First Layout Design...

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by MinnMonkey, Apr 26, 2005.

  1. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I have decided against doing an urban layout for my first layout, due to space constraints. So I decided to do a small town mountian layout. The actual track plan is 30"x72" which is just a few inches shy of the maximum amount of space I can deticate to a layout.

    Here is the track plan:

    I am still tweeking it, and the buildings and trees are just for reference. Everything above the line at the 26" mark is the staging area.

    The entire layout will be done with Kato Unitrack, and due to costs it will probably be done in phases. The first phase will be the outer loop, inner figure 8, and the passing tracks. The second phase will be the rail yards (Unitrack switches are pricey, therefor I may attempt to lay atlas track for the second phase).

    I am thinking on the left side with the open space having a river, but I am not sure yet.

    A couple questions. First of all, do you think this is too complex for a first layout? If so, what would you recommend?

    Secondly, living in a small condo, I have no power tools. Does anyone have any recommendations on how I can get/build a good workbench for the layout? I was thinking of buying a folding table that will be about that size, and then putting some foam insulation on top for the base.

    Any comments would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    About the cheapest way to get your layout going is to buy an interior door at a lumber supply company like Home Depot. I don't know what prices would be like where you live but here I can get one fo $30.00. Add a set of folding legs and you could be away to the races. You would need a drill, screw driver and some screws to mount the legs but you would need tools loke this anyway. I like your track plan and it is reasonably complex as a starter but gives opportunities to add some sidings in the future.
  3. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    I'm with Robin, its a nice starter layout.Can i disagree with the hollow core door though Robin?? how about 2" blue foam-woodland scenics risersand a 1x3 frame.
    A few small scraps of plywood in the corners as right angle supports then just drop in the 2" blue foam.No wood in your way to drill through for wiring turnouts etc.plywood corners can have table legs attached.There is no need for full plywood below it.with the protection of thr framework the 2" extruded is plenty strong.

    Now. the reason i say this is that I tried the door method for 1 area of my layout.It makes below track level work very difficult and turnout controls get tricky.
    If you dont want to go with an open grid or L girder,2" foam and woodland scenics risers are a good alternative.Much better than a hollow core door IMHO.
    2" blue foam is about 22.00 for a 4x8 sheet(this gives you leftovers for building upwards)
    1x3's are 3 bucks each and Plywood pieces about 8 x8 are easy to come by at any construction site,if it were mine and you asked i'd probobly even cut them for you LOL.Each 8x8 diagonally cut will make 2 corners.
    Table legs can be had at a garage sale or flea market cheap.Any old card tables legs could be utilized or nicer legs from a damaged dining table would be even better.
    Have fun.remember,the search for free stuff is half the fun :D
    Risers another 9.00 for all you will need.
    So you see the cost factor is actually pretty similar to the door.
  4. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Hi Minn, :wave:
    Are you in Minn.?? Do you have a source for the pink or blue rigid
    2" foam insulation? (probably you don't want to use the beaded
    styrofoam, it is totally messy to cut and shape and not as strong)

    You could certainly use that as a base placed on a tabletop or
    even on shelf brackets with legs or supports under the front.

    I have no problem with the layout design, not too complex, but I am
    concerned about the elevations and locations of the grades. I am assuming
    that the trees, staging and yard area are at zero elevation.
    It looks like the upper track is parallel to the roadway, and the lower track
    crosses the roadway, if that's a bridge showing there.

    I think it's the other way around and you may have grades on both tracks
    in the tunnels. Certainly you will need that loop to gain altitude :D :D
    What do you think?
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Since you're going to do some carpentry. I suggest you get a miter or mitre box and the appropriate saw. Also a battery powered drill/electric screwdriver and a small drill/bit collection. Also a pilot-countersink drill for #8 or #6 screws.
    A suggestion on the layout plan: move the turnouts for the staging area onto the curves. This will give you a longer staging area and eliminate the S curves into the top siding. You will have a little odd bit because of the straight at the points of the turnouts.
    Think about running the town on a diagonal. You could take one of the yard tracks and run it behind a factory or warehouse. Diagonal streets give interesting corners and views. (Our town is laid out on a northnorthwest main street, but the railroad runs due west.)
  6. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    Yes, I am in Minnesota.

