Cork makes it louder!

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Cork makes it louder!

Postby scoops » Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:30 pm


I have been doing some testing as I am building my layout to see whether I am going to use cork as an underlay or just lay straight onto plywood. I am finding that when the trains go over the corked sections, the noise seems to be louder.

Has anyone else experienced this?

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby D0260 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:33 pm

what make of track is this, and what gauge / stock have you found this.

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby scoops » Thu Feb 12, 2015 1:40 pm

Peco streamline flexitrack and oo gauge rolling stock....mostly Bachmann rolling stock.

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby Dad-1 » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:43 pm

Hi Scoops,

I wouldn't have expected it louder, although I don't think it dampens much noise out.
You'll find many of what I would call the older & experienced don't use cork much.
The way you attach track is probably the key to reducing noise slightly. Don't pin down
or the pins act as a stylus on records taking sound through to the base board. Don't
hard glue ballast down over the corks edge, or again that transmits sound through the
ballast to baseboard. This more or less leaves you needing to do a complete cork covering
of the baseboards, and glueing track down priour to hard ballasting which will help keep your
track in place, or you could pin & remove all pins after ballast has been laid & fully dried out.

I also think on 'N' in particular that a track only cork underlay raises the track too much,
giving too high a shoulder. On Peco, Bachmann & Hornby track the sleepers give enough height
for most ballast shoulders to look fine. However should you go copperclad sleepers on home
made track the sleeper depth is not adequate for ballast shoulders & cork is going to be needed.

That is my personal view & there are many views where we disagree, but the important thing is
to do what YOU are happy with.

Geoff T.
Remember ... I know nothing about railways.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=32187 and Another on viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28436&start=60&st=0&sk=t&sd=a

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby UrbanHermit » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:59 pm

Funny thing, this cork stuff. Some people won't contemplate a layout without it, and others can't be doing with it at all. I'm in the second camp, and not just because I'm lazy.

Sound deadening? I’ve never tested it myself, but, as Geoff explains, it's sound deadening qualities are pretty questionable. And since the layout I'm building is an end-to-end and therefore won’t have long periods of continuous running, I don’t think noisiness will be too much of an issue.

That shoulder effect, the ballast supporting the track several inches above ground level? Well, yes, but the over-scale thickness of the sleepers on model track (yes, even on Code 75) goes some way towards the desired effect without any underlay. And I’ve seen more than one picture of model railways where this has been overdone, the exaggeration of the shoulder looking as unrealistic as no shoulder at all. Especially since study of photos of real railways shows that there are many places where that shoulder effect is hardly noticeable – or, in the case of stations, goods yards and sheds, entirely absent. Most of my layout will consist of exactly these areas, and the one stretch of open line, between the station throat and the fiddle-yard, is intended to have a sea wall in front and a cliff face behind, so any ballast shoulder will be pretty much inconspicuous.

No cork for me, thanks.
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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby ParkeNd » Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:23 pm

This is a subject no-one is ever going to agree on. :(

From what I have read PVA seems to be the catalyst for noise. Copydex was found to be subjectively quieter than PVA and with a less harsh sound by people who have run tests and published them.

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby bike2steam » Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:49 pm

Using cork to deaden noise is a myth, but I use cork ( 1/16" ) to give a correct road bed depth for the location I model, and to give me clearance for surface point motor operation. Noise is also generated by running trains too fast for scale running, my line speed is (OO) 50mph, funnily enough real trains make a noise. And yes Geoff, I've been a (serious) railway modeller for 40 years. Funny this subject, on all forums, keeps raising it's head with monotonous regularity 8) .

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby JohnN » Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:52 pm

Just to add a slightly different perspective, on Podbury, I've used Sundeala which is much quieter than ply, with the non ballasted sections slightly quieter than those which have effectively been soaked with glue. I did use cork, but only to avoid the Sundeala getting saturated.

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:48 pm

I've found that it's the application of the pva that increases the noise. Cork's sound deadening properties are misunderstood. It has often been used stuck to(usually the back of) flat metal panels in vehicles and equipment enclosures to kill the reverberation which can be caused by vibrations from the road surface or rotatating shafts. I think it was usually at least half an inch thick. I've heard of installations where it has been sprayed on like shotcrete, but that may have been more to do with preventing condensation. We can go too far in elminating noise. Railways are noisey, we need to make the most of, the rumble when crossing bridges, the click clack of wheels on any jointed track, the clunks and clangs of semaphore signals and the banging and clat5tering of loose shunting operations. Some things we can't do much about, but the noises creted by the deck of a bridge can be transmitted deliberately to the plywood baseboard by dowel rod hidden in the pillars. If I hang a steel nut on a short string from my hidden signal rods beneath the baseboard. A judiciously placed tin can should make a siutable clang. ( Pull youself together man, you're drifting into the realms of fantasy) ah well bak to reallity.
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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby michaelasc » Thu Feb 12, 2015 10:24 pm

I lay cork everywhere that the ballast would go so that the ballast always glues to the cork and never gets near the baseboard.

I also use foam underlay between the cork and the baseboard. Over here in the US I can get this at a store called Hobby Lobby for $0.89 a sheet and a sheet is 18 inches by 12 inches and is 2mm thick.

here's a link: perhaps you can find something in UK similar?

A great advantage of these foam sheets is that not only do they dampen the noise but they smooth out joins between baseboards or any rough and uneven areas.

Another advantage is that if you want to redo an area all that is needed is to slide a putty knife under the foam and it comes up, lifting the cork, track and ballast with it all in one go.

With it being black it is already the colour of the cess - yet another advantage and looks great around motive power depots as you have an instant black underlay to the whole scene.

Hope this helps
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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby toolongtoremember » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:01 am

Personally, I avoid cork as I love the noise a model makes going around!

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby RFS » Fri Feb 27, 2015 10:33 am

Cork is traditional: its use started many years ago when there was nothing else available. But now there's an alternative - closed-cell foam. Not the open-cell stuff like Peco's underlay which disintegrates over time. I've used Plastazote on my layout - 5mm thickness. It makes a big difference where the track is not ballasted (storage yards), but where you've ballasted with the traditional PVA the reduction in noise is not so much. If the baseboard is reverberating then additional bracing underneath can help to counteract that.

Woodland Scenics market foam underlay which is very good but expensive. I bought mine in 2mx1m sheets from here, using LD33 density -

At these prices it's much cheaper than cork.
Robert Smith

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Re: Cork makes it louder!

Postby Tom@Crewe » Sat Feb 28, 2015 7:39 am

To be sure of sound levels, If you have a smart phone there are apps for measuring sound. then you can measure one against the other and note the difference.
Never enough time...........

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