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Rookie question: Are turnouts generally compatible?

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  • Member since
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Rookie question: Are turnouts generally compatible?
Posted by SnagQueensHubby on Friday, October 2, 2020 12:34 PM

Ok, right off the get-go I'm going to admit that I'm a model railroading rookie (but one who wants to learn).

I'm looking at purchasing some benchwork from a company for a layout I'd like to put in my basement. When speaking with their boss, I was told that they'd designed the layout I'm interested in for code 83 Shinohara layouts. I'm not a purist and I have a ton of Atlas code 100 flex sitting around that I'd received from a friend, so I was planning on using that.

My question is this... Are all turnouts the same when it comes to geometry? I want to replace the Shinohara switches with something else (preferably Peco), but I'm not sure this is absolutely possible. I know that when comparing Peco to Atlas (which I currently have on a small layout), it appears that the geometry is different, at least on paper. I know that the length of the turnout my be different, but this, I believe, shouldn't be a concern as I'm using flex track (correct me if I'm wrong).

Maybe my real question is: Do I need to be concerned when replacing Shinohara turnouts with something else on a brand new layout where the roadbed benchwork is cut specifically for Shinohara?

I would appreciate the wisdom of anyone who can enlighten a rookie in this.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Monday, October 5, 2020 11:44 AM

First off Welcome.  

Turnouts are different from manufacturer to manufacturer.  Some differences are slight, some are not.  I don't have any experience with Shinohara turnouts, but unless there are more than a couple in close proximity to one another, I would think it would be doable.  Just place your turnouts first and connect with flex as needed.  Better still would be if someone has prints of shinohara turnouts you could compare with Atlas or Peco.  Google?  Good luck, and hopefully someone with some knowledge of Shinohara can provide some input.

Mike

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Posted by cuyama on Monday, October 5, 2020 11:54 AM

Welcome to the forum. As noted, turnouts can vary significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer and even from line to line for each manufacturer. Using flextrack helps, but doesn't completely address the issue, especially in yards and other tight quarters. On the plus side, Walthers/Shinohara Code 83 turnouts are generally longer than most other manufacturers for the same frog number, so it might be easier to fit others.

If the layout you are planning to build is on the Internet somewhere, sharing the link might help folks point out areas that could be problematic.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

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Posted by Deane Johnson on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:02 PM

Im certainly not a track expert by any means, but am I reading the OP's statement correctly that he would plan to use Code 83 switches with Code 100 flex track.

Is that a good idea?  Or am I interpreting the post wrong.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:09 PM

Welcome to the Model Railroader forums. Your first few posts are delayed by the moderators, but that will end soon enough. Please stick it out through that period and join the conversations.

Since you are using code 100 flex track, just to make it easier, code 100 turnouts are the esiest to use with that.

Shinohara code 100 turnouts are easy to find on eBay, but they are not "friendly" with DCC control.

Since this is most likely a big learning experience, I would suggest just using code 100 Atlas turnouts and fiddle the plan to fit. Atlas makes small code 100 sectional track pieces to assist with this.

-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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Posted by snjroy on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:15 PM

I would ask the "boss" to do something in code 100... 

Simon

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Posted by gregc on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:18 PM

SnagQueensHubby
Are all turnouts the same when it comes to geometry?

besides the fact that the length of the straight end sections can vary, the closure rail radii can also vary

http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/11/t/284465.aspx

 

closure rail (blue) radius, lead length and frog #.  red section is straight

 

 

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:18 PM

 

Welcome
 
Kinda reading between the lines I don’t see where the bench work is coming with track installed, only by design, so it wouldn’t make any difference which turnout or track you use, but do stay with the same code track for both turnouts and flex track.

 

 
Mel
 

 

My Model Railroad 

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I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.

 

 

 

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:27 PM

SnagQueensHubby
I'm looking at purchasing some benchwork from a company for a layout I'd like to put in my basement. When speaking with their boss, I was told that they'd designed the layout I'm interested in for code 83 Shinohara layouts. I'm not a purist and I have a ton of Atlas code 100 flex sitting around that I'd received from a friend, so I was planning on using that.

Turnout brands have slightly different geometries between brands and are not generally interchangeable if the layout was planned precisely. 

