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Cork Roadbed Enough for Sound Deadening?

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Cork Roadbed Enough for Sound Deadening?
Posted by Erie1951 on Saturday, September 07, 2019 5:39 PM

I need some input as to the sound deadening properties of the commonly available cork roadbed when placed on 3/8" plywood. Is it enough or would is a layer of foam under the cork the best way to go? Thanks!

Russ

Modeling the early '50s Erie in Paterson, NJ.  Here's the link to my railroad postcard collection: https://railroadpostcards.blogspot.com/

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Posted by doctorwayne on Saturday, September 07, 2019 6:05 PM

Well, I don't use foam for a layout base, but was surprised to read that it's not all that good for suppressing sound.  Cork isn't bad, but ballasting will negate some of its sound-deadening properties.
I have noticed that layouts on Homasote are fairly quiet, whether or not there's cork atop it. 

A plywood tabletop can really amplify sound, especially of it's not well-supported.  My layout's upper level is on a well-supported base, with ballasted cork under most of the track, and I'm not really bothered by the sound.  However, my layout is DC-powered, so there are no sound effects to be drowned out by ambient layout noise.

Wayne

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Saturday, September 07, 2019 6:15 PM

My experience with cork, foam, and now Homasote, is that once the ballast is glued down most of the sound dampening qualities are gone.

.

With track loosely fastened, cork seems to be the best, but Ballast needs to glued down.

.

-Kevin

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Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, September 07, 2019 7:07 PM

I agree with Kevin's observation.  When things are fastened together, sound absorption disappears.

Its the vibration created by the moving trains that gets amplified throughout the structure is what causes the noise.  Generally, the denser and heavier the benchwork, the less the trains will cause it to vibrate.

If you ran trains on benchwork made of concrete, you'd probably not hear any noise transmission.

Multiple layers of different substances tend to vibrate at different frequencies, so they may cancel each other out.  If you're really concerned about absolute quiet, probably make a sandwich of various materials and fasten them together with caulk to change the frequency.  But that's a lot of work for probably marginal gain.

- Douglas

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Posted by RR_Mel on Saturday, September 07, 2019 7:53 PM

My layout is HO and I have cork on top of ½” plywood as well as on ¼” OSB for my elevated runs.  I use Elmer’s white glue diluted 8:1 to anchor my ballast and the wheel sound through the roadbed is very minimal.
 
I don’t ballast the track (coded 100) in my hidden areas, only my viewable track is ballasted (code 83).
 
When I have a train running on my hidden track under my mountains I can’t hear them running.  If I had multiple trains running it could prove hazardous without my signal system.  I have a hidden siding where I park a full train and I had to put in optical detection front and rear so I could park them.
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
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Posted by Track fiddler on Saturday, September 07, 2019 8:42 PM

After standing in a corner for two-three days feeling a little ashamed.  I can tell you this. 

 

I gave too much time up worrying about the same thing you're worrying about.

Don't worry about sound and clickety clack.  That is what a train going down the tracks is supposed to sound like.  Just ask Johnny Cash,  He put it in his music.

 

Don't get me wrong.  Take your time with it,  don't be in a hurry.  Just lay your tracks to the best of your ability and that will be fine........ cork is good and the sound of your trains going down the track is good no matter how loud it is,  even better! 

Trains are big machines and make a lot of noise!    

 

 

TF

 

 

I heard the sound of a train coming from a room away and the clickety clack from one of our forums members basement in Wisconsin a few weeks ago.   

I liked it!

 

 

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, September 07, 2019 11:37 PM

 I must hear different things. My last layoout was foam, with cork roadbed. The part I got ballasted was in no way louder than the part that was unballasted. In fact it was probably quieter. 

 The roadbed and the track were fastened with caulk, not nails or a hard drying glue. The ballast was glued - we have hard water here so I just dilute the glue with 70% alcohol. What I've found is that when this sets up, the PVA (Elmer's white glue) remains a bit rubbery, compared to full strength white glue. Perhaps that's the difference.

