2x8 HO layout

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by stormfather, Feb 27, 2008.

  1. stormfather

    stormfather Member

    About a year ago, I started a small layout, but ended up moving before I could make any real progress on it. I plan on starting again, and want to start with a yard (HO scale). I don't have a lot of space, so ideally, the yard will be about 2x8. I will expand the railroad, piece by piece, in both directions. So I've got a few questions:

    I'll probably be using atlas flextrack, since it's pretty cheap and readily available. What's the difference between code 83 and code 100?

    I don't have any track or turnouts left over, and I can't figure out how to get XtrkCAD to work, so I can't really get a good idea of how viable a 2' deep yard is. Provided that a mainline and one A/D track exist, and are pretty close to the front of the layout (let's say centerlines at about 3" and 5" from the front on a 24" deep layout), how many body tracks can my yard have? It'll be a total of 24" deep and I'll probably be using #4 or #6 turnouts, depending on how many tracks I can fit in there. I'm planning on allowing the yard lead to 'spill over' onto the next module (turntable, steam maintenance facility, REA, etc), so length is not as much of a deciding factor as depth.
    Better yet, can anyone who has built a yard on such a relatively limited scale provide a trackplan?
    Thanks in advance

    Also, is there a layout planning program thats a little, uh, easier to use than XtrkCAD?
  2. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I'm not familiar with XtrkCAD so I'll leave that to the experts. To answer your question about code 100 vs code 83, it's the height of the rail in 1/1000 of an inch. Code 100 (.100) represents a prototype rail size that was only used by a few major carriers on heavily used routes. Code 83 is more prototypical of mainlne rail. If you want to really get down to details, code 70 or 55 would be more appropriate for yard use.
  3. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think the biggest visual difference between the atlas code 100 and 83 are the ties. The 100 has bulkier ties, and huge molded on spikes. Nonetheless, if you are on a budget, use the 100, weather it well, and few will notice. Actually, if you are really on a budget, use model power flextrack with atlas cutom line switches. The model power track looks almost identical to the atlas 100 but is cheaper.

    Atlas code 83 is a good product, and you would probably be happy with it. you can make it look better on sidings and yards by cutting the webbing between the ties, removing about 25% of the ties, and then re-spacing the ties to a wider spacing.

    Code 70 looks great in yards, but it is much more expensive, and there is a chance that some older or less expensive rolling stock will not run on it. I had some code 70 that an IHC steamer would not run over.

    oh, and atlas also has a free track planning software on their website.

  4. stuart_canada

    stuart_canada Member

    my layout is the same size as yours....i went from over 200 feet of track and a yard bigger then this layout before my divorce and to be honest i am happier with the smaller size. took me a while to figure things out but i got what i like and works well, now just have to start detailing it. i will [post some pics down the road
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    a 2x8 yard is a good size. Actually, you may not be able to use the whole 2 feet. Figure a switch is 12" long and tracks are spaced 2" apart. If you start at the end of the board, and do a simple ladder, you'll only be 16" wide by the end of the 8 feet. And the last siding won't even fit a handcar.
  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Your other questions have already been answered, so I'll take a stab at these. Normal HO parallel straight track spacing is 2" - that gives you your limit as to how many tracks can fit. With 3" center to front edge spacing you cite, and allowing the same at the back, you get a maximum of 10 parallel tracks. But the ladder for 10 tracks is going to eat up most of your 8ft of length (and more than 8ft if use #6 turnouts).

    Uncoupling arrangements and layout height also play a role in how many tracks can actually be used for yard classification. A high layout using skewers for uncoupling is going to make uncoupling difficult for any but about the first 3 tracks. Eye level yards means cars on front tracks will block the view of cars on tracks further back. Track above mid-chest level is going to be difficult to reach into without shirt sleeves catching on cars on nearer tracks. But IMHO, the lower the track and the more you approach a helicopter view, the less realistic things look.

    Finally, planning for structures, if any, is just as important as track arrangement for small layout planning.

    The best source of ideas for shelf layouts IMHO is Micro Layout Design Gallery.

    One last point. Iain Rice has written that the maximum train length on a shelf layout should be between 1/4 and 1/3 the length of the shelf. Runaround tracks and switching tails have to be designed with specific train and locomotive lengths in mind to make the most effective use of the space.

    Some useful tips in yard design are here (don't take them as Laws, especially on small layouts!): Yard Design

    Atlas puts out free, easy to use track planning software, available for free download here: Right Track Software 7.0. The drawback is that the library has only Atlas products, and the handling of flex track is different from other packages. But for Atlas sectional track, it is quick and easy.

    my thoughts, your choices
  7. stuart_canada

    stuart_canada Member

    here pics of my layout it is built on 2 inche thick foam 2feet by 8 feet
    i use mostly geeps or sw units for motive power and no more then 4 or 5 cars, lots of switching to be done to move from one track to another

    Attached Files:

  8. dwdean

    dwdean New Member

    With respect to XtrkCAD, yes, the interface is kludgy at best, but frankly it's the best free track designer out there. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but it does work (albeit not very gracefully at times.) If you haven't already, reading their tutorial does help, as does remembering what you paid for it. ;)

    The Atlas program is pretty good, but overly simple in a lot of ways, and of course it only handles Atlas products.

    My biggest issue with either is that I've found that things that look possible in the design program don't work out that way when you start putting the track down.

    Of course this is all just my opinion as a professional geek. For an open source piece of freeware, XtrkCAD does alright for itself. If you get really stuck, there's really good infor on their web site (The XTrkCAD Wiki: About XTrkCAD) or post a specific question here...

    Good luck!
  9. Stuart: You run "mostly" GPs and SWs, but I saw that Athearn DD35 on the end of your shelf!
  10. stuart_canada

    stuart_canada Member

    i know the dd makes for a lousy road switcher but just in case some company requires some extra power the dd is there for lease.
    I like my way of modelling i am Canadian National fan but that lets me run GT, IC, a few other shoertlines i have not purchased power for yet, but since i model a leasing company anything goes as I lease any power, any size, for any period of time.
    get around the rivet counters that way
  11. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    This is the 2X8 layout that I started out with:



    I later used it as the core to my current 15 X 6 layout.

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