and/or damaged track when I elect to make a change in the track location.  During those years my home railroad was moved several times and rebuilt; with the track with attached roadbed, I have been able to recycle the same track.  I have over 800 sections of the subject track based on an inventory I compiled when I packed it for our most recent move.

I suspect all too often model railroads tend to model other modelers railroad instead of a railroad.  I suspect they tend to follow the practices used in the past instead of exploring the newer methods.