 I did a little test but I don;t have a sound meter, in which I tried cork and homasote roadbed on 3/4" plywood, though withoout fastening anything down. Didn;t seem to be a huge difference between the two, but what really was silent was putting homasote roadbed over cork on the plywood. But to do that would require buying rolls of cork and cutting my own wide enough to then support the homasote roadbed on top of it. None of the options produced onbjectionable noise, so I doubt I will use 2 layers of roadbed.

                                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by wvg_ca on Saturday, September 07, 2019 11:40 PM

it depends on what you're trying to achieve ... trains normally aren't quiet , lol

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Saturday, September 07, 2019 11:42 PM

 I have been playing with trains, better then 15 years. On plywood and foam, with and without roadbed. I sill do not hear this godawfull.overbaring,can't standable noise, every ones crying about.

If a toy train running is so unbareable, how do you even dare to walk outside?  go to work or have the TV on ?

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Posted by Track fiddler on Sunday, September 08, 2019 12:59 AM

UNCLEBUTCH

 I have been playing with trains, better then 15 years. On plywood and foam, with and without roadbed. I sill do not hear this godawfull.overbaring,can't standable noise, every ones crying about.

If a toy train running is so unbareable, how do you even dare to walk outside?  go to work or have the TV on ?

 

 

YesYesYesYesYes   Well said and what else can we start to worry about here?       SadLaugh

 

TF

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Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, September 08, 2019 2:11 AM

In my observation, much of the "noise" from rolling stock is related more to the construction of said rolling stock rather than the trackwork.

This came to my attention recently after finishing up a few HO Life-Like Proto 2000 Mather box car kits. Usually I use the Kadee wheelsets but in this case I used the (old stock) Life-Like, plated, rib-backed wheels. Once I set them on the rails I noticed a much louder sound coming off the moving cars.

I have scores of old Proto 2000 cars on the layout. I never really observed this before so there might be something different with the plating on these wheels. All three of the kits I finished exhibit the same, noticably louder wheel noise.

Same thing with brass cars. They are a natural sounding board for the vibrations inherent in the rolling wheels. I've begun placing cubes of lightweight, soft foam inside cars when it can be concealed and that helps reduce extraneous noise considerably.

I'm with others here, though. I rather enjoy the sound of my trains running and that includes the rail/wheel sounds.

Regards, Ed

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Posted by Erie1951 on Sunday, September 08, 2019 7:49 AM

Thanks for the replies, everyone! My layout is a 2' 4" x 7' shelf and, although my switching operations will all be at low speed, I'm just concerned about a drumming sound from an idling loco and short runs. The plywood top is screwed down well onto the frame and to a support in the center. I think that I'll be okay with this sized layout using cork roadbed on the plywood. Maybe I can run a test with some straight cork roadbed pads and a length of flex track just in case. I just don't want to get everything down only to hear aggravating noise, that's all.

Russ

Modeling the early '50s Erie in Paterson, NJ.  Here's the link to my railroad postcard collection: https://railroadpostcards.blogspot.com/

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, September 08, 2019 7:53 AM

Slow switching speeds should be fine.  I run at about 20 to 25 scale mph, so the drumming can hit my ear at times.

At switching speeds, modern well built models with can motors and metal wheels will probably sound more like ball bearings rolling on glass more than anything.

- Douglas

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Sunday, September 08, 2019 9:40 AM

As others have noted, in my experience, taking an extra sound deadening step didn't seem to make a difference in road noise.

On my previous layout, the norm was cork roadbed on 1/2" ply with caulk, track layed with caulk, and ballast glued down with matte medium (more flexible than white glue).  As an experiment, I tried adding an additional layer of cork (1/8" thick) with caulk on the subroadbed.  The added cork was wide enough so that the ballast didn't contact the subroadbed.  

