Another Layout Thread

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by platypus1217, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I had been meaning to start a thread on the progress of my new layout and finally got around to it. This first part is what I have been up to the past two weeks.

    Last week I tore up my old layout. Based on some feed back I had gotten on here I decided that I probably wouldn't get as much as I had hoped for the layout. So I used it for scrap. I was surprised at how much usable flex track I was able to pull up. Some of the switches came up ok, others had some problems with the ties pulling away from the cork roadbed. But the good news is that they were fixed up pretty easily. I was even able to reuse some of the foam to cover the new layout.

    The original plan was the first image that I was using up until this weekend. A yard running the full 80 in. of the layout seemed a bit long for my switcher to be running up and down. I laid out some flex track and cars on the layout to get a sense of the scale and confirmed that it really did feel like an expanse compared to my old layout. I redesigned the layout to replace the yard with an interchange track (now at the top of the layout). A hill or scenic divider will obscure the top left part of the interchange track from the rest of the layout so it can double as a sort of staging area.

    I reworked it and came up with the second version. This arrangement fits in better with my operational plan of having cars be delivered by a foreign road, have the local switch crew do the set outs and pickups from the industries and then send off the cars back to another road. It also means I have to buy fewer switches. Before I would to have purchased 3 switches, now I can do this plan with only buying one, or none if I decide to scratch the extra siding by the interchange track.

    The last to pictures are of the frame before the plywood and foam, and with the foam in its new home. It takes up most of the room so I am not even able to fit it all in the picture. It also has a coat of brown paint on it which I haven't gotten around to photographing.

    Attached Files:

  2. DrGeologist

    DrGeologist Canadian Down Under

    Do you already have your locos and rolling stock? if so, what are you using for a switcher? I'm looking for ideas for what to get.
  3. Cannonball

    Cannonball More Trains Than Brains

    Honestly, I really like both of them but something about the second one does seem to have more natural "flow" to it.
  4. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I like it. Can't wait to see progress pics.
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    It appears you are modeling a short line if so I submit the following as food for thought.This applies to the bottom layout.

    I would do away with the engine house and use those switches for two more industries or a small 2 track overflow yard.

    I really like that bottom layout..Simple but,interesting to operate.
  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I actually like the look of the old plan better. It's the broad S-curve in the lower passing track and the very slight curve in the upper one. It has a nice flowing look. I think it would be possible to add something similar to the newer plan, assuming that the scenery is sufficiently non-flat for it to look right.
  7. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member


    Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement! The supplies should be arriving some time in the coming week. Mostly flex track and roadbed, I was able to reuse the switches and other parts from my old layout. I did get two Atlas under the table switch machines for the switches that have their legs attached at the top of the layout. I am going to try to set it up as an interlock so that they both throw together. I am sticking with ground throws for all the other ones.

    I put a second coat of brown paint on it Friday, then started to sketch out where the tracks would go. It really helps seeing the lines on the table instead of on the screen. I shifted the right curve in another inch to create some more space between the track and the edge of the platform.

    Yes. I have an Atlas MP15DC for my switcher which I like.

    Yes I did like that as well. I don't think I like the long straight stretches that go the whole length of the layout. I bowed the top side in a little bit similar to how the bottom one is to try and get rid of the straightness. I will probably play around with it some more since I think it could still use a little improvement.

    The engine house also doubles as an industry for me. I will treat it like a maintenance facility and spot cars for "repairs" or gondolas with scrap on one of the tracks.

    Attached Files:

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  8. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I got my supplies in the mail today! I ordered them from Fifer Hobby and they came in less that a week. This is the second time I have ordered from them and both times I have been very pleased, unlike some other online stores.

    I also touched up the plan a little bit and added in some terrain. The lighter green areas are raised, the dark green lowered. I am debating if I want to raise the hill in the top left even more and add in tunnels for the tracks back there. A few more buildings are needed to fill in some of the empty spots as well. I marked the two spots that I would like to have structures in but have no idea what kinds of buildings I would want to put there. There should also be a put a small building at the end of the road on the right, but I have one that just needs a bit of fixing up for that.

    Attached Files:

  9. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    With the arrival of my supplies early this week, I was able to get started on laying down the road bed. I got most of it done on Friday and Saturday. Sunday I finished it up and was able to spray paint the road bed with Rust-oleum Stone.

    Overall I am happy with it. Now that the roadbed is a lighter color, the small gaps where I spliced the cork for turnouts really stand out. Unfortunately turnouts were the one area that the spray paint ballast will be the most visible. It would have been a good idea to fill those in with something before painting. This time I think I will just "pre-ballast" by filling up the holes with ballast and gluing it down before laying the track. That way I can still leave most of the turnout with only a light coat of ballast.

    I also forgot to place the switch stand bases before I did the spray painting. I will have to go back and add them in. Hopefully there is enough paint left in the can to get those done since they are another area that I would like to avoid ballasting too heavily around.

