A Cheaper Cork Roadbed
An option to buying commercial cork roadbed is to make it yourself. This can be done by first buying what is called Roll Cork, which can be found at almost any hardware store in widths of 3' by 3/16" thick, the price is about $5 per foot. After getting it home lay a straight edge across the three foot width and with a sharp hobby or utility knife, began slicing off strips of the cork to your desired width.
Instead of having cork that is in two pieces like the commercial cork, we cut ours in one piece, 3/4" wide ( roughly the same width as the ties ). This we do for two reasons. One, this increases the amount of strips that can be cut from the roll cork and the more you cut the cheaper it becomes. Second, since the cork does not extend beyond the ties, this allows us to form a more natural slope of the ballast. This however is a personal opinion.
By not having the cork split in two pieces which can be laid one on each side of the track centerline as with the commercial cork, this becomes a little more difficult to get laid perfectly centered, so after the track has been laid on top of the cork, we go back and trim the excess cork off flush with the ends of the ties with a sharp hobby knife. If you wanted to, you could slice pieces at 3/8" wide and then tack one piece on each side the track center line. Now the track is ready to be painted, ballasted and run
The more strips that can be cut from the piece of cork, the cheaper it becomes. We average about 14 to 16, 3/4" wide strips from a 12" wide piece. This puts the price at roughly 50 cents each as compared to 85 to 90 cents for commercial cork roadbed.
Give it a try, it works for us!