Everything on model trains, model railroads, model railways, locomotives, model train layouts, scenery, wiring, DCC and more. Enjoy the world's best hobby... model railroading!

New to Model Trains? All the help you’ll ever need is at your fingertips.

How To Reduce Track Noise

Norman has a problem common to many layouts:

“I ran a vintage Lionel (California Zepher) around my room above the door and windows. When running the train, the noise from the wheels on the track is very loud. What can I put under the tracks on top of the plywood to reduce the noise?”

If you would like to assist Norman with a suggestion, then please use the COMMENTS link below his posting to add your thoughts. And, if you want to submit a question to the Blog Moderator for possible publication (10,000 readers weekly), use one of the ASK A QUESTION links on this site.

10 Responses to How To Reduce Track Noise

  • Dennysays:

    You can buy cork for a roadbed @any hobby store!

  • J E Wilsonsays:

    You might need to add a buffer (cork or the like) between the shelf itself and the wall where attached. I have fount the walls can act like a speaker and amplify sound. I have had to remove ticking clocks and 1 shelf on a wall above my layout with a running static train on it, both were way too loud.

  • WESsays:

    I have found using strips of 1/4″ polystyrene insulation board, cut slightly wider than the track, works well to reduce sound. I also, use a sanding pad to bevel the outside edges to help when applying ballast.

  • Ed Ksays:

    My son and I run vintage Lionels all the way up to the latest MTH releases. We use tubular track and put wooden ties to make it more realistic. When we first started out the noise was deafening when we got 2 or 3 trains running at once. On top of the 5/8” plywood, we put 1” pink insulation board and then cork roadbed. We screw down the track through the cork into the foam board. This way there is no vibration on the plywood and there are 2 layers to absorb he vibrations.

  • Gustavo Fernandezsays:

    I suggest to use a 2 milimiters thick cork, that’ll reduce the noise at least by half, perhaps more…

  • Graemesays:

    Hi I run n gauge and HO gauge without roadbed the track is put straight down on mdf and then ballast put on. When I first started with model railroad I did all the right things put foam and cork under the track ran my trains and what a racket they made. I thought I’d done something wrong so I tried again still the same then I noticed the trains were quieter when they ran on flex track ie longer lengths less joints = smother running. So I ran my finger around the track and I could feel very slight differences in rail height. This was causing the click clack,and when you have five or six locos running pulling long rakes of wagons it becomes very noisey.so the solution now all you train officenados out there are going to cringe,but I’ve now got three large layouts all running very quietly and the way I did it was listen to the noise then get a piece of mdf off cut trim to a little wider than rails and about six inches long wrap a piece of 240 grit sand paper around it and sand both pieces of track at the joints if you sand the rails at the joints they will both end up at the same height so the wheels will run smoothly over the joint eliminating the noise. Now I know a lot of you will poo poo this way but I run my layout with very little noise and Zero derailments for hours even on turnouts, which to me is far more satisfactory than noisy rakes and derailments because the rail heights are ever so slightly different caused of mass production there are slight differences, even in Kato track which just snaps together there are also these differences. Also I have never wrecked a piece of track by doing this all I end up with is quieter smoother running. Best of luck Graeme

  • Frank Bsays:

    Anything soft will absorb vibration. Any rubber backed carpet, or foam rubber carpet underlay would be very good. The soft rubberised mesh sold for preventing things sliding about in your car would be cheap and work well. As this is high up on a shelf, appearance will not be an issue.

  • Malcolm Greenhoughsays:

    I intend using polystyrene ceiling tiles of which I inherited a few box-fulls. These will be put down before anything else. I live in a flat and have to consider the neighbours but I also dislike the loud roaring drumming sound produced by running trains on track directly fixed to the baseboard.

  • Phil Gsays:

    Woodland Scenic and others sell a rubbery foam track bed. I use it with great results.

  • W Rusty Lanesays:

    You can get foam type road bed from e-Bay. I use cork on my HO scale and it reduced the sound considerably. When I put up my Lionel 027 gauge I will purchase the foam roadbed from e-Bay. There is a seller on e-Bay that will send you a sample. I plan to put up my Lionel 027 above the doors and windows on brackets attached to the wall with plywood shelves. I think the foam road bed is superior to the cork and is quite bendable for curves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Add a photo or image related to your comment (JPEG only)


Rail Yard Structures – Best Value!

rail yard buildings

N Scale Track Plans

Watch Video

Use Tiny Railroad Micro Controllers

A micro controller is basically a small programmable computer device to help the model railroader “make things operate.” It is clever way to realistically replicate the movements, actions and functions you are likely to see on a full size railroad.

Watch These Club Videos

Club members access helpful new resources each month: diagrams, video tutorials, articles, track plans and more. Watch the tour videos here.

Everything DCC

Download Your Free Catalog


Submit Your Model Railroading Questions!

Before you submit your model railroading question please add some feedback, answers or comments to other postings on this model train blog. What goes around comes around... so if you can help others in the hobby, someone else may help you.

Important - Please add plenty of supporting details to any question you submit (eg. scale, solutions you have already tried etc.) , as the clearest and best questions usually get the best answers. Also, please check your spelling and punctuation as all questions need to be approved by the blog moderator prior to publication. Approved questions are normally published within a week (if not sooner).

Submit your model train questions here.

Scenery Techniques Explained


Model Train Help Ebook

Scenery & Layout Ideas

Submit Your Article

Would you like to write an article and have it published?

Preference will be given to articles that help others progress in the hobby, maybe suggesting an idea for their layout, a quick tip or two... or perhaps a little bit of good advice based on your model railroading experiences.

We are all in this hobby together, so the more we can do to share ideas and help each other, the better.

Submit Your Article Here

It’s YOUR Railroad!

Your rolling stock and locomotives might actually be the center of attention on your layout, but the scenic features that surround and envelop your layout is what's likely to make your train setup stand proud of the rest. Your selection of scenery and structures will add an element of customization that will make your railroad truly unique.

Scenery, structures, and fine detailing is a fundamental aspect of any good model railroad, particularly if it is intended to replicate a true-to-life railroading scene. How realistic or authentic you make your railroad is entirely up to you... and you alone.

Some enthusiasts like to replicate every tiny detail so as to accurately depict, in every aspect, a miniaturized version of a real life scene.

Others in this hobby adopt a more "free-style" approach and choose to mix and match accessories and features they personally prefer. Even though the purist will possibly be unimpressed with unrealistic or out of context elements, it is YOUR railroad layout so you can make it anything you personally want!

Model Railroading Blog Archive

Reader Poll

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.