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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.

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10 Responses to How To Reduce Track Noise

  • Denny says:

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

  • J E Wilson says:

    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.

  • WES says:

    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 K says:

    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 Fernandez says:

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

  • Graeme says:

    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 B says:

    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 Greenhough says:

    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 G says:

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

  • W Rusty Lane says:

    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.

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