    Attached Files:

  10. Biased turkey

    Biased turkey Active Member

    Nice interesting layout platypus1217, I think you are up for a good start.
    Your layout is about the size of a hollow core door isn't ?
    Keep posting about your progress.

  11. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Yes at 32 x 80 inches it is exactly the same size as a hollow core. I had actually planned on doing it on a hollow core door but later opted to build my own bench work.

    Last week I didn't get much done. Mostly patching up the gaps in the road bed and widening it in one spot. I had tried to make it easier by laying out a strip of un-separated road bed and then placing placing a strip on either side so that it was smooth and did not have dip from the beveled edges. I turned out that the road bed was still a little two narrow; it ended pretty much right at the end of the ties. I added some spackle make the edge more gradual.

    This week I was able to get around to actually laying out some track. It went slow; I was being meticulous to make sure everything was laid out smoothly. There were some joints on my old layout were the track work wasn't the best: gaps or too abrupt a transition to a curve. These always stood out as parts I wish I had done better. So far I am very happy with the way this track is (even if I had to do parts of it twice to get it just right).

    The two switches in the left of the picture with their legs facing are connected to Atlas under the table switch machines. These were the quite a pain to install. The throw range is just enough to move the points all the way across. If it isn't lined up perfectly there is a gap one one side when the switch is thrown. Lining up the switch machine under the table while you are watching the points on top takes a bit of patience.

    I also spent some time honing the art of soldering leads onto flex track. This was another area that I wasn't to impressed with my work on the old layout. Most of the leads had big blobs of solder on the side of the rails. A few places these blogs were higher than the tops of the rails and had to be filed down.

    The method I settled on began by bending the wire twice using a flat screw driver. With the wire going away from you hold down the first few millimeters of the wire with the screw driver pulling the rest of the wire up to make a 90 degree bend. Then lay it flat again and place the screw driver a little bit past the first bend and repeat, forming another 90 degree angle. This provides it with a little lip so that the wire can rest on the foot of the rail. I found this made it easier to keep in place then just having one bend.

    Instead of trying to solder the wire directly to the rail, I first tinned the wire with solder, then position the wire up against the rail and just touch it with the soldering iron. It was much easier without having to try and manage the solder as well as the wire and iron. It also went a lot quicker, and I didn't melt any ties off.

    Next up is laying down the two curves.

    Attached Files:

  12. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    The Golden Spike

    I did it. I finally completed the circuit of track. The only track left to lay is dead end sidings. Compared to laying out the main line circuit and passing sidings the dead end sidings are easy. I spent a lot of time cutting and filing down the rails for the former to get the joints just right, but I am very pleased with the results.

    Attached Files:

  13. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    That looks real good...Coming along nicely. :thumb:

    If there's one thing I place a LOT of importance on, it's good trackwork...Nothing will spoil the whole thing more than unreliable track work. :cry:

    "Zero tolerance" as far as that's concerned....It's good to see you feel the same...
  14. jesso

    jesso Member

    Looking good! :thumb:
    I really like your idea of painting the cork, Will have to remember that, that would have made me happier with my current layout as in a few places the cork shows through.

    Can't wait to see more!
  15. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    That is coming along nicely. There is something quite appealing about being able to build a layout on a door.
  16. Packers#1

    Packers#1 Ultimate Packers Fan

    Looks like it's coming together great. Great work!
  17. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Not much to report this weekend. Laid down a few more of the sidings and added feeder wires. I tried doing the feeders several different ways. The way I found to have the best results was to solder the feeder wire to the bottom of a rail joiner before attaching it to the track, and then run the wires down two holes in the center of the track.

    The next step is to take off the legs and put the layout on its side so I can do the wiring.

    Attached Files:

  18. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    On my last layout I had the same problem, and it normally occurred around my switches and ground throws, where I had done the first pass of ballast lightly. I am very happy with it so far since it looks good and I haven't even done the ballasting yet.
  19. Packers#1

    Packers#1 Ultimate Packers Fan

    Good work on the track. Can't wait to see some scenery on that thing, lol.
  20. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    This past weekend I did most of the wiring under the layout. I still have a few more connections to solder but I was able to run a train this week! I got the main line powered up but I still need to wire up the control panel for the sidings. I plan to have three different blocks (each of the passing sidings, and the sidings up at the top) that can be turned off so that I can park engines there and operate more than one train on the layout.

    No pictures of the wiring just yet, The batteries on my camera died and I put it back upright to run some trains before they finished charging. I will take when I flip they layout over again to finish the wiring. Being able to take the legs off the layout and turn it upside down is a big plus when having to work on the wiring. I went to attach the wires from the power supply to the layout after I had put it upright and it took me about three times as long to get it connected to the barrier strip because it kept falling off the screw when I wasn't holding it down.

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