Remember those wooden stir sticks in my last post? When I placed them flat on the surface of the Inglenook module, they were just thick enough to reach the bottom of the rail ties. Almost the perfect thickness to raise the level of the ‘ground’ closer to the track, which will hide some of the plastic roadbed.
I’ve read forum posts that suggest using N-scale cork roadbed to raise the ground up, but I tried that on my old layout and hope I never have to touch that stuff again. I found it too floppy to make precise cuts and too crumbly to handle without making a mess everywhere. Also, it got expensive very quickly. I gave up and simply filled the space between sidings with Sculptamold. I applied it too thick, though, and wound up having to repair cracks every other day. This time around, I will opt for something a bit more solid: basswood and a filler of spackling paste.
This afternoon I brought one of the stir sticks down to the big-box craft store, A.C. Moore, and compared the thickness of the stick with the various samples of basswood that they had in stock (it was easier than measuring). The 3/32″ sheets were pretty close to what I was looking for. Perhaps a bit on the thin side, but I can easily make up the thickness by sanding and spackling. One large sheet and two smaller sheets cost me about $7. Mind you, I hate supporting box stores like A.C. Moore, but it is the only store within a ten-mile radius that stocks basswood.
Back home, I laid the track out on some newspaper and traced around it with a marker. Then I cut out the shape and used it as a template on the basswood. I don’t have a jigsaw so I used a utility knife to cut the basswood. This required 5-6 passes for every line, and by the time I was finished I’d gone through three blades.
I fit the pieces around the track on the layout, did some trimming, and then glued them down with wood glue. I used a couple of clamps and a lot of books to keep the basswood from curling upward while the glue set. After a couple of hours, I removed the books and clamps and test fit the track again. It was almost perfect.
After the glue was dry, I pulled up the track one last time (hopefully), and painted the entire top surface with some white primer that I had kicking around (because we recently painted our living room).