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Old 04-04-2017, 09:37 PM   #1
Hound Dog
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Default Alternatives to Cork Underlay

Getting very close to actually starting to lay track for the first time and was originally of a mind to use Cork as an underlay, but I have read several recent posts which fairly unanimously rejected Cork in favour of laying track directly onto the ply baseboard.

Before proceeding, I wanted to understand if anybody had any favourable experience with alternatives to Cork, and in particular the use of laminate floor underlay.......I have some sheets of 5mm thick foam type floor underlay that would be a breeze to fit and cut, and which sort of makes sense as sound deafening material...........I am however not sure about longevity and the effects once ballasted, but providing it doesn't disintegrate with time then it should not be any worse than the straight onto the ply approach.

Any thoughts and comments welcomed - thanks
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:51 PM   #2
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The most important thing is that track especially points are laid completely flat.

With that in mind any underlay needs to be, in my view, fairly firm.

Why have underlay? One reason is to deaden sound. Well cork does do this as would most products similar to cork, however, if you ballast your track the soundproofing will be negated and you will be back to square one.

So my advice is forget underlay.
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Old 04-04-2017, 09:57 PM   #3
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Imho, the only reason to use an underlay is to create a shoulder to the ballast, if you want one. But, should you want to change the track plan (sorry, when you change the track plan) it can be a real pain to lift off the board.
It's not necessary and adds no value to a layout.
As WTD says the track needs a firm and level base and again imho, foam of any kind won't cut it.
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Old 05-04-2017, 03:07 AM   #4
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Being a complete novice in all things model railway wise, I'm slowly getting on with the layout, and I too thought, why not use that laminate floor underlay to deaden the sound.



Just laid it flat all over and glued it down with neat PVA.

Now, with the little bit of ballasting that's been done, the experts on here are right about the soundproofing being negated post ballasting...............but not completely, from what I hear on mine anyway.

This underlay foam board is extremely light, flexible and easy to cut, so it also comes in handy for building stuff, walls for example.

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Old 11-04-2017, 11:12 AM   #5
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why does the ballast reduce sound deadening of the underlay? Is this just with loose ballast or even pva stuck balast as well.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticTurbo View Post
why does the ballast reduce sound deadening of the underlay? Is this just with loose ballast or even pva stuck balast as well.
Loose ballast is a no-no, it won't stay in place and will eventually find its way into the mechanisms of the locos.
Once fixed in place it effectively becomes part of the baseboard and will transmit sound and negate any sound deadening layer. Best not to use underlay and enjoy the sound.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:49 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
Loose ballast is a no-no, it won't stay in place and will eventually find its way into the mechanisms of the locos.
Once fixed in place it effectively becomes part of the baseboard and will transmit sound and negate any sound deadening layer. Best not to use underlay and enjoy the sound.
Even if the entire base board is covered with a layer of cork like richard did in everard junction. The main reason i would want to use a full cork layer is the ability to cut out the bit you wish to remove and simply cut the correct shape replacement cork and pop it back in. In theory anyway.
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Old 26-08-2017, 08:46 AM   #8
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Just a heads up, I'm currently working on a layout where we used foam board, but had trouble with short circuits. Our layout is portable and it was discovered when we saw the screws holding in the copper plates under the track at the joints, were actually in contact with an unknown layer of tin foil which just below the surface of the foam board. I understand this may not apply to all foam boards, but it's something well worth noting

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Old 26-08-2017, 12:11 PM   #9
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Hi Richard. My take on this is just that. Everyone has their favourite.
Over the years I have used just about every different kind of track bed from Peco foam which is quiet but sort of leaves the track and points floating and is not nice solid level fixing.
Have used cork but dont see the point. For it to be a nice flat track bed it has to be fixed down well so the end result is no real advantage with reducing running noise. Once you ballast the track you cant see it anyway . On my latest layout I just put the track down onto the ply base board upon the advice of people on here and it seems to be best way. I am very happy with track on baseboard but others prefer other methods.
I dont think anyone can say one is all that much better than the other. Except for the foam underlay as that is not good firm base. But some like it. John
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Old 27-08-2017, 12:53 PM   #10
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I have used cork. The drawback is that it can absorb a large amount of moisture which once present doesn't evaporate very easily. The advantage is that it is quite easy to lay. Just put the track down and slide the cork underneath. Mark all around with a pencil, remove the track and stick down with Copydex.

A drawback with using cork is you must raise the height of the platform accordingly. I have glued foam core board to platform sections using a hot glue gun. It is a bit difficult to cut the foam core at an angle so that it fits the chamfer of the track underlay.

Quite an easy method is to create a diorama on a piece of foam core board and fit it into a hatch on the layout. A way you can go about this is to cover the entire baseboard with foam core board and then cut out sections for buildings etc. Glue the building to the cut out piece and fit it back to the hole you just cut out. Of course, it has to fit!

An easier method with card kits is to assemble them on a piece of foam core board and then fit them to the layout. This obviates the problem of working on the layout itself when it is hot in the loft.
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