IMO, Atlas Custom Line code 100 turnouts are probably the most compatible with Walthers/Shinohara Code 83 in terms of geometry.   

The pic below was used to illustrate the positions of the frogs over various products, but it also shows that the geometry of the Atlas and Walthers turnouts look similar.  Not sure what code this is, but I think the length of the diverging tracks might be shorter with the Atlas code 100.  No problem, that's just extra track that you can source from anywhere, its the geometry and length of the frog that needs to be close.

 

 

 

283 #6 Left Turnout Code 100 NS, Atlas - HENNING'S TRAINS

IMO, I think you can replace the code 83 turnouts from the plan with Atlas code 100 when you build and should not have a lot of adjustments.  It depends upon how much space the benchawork provides for adjustment.

- Douglas

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, October 5, 2020 12:41 PM

NVM

- Douglas

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, October 5, 2020 2:00 PM

Bottom line is no, each brand has its own way of building turnouts.

A #5 frog will be the same across brands but that is just one aspect of turnout geometry.

We have Atlas customline and snapswitches. We prefer Peco and have more of those. Shinohara is no longer but Walthers bought the tooling and has released flex track and transition tracks. Turnouts are on the way.

Basically, you choose the brand of turnout that fits the spot in your planned alignment and connect with flex track.  Atlas makes sectional track but rumour is they ceased production of 24" radius curves.

To save yourself extra work best in mind that Atlas Code 83 has a wider base flange than other brands. It helps to connect Peco track to Peco turnouts and make any joint between Peco and Atlas at a track to track point. Connections at turnouts should be as exact as possible because every frog and every point rail unsettles the locomotive and following cars to some degree, even more so in reverse.

If you plan on using code 100 then all brands seem to be the same rail profile. Turnouts are quite different. Peco use clever curvy turnouts each using a #4.5 frog (12 degrees) and Atlas code 100 snapswitches are all also 4.5 frogs as far as I know.

Correction, Atlas code 100 snapswitches are 18" radius. The Code 83 also comes in 22" radius, which is approximately the 4.5 frog. 

 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, October 5, 2020 2:46 PM

Lastspikemike
Shinohara is no longer but Walthers bought the tooling and has released flex track and transition tracks.

The new Walthers code 83 trackage components are all-new tooling.

-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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Posted by SnagQueensHubby on Monday, October 5, 2020 4:47 PM

Deane,

The original layout was designed for code 83 Shinohara flex and turnouts. I'm hoping to convert everything to code 100 (using Peco switches if possible, though I'm not tied into that). I hope that clarifies things... :)

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, October 5, 2020 7:31 PM

SnagQueensHubby
The original layout was designed for code 83 Shinohara flex and turnouts.

Since the original layout design called for flex track, and not rigid sectional track, I believe you will have an easy time using a different brands of similar turnouts and just let the flex track make up the difference.

Have fun!

-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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Posted by cuyama on Monday, October 5, 2020 8:18 PM

SnagQueensHubby
The original layout was designed for code 83 Shinohara flex and turnouts. I'm hoping to convert everything to code 100 (using Peco switches if possible, though I'm not tied into that). I hope that clarifies things... :)

PECO Code 100 geometry is quite different from Walthers/Shinohara Code 83. It will likely all fit, but it may not be as simple as "make up the difference with flextrack". Certainly do-able, but will be a bit of re-work.

Again, a link to the track plan (if available), will help others make suggestions.

--
Peco use clever curvy turnouts each using a #4.5 frog (12 degrees) and Atlas code 100 snapswitches are all also 4.5 frogs as far as I know.

Only the diverging legs curve with PECO Code 100, the straight leg is straight, not "curvy." (The obvious exception is the curved turnout, in which both legs curve.) The next statement confuses two different facts. The Atlas Snap-Switch frog is significantly tighter than a #4. The Atlas "#4" Customline is actually about a #4½ frog, so a good match with roughly 22" radius curves in HO.

Good luck with your layout.

