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Hello all,

First time posting on here. Looking for suggestions on what type of roadbed and/or sub-roadbed to use on my HO scale layout. Plywood, foam, cork? I hear foam can be noisy but it's super flexible for rivers/lakes etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Thanks,
Pat
 

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Hello all,

First time posting on here. Looking for suggestions on what type of roadbed and/or sub-roadbed to use on my HO scale layout. Plywood, foam, cork? I hear foam can be noisy but it's super flexible for rivers/lakes etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

Thanks,
Pat
Basically, if you can buy it, and you can afford it, then it's good. You will probably get as many suggestions as you will replies.

SUBroadbed needs to be a rigid material: plywood, extruded foam insulating panels (NOT Styrofoam or foam rubber), homasote, Masonite, what have you. Personally, I like the versatility of foam. If you're running plastic track (ties or roadbed) directly on extruded foam, yes, it can be loud, but most of us don't do that. Even then, noise is subjective. Plywood under the foam is not necessary, but many people like to use it anyway.

Either cork or foam rubber makes excellent roadbed. If you're planning to use track nails to hold things in place, cork is probably a better option, but personally I like foam rubber. I glue it down with adhesive latex caulk.
 

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Once you ballast and glue the ballast, it will all be noisy.

The quietest running I have in all my layouts historically is across a bridge suspended between two abutments. Oddly, my scratch-built scale timber trestle, with each bent frame sill embedded in ground goop, was also very quiet.

I have used plywood, foam, cork, and even strips of drywall. The drywall is amazingly quiet!! The others are moderately noisy with foam being quiet and cork as well. But, to repeat myself, as soon as you pour, groom, and then glue the ballast, you'll end up with noisy rails when it dries.

So, if it answers your question, pick what you like to work with that you can justify purchasing. If you'd like it to be just decoder sounds, don't ballast it. If you insist on the realistic ballast, then live with whatever noise your construction generates when trains roll over it.

Just a closing note: For a while I contemplated cutting strips of that drawer liner rubbery mat and using that under roadbed of any kind. (You can get a 4' roll of it for a couple of dollars at dollar stores.) I use 1/2" G1S ply in cookie-cutter forms for my sub-roadbed, and I usually lay cork for the roadbed. The thought was to have the strips of liner between the sub and the cork wide enough that, when groomed and glued, my rock ballast would have that sound-absorbing layer between it and the sub-roadbed cookie cutter. I got into a rhythm and never did trial it. I regret not trying it for at least five feet to see how it went.
 

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extruded insulation is good, but it can be noisy if the ballast is highly rigid.. i glued the foam to plywood with dap latex adhesive, some what flexible ... i also used water thinned dap to hold the ballast down [sand], to give some flexibilty and sound deadening ...
you will get differing views on every method :)
 

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Ballasting the track will increase the noise.
When I got ready to ballast I ran trains with the sound muted and
just listened to the sound of steel wheels on steel rails.
It was noisy but somewhat pleasant.

I did the same thing after ballasting and there was a noticeable increase in noise.
Not so pleasant. There is a up side to hearing loss as I just take out the aids and all is good.

I've got three 150 foot truss bridges on the upper main and when the train hit those bridges
the silence is so great that if I'm doing something else I'll look up to see what happened to the train.

Magic
 

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I don't find that kind of scale running noise to be the least bit realistic. It's far too loud.

Real ballast and roadbed doesn't produce that rumble. It's why trains can sneak up on people so readily when they are walking on the tracks with their backs turned.

Flange noise, wind rush, the rumble of the prime movers or the chuffs of the steam engine, the turbo-generator, steam hiss, the spits of the condenser relief valve, horns and bells...that's what we get from decoders.

I guess it's a personal choice.
 

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Basically, if you can buy it, and you can afford it, then it's good. You will probably get as many suggestions as you will replies.

SUBroadbed needs to be a rigid material: plywood, extruded foam insulating panels (NOT Styrofoam or foam rubber), homasote, Masonite, what have you. Personally, I like the versatility of foam. If you're running plastic track (ties or roadbed) directly on extruded foam, yes, it can be loud, but most of us don't do that. Even then, noise is subjective. Plywood under the foam is not necessary, but many people like to use it anyway.

Either cork or foam rubber makes excellent roadbed. If you're planning to use track nails to hold things in place, cork is probably a better option, but personally I like foam rubber. I glue it down with adhesive latex caulk.
My order is in for a Mianne pre-cut layout. In the meantime, I'm trying to decide whether to go with Midwest Scenics cork roadbed or the Woodland Scenics HO roadbed which is much darker than the Midwest. Any opinions on this would be helpful. Thanks.
 

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Should have started your own thread. This one has been dormant for 2 years.

