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I am considering an additional loop of track for my Christmas layout.  The layout is built on top of 4" of styrofoam board.  The only way I can fasten it down is with finish nails through the ties to keep it from sliding around.  I am trying not to glue any sections to the styrofoam because i don't want to damage or have to replace the foam board every year.

I've successfully used FasTrack like this.  I tried Gargraves but it really needs to be mounted and not just held in place with finish nails.

My question is:  Could Atlas track be used like this?  I really don't want to go back to FasTrack for the noise factor.

Tony

 

Original Post

Tony,

i recommend Atlas O but not directly on foam. Atlas O needs a secure base. I would not invest in Atlas O ($5 per foot) without knowing if track screws would hold in foam.

I would suggest a good quality 1/4" birch plywood base and 3/4" Gargraves track screws. The plywood looks cabinet grade for appearance and you will be pleased with Atlas O track. If the plywood is glued to the foam, you will have less noise.

Eliot

sinclair posted:

So, to answer your question, the Atlas track will be just like Gargraves in your situation.

Thank you all for the replies.  Not the answer I was hoping for, but better knowing than spending $5 per foot and finding out the hard way.

The original concept for what I build was a CTT build years ago.  It featured FasTrack and that works well.  The problem is the noise.  They layout in my house is only about 10' from where our TV is.  My wife gets grumpy when she has to turn up the TV...

Tony

Tony,

If this the issue (noisy fasttrack), I had the same issue with our first temporary (fastrack) layout.  I tried a few different (unconventional) things.  Spray foam insulation into the underside, cutting homasote and vinyl roadbed pieces to fit in the underside, etc.  I finally end up deciding on brushing the underside with a thin layer of brush-on liquid rubber (the stuff they advertised on TV to create water seals in gutters, etc.) to create a barrier with the underside parts that carry electricity, and then brushed on a second coat and, while still wet, I pressed in carpet tile pieces cut to fit the underside footprint.  I found that this worked best for me in dropping the decibels considerably.

Peter

 

The problem with GarGraves and Atlas is not the track, it's the mounting surface. You would have better luck replacing the Styrofoam with rigid foam like this, but I don't know about the noise level. I've only seen 1" thick sheets here, so it would take 4 to get to 4". I tried Styrofoam with RealTrax and then moved to the extruded foam. Noise wasn't much better because it was on a raised frame and not on a plywood base, table or floor, It was never by the tree, so I moved it to the garage for the holidays.

I don't know what you're layout looks like, but you might try covering the foam with soundboard. Many people use it here in place of Homasote on top of plywood, but it should work the same on foam. It would have to be attached to the foam, with glue or maybe double-sided carpet tape, but it would hold nails to keep the GarGraves track in place. It's only $12.50/sheet and might be worth a shot. It is messy to cut, but you only cut it once, right? It's also heavier than foam.

Dave is correct. You would have much better results using rigid foam board. I use occasionally when needed 2" thick 4 X 8 sheets. I found them to be available at Loews and H D . The 2" thick version can be used by itself and forms a great base to work from. I use Woodland Scenic s "Foam Tack Glue #1544 to hold the track in place. The glue dries quickly and clear.

Steve Horvath posted:

Dave is correct. You would have much better results using rigid foam board. I use occasionally when needed 2" thick 4 X 8 sheets. I found them to be available at Loews and H D . The 2" thick version can be used by itself and forms a great base to work from. I use Woodland Scenic s "Foam Tack Glue #1544 to hold the track in place. The glue dries quickly and clear.

Steve and Dave,

We're considering using foam board instead of plywood and homasote.  You say "the 2" thick version can be used by itself and forms a great base..."  Am I understanding that, with joists placed every 16" apart, I can just use one layer 2" foam instead of plywood and homasote - meaning one layer of 2" stiff foam board is sturdy enough to support my track, all trains, even a Big Boy sitting on a siding for days or weeks, all buildings and terrain, etc?  Thanks. 

Last edited by PJB

PJB,

I do not recommend using rigid foam instead of plywood/Homasote. I was only recommending the OP use it in place of Styrofoam because it will hold the nails better to keep his Atlas or GarGraves track in place.

I used 1" thick rigid foam on a 12"x12" grid of 1x3s with RealTrax on a temporary layout a couple of years ago and it was noisy. To be sure, RealTrax is noisy to begin with, but the foam seemed to resonate the noise both above and below the layout. I used it for weight because I had to move my 8x10 layout (2 sections) to the garage for 1 holiday seasons (Easter and Thanksgiving/Christmas) so we could use the dining room. It might have been less noisy with a layer of 1/4" plywood or something between it and the grid, but I never took the time to test that. By then I had decided I was not going to use foam a sa substitute for Homasote or some other sound-deadening material.

Because my grid was 12x12, I had no problems leaving my 4-6-0 steamer and 5 passenger cars and buildings sit in place for most of 2 years. However, I don't know how it would be if a track ran parallel to the cross-member and all the weight was on a 16" wide section of 1" foam. I'm sure 2" foam would work though, but most (all?) layouts I've seen using foam also had a layer of plywood and the foam only substituted for the layer of Homasote. This was done so they could more easily cut rivers and valleys, but it seems like a waste to me to top an entire layout with 2"-4" of foam just to cut a river. IMHO, there are better ways to do that, such as lowering that section of the bench work.

