How Critical Is Sub-Roadbed?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Lighthorseman, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Here's one of those questions that gives away the fact that I'm a newbie. The question relates to the modular layout I'm building. Is the only advantage of the Homasote-type (or cork, for that matter) sub roadbed to dampen noise? If so, is there really much need for this stuff on a layout that will be run in a noisy train-show environment?

    Essentially, would it be okay to attach the code 100 Peco On30 flextrack right to the plywood trackbase? I'd hate to have to tear everything up later on because I did not ask and listen to sage advice.

    I posted this question elsewhere, so I appologize for the duplicate threads on different fora. :p
  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    The other advantage of cork or homasote is to serve as roadbed (not subroadbed) If you want your track at ground level, not elevated, then there is no reason to use roadbed. Just to clarify, subroadbed is your plywood, foam, pine or what have you. It serves as a sturdy (hopefully!) base for the track. Roadbed is cork, homasote, etc, and provides the raised above ground level look so typical. But not so typical for narrow gauge I guess. Sound issues aside, roadbed is a cosmetic decision.

  3. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member


    Oops! Well, you've helped me in two areas, Gary. Many thanks! I wasn't sure if the roadbed (see? learning already! :thumb: ) served another important function.

    Since I love the clickety-clack sound anyway, and I'm modelling narrow gauge where there really is no elevated roadbed, I guess I'll put the track right on the plywood. Perhaps I'll just tack it down and run trains first in order to see if there is a noise problem. If not... :)

  4. SAL Comet

    SAL Comet Member

    Ha Steve, If you like the clickey-clack sound, I have a friend that used a razor saw to make a small cut in the rail head every 29 scale feet. It is a nice effect if you model the days before continuous rail.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Steve, I get clickety-clack from wide track joints and metal wheels.
    The joy of Homasote is that you can push spikes into it and they 1) don't bend, 2) stay.
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You won't go to very many train shows with your module before you realise that the most important consideration is to build it strong and LIGHT. Carrying heavy modules is no fun.
  7. Oldmax

    Oldmax Member

  8. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Even Narrow gauge railroads built up thier roadbeds.
    The decision is yours of course but not raising it will affect everything.Many kit buildings as an example that have loading ramps and freight docks assume a raised roadbed.
    If you are going to have sidings or spurs, having these lower than the mainline looks nice and they can be ramped down.
    If your taking this to a show,I would think you would want to show a best effort module.Dont be in a hurry,if you dont want to use commercially available roadbed, try using Sheetcork cut into strips as an alternative.
  9. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Steve, I recently did a little experiment to see what the sound-dampening qualities were of foam, cork and homasote as opposed to bare plywood. Maybe I'm getting deaf in my old age but I couldn't hear any difference.

    However, having spiked directly to plywood I can say it is no picnic. The spikes would go in about halfway and then they would bend. I ended up pre-drilling every single spike hole!!! Did I save time? Nope!!! Do I wish I'd used homasote? Yep!!

    Another factor to consider for mobile layouts is, as Russ mentioned, weight. Maybe instead of plywood you should use foam - the pink or blue stuff, not white.

    Good luck and keep us posted.

  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    If you're going in with others on your modular setup, you need to find out what the group standard is.
    As for sound deadening, I was a one layout where the owner had finished ballasting the station section, but the rest of the layout was just on roadbed. The trains were perfectly silent until they got to the station and then there was a racket -- transmitted from track to subroadbed by the glued together ballast.

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