I was curious where most modelers stood on the issue of model train noise : HO Scale. I have read many posts within threads describing the benefits of 'noise reduction' when using a sub roadbed such as cork.
I had thrown together a basic plywood layout a while ago using tiny screws to hold some Atlas, code 83 track in place. It was screwed directly onto the plywood. I was not at all phased by the noise of the cars moving over the rails. If anything, it seemed quite natural. You could really hear the train coming and passing you by especially if you sat next to the module at ear level - or close to it.
You're not the first to make this observation. There is a high degree of subjectivity here, but I think most like as little noise as possible. Imagine a steel ball rolling across a sheet of bare ply- wood; that sound is (I think) not pleasant, and similar to that of a train on noisy benchwork. Cork is good, Homasote is better, cork on Homasote (and plywood underneath) is real good. Solid, heavy benchwork helps too, but it ALL depends on liking or not liking that noise. (I like it as quiet as possible).
=>Alas, my N scale trains didn't make enough noise for me to hear except =>the rail clicks as the trains passed over the sectional track sections. =>Then I added digital sound. What a difference! =>
=>Bill =>Bill's Railroad Empire
At Maple Leaf 2003 I heard sound on several layouts. Wow! The added realism of locomotive sound rather than "train noise" has to be heard to be believed. And for maximum realism, you want as little "train noise" as possible. OTOH, I do like the clickety clack of the railroad track, and have on past layouts actually filed nicks in the railhead at 39ft intervals. Again, you want as little "train noise" as possible to get this effect, but you also want some amplification of the clickety clack -- the two aims conflict somewhat. :-)
Matt, like you I don't mind the noise of a single train running without homasote insulation. It becomes a more important issue at a club running 10 trains at once. Then you'd want the insulation or you'll get a cacaphony of noises in the room.
The same holds for switch machines. An occasional 'crack' from a dual-coil machine is okay but if you've got too many switches running it will sound kind of silly.
There's good noise and bad noise! Mostly, the only noises a small scale model train naturally makes that are at all prototypical are the rail 'clickety-clack' noises. Even these are too high pitched, but passable.
Few worried much about a moderate amount of noise until the advent of electronic sound units. Now few want the 'bad' noises to overwhelm their expensive electronic noises. Hence much of the current desire for quiet operation.
I do have an old Hobbytown A-B-B-A 'multidrive' FT with Cary lead shells that sounds remarkably like an EMD team when at work. It gets a real 'chant' to it when it gets moving, and it's heavy enough to make the necessary low pitched noises. It sounds WAY better then the 'outboard motor' sounds some of the early electronic units produced. No horn or bell, though.
I really DO like electronic sound, especially on steam locos. However, I find that many have the volume set WAY too loud, especially when several are running at once. Each one tries to drown out the 'opposition', and it just becomes a big din. The optimal sound level also depends on the ambient noise level. I find that a sound setting that sounds great at home can hardly be heard on the club layout during an exhibition (with
I've not been bothered by trains running on spline roadbed at all. Then again, quiet locos run better than their noisy cousins as the gearing is better matched. I have a fair number of locos that basically have the loudest part being the wheels banging against railjoints more than anything else. In addition, when roadbed noise gets bad, you are probably running too fast anyway.
-- Bob May Losing weight is easy! If you ever want to lose weight, eat and drink less. Works evevery time it is tried!
Agreed. Our club's portable sectional layout has hand laid track directly on (spiked into) the pine roadbed spline (5-7 ply splines, each appox 1/4' wide by 3/4 " deep) material. It is a LITTLE noisy, but not nearly as bad as we'd feared. It's also very strong and has stood up to much abuse. It's very satisfactory, and was a good choice.