Byron

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, October 5, 2020 8:56 PM

 If this is your first layout, I would stick witht he same brand of turnouts and flex track, in the same size, and not try to mix rail codes or brands - even the same rail code across brands doesn't always match up exactly and will require fiddling around to get good smooth joints and prevent derailments. Sticking with all one brand allows things to at least join up cleanly (still need to take care and make sure the joints are square and not kinked). Once you have some experience, then you can try the mix and match method to combine various brands to get exactly what turnout you want in a given location.

 I wanted to build my yard and industrial areas with Peco code 70, witht he main using Peco code 83, but it's been like 3 years now and no code 70 turnouts are yet available. Plenty of flex track - so I guess I will be using coce 83 turnouts but code 70 flex to the sidings and yard. But this is far from my first layout, it's closer to my 10th over a lifetime in the hobby. Get a lot of practice at soldering rail before trying to combine brands and/or sizes.

                                        --Randy


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Posted by Doughless on Monday, October 5, 2020 9:10 PM

The code size will not matter, as long as the layout is all the same code.  May as well buy code 100 turnouts, since you have the Atlas flex track on hand.

If it was me, I would buy Atlas code 100 turnouts.  They are great, and will match up with your Atlas flex perfectly and will be the closest replacement for the Walthers turnouts in terms of geometry, if not exactly the same. 

Peco code 100 turnouts are probably the one turnout that is the farthest away from a good fit for the Walthers.  Using them will create some level of problems that you will have to figure out how to solve.

Atlas turnouts are less expensive too, at least here in the USA.

- Douglas

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 9:27 PM

SeeYou190

 

 
Lastspikemike
Shinohara is no longer but Walthers bought the tooling and has released flex track and transition tracks.

 

The new Walthers code 83 trackage components are all-new tooling.

-Kevin

 

Thanks for that. I just bought some new Walthers flex track and if it works as well as it looks I'll be trying the turnouts when they arrive. I particularly like the pre-moulded track nail holes in the ties outside the gauge. l've never liked the idea of "spiking down" the ties dead centre of the gauge. Peco recommends drilling and nailing their flex track outside the gauge.    I tried that and the casting of the Peco ties is so flimsy it doesn't  really work.

 I think it was your post about actually spiking the rails down outside the gauge which I found to be an exceptionally effective method of securing flex track. It applies the fixing loads directly to the sturdy metal rails and  avoids trying to transfer the fixing loads to those rails indirectly through the much weaker plastic ties, fundamentally putting those loads through the tiny plastic spike heads. Worked exceptionally well for us at some very troublesome joints at curves previously relying on plastic insulating  joiners which are themselves not very rigid.  

Alyth Yard

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 9:34 PM

Lastspikemike

 

 
SeeYou190

 

 
Lastspikemike
Shinohara is no longer but Walthers bought the tooling and has released flex track and transition tracks.

 

The new Walthers code 83 trackage components are all-new tooling.

-Kevin

 

 

 

Thanks for that. I just bought some new Walthers flex track and if it works as well as it looks I'll be trying the turnouts when they arrive. I particularly like the pre-moulded track nail holes in the ties outside the gauge. l've never liked the idea of "spiking down" the ties dead centre of the gauge. Peco recommends drilling and nailing their flex track outside the gauge.    I tried that and the casting of the Peco ties is so flimsy it doesn't  really work.

 I think it was your post about actually spiking the rails down outside the gauge which I found to be an exceptionally effective method of securing flex track. It applies the fixing loads directly to the sturdy metal rails and  avoids trying to transfer the fixing loads to those rails indirectly through the much weaker plastic ties, fundamentally putting those loads through the tiny plastic spike heads. Worked exceptionally well for us at some very troublesome joints at curves previously relying on plastic insulating  joiners which are themselves not very rigid.  

 

What are you spiking into? Cork?

This is why I prefer gluing track to Homasote or wood roadbed.

Firm base, no stress on ties, no problems with rail joints on curves (I solder my rail joints within each electrical section).

Sheldon

    

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 7:00 AM

SnagQueensHubby

My question is this... Are all turnouts the same when it comes to geometry? I want to replace the Shinohara switches with something else (preferably Peco), but I'm not sure this is absolutely possible. I know that when comparing Peco to Atlas (which I currently have on a small layout), it appears that the geometry is different, at least on paper. I know that the length of the turnout my be different, but this, I believe, shouldn't be a concern as I'm using flex track (correct me if I'm wrong).

