Discussion in 'FAQs' started by LarryGarrett, Dec 10, 2002.

  1. LarryGarrett

    LarryGarrett New Member

    HI everyone. I'm new here, and need some suggestions and advice. I'm just starting my new layout. I've done 2 smaller HO layouts in the past for my kids, but now, I'm ready to do something bigger, for me. I've got an 8X16 table, plus another 4X8 I can add-on, or cut into sections for running along the wall, plus lots more space to expand later on. I'm planning on combining ideas from a couple of standard 4X8 layouts for my switching and yards, and then using everything else for long runs for the passenger trains and big boy freights. This will be a late 40's/early 50's era. I plan on lots of mountainous country and perhaps a logging company out on the far reaches of the layout. I want to be able to run 3 or 4 trains at once. How big of a transformer should I consider? Any advice on the kind of track to use? How wide do the curves have to be to accomodate the Big Boys? Any opinions on the Bachmann EZ Track, and the LifeLike track? Thanks for your time. I look forward to be part of this forum.
  2. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Welcom aboard Larry! You might try the free layout software at Then you can post your ideas on the track planning forum. For track, I plan to use all code 83 flextrack. I think the EZ track and it's ilk are fine functionally but they don't offer the realism or flexability you can acheive with flextrack. I think most folks here would say flextrack is the way to go on larger layouts. Then you can use foam, cork, or whatever roadbed you like and add ballast. You'll want some big curves for that passenger service! Some of the big steam guys here sould be able to fill you in on the minimum. I think they will say go as big as you can :) There's some real schmardt guys and me here :D :D :D
  3. Ravensfan

    Ravensfan Member

    so far so good with EZ track. i'm new to this and got a starter set with EZ track a few weeks ago. the main feature with the EZ track is that it snaps together making it very difficult to come apart on its own - you still need to line up the rails and make proper connections, so i'm not sure where the "EZ" comes from.
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    I guess the EZ comes from the fact that it comes with road bed and snaps and stays snapped together and you don't have to nail it down or solder it to make it stay together. They used to sell little plastic clips to snap in between the ties on regu;lar track to hold it for table top use. I should take back the statement that the realism is any better with flex track, because you can make EZ track realistic with paint or adding ballast, and in fact, right out of the box, it's probably a lot better looking than regular or flex track. So I would say the benifit of flex track is the flexibility and reduced expense. I've bought it as cheap as $1 for each 3 ft section. I forgot to mention, I also vote for NS over brass. With NS, the trains keep running even as the nickle plate corrodes, with brass it stops em dead.
  5. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    ...and brass oxidizes WAY faster than nickle silver.

    :D Val

    wow! finally something I know something about!
  6. gerbs4me

    gerbs4me Member

    Welcome aboard......
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You'll probably want a separate power pack for each train you plan to run at the same time. The pack should be rated .5 to 1.0 amps for each powered loco on the train. Add more if your cars have lights in them.
    If you get a pack that runs 2 trains, check that it has separate transformers for each control, otherwise you can cause a short by trying to run the trains in opposite directions.
    We tend to call the control units "power packs" because they have a transformer plus a rectifier plus speed & direction controls.
    Have lotsa fun banging all that plywood together!
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Consider, for the 8x16 unit, using a 4x8 plan but doubling the dimensions. That will give you a spacious layout and nice wide curves for the passenger trains. You can double up the tracks in yards for more fun.
  9. LarryGarrett

    LarryGarrett New Member

    Thanks Guys!

    Man! What a response. Thank you very much. These are great suggestions and I can already see how I want to do this. Since I bought a "ton" of EZ Track at a garage sale, I'll likely go with that. It was all in its original packaging, never opened, so I offered the guy $40 and he took it. Altogether, it's over 400 feet of track. No switches, so I'll be spending some bucks on that, BUT, the track is nickel. My wife is the one who insisted that I check-out some garage sales, and she was certainly right on this one.
    The suggestion on doubling a layout is a good one to me. That may be the way I start, then I'll spread out from there....This forum makes the fever even is great.

    I've read through the entire forum over the last couple of days, and there is a tremendous wealth of info in here. Incredible. I expecially enjoyed reading about the "weathering" of the cars, etc. I'm an old wargaming guy (painted over 11,000)--yes, that's "thousand"----25mm figures from the Ancient world and really enjoy detailing the figures. I've also done lots of terrain building. This will be fun.

    Haven't thought of a name yet, it will probably have "Mountain" in it somewhere.
  10. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Larry and Welcome Aboard, To answer some of your questions:

    The Rivarossi Big Boy will run on 18" radius track although it looks ridiclous!!! Even at 22" radius there's a lot of overhang and clearance problems on adjacent curves. I'd go for 24" radius if you are going to run locos that large. But you'll have to go to flex track to accomplish that.

    As for running multiple want to have a cab for each train (a powerpack for each train). Although I'm not a big fan of common rail wiring (I'm from the "old school") check out the Atlas line of electrical components, they're simple and easy to use and will give you multiple train control easily and quickly. could consider DCC control which would give you multiple train control from a single power source. If you decide to go with the cab control buy good powerpacks rated around 2amps.

    Hope this helped.
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Ozzark Mountain Strummin' Dawg Line, the OMSD Line! Or, the Ozzark Mountain Stick and String :D :D :D

    Sounds like a heck of a deal on that track! And I'll betcha can figure out how to transition it to some flex track if you want those 22" curves for the BigBoy.

    Hey, how about an mp3 or 2 on you site :D :D :D
  12. Railery

    Railery Member

    What a response :) Hi Larry. What size area are u in? Are u going to do L-girder bench work (better than 4x8 sheets)? For running steam u want to use #6 turnouts and #5 for yards. and have the biggest radius u can which is usually 24" for HO(but 26 to 28 better). Since u plan to run more than one train go DCC from the start, Digitrax, Lenz etc. Use a bus wiring system. U can use flex for the curves and eze for the rest. Get a plan down for track, benchwork, wiring and scenery. Hope some of this helps alittle :D
  13. LarryGarrett

    LarryGarrett New Member

    Great Info

    Thanks again. I'm writing all this stuff down. Some things, like the wiring, and running 3 or 4 trains are becoming more and more possible now. What seemed insurmountable, now is very likely to be done. Just hearing all of these opinions really helps things to fall in place.

    I really appreciate the comments on the curve radius for the bigger steam models. Railery and Vic, thank you. Not sure about the power packs yet. Right now I'm leaning toward one-per train.

    Jon---thanks for asking about the mp3 files on my website. I hope to eventually, but it will be a few months yet. I've got so many "irons in the fire," that my wife is ready to shoot me. I keep telling her that with a big train layout, all she will have to do is walk downstairs if she wants to see, I was real lucky with that wish he had a few engines to sell, but they were all gone. I'd have offered him $10 for all of, my wife would have offered that.

    Ravensfan, thanks for the input on the EZ Track. I guess nothing ever truly lives-up to its CHIEFS!!!!!

    Spitfire, thanks for the input on the oxidation. Any suggestions on track care?

    60103----good idea! doubling a standard type layout would be a good and sensible way to start. I'd have a sound base for operations, and then I could start stretching-out track in all available directions for some long runs.
  14. Railery

    Railery Member

    Hi Larry :) if u don't go DCC u will have to put blocks around on your layout. u will have to get block controlers too. On my layout before i went DCC i had 16 block controlers and each controler controled 4 divisions so i had 64 divisions. i could run 6 trains at once but each train had its own throttle pack. Now with DCC u only need one throttle, no controlers and no blocks. Work out the cost and the convenience. :D

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