To the best of my knowledge, Mianne doesn't provide layouts, only benchwork. While they have kits in several shapes, you still have to create the layout that will go on top of it... and personally, I think that's putting the cart before the horse. You should finalize your layout design, then purchase or build benchwork for underneath it. That way your benchwork doesn't limit your design options.

Benchwork is the wooden framework on which your subroadbed will lie. You will need some form of rigid structure under your track. You can completely cover the benchwork with plywood or extruded foam, or cut out sections of masonite, plywood, hardboard, wood splines, etc. to support your track. You can have a solid surface, or attach wooden cleats to support your subroadbed.

If you were going to resurrect an old thread, you probably should go back and read the responses to the original post, because they answer your question. There is no particular advantage to one kind of roadbed over another. It's a personal choice. I happen to like foam, but that's just my opinion.

Most people don't leave raw roadbed showing (none of these products looks anything like a real roadbed). We cover it with a thin layer of real or fake gravel ballast to make it look more like the real thing.
 
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Should have started your own thread. This one has been dormant for 2 years.

To the best of my knowledge, Mianne doesn't provide layouts, only benchwork. While they have kits in several shapes, you still have to create the layout that will go on top of it... and personally, I think that's putting the cart before the horse. You should finalize your layout design, then purchase or build benchwork for underneath it. That way your benchwork doesn't limit your design options.

Benchwork is the wooden framework on which your subroadbed will lie. You will need some form of rigid structure under your track. You can completely cover the benchwork with plywood or extruded foam, or cut out sections of masonite, plywood, hardboard, wood splines, etc. to support your track. You can have a solid surface, or attach wooden cleats to support your subroadbed.

If you were going to resurrect an old thread, you probably should go back and read the responses to the original post, because they answer your question. There is no particular advantage to one kind of roadbed over another. It's a personal choice. I happen to like foam, but that's just my opinion.

Most people don't leave raw roadbed showing (none of these products looks anything like a real roadbed). We cover it with a thin layer of real or fake gravel ballast to make it look more like the real thing.
I understand all that. And I know what Mianne is and I had a good idea of what my layout would look like ergo the kit I ordered will support my planned layout. And I know Mianne doesn't provide layouts. You surely read a lot into my simple question of cork vs foam. One of the reasons I even asked was because I've seen a post that said cork can become hard and brittle. I fully intend to add ballast, FWIW.

The "answers" as you put it didn't really answer my question, they were peripheral to my simple question and really dealt with the subroadbed.

I didn't start my own thread as this one was only two years old and not locked. I didn't want to get a notice that it was unnecessary as this one matched up what I wanted. If it was 8 or 10 years old, I would have.
 

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I tried the WS foam and didn't like it all that much as it has to be glued and the track has to be glued to it.
It is however very easy to work with and takes ballast very well.

I much preferred cork as it could be nailed to my insulated foam sub roadbed and the track nailed to it.
There is no time lost waiting for glue to dry, nailed it down and I could test run trains immediately.
If properly nailed insulated foam will hold nails for the cork roadbed just fine.
I really only had a rough track plan and I made many changes as I went along.
Just pull a few nails from track and roadbed and relay. This worked out very well for me.

As for the cork getting hard and brittle over time once you ballast the track this becomes a non issue.

Magic
 

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I have plastic table tops, pink sheet foam, preformed cork rail bed.

But if I had a more permanent plywood, I'm not sure I'd automatically reach for that pink foam as the next layer again.
 

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I have plastic table tops, pink sheet foam, preformed cork rail bed.

But if I had a more permanent plywood, I'm not sure I'd automatically reach for that pink foam as the next layer again.
Would you use plywood as the subroadbed with cork rail bed then? Even with cork and ballast, would you still hear the sound of plywood?

I'm thinking extruded foam (per CTValleyRR) over the benchwork. Seems like it would be easier to drill the holes for wiring plus I can shape it easier for the dog-bone configuration I'll be using.

Question: can you simply lay the foam on top of the benchwork without securing it?
 

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I believe I would try definitely for something between the plywood and the cork road bed -- that's what I was getting it. I have foam now. I like it yet wonder if something else would be better in the plywood setting, assuming again you want it for a long time on the plywood. something as you suggest sound absorbent but perhaps more solid than foam sheet -- which is i admit pretty solid stuff.

i have mine simply sitting on the table tops. I cut mine into large pieces and have done each piece separately. I did this because I'm still sticking with being able to take it all down. so i'm willing to put up with certain things. Still I thought about using double stick tape to keep it from moving if that's a problem or i could even drywall screw it down or what have you... so far i haven't needed to that.

so the table tops, then pink foam -- paint and ground cover, then the cork road bed, then the track.

previously i had thin plywood pieces with a heavy felt -- which was ok. I actually had a semi-circle of bachmann plastic road bed and measured a sound db of +10 between that and flex track on the cork in that setting.

