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3FCBA2C9-B059-4234-B402-B18ECF46262CHello,

Its taken longer than I imagined but I am close to topping off the bench work and finally laying down the track.  

I have 5/8 plywood as the table top, and had planned to use a layer of 1”foam on top. The tracks will sit on a corkbed, that rests on the foam.

Watching some older videos of Norm Charbonneaus incredible layout, I noticed that he had just plywood as the tabletop, with cork under the tracks.  

A rookie mistake I made is that my tabletop is 49” tall. I’m 6-3” so it’s not the end of the world but Im not seeking to make it taller yet with the foam.

If I have cork as roadbed, are there any (non scenery) related drawbacks to going without the foam?

thanks to all of you here. I learn so much from this forum and am appreciative for the insights shared.

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Last edited by Great Lakes RR
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Even with cork roadbed, or the foam, the track will transfer a lot of noise to the benchwork like a drum. I used 5/8 insulation foam on top of my 3/4 plywood and should have used zip ties to connect the track vice track screws, which is going to happen when we move and my layout gets rebuilt.

@Ron_S posted:

Even with cork roadbed, or the foam, the track will transfer a lot of noise to the benchwork like a drum. I used 5/8 insulation foam on top of my 3/4 plywood and should have used zip ties to connect the track vice track screws, which is going to happen when we move and my layout gets rebuilt.

There is really no need to use screws on any permanent layout as the glue from ballast will hold everything firmly in place.   The only exception I can see to this is where you have back to back switches where the amount of ballast or glue is slightly reduced so as to not foul points or switch machines.   My old layout had zero screws in it as will my new one.   Both used Atlas track and switches.

To answer the OP's question - no, there are no drawbacks to not using foam on top of the plywood.  That being said, it's obvious you can reach all areas of your layout so you don't need the layout to support your weight.    I would seriously consider not using plywood and using foam instead.  It's so much easier to do scenery using foam as your base rather than plywood.  As for the noise, the trains are loud anyways.   It's only marginally louder with foam vs plywood.

-Greg

Last edited by Greg Houser

I completed a 10'-by-5' layout in 2019 (see cover and article in OGR Magazine Run 304) with 1/2-inch plywood topped by layers of extruded pink foam that were stacked and carved to create hills and valleys. There is also a terrain construction article in OGR Run 316. The track is five inches above the plywood. The riverbed is on the plywood. I glued cork roadbed atop the foam with yellow carpenter's glue and used Atlas O track screws into the cork and foam to secure the Atlas O track to the layout surface. This method produced a layout with a river valley, a hill/tunnel, truss bridge and trestle, although it was a lot of work. For me, layout noise has not been an issue. About all I hear when I run trains are the motive power sounds. This method is useful for creating variations in terrain height. The first video below gives you a look at the layout.

I also have a 12'-by-8' layout with Atlas O track and cork roadbed directly on plywood. It's noisier but I don't find it objectionable and the engine sounds are mostly what I hear. See second video.

MELGAR

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Last edited by MELGAR

I understand using extruded foam to create scenery but I don't understand why anyone would want to use it as a surface. It is too easily damaged, not to mention the sound issues others brought up. What am I missing with regards to using extruded foam under track?

Too easily damaged by what? How much weight do you place on the layout surface? I do not stand or crawl on the layouts. The surfaces are covered by structures, roadbed, plaster (in some places), ground cover and roads. The layout surface doesn't have to support anything heavy. The weight of a locomotive on the track does not damage foam, but foam is the best way to create realistic lightweight scenery. And, there are no "sound" issues in my experience.

MELGAR

Last edited by MELGAR
@Richie C. posted:

I have 3/4" thick rigid foam insulation board from one of the big box stores glued to plywood. It was painted and turfed. I have kneeled, leaned and stood on it with no issues.

One advantage of using foam is that makes a nice and easy surface for mounting anything that has to "stick" into the layout, like trees, signs, crossing flashers, telephone poles, etc.

To add on - if you use any type of accessory the bases are easily embedded in the foam so the accessory is at ground height.   And if you like the MTH/Lionel buildings with the curb that's too high they are easily recessed in foam as well.  There's no hassle of cutting holes in the plywood and heck, did you ever cut a hole for an accessory base only to find you're directly on top of a support beam and have to cut into it (or move)?

-Greg

Let me offer a different suggestion/observation after seeing your photo:

1) Finish adding floor tiles/carpeting (think I see some black tiles) before you complete the layout. Soundproofing under the table makes a big difference.

2) Finish the ceiling and overhead lighting also. Basically I'm suggesting you finish your train room before doing more on your layout.  It will be so much easier to complete room construction without worrying about damage to your layout.

Yes, I made the mistake of completing my own layout before the room was completed. Fortunately, I had an excellent carpenter/drywall expert to bail me out!

