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Hi again Dave.

One thing which jumped out at me was the use of MDF on your 'test' layout. I would strongly receommend that you look at an alternative material such as plywood for the construction of your permanent layout boards. If you do a search on MDF you will see that there has been much discussion re. the use/qualities/draw-backs to using this material ad the general consenseus is that plywood is a far better material both in terms of associated health hazards and its stability under changing temperature and humidity conditions. It is also a darned site easier to push track pins into plywood than into MDF.

Getting back to what you should do next I would actually suggest taking a step back and experimenting with various types of track underlay. Cork has, for many years, been the generally accepted material for it's sound absorbing properties but there are now some excellent 'closed-cell' foam underlays on the market which are far better than cork. Gaugemaster produce one such material but there are plenty of other, readily available ones such as the foam underlay used beneath wood strip flooring. Stay away from the open foam type of track beds though (Hornby & Peco) as these do become brittle over time and will eventually completely degrade.

Having got that sorted you can then progress to track ballasting. Try different makes, grades and colours until you find what looks best to you.

I look forward to seeing your progress.
 
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