Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Parker, Oct 3, 2003.

  1. Parker

    Parker New Member

    Good morning, I just wanted to introduce myself and ask a couple of questions.

    I have recently decided to get back into model railroading but I'm not enirley sure where to start. As a child I had a HO scale layout but I have decided to go with N scale this time around. I was planning to build in HO but I don't think I can fit all the elements I would like to the space I have available.

    So at present I have a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood just screaming for some track to be layed on it. I was wondering would it be in my best interest to rip the sheet in half and go with a "L" layout or continue with the the 4x8 sheet. I realize that a layout this big maybe a little overwhelming for a beginner like myself, but I thought to myself I might as well build it if I have the material already available, I dont' need to fill it in a day.

    The part I am having trouble with is the track plan, I can't find any existing plans to suit my fancy. Do I head to the hobby shop pick up a pile of flex track and dive right in? I'm origonally from southern alberta and would like to model that geopraphy - flowing wheatfeilds full of pump jacks over to the Rocky Mountains. The good news is, is my better half is completly on board and wants to help. We were in a hobby shop the other day and she was commenting: Oh we need this and this and oh this over here. I think she was as excited as I was. Maybe she thinks that if I spend money on a hobby she'll be allowed to spend more money on hers..

    If anyone is in the Edmonton area and can recommend a Hobby Shop in the area it would be greatly appriciated.

  2. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge! I'm in Calgary, I go to Edmonton sometimes, but I don't know of any model train shops other than Kites and Delights in 'the mall'! If you ever get down here, Trains and Such has lots of stuff! I don't think a 4x8 layout is to overwelming, the layout I'm building right now is my first real layout too, I had a small HO layout when I was 15 but it was very basic, but it got me interested in the hobby. I always wanted to build a layout where I could run long trains like on the Utah Belt,(it was kinda my inspiration!) but I realized that I'd never have enough room in HO scale to do it, so I switched to N, if you have the room, I cut the 4x8 into an 'L', and take the other part and make it longer, than you can have a longer mainline and run longer trains! You will find lots of help here on the gauge!
  3. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Welcome to the-gauge Robb!

    A lot depends on the room size and shape. If it's going to be against a wall, I would go for the "L" shape for sure. Probably go for something like that anyway.

    Have you decided what you want to model? Steam, diesel, industrial, ag, mining logging, etc? Track plans are adaptable, but these are factors to consider.

    Plenty of track plans in the track planning section. You can use the plan from any scale, but there are a lot specifically for N. If you post a similar question in the track planning section, you'll get plenty of help. Be sure to include the room size, scale and any other factors.

    Hope you and the missus have plenty of fun in the hobby!!!!
  4. Welcome to the Gauge!

    Welcome to the Gauge.

    If you are having trouble with some planning, many public libraries have Kalmbach plan collections (48 Top-Notch Track Plans, 101 Trackplans) or the Atlas books ("Nine N-Scale Railroads").

    In addition there are several web pages full of good plans:

    Mike's Small trackplans has a collection of 2x4, 2x3 and door-sized plans:

    Thor's Trains has a collection of serveral small HO/N scale plans, raging from 2x3 to 12x16.

    There is also the Layout Depot

    Download Atlas's free Right Track software, just so you can fiddle around with it.

    and of course our own Track Planning forum here.

    We'll all be happy to help you design your track!
  5. Catt

    Catt Guest

    Hi Robb,and like the rest of these folks I'd like to welcome you to the Gauge.You mentioned not finding a likeable track plan.Are you just looking at N scale plans? If so I would suggest that you check out some HO plans.

    You could always build you N scale empire to the HO 4'x8' size and have tons of room for scenery and such.You could also split that 4'x8' into 2 -2'x8's like you mentioned but the only problem with that is any ends loops will be tight.(not much of a problem if your into small steam or 4 axle diesels and 40' cars)

    The real advantage to the L shaped layout is not using so much floorspace.What ever you choose remember to have fun doing and ask all the questions you want (even if YOU think they are dumb :D )
  6. Parker

    Parker New Member

    Thankyou for the warm welcome.

    I am presently leaning towards the "L" Shaped layout, however I didn't consider the turning radius. What should the minimum be for an all purpose layout, long trains, short trains, passenger ect?

    The reason I decided to go with N scale is so that I would have more open area, I want to model the praries leading into the rockys. Doens't seem right to have a tiny little prairie section I would have had, had I done HO. I believe praries should be open and expansive..

