Banning the Belt

Work has picked up on the Louisiana Central these past weeks.  Mainline trackage is going down through Willis yard and will be heading west beyond Willis within a few weeks.  This represents the first trackage of the Louisiana Central beyond the staging areas onto the visible portion of the layout.  In addition, the first industrial spur track on the layout has been installed.

The initial 8 feet of sub-roadbed (tabletop) has been installed in West Monterey.  This will be the area with the large plywood and paper mill complexes that will be the basis for the loads in/empties out scenario.  I’ll be starting with the sub-roadbed at the east end of Monterey soon, building toward the center of the Monterey area.  I’d like to get a little more work done and will then update the website with a few more photos showing the latest progress.

I’ve made the decision to ban my belt sander from the layout.  Three times I’ve tried using it to sand Homasote panel joints to even the ends and the results weren’t very good, requiring a judicious application of drywall mud to even and level out the area afterward.  My most recent effort was trying to sand a taper into the cork roadbed where it butted up to some Homabed roadbed of a lesser thickness.  Despite partially supporting the sander above the work and just applying a few “bumps” of the trigger, I still managed to gouge everything badly.  I’ll try to use the drywall mud again to fill and level the area.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll have to scrape out about 16″ of roadbed and start over.  When will I learn?

We’ve had an unusually cold winter thus far, but the train room has remained warm and cozy through it all.  Having worked through both hot, humid summers and cold winters in the room, I can say the heavy insulation and weatherproofing of the building has paid off.  It’s a pleasure working in it’s comfortable environment.

Again, I extend the invitation to anyone interested in seeing the layout to come by for a visit…just give me a buzz or drop me an email and we’ll set something up.


4 thoughts on “Banning the Belt

  1. Jack, I would talk to Walter Reiger he used alot of Homasote. I understand best result were you first apply sand and sealer to it liberally. Left it dry and then do any sanding. Would suggest orbital sander with vacume attached. I use it on cork and it get 80% of the sanded off product into shop vac.

  2. Hi Jack,

    It’s easy to sand glued down cork to make a roadbed transition, so I wouldn’t worry about that. Use a hand sanding block and hold the vacuum hose in the other hand as you go.

    Homasote sheet is deliberately tapered at the end to make it easier to drywall the joints. (Thant’s why California Roadbed Co. planes the stuff to give Homabed a uniform height of .24 inches.) Better to fill with joint compound and sponge smooth before laying any track across joint.

    Good luck,


  3. Hi Art and Andy,

    I’ve found that sanding Homasote by hand is extremely slow and tedious…it tends to make lots of fuzz as opposed to sawdust. I haven’t tried sealing it first. Maybe I should.

    I’ve got some sections and scraps of Homasote that date back to the 70s and early 80s. It is much more consistent in thickness and level than the stuff I’ve bought in the past year or so. I’ve been trying to sand the high side of joints at least a bit, then applying several thin coats of drywall mud on the low side until I get a nice taper. I have also started sealing the mud and Homasote with paint to hopefully avoid problems later when I start scenery and ballast. So far, this is working fairly well. But occasionally I get in a hurry and succumb to temptation. Out comes the belt sander! But no more…

    You can see a bit of what I’m doing here.

    Good to hear from you guys.


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