I was laying in the bed nursing my back when an idea hit me for reducing the noise of the track. When cleaning out the garage last weekend, I threw away an old inner tube for a bicycle. I don’t know why I kept it around, but I thought that maybe that tube would provide enough rubber to reduce the transmission of sound through the joists in the ceiling. So, I got up and went to the garage to root through the trash for the tube. It was gone. Mike had had one of those moments when he isn’t lazy and he took the trash to his office to put in the dumpster. He usually only does this with stinky trash, but I guess he was trying to clean up since his parents were visiting.
But, while rooting through the remaining stuff to be thrown away, I found an old doggy door in our pile to toss. This would be better than the inner tube in that it is 1/8 inch thick and made of a very soft rubber. It had been discarded by Mike because it was ripped on one side. We should have thrown it away, but he saved it for some reason. Now I know why…it pays to be a pack-rat.
Anyhow, I took the flap and cleaned it up in the sink, and then cut it into 1/2 inch strips. I unscrewed the track from the ceiling mounts and slipped the rubber under the track on half of the track. I only did half the track and then went upstairs to hear how it sounds. I couldn’t tell the difference between when the train was on one side of the room from the other. So, my choice was to either take out the ones I had put in or finish the job. It occurred to me that maybe the sound would be transmitted by the ones without the rubber spacers even when the train is on the other side. Kind of like putting your ear to a real train track to hear of the train is coming. So, I went down and finished the job.
When all was said and done, I couldn’t tell a difference in the sound upstairs from before and after the rubber spacers were put in. But, from downstairs the train is considerably quieter. So, I left them in.
Now that I have tried everything I can think of to make it quieter, I am ready to put the mushroom caps in the holes to cover the screws. The first batch of caps I had done were difficult and I had only done 12 of each size. My first method was to hold onto the cap by the back side with a pair of scissors, and dip the head of the cap into the polyurethane and then set it upright on the work bench. This took forever and I found that I couldn’t grip the caps very while after a short while. So, this time I got a pie pan, poured some polyurethane in it to about 1/8 inch depth, and then dumped the caps into the polyurethane. I was going to turn them over so that they were all head down, but I noticed that the caps were drawing the polyurethane through the pores of the wood and becoming wet on the side that wasn’t in the polyurethane. I sloshed them around and then lifted an edge of the pan to get them completely submerged. I then used the scissor tips to pull them out one-by-one and put them onto a piece of aluminum foil on my work bench. I did the same with both the large 3/8 caps and the tiny 1/4 caps. The caps formed puddles on the aluminum foil so I got worried that they would stick or worse…they would not fit into the holes. So, I changed my method so that I rubbed the bottom of the cap on an old T-shirt before setting on the aluminum foil. This worked well and since the caps had absorbed so much polyurethane, they remained shiny with just one dipping. I will have to let them sit for a few days to make sure that they are completely dry before I try to put them into the holes.
In an earlier posting, I estimated the cost per linear foot of the track to be around $9. But, this was a rough estimate based on the cost of only the larger components of the track and on 100% utilization of components. In reality, there is a bit of waste on the metal track for the curves and the estimate did not factor in the costs of the track spikes or the screws needed to hold the track in place.
To get a realistic cost per linear foot of track, I added up the total cost of all consumable materials and divided by the number of feet. The table (below) shows all of the consumable costs needed to make my 81 feet of live track. This cost includes the costs needed for the prototypes and any waste material that was left over. The exception is that it does not include the excess metal track that was purchased due to poor estimation of the materials required for the project.
So, the final cost per linear foot is $15.87. This is still significantly cheaper than the $125 per linear foot for the Loco Boose track.