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· Registered
7 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My first round of questions. As mentioned in my intro I'm only a beginner, so no really technical replies please.

For the baseboard I'm planning to use (9mm ?) ply. I'd always thought Sundeala was widely used, but many posts suggest not.

What's the best form of baseboard silencing? I've read some posts suggesting glueing the track rather than pinning it.

I'm considering a split level track. What would be a good gradient to use?

Is track interchangeable e.g Hornby and Peco, and which is best, or is it all down to personal choice?

The only specs I have at the moment are:
OO track. I've quite a bit of Hornby track which I can hopefully use.
DCC control - I was thinking of one of the Digitrax systems, but may now opt for NCE Powercab (thanks to zmil for the suggestion). Any comments/ recommendations on this welcome. The main feeling I've picked up is avoid Hornby.
The main track is likely to be about 6' x 8', although I may be able to stretch to 7' x 10'. The room is about 15' x 14' and I may be able to extend the track along the edge of the room. It's mainly used as a study, so it depends on how much space I can free up.
I've been using Hornby's HVR2 to create a few layouts. I don't know how this compares to other products.

· DT
5,345 Posts
There are no fixed rules on baseboard construction. Use whatever you like and can get locally.

I've used plywood with cork in places, but cork doesn't insulate sound. If I had to do it over, I'd make up a baseboard frame and lay plywood roadbeds - not necessarily covering the whole of the frame wit big sheets of ply. Sure, if you have a station or yard, then a sheet is the best way of doing it.

For sound insulation, I've used cork and foam. Cork doesn't work that well. In one place where I have cork next to the foam, the difference is amazing where the train drives from the cork underlay to the foam underlay.

Don't nail or pin the track down. Nails will transmit sound from the track through any soft layer to the plywood. Use PVA glue to glue down foam to the ply and a thin layer of PVA or spots of PVA to glue the track to the foam. When dry, it holds it nicely in place - and you can remove the track if you have to by sliding a putty knife underneath. I've done that quite often.

If you are going to ballast, try not to glue the ballast to the track and to the baseboards - in the same way as the nails, it will transmit sound to the baseboard which in turn resonates and amplifies the sound. Keep the ballast on the foam.

Regarding your gradient - with model railways we compress reality so the gradient will of course be quite steep. If you can keep it to 1:40 or shallower most trains will not have any problem. I have an up gradient of 1:40 and a down gradient of 1:10 - which is hidden so it doesn't look funny. A bit of a roller-coaster ride for the poor 1:76 scale passengers! Some strong trains can go up the 1:10 (I've tried for fun), but most slip half way up.

If you have to build a steeper gradient then so be it, but try not to have tight bends on the slope as that will hinder the trains even more.

For DCC systems - look at our DCC Systems Chart and the DCC Systems User Reviews. Some good advice there.

Have fun with your layout and let us know how it progresses.

· Premium Member
4,843 Posts
Hi Chris.

I prefer to build 'open grid' baseboards as they are both stronger and lighter than using softwood framing with an MDF topping. I use 12mm ply in 6" strips to form a 250mm x 250mm grid with halving joints glued at the grid intersections. Track bed is 9mm ply as you suggest, but with the open grid system you just put track bed where this is actually going to be track or where you have a town, or some such, at the same level as the track. Elsewhere you can build up the scenery with lightweight polystyrene blocks or tiles and, if you want scenery to fall away from the track level, it is no problem to cut away a section of the grid members but not by more than a third of their total depth. If you need to go any deeper than this then a separate baseboard should be built which goes underneath the main one. Likewise if you want the track to rise above the main board level it is no problem to fix 'risers' to the grid which will support the rising track.

As regards gradients, 1:35 is considered to be the absolute maximum and then only for short distances. It is better to aim for gradients of not steeper than 1:50.

Silencing is a matter which has been discussed at length many times on the forum. Cork is nowadays felt to be somewhat out of date having been adopted when there was no alternative. Nowadays there are closed cell foam products which are far superior to cork in their sound deadening qualities, but stay away from the open-celled 'sponge' products as they are prone to degradation over time, becoming hard and brittle. A lot of modellers are now using the Gaugemaster track bed but there are many equally as good alternatives around such as the foam underlay used beneath wood strip flooring.

Hornby track is Code 100 and Peco also make Code 100 track so, yes, they are compatible. For finer looking track, however, the Peco Code 75 is a better option. For points try to go for the 'Electrofrog' type as they will give much more reliable slow running through them.

Choice of controllers is a very personal thing depending on whether you want use a hand-held controller or to operate your layout from a fixed console position. Personally I prefer the latter so have an ECoS ESU controller. Have a look at the DCC Controller reviews on the Forum.

I think that about covers it but I'm sure others will be along shortly with their input, some of which is bound to contradict mine but then it's all down to personal choice and opinion.

Good luck with the layout and post some pictures as you progress.

· Registered
2,342 Posts
For something a bit different , foam can be used it is very strong but can be broken over a sharp edge

I found a how to guide with a magazine that showed how to use foam as the main base glued (with foam friendly construction adhesive) on 3mm ply . It can be cut with a sharp knife or a "hot wire" Gradients can be made by cutting along the sides where the track is and lifting up the foam , glue other foam underneath to support. when finished it can be very strong but really light in weight.( we had a lot of trouble breaking it up afterwards)

Shame I don't have any pictures of the layout with track (glued on top)

have a look at the last two pictures in post 10 of this link Here

It shows foam structure holding up the main scenic area , foam vertical braces .

Just a different ideas , but becoming more common


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