  7. Zug

    Zug Member

    I won't be in a hurry to cut that 4' x 8' board in half. I got back into trains about 1.5 year ago. I started with 2.5' x 5' I've added on to it twice, first adding another 5 x 3 section and just a few weeks ago after moving and 5 new sections/tables give me about 100' of main line (see my layout website at

    If you have the space to leave the board intact, do it, or at least 3' deep. I bought a Kato SD90 a wile back and the tight turn on the original section cause lots of problems for it. If you went down to 2 deep, you'd beed to use tighter turn, while most locos will handle them well, if you get something lon you may end up with the same problem Im tryin to fix without destroin all the hard work that went into the oriinal section.

    end of my semi-rant:)
  8. Most everything except bullet trains and some really large steam engines will *negotiate* 9-3/4 and 11" curves, but anything over a 50-foot car will have significant overhang, and won't _look_ right, especially on 9 inch curves.

    In a 2x8 by 2x8, you'll be able to handle 11" turnarounds pretty easily at each end, and the 4 foot area where they meet could handle up to a 24" curve.

    most pre-made track has smaller sections than that, though.

    Atlas Snap Track has 9-3/4", 11" and 19" radius
    Peco Set Track makes 9" and 10-3/16" radius
    Life-like Power-Loc has 9=3/4" only
    Bachmann Ez-Trak has 9-3/4" and 11"
    Kato Unitrack has 8-9/16", 9-3/4", 11", 12-3/8", 13-3/4", 15", 19" and 28-1/4", but its VERY expensive.
  9. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge Robb.
    You could cut that sheet of plywood as shown in the following photos to give yourself an L-shaped layout with wider ends.

    Attached Files:

  10. Ray Marinaccio

    Ray Marinaccio Active Member

    One half is flipped over to give you the L.

    Attached Files:

  11. Parker

    Parker New Member

    Thanks very much for the sugestion on how to cut the sheet. I'm going to do it that way. Well I jumped..I bought a Kato CP SD40 :D
  12. Overhand

    this is a picture (taken from my under construction door layout)

    you can see the overhang in the orange Autorack at the bottom of the picture

    Attached Files:

  13. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Welcome to The Gauge. Feel free to plunk down a stretch of track to get up and running but please, don't just buy a bunch of flex and dive right in:eek: Ray's plywood layout is a great idea. You could start with a loop of track that went around it, then, as your skills develop, cut in sidings and passing tracks, hills and toolies. I've seen too many plywood islands with trains collecting dust in the middle of them:( Again, welcome. You've come to the right forum with more then enough experience in its membership to keep you out of the weeds.
  14. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    I really like Ray's idea with the plywood! Nice work! 0% waste! That's the way to do it!
  15. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    Didja ever wonder how they ever came up with all those different radiuseses:eek:
  16. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Hi, Parker!

    I'm from the Edmonton area, as is RockIslandMike. I'm out near Stony Plain, and he's down in the U of A area.

    As for hobby stores, as SD 90 mentioned, there is "Kite And Other Delights" in the mall. There is also the "Hobby Centre",on Yellowhead at 142nd street, just in behind the McDonalds. Also, "Roundhouse Sales" is on the south side, and "Hobby Wholesale" is on Calgary Trail north at about 51 ave (?).

    Having just moved, I still haven't dug out the 'phone book yet, so I cannot guarantee that the pseudo-addresses are correct. Best to check for yourself.

    Where in town are you?
  17. Parker

    Parker New Member

    Opp's douple post
  18. Parker

    Parker New Member

    I'm on the south side, Millwoods to be exact..otherwise know as the ghetto.. :D But I will be moving as soon as I win one of those Hospital Lottery Homes. They are drawing at the end of November so I should be in my new home for Christmas...Probably not, but it never hurts to dream!

    I bought my first locomotive from Hobby Wholesale just yesterday. I did take a tour of all the other shops, but decided to buy from Hobby Wholesale. They had the best customer service of the shops that I visited and they spent some time helping me out ect.

  19. Lighthorseman

    Lighthorseman Active Member

    Hobby Wholesale, eh?

    I haven't had a chance to even step inside their store. Glad it went well, and I hope that you got what you wanted. Looking forward to seeing pictures of your layout progress!
  20. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona Member

    You could build a model of your model


    You could build a model(s) of your model railroad. I did so and it
    helps to visualize what it may look like, based on my model I definitely changed where I was putting some track, buildings, and scenery:



    The model helped to visualize the following scene early:


    You can see more about what the result has been at my Railimages page:

    Hope this helps!

    John Sing
    San Mateo CA

    'puppybig' on the Kato Unitrack Forum
    'atsf_arizona' on the Atlas N Scale Forum

    Modeling the Santa Fe's 'Peavine Line'
    from Ash Fork AZ to Phoenix AZ in the 50's/60's
    (that's where I grew up)

    Visit my Community Webshots home page:

    'Best of' my photos:

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