Maybe my real question is: Do I need to be concerned when replacing Shinohara turnouts with something else on a brand new layout where the roadbed benchwork is cut specifically for Shinohara?

I would appreciate the wisdom of anyone who can enlighten a rookie in this.

So this is a layout you haven't started yet, so you aren't removing say, a Shinohara turnout and replacing it with another.

So I'd say in general, as long as you replace the turnout in the track plan with a same number turnout, you'll probably be able to use it.

The only place I would not mix turnout brands would be in a yard ladder, where a consistant type and geometry would be needed.

I freely mix turnout brands in my layouts and have no issues.  In my last layout I used code 83 Walthers (made by Shinohara), Atlas and a few code 70 Shinohara turnouts.  In staging I used code 100 Atlas, code 100 Peco and code 100 Shinohara.

I spike/nail all my track in yards to Homasote and have no problems; it works very well.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, October 9, 2020 1:10 PM

Have you contacted the benchwork manufacturer to see what they mean by their statements that the benchwork is designed for Code 83 track and turnouts?  Is their product strictly benchwork, or does it it have roadbed and scenic terrain features built in?

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, October 9, 2020 3:04 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
Lastspikemike

 

 
SeeYou190

 

 
Lastspikemike
Shinohara is no longer but Walthers bought the tooling and has released flex track and transition tracks.

 

The new Walthers code 83 trackage components are all-new tooling.

-Kevin

 

 

 

Thanks for that. I just bought some new Walthers flex track and if it works as well as it looks I'll be trying the turnouts when they arrive. I particularly like the pre-moulded track nail holes in the ties outside the gauge. l've never liked the idea of "spiking down" the ties dead centre of the gauge. Peco recommends drilling and nailing their flex track outside the gauge.    I tried that and the casting of the Peco ties is so flimsy it doesn't  really work.

 I think it was your post about actually spiking the rails down outside the gauge which I found to be an exceptionally effective method of securing flex track. It applies the fixing loads directly to the sturdy metal rails and  avoids trying to transfer the fixing loads to those rails indirectly through the much weaker plastic ties, fundamentally putting those loads through the tiny plastic spike heads. Worked exceptionally well for us at some very troublesome joints at curves previously relying on plastic insulating  joiners which are themselves not very rigid.  

 

 

 

What are you spiking into? Cork?

This is why I prefer gluing track to Homasote or wood roadbed.

Firm base, no stress on ties, no problems with rail joints on curves (I solder my rail joints within each electrical section).

Sheldon

 

Good question. We are using 3/4 construction plywood with Woodland Scenic foam risers. We use woodland scenic foam track underlay glued down with DAP  acrylic caulk (although someone on our team, who shall remain nameless, used yellow glue in a few places, I recommend not using such strong adhesive for foam underlay). So, wherever the spikes will reach the plywood we use them. Surprising little penetraction into the wood is sufficient. The forces tending to move track are quite low.

Where the spikes are going into foam we use more of them but they don't hold well. Once the alignment on the foam riser sections is  final the track will be glued to the underlay with that DAP product and the spikes withdrawn.  The curves need to be security fixed down while the caulk sets up.

My forum name occurred to me during one of the several re-alignments we were completing.  

Alyth Yard

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Friday, October 9, 2020 7:22 PM

OK,

Well, as explained, I lay track on a more firm foundation. And the adhesive caulk I use is much thicker in consistency. It takes a strong tack quickly enough that few if any nails are needed.

But where a few nails are used, such as to hold turnouts which I do not glue, they hold well in homasote or soft pine roadbed.

I have yet to understand the advantage of foam over other methods of construction. Especially as a surface to mount track on?

As scenery support? maybe, but I am happy with hollow methods like hard shell.

Sheldon 

 

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, October 9, 2020 9:01 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
I have yet to understand the advantage of foam over other methods of construction.

I have used foam on portable layouts, where the light weight and non-brittleness are advantages.

Also, pink foam insulation board can be cleanly cut with hot wire tools with little mess. That can be a huge advantage to an apartment dweller.

My next home layout, as were all of my home layouts before, will be plaster shell over hollow cardboard forms.

-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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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, October 10, 2020 7:31 AM

I observe that model railways do not require much structural support.

