Hello everyone! Beginning model RR...

Discussion in 'The Caboose' started by tracker, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. tracker

    tracker New Member

    I'm a builder of miniature architectural details, mostly structures and houses. There has always been a large crossover with the model RR world, and each year I've asked myself why not get back into it after 30 years and I've always put it off. But now I've got the bug and thought I'd post a few questions to get started.

    I tend to dream large, and perhaps unrealistically (but isn't that the point?), so first off, I'm wondering if I should start out with a small layout or the rather larger one I have in mind. Everything I've read tends to indicate you should start small and work up. I don't mind starting off smaller than my illusions of grandeur, but certainly don't want just a 4 x 8 plywood layout (I'm probably going HO scale because detail-wise that's the one I'm most comfortable with and used as a kid). So, this leads to my next question:

    I've got two basement choices for building. One is a finished room about 25 x 15. It's a perfect size, however my only reservation about this room is that it's a finished room and I don't want to tear into the walls, as it were. If I built in there I don't see how I could stop myself from employing two or three walls.

    The other room is where the washer/dryer, furnace, shelves, etc all live. This is about the same size as the other room, but of course if full of obstructions. At first I said no way, then I began to think, a room like that could be a challenge. I would run a long track along the perimiter of the room at a decent height, with a helix or two dropping the track down to the three or so locations that would serve as towns/scenery/staging and track yards. I realize this would cost money and time, but it's got me hooked right now.

    What are your thoughts? I would pay as I go, and one thing I've read is that the best way to start is by having something running, even if it's small. But my concern is, if I'm going to build the general structure, why not build it so I can make it large with time?

    I don't have a time period or region I'm planning to model, so that's all up in the air.

    Anyway, your thoughts are appreciated. Look forward to your feedback and getting to know you. :wave:
  2. Gil Finn

    Gil Finn Active Member

    Hello and welcome.

    How about showing us some pics as you go a long?
  3. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I would say make a drawing of the furnace room with the obstructions on it and post that. That way we can see what you have to over come.
  4. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Tracker!
    Welcome aboard! :wave:
    If I were you, I’d have my sights set on the finished room…
    You could build in there without doing any damage/alterations to the existing walls…
    You could build free-standing bencwork along the walls, without having to touch the actual walls…You could even leave a small space between the benchwork & the wall(s) to allow for access…
    Find some published track plans & look for some nice around-the-walls/walk-in type design that appeals to you…You could build this in sections, & expamd as you like…
    Stay with a simple trac plan for a couple of reasons…
    *It’s your first time out, & you don’t want to overwhelm yourself with complicated trackwork & wiring…
    *You indicated that you enjoy building structures, so a simple plan with less track will allow you more space for your structures & scenery…
    Good luck, & keep us posted on how it’s going!
  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I would certainly stay out of the furnace room. It's so much nicer when you have a clear space for a layout. And, as noted, you can build an along-the-walls layout if you wish but still have it freestanding.
  6. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    Welcome tracker! I say go with the finished room. You can build the layout free standing and even connect a backdrop to your benchwork without attaching anything to the finished walls.
  7. tracker

    tracker New Member

    Thanks for the feedback---

    Sounds like the consencus is the finished room. Now to set about getting started on plans, benchwork....oh, and trains.

    Any thoughts on scale? I think I'm headed towards HO, but what do people think about the smaller scales?
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Hi Tracker.
    I built my layout around the walls on top of Ikea shelving. It's an average of 2 feet deep and doesn't attach to the walls. It's also well weighted down with books!
    Do you want full running soon or just a test space? I built mine one wall's worth at a time, starting with a pretty major station. Alternately, you could build a pair of turnarounds or yards and move them apart as you build the bits between.
    Scale is a personal choice. You have some experiences with the architecture, but you also need to consider operating the trains. All the commercial scales work at least adequately, but you will want to consider how you think of your layout -- a huge empire or a local switching yard? Some people just fall in love with a certain model and that determines it.
    See if there are local clubs that you can visit, or even personal layouts. Or a train show, but these may be scarce in the summer.

    Look at some of our threads. Nazgul has one called "don't laugh, it's my first attempt" that covers his first year model railroading.
  9. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    I guess I'd go with HO. Primarily because of my age and diminished eyesight. Of course that doesn't apply to you:mrgreen:. N scale would give you great long runs of mainline track in that size of room. Another possibility is On30 narrow gauge but you are pretty much limited to small steam locomotives and a few four wheel gas and diesel loco's. Then there is S scale if you are starting from scratch. Your call.
  10. tracker

    tracker New Member

    I was actually pondering a run through our basement library adjacent to the furnace room, atop Ikea shelving!

    However, upon hearing the feedback of the Gauge members, and further pondering the long-term, I think I'm going to move ahead with the finished room for now.

    What scale are you using? I assume N? Sounds like a small space!

    Actually this area has a lot of rail history--Ralph, sounds like you're in St. Paul, you know what I mean--and thus a lot of clubs and interest, which I visit from time to time.
  11. tracker

    tracker New Member

    Hi Jim, thanks for the tips. I think HO is the scale for me!
  12. tracker

    tracker New Member

    advice on equipment?

    I assume it's best to just focus on the planning the layout, then the benchwork at the start. When the time comes to start building, however, I'd like to avoid messups if possible:
    • any good reference for wiring/electrics you can recommend?
    • do you recommend getting used track, or new?
    I guess I need a good overview of what type of power supply, the wiring, etc to use depending on the layout I go with.

    I'll try to post some images/drawings as I go, over the summer...

  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Tracker: I work in British OO scale, which is about the same as HO. My room (the finished room in the basement) is 16'x18' and the layout took 3 4x8 sheets of Homasote.
    There are a couple of god books on wiring. Kalmbach and Carstens both have published respectable ones; Atlas books show how to use their components.
    I would suggest using new track. You never know where the old stuff as been. I've re-used mine between layouts, but also found that track has improved between layouts.
  14. tracker

    tracker New Member

    Thanks David. In the last few days, I've researched and come up with some fundamentals. I'm leaning towards nickel silver flex track (new!).

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