    As far as the grades, I thought of that. I will be starting the incline just above the road on the left hand side, and the elevation would increase to the 1st turnout at the top left. After the turnout there is some straight track and a curve before the bridge, and that would also be on an incline.
  7. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    I'm up near Grand Rapids area (along with another member here Dan Raitz)

    As to the turnouts on the curves-I dont think Kato makes a curved turnout do they??

    If you did this,you would have to rethink what track you will use.

    Atlas is of course the most reasonable pricewise with a good selection.
    Peco makes nice track as does Micro engineering and shinnohara.All are more expensive than atlas though.And i believe all of these are power routing turnouts.(peco may have insulfrog turnouts available)

    So where in minnesnowta are you?? :)
  8. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I have been playing around with the track layout based on some of the suggestions I have gotten, and they have all been really good, Thanks!

    I moved the passing track in the staging area into the center of the circle, and now I am playing with the yards a little bit more. I really liked the idea of the diaganol town.

    Here is where I am currently at (the red highlighted tracks are approximatly where the foam risers are going to go, and the bridge will be the highest track point.


    I live downtown Minneapolis, and it feels like it could snow today.
  9. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I have now rotated the town 45 degrees, and re-did the yards. I think it looks alot better and deffenitly utilized the small space better. Hre is my new track plan:

  10. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Your road is really wide.Is it a 5 lane? or will it have a Boulevard seperating 2 lanes? Or are you doing the diagonal parking thing (that would be kinda cool :) )

    So, have you been to Scale Model supplies over in St paul off university Ave yet??
    Its a very good Shop :)
  11. LIRR

    LIRR Member

    The new yard lead is waaaaaay to short, if your into switching and all that jazz, your gonna want a nice long yard lead (Like in your first plan) to be able to switch the yard without going out on the main.
  12. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I like the latest design.
    About the yard lead. How about moving the switch for the yard under bridge. Of course you cannot access the yard directly from the outer loop anymore but maybe that gives you even more of a challange anyhow.
  13. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    The road is just a visual right now, and not to scale. And I have been to Scale Model Supplies several times. It is just a few blocks from my work, and it is a great store.
  14. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    Thanks for pointing that out! Here is my thinking behind this. I am trying to create both a realistic (sort of) working yard to move, store and organize cars, and a more fictional loop where I can have trains run without supervision.

    The outer loop is the main line through town, and the inner loop is primarily just for looks, and more of the fantasy part of my layout. Trains will run on it but not when switching will be going on. With this being the case, do you think the passing area off the main line is long enough for a yard lead?
  15. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    Another possibility :) :)

    Attached Files:

  16. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I am about ready to start building my bench. I was able to get a 6' table rather cheap so that is going to be the "base" of my layout.

    On top of the table I will have an open frame that looks like this:


    The frame will be 74"x32", and is made with 1X3's, and will be held together with metal brackets and wood screws.

    I am going to put this frame on 5" legs so I can access the underside for wiring. On top, I am going to glue 2" pink extruded foam, which will be the base of the layout. Finally I am going to put a wood around the sides so you cannot see the pink foam.

    The spacing you see between the wood (the black lines;)) is a 14"x26.5" hole. Is there currently enough support underneath the foam, or should I add a few more pieces of wood?
  17. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member


    I've been investigating using Kato Unitrack as well... What software are you using to produce this rather nice looking track plan?
  18. MinnMonkey

    MinnMonkey Member

    I am really liking Unitrack. It is a bit pricey but it is ready to go right out of the box.

    Also I am using XTrackCAD.
  19. Agatheron

    Agatheron Member

    I tried the Xtrkcad download, but I don't think even the latest open source version works on Windows XP... The basics of track placement would disappear every time I tried to put track down...

    Either that or I downloaded a buggy copy...
  20. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    It works fine on XP, although it's user interface is a bit weird, to say the least. I think it was written by a cross between a model railroader and a computer programmer, which doesn't bode well I suppose :))

    Personally, I use Raily 4, which is also weird (but less so in my opinion), although I don't think it was free...

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