General HO questions...

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by thedowneaster, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Hi all,

    This is my very first post here!

    I haven't touched an HO train in about 15 years...
    However, I've recently decided to build an indoor HO layout of modern New England-area trains such as the Amtrak Downeaster, MBTA commuter rail, and Guilford Rail System.

    I have quite a bit of room for the layout (apx 13 x 23). So I was wondering what the general rule of thumb is for prototypical curves? (min radius? etc...) I'm going to be using the Walthers 85' coaches and I want to be able to push-pull without worrying about derailing and I want them to look good in the curves.

    Another question is track...I'm considering using Atlas code 83...Is this a good choice? The prices are great and the track seems to look fairly nice. What is typical for turnouts...#6 and higher?

    Also, since I'm going to be doing the downeaster I'm going to need a couple of F40ph locomotives to kitbash into non-powered cabbage units. I see that bachmann and kato make nice versions of this engine, but I hate to severely kitbash a new engine over $50! So how would you describe the detail level on the Walthers trainline F40ph in comparison to the other 2 brands? Are there handrails...etc...?

    Thanks for any input,
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    85 foot passenger cars...the broader curves, the better. They will probably run over 24" okay, but may not look that great. a sharp prototype mainline curve would probably scale to about 70-100 inches radius in HO. That's just impractical. 13x23 is quite large for a home layout. You could physically fit a 72" curve, but your sacrifice is that your track plan will be more boring. I think a curve that big in a room of that size will make the layout look small. i would shoot for 36" on the main lines and allow for sharper or sidings and spurs.

  3. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Well... welcome to The Gauge..!!
    You'll find a bunch of friendly and knowledgeable people here who'll be more than happy to lend a hand. As for your questions, I'm totally ignorant on Nor'easter operations so I'll leave that to those that are more familiar with that. That's a lot of real estate you have to play with. Make a wish list of things you MUST have, those you'd like, and those you can live without. Share it with the folks here and I'm sure they'll come up with something.
    Good luck...and don't's all about having fun...!!! :thumb:
  4. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    Welcome! Personally, I think Atlas makes excellent flextrack but poor turnouts. Peco or Shinohara are much better. As far as the radius of curves for large passenger cars, I would endeavor for 30" curves on your mainline because of the higher speed and they just look better, and no tighter than perhaps 24" in yards.
  5. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    Hi!! Welcome aboard!!!
    My incomplete layout has 30" radius and even heavyweights look good on them. But with the size you have stated, I would endevor an around the wall, double layer layout. I'd even put in a couple of peninsulas.:thumb:
  6. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Thanks guys!
    I appreciate all of your input! The way my area is set up I can easily strive for 36 inch radius.

    The track is actually going to pass thru 2 rooms...
    It will be a dual track main line traveling allong the perimeter of 3 walls in the first room and 1 wall of the other. I plan to have a commuter station in each room and a functional yard in the bigger room.

    The layout will not be operated on DCC, but it will be heavily automated the old fashion way!
    The yard is actually going to be used to shuffle different trains onto the north and south mainlines. I'm currently working on my own relay-based electronics to develop the necessary logic needed to send the trains off onto the right tracks at the right time. Bassically as one train arrives in the yard another will be given the que to depart.
    I certainly could by products that would do this, but I'm really enjoying this part of the hobby.

    The entire layout will feature this kind of automation... also including autmatic commuter train stops, working crossing gates, and a full block system.
  7. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    The Kato is the superior F40PH by far !!!

    Superb running and fantastic detail.
  8. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    But would you still start with the Kato if you were going to make it a dummy and modify its appearance?
  9. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Glad you could join us downeaster! Your layout room size is similar to mine. Are you planning an around the walls style to allow for large curves? Mine is a folded dogbone style that is U shaped and made me keep curve radi to about a 28 inch max to allow for an adequate entry into the layout between the return loops.
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Someone recently gave a rule of thumb that your radius should be (at least) 3 times the length of the longest car. As you're running 85-footers, that's about 36". If you run around the walls, inside corners can take a larger radius without coming that much farther into the room. Going around outer corners is a different matter.
    Where large radii hurt is on smaller layouts -- I had 10 feet once and tried to put in 36" curves and a 4.5' long bridge.
  11. IAIS 604

    IAIS 604 Member

    Well, probably not - I would put a decoder in it and use it powered with the other locos.

    If I had to go with a kitbashed dummy, I would go with the Walthers I suppose.
  12. Tomytuna

    Tomytuna New Member

    Hi Jeff...don't know how old you are nor how fast you want to get this layout up and here is my thoughts...IF you are going to move fast I strongly suggest you look into KATO track system in HO scale....I started out with atlas,,then did not like it,,whent to Bachman and was ok..but when we remade layout,,the Kato track system was the way we's code 81 track with roadbed already attached to track..their turnout have run with no issue for a couple of years now....their curves are nice and wide and my passanger cars and 86' freight cars look and run good on it....check it out..Tom
  13. thedowneaster

    thedowneaster Brakeman

    Thanks for the ideas gentlemen!

    thanks for setting me straight about the F-40PH's. Although the downeaster calls for a modified dummy I may consider using a powered Kato engine for one of the MBTA commuter trains. I had previously planed to use GP-40MC's for them but after seeing pictures of the kato model I'm reconsidering.

    I'm 23...I already have the wood for the benchwork and amfleet cars are starting to arrive!
    I really do like the Kato track. However, to me its very expensive compared to the atlas flex track. After thinking it over, I'm considering using Kato #6 turnouts in my yard area. I won't mind having the transition from kato to atlas in the yards as they will exisit purely to be functional. No messy ballast getting stuck in the points or uneven cork to deal with. I think outside of the yard I will use a combo of Atlas flex and shinohara turnouts.

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