I couldn't detect any difference sound-wise.  

Jim

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, September 08, 2019 10:10 AM

If you want to quit down the sound, you need to will in the sounding board we make with the way we build our railroads. We are basically building drums so any sound mitigation must be made under the railroad. It is surprising how just a skirt in front can cut down the sound alot.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, September 08, 2019 10:26 AM

 P2K wheels seem louder than others. All oof my rolling stock has P2K wheels, unless the original came with metal wheels/ The loudest sound, on my hoome layout or at the club, is a SSSSSSSSSS sound of the wheels rolling on the rails. I used P2K wheels because prior to Walthers buying LL, they were insanely inexpensive, at least from Modeltrainstuff. I think around $3.99 a pack at the time, each pack is good foor 3 cars. At the club, we have a connection that can get the boxes of 100 Intermountain wheelsets for what works out to be a quite similar price, so most of the club rolling stock and other members have Intermountain wheels - when one of those trains rolls past, it doesn;t have the SSSSSSSSS sound mine do.

 Surface, structure, ballast - seem to have rather minimal effect, unless you are trying something really exotic.

 ANd adding additional layers of the same thing will have almost no effect - the sound is attentuated most when it passes from a material of one density to one of another. 3 layers of different materials will be better than 2 layers of one plus a second material (ie, homsasote, cork, plywood vs 2 layers of cork on plywood). Carried to an extreme, say 5 layers of varying materials, you probably could make an almost 100% silent roadbed, but is it worth it? Coonsider how loud it is sitting in yoour car at a grade crossing, let alone standing trackside watching the train come through. 

                                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by dknelson on Sunday, September 08, 2019 11:23 AM

Ironically, back in the 1950s when plastic (often nylon) wheels and trucks were a new product, they were praised for being so much quieter than metal, which of course they are.  The irony is that these days "first thing you do, replace plastic wheels with metal" is standard advice which I myself follow, usually.  True, back in the 1950s more modelers used wood roadbed such as TruScale, which perhaps made the noise problem worse.  Locomotives tended to be noisier then as well.

Maybe the main thing that can be said for cork roadbed (and of Atlas's brief 1960s experiment with rubber roadbed) is that at least is doesn't make the matter of sound and noise worse.   

Different forms of benchwork seem to transmit or create/amplify noise differently, and some benchwork actually simulates a drum or stringed instrument in construction.  I suspect it could be possible to introduce trimmed rubber sheeting as a sort of gasket between various wood joints in our benchwork to minimize noise, acting rather like a "mute" does on a violin or cello: it reduces the transmission of vibrations into the box-like body of the instrument.  And vibration is what makes noise.

But you'd have to think about doing that very early in the process.  

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by Medina1128 on Sunday, September 08, 2019 12:21 PM

I used Midwest Products cork roadbed. I noticed that when I used the "cookie-cutter" method for subroadbed, as opposed to using a flat sheet of plywood, it cut down on noise. Ballasting track directly attached to foam increased the noise.

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, September 08, 2019 1:18 PM

Two comments I have on this are, it is the metal wheels that produce most of the noise as I discovered when I stuck track right to cement board.

Two, the biggest determining factor on layout noise is what's on the floor under the layout. You will notice a huge change if you move your layout on to a carpeted surface from a cement or ceramic tile type surface. If noise is a concern make like a recording studio where they have partitions with heavy carpet underlay stuck to them, just do the same but on the horizontal. 

Brent

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, September 08, 2019 9:16 PM

A few more thoughts:

I never really understood the push to replace plastic wheels with metal wheels, both by modelers at home and by the producers.  Plastic wheels aren't bright and shiny, and truck/wheelsets like Athearn BB, which were abundant and cheap, are just as free rolling as just about anything.

