Friday, April 13, 2012

Helix reaches the end.. or.. How's that for a topper?

We just returned from a fun trip to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD and to Alexandria, VA where we met up with Amy's friend, who she hadn't seen in 26 years!  We had a great time though I wish we had more time in both Baltimore and Alexandria.  I didn't make it to the B&O Museum, but I did get to indulge in another passion of mine: we toured the Historic Ships of Baltimore, the Constellation, The Light Ship Chesapeake, the submarine Torsk, and the Coast Guard cutter Taney.  We were able to board and wander around each ship, and we had a great time exploring these wonderful vessels.  If Model Railroading wasn't already my favorite hobby, ship model building definitely would be. 

Today, being the first full day back, I picked up where I left off on the layout just before Easter.  I was able to bend and lay the rest of the flextrack needed to finish the helix, plus I installed the team track siding at Yoe, PA.  All I need to do now is glue down the track and start dropping feeders. (Come on Duncan! Please get the battery operating system out soon before I really have to wire this thing! :)

We reach the end of the line finally on the helix.

The team track siding at Yoe, PA

I also started working on the roadbed for the upper deck.  I'm trying out camper tape with cork glued on top.  I read an article by Bob Kingsnorth, in the How to Build Realistic Reliable Track special issue published by Kalmbach a couple of years ago.  He experimented with all kinds of roadbed combinations to see what would be the most quiet.  Camper tape (or topper tape, as some in the hobby press call it) with cork roadbed glued on top, was the quietest combination.  Personally, I think Bob way over thought this, (Just the type of thing to put you in analysis-paralysis) but hey, he did the work so I'll just go by what he found.  I definitely want something that will deaden the sound due to the fact that extruded styrofoam sub roadbed and gatorfoam transmit a lot of noise.

I used 1 1/4" wide camper tape and laid it two strips wide to make a 2 1/2" wide base.

I test fit the curved section coming off the helix. The camper tape will get cork roadbed glued on top of it.  I will just use the camper tape with no cork on the sidings to help give a slight elevation difference.

I'm looking forward to seeing whether the camper/topper tape-cork combination really works.  I'll keep you posted..


  1. I remember Bob's article expressing personal opinions, not measured sounds, about roadbed noise. And, he neglected the influences of ballast and its glue on noise. For a quiet roadbed use a soft - rubber or cork - ballast, not a hard stone or walnut one. Use a rubbery glue - latex - not a hard set one.
    Dick Bradley

  2. Hi Dick,

    I just looked through Bob's article again and he mentioned ballasting had little effect on noise levels. I know his findings are subjective to his personal opinions on the noise he heard from different materials he tried out. Like I said, I think he obsessed way to much over this as I do not notice train noise outside of the sound decoders when I'm in the heat of operations on the many layouts I have operated on, so I'm not as concerned.

    Being the sub roadbed is Styrofoam though I do want to have a some sound deadening. So I'm trying out some of his findings. The added benefit is I get a nice track profile because of the raised roadbed. :)

    My good friend Ted Pamperin uses a flexible adhesive to glue down his ballast (I'll have to ask him the name again) and you can actually press down on it and it compresses and springs back with out any ballast coming loose! Real cool. :) I'll probably go with that too.