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Silent Ballast


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Whenever I first lay a new bit of track (peco code 100 on cork) I am astounded by how quiet it is compared to when I have ballasted it. I tend to use Gaugemaster ballast and the resonance from the running of trains seems to be very loud, often drowning out soundchips. This is particularly noticeable as I run my trains at high speed on a mainline roundy roundy.

Are there any tips for quieter ballast? 

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It's usually down to hard glue running all the way from the track to the baseboard.  Either a softer glue (we don't have Copydex over here) or engineer a break -- I wonder about putting wax paper under the ballast before gluing.

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Hi 

Have you looked at C+L foam underlay, uses it on my new layout and stick the ballast down with carpet glue watered down.

From my last layout the sound is very quite and a lot better running, as there is give in the track i would not go back to cork and pva again that's for sure. 

i get the 5mm foam ,

Darren

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I used foam underlay for both my N and 00 gauge layout. Pecorama and the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch Railways use this on their model layouts. The underlay deadens the sound and gives excellent running. The problem is that it disintegrates and this seems to happen suddenly after about ten years and then you have to take up the track and relay it.

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My track is laid on foam underlay similar to the Woodland Scenics stuff available from Hatton's and elsewhere - Plastazote from here - http://www.thamesvalleysupplies.co.uk/plastazote.php .

 

I used LD33 density and 5mm thickness - it's much cheaper when bought in 2mx1m sheets.  Nevertheless the ballasted area is still noisier than the unballasted hidden storage area, but much quieter than anything else I've used.  Extra bracing on the baseboard can help as it's that which is causing the resonance.

 

This foam is of the "closed cell" variety that does not deteriorate like the Peco stuff, which is "open cell".

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I've used closed cell foam underlay designed for use with laminate flooring in the past. Comes on a massive roll and is between 3 and 5mm thick. Priced per square metre, it's way cheaper than any specific model railway product and is equal to the task, if not better. Using granite ballast with PVA will negate any sound deadening, so consider Copydex or another latex based adhesive. In my opinion, closed cell foam (not Hornby/Peco type foam which will degrade) + latex adhesive during ballasting is the closest you'll get to silent running.

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... turning the baseboard into a sound board...

That's the fundamental issue. It's like an old wind up gramophone where a tiny amount of energy received from a needle wiggling about in a scratch, is efficiently coupled to the air to make it audible by a large horn.

 

All the above advice relating to preventing or limiting coupling of the energy the moving train imparts to the track to the baseboard is good.

 

But here's the other big thing you can do to assist in slaying the dragon at source: restrict the baseboard area the track is mounted on, as that reduces the coupling to the air in a room. To prove this for yourself take a square metre or more of thin material and use it as a wobble board, makes quite an impressive sound. Now take a 50mm wide strip of the same material, same length as the largest dimension of your wobble board. Wobble it all you like, not much acoustic output.

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That's the fundamental issue. It's like an old wind up gramophone where a tiny amount of energy received from a needle wiggling about in a scratch, is efficiently coupled to the air to make it audible by a large horn.

 

All the above advice relating to preventing or limiting coupling of the energy the moving train imparts to the track to the baseboard is good.

 

But here's the other big thing you can do to assist in slaying the dragon at source: restrict the baseboard area the track is mounted on, as that reduces the coupling to the air in a room. To prove this for yourself take a square metre or more of thin material and use it as a wobble board, makes quite an impressive sound. Now take a 50mm wide strip of the same material, same length as the largest dimension of your wobble board. Wobble it all you like, not much acoustic output.

With the above suggestion in mind I am now thinking that it would be best if I was to cut my 9mm plywood solid baseboard top surface into various smaller strips to suit the track layout plan, the gaps between the strips is either filled with a flexible sealant, or covered with a closed cell type foam underlay secured with a latex glue, the same method to secure the track and ballast. I was further thinking that instead of gluing and screwing these strips to the frame, of using just screws with a ½ rubber tap washer between the 2 surfaces to end up with a floating type baseboard. Would this further reduce this baseboard drumming noise? Your thoughts please good or bad.

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Hi 

I did used to use cork as a track base, but later moved on to C+L 3mm foam and carpet glue to do my track. 

Sorry if this sounds like another pug for C+L, just they seem to be the only place i have found for there underlay, and a happy punter.

Darren

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Is it possible that I might have misunderstood the question?

 

...yup. With long enough arms, you could put your ear to the railhead whilst rhythmically tapping the track at arm's length with a small pin hammer. Sounds just like a train approaching in the distance.

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Hi 

I did used to use cork as a track base, but later moved on to C+L 3mm foam and carpet glue to do my track. 

Sorry if this sounds like another pug for C+L, just they seem to be the only place i have found for there underlay, and a happy punter.

Darren

I'd like to use a foam, but remain very unconvinced as to long term (10 - 20 years?) life expectancy, particularly with the effects of glues, solvents, paints and UV in close proximity.  I'd rather put up with a bit of noise.  Or perhaps try experimenting with gluing something like expanded polystyrene beneath the baseboards in an attempt to queten things down....

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Personal choice is Fab Foam from Hobby Craft. The black self adhesive one is best, so if it shows through the ballast, it just looks like a coal / oil filled pit.

 

PVA isn't the demon ppl say it is unless you use too high a concentration. Plenty of water / rinse-aid to wet it, then 50/50 PVA / water dropped on. Watch carefully to see how far it soaks before positioning the next drop.

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