My new layout, I will have the multiple layer of different materials in mind.  Track will be caulked to Homasote Homabed, which will be caulked to ceiling tiles, laid loosely on 1/2 inch plywood shelf benchwork and held firm by a surrounding boarder of 1x2s and the backdrop.  There will be minimal under trackage scenery but where there will be, some creative stacking of the tiles will have to be designed. That doesn't seem like a whole lot of extra work to me.

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, September 09, 2019 12:35 AM

Doughless
A few more thoughts: I never really understood the push to replace plastic wheels with metal wheels, both by modelers at home and by the producers. Plastic wheels aren't bright and shiny, and truck/wheelsets like Athearn BB, which were abundant and cheap, are just as free rolling as just about anything....

You certainly won't get any arguements from me on that, Douglas.

While I have some cars with metal wheels, it's only because that's what came with the kit.  Most of my rolling stock has plastic wheels - decent rolling qualities, less noise, and less conspicuous, especially compared with those which some modellers don't even bother to paint. 

If you're modelling modern day cars (roller bearing trucks) the wheel faces, backs, and axles should be a rust colour, and it doesn't hurt to add a little weathering, too.

For non-roller bearing trucks, the wheel faces should be some version of black (to represent the oil from the journal boxes), with rust-coloured backs and axles.  Don't forget to add some weathering - dirt liked to stick to those oily surfaces.

You don't need to make a big deal out of doing the painting, either.  I use a suitably-sized brush and paint most wheelsets while they're still in the trucks, and in many cases, while the trucks are still attached to the car.
When I buy cars at train shows, already built, but perhaps needing a little tweaking, the first task is painting the wheels...a freight car can be done in less than five minutes.

Metal wheels, painted...

...plastic wheels painted...

An old Varney boxcar, being upgrade, including plastic trucks and wheels...

...an Accurail reefer, with its stock plastic wheels and trucks, painted and weathered...

A slightly modified Model Power (I think) flatcar, with painted plastic wheelsets...

A Tyco gondola, its original trucks modified, with painted wheelsets...

...a re-detailed Stewart hopper, with original plastic wheelsets, painted and weathered...

It matters little that paint doesn't stick all that well to the Delrin plastic usually used for plastic trucks and wheels - the paint sticks well-enough to kill the unrealistic shine, and since wheelsets are seldom handled when the car is on your layout, the paint will stand-up well enough.

Here's an Accurail model of a Dominion/Fowler boxcar, with the stock plastic trucks and wheelsets...

...the wheelsets were painted, while the trucks have been weathered using artist's pastels, applied with a brush...

...and likewise for this Westerfield hopper.  The Kadee metal wheelsets were painted the usual colours, then the wheels and trucks weathered using pastels...

If you prefer to use metal wheels, at least take a few minutes to slap on some appropriate paint, even if you're not otherwise interested in weathering.  It adds to the realism, and does away with the "look-at-all-the-metal-wheels-I-could-afford" look...nobody's impressed anyway.

Wayne

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, September 09, 2019 8:15 AM

As always, nicely done Wayne. 

For me, there is a difference between the rolling qualities of those stock Accurail trucks, with the plastic axles and wheels, and the Athearn BB/MDC Roundhouse trucks, which had plastic wheels with metal axles.  The latter rolled much better and I do appreciate that quality eventhough I don't really need it with my short trains.

I would always try to update every piece of rolling stock with those BB/MDC truck/wheelsets.  But I'm much less enthusiastic about switching to all metal.

- Douglas

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, September 09, 2019 9:51 AM

Metal became popular because people beleived the black gunk on the rails was due to the plastic (not true as someone spectrumed it and found it due to arcing). That being said I like metal wheels because if you paint them, you can clean them off just a bit to get that bit of shiney seen on real wheels that are running the rails.

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Posted by Erie1951 on Monday, September 09, 2019 11:48 AM

rrebell

Metal became popular because people beleived the black gunk on the rails was due to the plastic (not true as someone spectrumed it and found it due to arcing). That being said I like metal wheels because if you paint them, you can clean them off just a bit to get that bit of shiney seen on real wheels that are running the rails.

