Cork underlay. Why bother ?

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Amazonas, Mar 9, 2009.

  1. Amazonas

    Amazonas New Member

    I'm tearing up my first attempt at a Z scale layout and starting again.
    No regrets, there were too many things about it that bugged me, need a clean break.

    One thing I'm thinking about. I had previously used cork underlay. I'm now thinking about skipping it. I had previously done a test ballasting a piece of track without underlay. It looked good. When I started ballasting the layout I found that I needed more ballast in order to cover the underlay and it never looked at good as the test piece.

    Thinking of laying the track directly on to wood. In places where there are styrofoam risers etc I'll lay a thin layer of plywood.

    Any comments welcome. Thanks.
  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    It will they say.
  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    How thick was your original cork roadbed..?? We've used 1/8" cork for Z. Round the edges so ballasting will be easier. The additional amount of ballast needed to make the 1/8" jump is probably less than gets "lost" in the process. and it looked a LOT better....
    Noise in Z scale..?? You really have to listen hard to hear anything at all....
    Just my 2 bits....
  4. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    The poster was asking for the rationale behind cork.

    i have seen perfectly good HO and O scale roads that operate just as quietly without cork as the ones that have it, so it probably isn't even a "rationale" - more like a fad.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I've got track on 3 different surfaces...directly on plywood, cork, and foam...The cork trackage is "somewhat" quieter, but not a bunch, particularly cork that's been ballasted. The quietest is track over foam.
  6. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Actually, I use it to model the roadbed that track is generally laid on. Whatever other properties it may or may not have are secondary, in my book. I have been using it (as have millions of others) since the early 60' a fad it's not....More like a trend...
  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

  9. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    It's not a fad if you want to model mainlines realistically above the surrounding terrain.

    Some modelers, including me, use cork for that raised effect, although I don't in all areas such as sidings and yards.

    I've used HO cork, sometimes several layers worth, to elevate track, for no other reason than I Like It That Way (see Rule #1).
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Best reason of all. :thumb:
  11. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I believe that what I posted above is the reason UMTRR is also alluding to...
  12. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Actually, if I went back and re-read this thread, it would probably confuse just about anyone.

    Either the stuff deadens sound or it doesn't. The consensus expressed says that it pretty much doesn't. My experience has been that it makes little or no difference to smaller scale modelers.

    Either it is mechanically necessary in some fashion or it isn't. The consensus says it isn't. My experience is that there are many ways to shape the shoulder of a roadbed, and none of them require cork.

    Either it is "useful" for shaping the shoulders of roadbeds - see "mechanically useful, above" or it isn't. The consensus displayed is that it probably doesn't matter, since people do without it and do just fine.

    Sounds a lot like a "fad" under those circumstances, something that "everybody does" but which isn't actually necessary.
  13. Amazonas

    Amazonas New Member

    Thanks for all your replies

    Seem to be able to draw two conclusions:

    1. Noise isn't an issue. I'm inclined to agree.

    2. Appearance-wise it's up to the individual, it might be useful in places but not in others.

    I think what I will do is another test. I'll create a stretch with and one without and do a side by side comparison.

    BTW. I was using IBL cork underlay, which I would say was probably about 1/8". I have a feeling something slightly thinner might appeal to me. Does anyone make anything like 1/16"?

    Thanks again for the lively discussion.
  14. umtrr-author

    umtrr-author Member

    In terms of sound deadening capability... I've been told that once the cork is solidly "part" of the layout, for example it's bonded to everything else using the "bonded ballast method", the sound just carries straight through the layout.

    I have not really been sensitive to the noise that the N Scale locomotives make, so I don't worry about it, but I do think this assertion is correct and that the cork doesn't buy much in terms of lessening noise. Real trains make a lot of noise anyway.

    Just for more context, the layout is 2 inch extruded (pink) foam attached to horizontal 1x2s which are attached to studs dropped vertically from ceiling to floor. There is no plywood or other underlay, it's just the foam.
  15. MidnightRR

    MidnightRR Member

    The point of using roadbed is not to make the trains quieter (that's an added benefit sometimes); the reason I use roadbed is because prototype railroads lay their track (except for some industry spurs) on raised ground to promote drainage.

    If you look at the A.R.E.A. standards, you will see the cross-sections that show this.
  16. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Depends on the era. come out West and I'll show you where entire stretches of the Transcontinental Railway were laid directly on the ground, and I can show you similar stretches of narrow gauge rail grade in the mountains, as well. That's also "prototype practice".
  17. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

  18. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    The link is unnecessary, since I am following actual prototype practice in my layout. That means roadbeds, where present, will be realistic and not "sculpted".

    Railroads of the West were never that well manicured.

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