But what I have is both pretty simple (a large loop) and not complete -- I'm doing to take some pics and provide a more detail description some time soon. While the pink foam has many pluses the idea of stacking it, carving and making some of terrain aint so easy.

i also experimented with putting aluminum mesh screen ("bug screen") over it and making a kind undulating terrain -- this worked and i like it but it needs some planning and doesn't necessarily produce a firm surface, which was ok in my case.

so i can't really truly recommend anything --- just experiences.

ok forgot one -- hemasote -- that's one that may not have been mentioned but is popular in the o-gauge world to go over the plywood. maybe something from the flooring world. still the pink foam is readily available and cheap!

I've leaned on it and put light pressure on it and not made any dents. still if you made a dent a bit glue and ground cover, fixed!
 

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I believe I would try definitely for something between the plywood and the cork road bed -- that's what I was getting it. I have foam now. I like it yet wonder if something else would be better in the plywood setting, assuming again you want it for a long time on the plywood. something as you suggest sound absorbent but perhaps more solid than foam sheet -- which is i admit pretty solid stuff.

i have mine simply sitting on the table tops. I cut mine into large pieces and have done each piece separately. I did this because I'm still sticking with being able to take it all down. so i'm willing to put up with certain things. Still I thought about using double stick tape to keep it from moving if that's a problem or i could even drywall screw it down or what have you... so far i haven't needed to that.

so the table tops, then pink foam -- paint and ground cover, then the cork road bed, then the track.

previously i had thin plywood pieces with a heavy felt -- which was ok. I actually had a semi-circle of bachmann plastic road bed and measured a sound db of +10 between that and flex track on the cork in that setting.

But what I have is both pretty simple (a large loop) and not complete -- I'm doing to take some pics and provide a more detail description some time soon. While the pink foam has many pluses the idea of stacking it, carving and making some of terrain aint so easy.

i also experimented with putting aluminum mesh screen ("bug screen") over it and making a kind undulating terrain -- this worked and i like it but it needs some planning and doesn't necessarily produce a firm surface, which was ok in my case.

so i can't really truly recommend anything --- just experiences.

ok forgot one -- hemasote -- that's one that may not have been mentioned but is popular in the o-gauge world to go over the plywood. maybe something from the flooring world. still the pink foam is readily available and cheap!

I've leaned on it and put light pressure on it and not made any dents. still if you made a dent a bit glue and ground cover, fixed!
When I was considering N Gauge for my RR, I looked over at a 6' folding table in my room. Very sturdy and with the foam top seemed like a candidate. But, I settled on HO due to my eyesight.
 

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I mean for me, it all comes down to being able to take it down. But, I admit with a the foam cut into a pretty big pieces (4 x 4 roughly) ... with ground cover, maybe this won't work so well.

So i see value in the plywood approach no doubt.

And I'm like you though, the N is very appealing in many ways. I've considered it. I do have a tiny bit but it's just for play ... no real layout. If I were to do one, I think it'd run along a wall or two... but that's just an idea.

But before I did that, I'd sell something off -- probably my O stuff which all boxed up and out of the way for now. So I resist the temptation!
 

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I understand all that. And I know what Mianne is and I had a good idea of what my layout would look like ergo the kit I ordered will support my planned layout. And I know Mianne doesn't provide layouts. You surely read a lot into my simple question of cork vs foam. One of the reasons I even asked was because I've seen a post that said cork can become hard and brittle. I fully intend to add ballast, FWIW.

The "answers" as you put it didn't really answer my question, they were peripheral to my simple question and really dealt with the subroadbed.

I didn't start my own thread as this one was only two years old and not locked. I didn't want to get a notice that it was unnecessary as this one matched up what I wanted. If it was 8 or 10 years old, I would have.
Don't get all huffy -- the problem isn't that I read too much into what you wrote, but that I read EXACTLY what you wrote and didn't try to second guess anything. I'm glad you understand what you ordered. And I'm glad that you had a pretty good idea what you wanted to put on it before you did so. That's often (dare I say almost always) NOT true, and again, I took what you said at face value. If you knew it, then no harm done; if you hadn't, then it might have saved you a ton of trouble. I'll err in that direction every time.

And the previous posts stated rather clearly that there is no distinct advantage of one over the other. Nothing you said indicated any awareness of the previous discussion, or that you were aware that the thread was old (and FWIW, threads don't get locked simply because of age on this site). And you didn't mention a word about your true concern, which, apparently, was related to the cork getting brittle over time. A few words summarizing what has gone before go a long way towards making sure you communicate clearly, and that you don't get a lot of unnecessary information.
 
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