3) No matter whether you use screws, glue, foam, or plywood, be prepared for your relative noise level to increase after ballasting. The rock-solid nature of a ballasted track ensures excellent audio transmission from the track ties to the plywood/foam/cork base. (I once tested rubber ballast but it was too difficult to lay down properly.)

Oh Brother!  I only wish I had found OGR several decades ago.  I thought I was well ahead of the game when I screwed and glued homosote (sic) to the framework back in 1999.  It is so much better than the plywood we used 50 years ago too.  Back then Dad cut an old Persian rug into strips for under the track and used coffee grounds from his Deli for ballast.  Unfortunately the basement became infested with moths that loved the carpet.  Noise...I don't remember any noise, perhaps because that 44 foot long double loop of track was inhabited by Jesse James and other nefarious folk, or did  Joe Friday and Elliot Ness rule the day.  Nope...no noise back then.  Today...it is another matter, I may rebuild...but then again, I wonder why.   You guys are great - lots of good info in this thread.  Thanks

Bruce,

I remember reading somewhere that using diluted matte medium instead of glue helps to mitigate the sound transmission caused by hard glue.  It seems the matte medium drys  to a soft consistency instead of the hard structure of glue. I've not tried it yet, so I cannot give personal testimony. But it is on my list of modifications to try.

Chris

LVHR

@Bruce Brown posted:

Let me offer a different suggestion/observation after seeing your photo:

"2) Finish the ceiling and overhead lighting also. Basically I'm suggesting you finish your train room before doing more on your layout.  It will be so much easier to complete room construction without worrying about damage to your layout.

Yes, I made the mistake of completing my own layout before the room was completed. Fortunately, I had an excellent carpenter/drywall expert to bail me out!"

Even with a dropped ceiling, take pictures of where everything is so you don't have to hunt and remove tiles all over the place for any repairs.

Some of my engines are silent conventional.  Diluted matte adhered ballast in my experience with two rail track over cork,  over 1/2" Homasote, over 3/4" Birch plywood supported every 16" makes for  loud running here.   I will not be adhering any additional ballast.   I may experiment with loose ballast.  It's fair to say I hate platform noise originating from the trains.   Some of the worst offenders are plastic road bed ready track.   When there is sound I prefer a scale level.

My three rail trains are run at about 30 scale MPH which quiets the sound levels.

On the other hand, with traditional tubular track there is a nostalgic value to the crass sounds of loud trains, it's just hard for me to hang around all that noise for any length of time. 

I was planning on using Loctite Powergrab to glue down 2" foam on top of my 1x4 frame on 16" centers.   Then cork roadbed or sheet cork on some spots glued down to the top of the foam.   I had also planned for a curtain around the base to also help mitigate extra noise.  For those with experience, will the track screws that pass though the cork and foam about 1" going to hold track well and not back out?   I have heard when you screw down track into foam it doesn't bite or hold well and eventually wiggles loose.  I had hoped the 1/8" cork on top would make the difference.   Yes?

@Bruce Brown posted:

Let me offer a different suggestion/observation after seeing your photo:

1) Finish adding floor tiles/carpeting (think I see some black tiles) before you complete the layout. Soundproofing under the table makes a big difference.

2) Finish the ceiling and overhead lighting also. Basically I'm suggesting you finish your train room before doing more on your layout.  It will be so much easier to complete room construction without worrying about damage to your layout.

Yes, I made the mistake of completing my own layout before the room was completed. Fortunately, I had an excellent carpenter/drywall expert to bail me out!

YES YES YES.  LISTEN TO BRUCE.

I've been finishing my basement for 15 years while I build the layout.  Dumbest thing I could do.  The drop ceiling I did last summer was incredibly difficult.

Learn from my mistakes.

By the way I use 1 inch foam on top of plywood.  I like it and do not regret that.  Do not used foam alone. It will become a giant speaker.  I have a custom removable all foam section of the layout.  It's louder that any other part of the layout.

Ron

@Hp289 posted:

...  For those with experience, will the track screws that pass though the cork and foam about 1" going to hold track well and not back out?   I have heard when you screw down track into foam it doesn't bite or hold well and eventually wiggles loose.  I had hoped the 1/8" cork on top would make the difference.   Yes?

On my layout, the Atlas O track screws go through the cork and about 1/4-inch into the foam. The cork seems to hold them securely. If any loosen, I would use some epoxy on the screw thread to hold the screw in place.

MELGAR

@Hp289 posted:

To be clear, even the 2" foam glued to the frame is loud?  Or do you mean only the thinner foam?  

My guess is the size would just produce a different sound.  Don't get me wrong... It's not completely terrible, but it does produce more sound.  Listen to this engine and track cleaning car.

At :20 it enters the 2" pink foam bridge.  The rest of the layout is 1" foam on plywood.



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