The structure supporting the layout seems to be confused with the structure supporting the roadbed.

In HO scale a heavy locomotive might weigh as much as a pound of butter.....

Alyth Yard

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, October 10, 2020 8:21 AM

As I have explained before, my new layout, and many previous layouts, have deep scenes, with benchwork 3-4 feet deep, even deeper in some places.

Most trackwork is either in the front 24" or is accessable from below or behind the the benchwork but the need for the bench work to support all or most of my weight during and after construction remains.

After building one "shelf" style double deck layout, I decided that niether narrow shelves or double decks were pleasing to me scenicly.

So it is back to the old way for me.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, October 10, 2020 9:17 AM

My point is that the railroad can be supported easily by even quite thin foam.  Woodland Scenic modu rail uses a 1/2 " thickness foam base.

I observe that the pre-foam books about benchwork show massively overbuilt benchwork.  

Much of that benchwork would not support 150-200 lbs because it is open frame anyway. Nowhere to stand on the benchwork.

If someone chooses to build that way then my observations about foam construction would be of no interest. Well, and the fact is my layout partner built ours out of 2x6 framing and 3/4 " plywood!! Two of us could stand on any part of our layout if we could find space for our feet. Kind of an Archimedes puzzle.

Better to build with what you have than not build at all.

We (me actually) then elected to lay so much track there's only one place to get up onto the benchwork anyway.

I now plan to construct a 100% foam shelf round the room layout to be mounted on bookshelf type wall mounted brackets. Who knows, I may be posting a disaster story about that some day soon....

Alyth Yard

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, October 10, 2020 10:37 AM

Mike,

I have been involed in the building of a lot of layouts, for myself and others. I have worked with a number of methods and materials including foam.

I really have no problem with foam as a scenery base, but personally I will not put track on it.

For decades I have build layouts I can climb on. I can take a piece of plywood, covered with a towel, lay it on the freight yard tracks and support my weight (or most of it) with damage to the track or yeard scenery.

Generally I use a mix of platform and open grid construction. 

My double deck layout used all sorts of thin, lightweight construction for the upper deck.

But I do not consider cork or foam firm enough for track engineering and support.

I remember when the Woodland Scenics product came out, I remember say then - no way.

Sheldon 

    

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, October 10, 2020 10:45 AM

I believe the lion's share of 'heavy' benchwork construction is for stability and stiffness, not physical weight support.  Foam is just ducky for noise abatement or building up scenery volume without mass or expense, but unless treated carefully and reinforced appropriately it won't be structurally stiff enough to assure track integrity, let alone proper line and surface over time.

Somewhere in the last decade we stopped using steel studs in layout construction; those I thought were a reasonable alternative to heavy benchwork in wood.  Combined with elements of steel rack shelving they might be a useful framing system for 'lighter' bracket construction that would hold dimension...

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Saturday, October 10, 2020 11:02 AM

Overmod

I believe the lion's share of 'heavy' benchwork construction is for stability and stiffness, not physical weight support.  Foam is just ducky for noise abatement or building up scenery volume without mass or expense, but unless treated carefully and reinforced appropriately it won't be structurally stiff enough to assure track integrity, let alone proper line and surface over time.

Somewhere in the last decade we stopped using steel studs in layout construction; those I thought were a reasonable alternative to heavy benchwork in wood.  Combined with elements of steel rack shelving they might be a useful framing system for 'lighter' bracket construction that would hold dimension...

 

Yes, that too, stability. And weight adds to stability. When my 230 lb self leans on or bumps it, it does not move.

I have found that solid, stiff, stable benchwork is also quiet bench work that does not act as a drum for the vibration of the moving trains.

There two schools of thought about noise suppression - absorb it, or prevent its amplification.

Building speakers we go for mostly preventing unwanted vibration, seems to work for well built model train benchwork as well.

Trains on the layout pictured above were very quiet. Upper deck was a glued/screwed sandwich of two layers of OSB with staggerd joints, a widely spaced 1x2 framing under, 3/8" plywood sub roadbed, Homabed and track glued with PolySeamSeal. The whole thing screwed to the wall and suspended from the 2x4 blocks. 

Sheldon

    

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