Similarly, it seems like a waste to cover an entire layout with Homasote, but that's often easier and certainly less messy. I don't know though if doing so reduces the overall noise compared to just laying the Homasote under the tracks. If you do that, you can add a layer of 1/2" foam to make things even across the layout, then use 1"-2" foam to build up mountains, etc. Since my "L" layout is small at 4x8x10, I intend to just cover the whole layout. I think I'm going to eventually need 5 sheets whether or not I use full sheets and I really don't want to deal with piecemeal cutting, etc.

If you're going to use Atlas O track, it's best to get Ross Roadbed from Ross Switches.

The roadbed has grooves that match the ties and the track fits right in without moving.  No nails needed!!!  Makes the Atlas track which is already low noise, even more quieter.  It is very affordable and is on Page 6 of the price list. No, I'm not the PR firm for Ross Switches, they just make very good product.  I may plan on buying some for my Christmas layout when it is built (which has to be very soon now that the calendar has turned).

OGR user Putnam Division has used a lot of Ross Roadbed (which he has painted) on his layout and it looks awesome.  Look up some of his posts that show his layout and you will see.

 

 

Last edited by Amfleet25124
DoubleDAZ posted:

PJB,

I do not recommend using rigid foam instead of plywood/Homasote. I was only recommending the OP use it in place of Styrofoam because it will hold the nails better to keep his Atlas or GarGraves track in place.

I used 1" thick rigid foam on a 12"x12" grid of 1x3s with RealTrax on a temporary layout a couple of years ago and it was noisy. To be sure, RealTrax is noisy to begin with, but the foam seemed to resonate the noise both above and below the layout. I used it for weight because I had to move my 8x10 layout (2 sections) to the garage for 1 holiday seasons (Easter and Thanksgiving/Christmas) so we could use the dining room. It might have been less noisy with a layer of 1/4" plywood or something between it and the grid, but I never took the time to test that. By then I had decided I was not going to use foam a sa substitute for Homasote or some other sound-deadening material.

Because my grid was 12x12, I had no problems leaving my 4-6-0 steamer and 5 passenger cars and buildings sit in place for most of 2 years. However, I don't know how it would be if a track ran parallel to the cross-member and all the weight was on a 16" wide section of 1" foam. I'm sure 2" foam would work though, but most (all?) layouts I've seen using foam also had a layer of plywood and the foam only substituted for the layer of Homasote. This was done so they could more easily cut rivers and valleys, but it seems like a waste to me to top an entire layout with 2"-4" of foam just to cut a river. IMHO, there are better ways to do that, such as lowering that section of the bench work.

Similarly, it seems like a waste to cover an entire layout with Homasote, but that's often easier and certainly less messy. I don't know though if doing so reduces the overall noise compared to just laying the Homasote under the tracks. If you do that, you can add a layer of 1/2" foam to make things even across the layout, then use 1"-2" foam to build up mountains, etc. Since my "L" layout is small at 4x8x10, I intend to just cover the whole layout. I think I'm going to eventually need 5 sheets whether or not I use full sheets and I really don't want to deal with piecemeal cutting, etc.

Hey Dave,

Thanks so much for the in-depth reply!  We never used foam before and the new layout we're planning will have several city blocks, several of which will be pop-outs so I've been exploring use of materials (like foam board) due to lighter weight than plywood.  Thanks again for such a helpful reply. 

Peter

Steve Horvath posted:

My suggestions were intended for the gentlemen who started the thread and wanted something for under the Christmas tree . The 2" foam would lie directly on the floor. For a permanent layout I would not choose this option.

Thanks Steve. That's what I thought, but I was hoping (probably rationalizing a little too) that maybe foam board was so sturdy I could use it in place of plywood due to weight considerations.  Thanks again. 

Peter

PJB,

There is no reason you have to use plywood/Homasote to cover the whole layout. You can use it under the track only and use foam everywhere else. Or use foam inserts wherever you want something you can remove easily. Foam makes a great pop-out platform for buildings and other landscaping elements, even mountains.  All you have to do is add supports for it beneath the layout. You cut out a piece of the plywood/Homasote between the grid rails, add some new support rails or crossmembers so the pop-out is even with the rest of the layout and you're good. It'd be similar to how ceiling tiles are hung and can be easily removed.

Forget the nails and screws.  I used strips of two-sided carpet tape to secure Woodland Scenics vinyl roadbed and Atlas O track to a styrofoam sub-roadbed on my permanent layout.  I've been operating my trains, including heavy steam locomotives, on this layout for 12 years without any problems.  It holds the track and roadbed great and it's easy to pull up if you need to make changes.

Just put a 3-4" strip at every other track joint.  If you have a long 40" straight track put a piece in the middle too.

Dave, I haven't added ballast yet, but I will.  When I add the ballast I'll use the two- sided tape also.  I'll use 1" tape butted up against the ties on each side of the track, or maybe a little bit under the ties, and attach the ballast to the tape and let the ballast sit freely between the rails and ties.  This makes it easy to pick up ballast to reuse if you make changes to the track plan.

The tape has really held the track stable for years on my layout and continues to do so.  I learned this method from Kirk Mitchell of Just Trains back when I bought my Atlas track from him.  I was initially skeptical, but it has worked very well for me.

When laying the track at first I'll use one screw at the apex of a curve to keep it in place where I want it, then use the two-sided tape everywhere else.

 

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