 

I like metal wheels for the same reason. Thumbs Up

Russ

Modeling the early '50s Erie in Paterson, NJ.  Here's the link to my railroad postcard collection: https://railroadpostcards.blogspot.com/

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, September 09, 2019 12:14 PM

Doughless
For me, there is a difference between the rolling qualities of those stock Accurail trucks, with the plastic axles and wheels, and the Athearn BB/MDC Roundhouse trucks, which had plastic wheels with metal axles. The latter rolled much better and I do appreciate that quality eventhough I don't really need it with my short trains.

I have to agree with you on the early Accurail wheelsets, although a truck tuner does improve their performance.  One of the more glaring issues with the early ones was excess "flash" on the wheel rims.

The more recent wheelsets for Accurail seem to be improved, both in appearance and rolling qualities.

Anybody remember the Lindberg trucks - plastic wheels and sideframes, with working springs and metal axles?  Rolled like a marble down a drainpipe.
After the early all-metal trucks of the '50s and earlier, Delrin trucks with Delrin wheels were a huge improvement.
 
In my opinion, if trucks with metal wheels roll better than ones with plastic wheels, it's due to a better interface between the axle ends and the bearing pockets moulded into the trucks.  It has little to do with the fact that the wheels are metal, other than, perhaps, their added heft to the car's over-all weight.

rrebell
...I like metal wheels because if you paint them, you can clean them off just a bit to get that bit of shiney seen on real wheels that are running the rails.

While I can appreciate that aspect of metal wheels, it does draw undue attention to both the wheels and the trucks, which are both grossly out-of-scale, width-wise, to the prototype.
 
If I were modelling in Proto-87, I'd definitely consider metal wheels just for that prototypical appearance, but there's no way I'm re-trucking over 450 freight cars, not to mention re-wheeling the steam locomotives that pull them.

For example, here's the model, a re-worked Red Caboose X-29 boxcar, with metal wheels...

...and the prototype on which the model was based...

Wayne

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, September 09, 2019 12:35 PM

I agree that you ought to not worry about sound since trains make it.  On a layout, the amount of sound made is one of the least of your worries.  At worst case, you can use noise cancelling headphones.

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Posted by Erie1951 on Monday, September 09, 2019 4:48 PM

kasskaboose

I agree that you ought to not worry about sound since trains make it.  On a layout, the amount of sound made is one of the least of your worries.  At worst case, you can use noise cancelling headphones.

 

I'll install sound decoders on my diesels, so the locos may do their own noise cancelling. Laugh

Russ

Modeling the early '50s Erie in Paterson, NJ.  Here's the link to my railroad postcard collection: https://railroadpostcards.blogspot.com/

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Posted by BATMAN on Monday, September 09, 2019 5:00 PM

I never really understood the obsession some have with the noise the layout makes. From my earliest days, I loved the sound my toy trains made going around the layout. Railroading is a noisy business.Laugh

Brent

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Posted by mobilman44 on Monday, September 09, 2019 5:14 PM

Amen to that!  The "noise" of a rolling train is music to my ears.  And with regular HO cork roadbed glued (caulked) to the 1/2 inch ply works great in keeping the "noise" to a nice level.  

One other factor is the plywood supports.  Mine are about 18-24 inches apart, which makes for a very solid surface with minimal "drumhead" effect.

My tracks are also ballasted....lightly glued outside the rails, no adhesive between the rails.

 

ENJOY  !

 

Mobilman44

 

Living in southeast Texas, modeling the "postwar" Santa Fe and Illinois Central 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, September 09, 2019 5:32 PM

mobilman44
The "noise" of a rolling train is music to my ears.

.

Me too.

.

The sound of Kadee wheels gliding down the code 83 is like music to my ears. I love it.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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