Ideas for a layout (Im a beginner)...

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Troy, Sep 27, 2003.

  1. Troy

    Troy Member


    I have just started model railroading and I have a 4'6" x 8' bench to build a layout. Ive decided to build an N Scale layout so I can fit a fair bit of action on there and also use the Woodland Scenic Subterrain to build upon, Wscenic Trackbed and Peco Track. I would like to have a big mountain in the middle of the layout and mountain ranges around the sides and back of the layout. I would also like to try building a creek somewhere on the layout. And have a station at the bottom middle of the layout with a small yard and repair area behind it.

    Anyone have any ideas on a plan that would suit that terrain with passenger and freight working together. I would like to have the passenger train running all the time on a nice scenic route up into the mountains and back and stopping at the station via a station stopper while the freight trains shift coal up and down the mountain in the middle and stopping up in the mountain for pickups via another station stopper. Id rather not have any point to point in the design but a bit of switching would be nice if I wanted to send the passenger train on a different route every now and again. A couple of tunnels here and there would be good too.

    As a beginner Im not to sure on what will work. Ive spent countless hours browsing over a heap of Kalmbach books and plans from books but none of them suit my needs. Its all so confusing for a beginner I can tell you. And my big ambitions are not helping me! Im probably jumping in a bit deep with my ideas but im not scared :D
    I would like to find a club in my area so I can meet some people like yourselfs and see how this stuff is done first hand but there isnt any in my area that Im aware of...
    If anyone from my location (Gold Coast, Australia) knows of a local club, some info would be great.

    Anyway, I hope Im not out of line asking these questions on my first post. Apologies if I am...

    Thanks to anyone kind enough to give me a hand.

  2. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Hi Troy!
    First of all, welcome to The Gauge!:)
    And as far as asking questions...well, that's exactly why we're here!
    So fire away!
    (I've been at this hobby now for 11 years, & I still have tons of questions! :D )

    It sounds like you have a really nice sized space for a model RR!
    Going with N scale in that space will really allow you to do some big-time railroading in that space!:cool:
    I always recommend that beginers read as much as they can, but it sounds like you've already done some of that, & that you have some definite ideas about a theme, or style, for your RR.
    I'm not familiar with the WS roadbed, so I won't be of much help to you there, but I know some of the other folks here have used that system, & can probably give you some pointers.
    One thing I would recommend to you, is just because you have a large space, don't feel like you have to fill every inch of it with track. You'll wind up spending all your time with tracklaying, & logistical headaches, & not ever get around to being able to run some trains! So start with a trackplan that's fairly simple...
    Something we werev talking about on here the other day comes to mind...that is using an HO track plan to build an N scale RR...this would make for a very spacious RR, allwing for long trains, large equipment, pasenger ops, & room for large structures, & big scenery!
    Just a thought...I'm sure you'll be getting a lot of other ideas from some of the other folks on here too!
    Whatever you do, keep it fun & simple, & keep us posted on your progress!
    Once again, welcome aboard!:)
  3. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge Troy.
    LIke Charlie said, don't lay to much track. You can end up with a spiderweb and noplace for buildings or scenery. Do you have access to both sides of the 4'6" width? I have WS roadbed on my layout now and wish I had used cork. The WS roadbed is to soft and spungy for Atlas Flex track and don't hold the joints very well. I have used cork in the past with no trouble on the curves. I have heard that there are other brands that are more flexable and hold better on curves. Some modelers have soldered the joints on the curves to hold better but that doesn't leave any space for track stretching or shrinking in various atmospheres.
    I have also heard of using HO track plans for N scale layouts with great success.
    I wish you all the luck with your layout and please post some pictures as you progress.
  4. some thoughts

    first, Welcome to the Gauge!

    next: the Woodland Scenics stuff is quite nice, and makes inclines fairly easy to do (though crossovers can be tricky)

    your 4'6"x8' area is *huge* for N-scale, very little trackplanning books have covered so much area for N.

    Atlas' '9 N-Scale Trackplans' has 1 4x8 plan, which is fairly simple, and IMHO wastes a lot of the space, unless you want far more scenery than railroad. Here's an image of N-12 'Mineral Range Route'


    it doesn't fit your needs (one level, and the fun of 2 reversing sections), and IMHO a lot of space is wasted in the huge yard tracks.

    I'd reccommend downloading the free Atlas 'Right-Track' software and experimenting, and I enjoy making layout pland and could make a couple ideas for ya, as well

    It sounds like you want almost 2 railroads in one: a Passenger line and a mountain coal line.
  5. billk

    billk Active Member

    Hey Troy, welcome.

    Question about your space - is is accessible on all four sides? The reason being, if only one of the 8' sides was accessible, because the other was up against a wall, for example, you would have to reach clear across the 4'6" width to do scenery and trackwork, "fix" derailments, etc., which would be pretty hard.

    With that in mind, I'd suggest making your first attempt a learning experience more than anything else. Experiment with different techniques for track laying, scenery making, etc., etc. Maybe a simple loop, all at the same level, with a passing sidings and a few industry spurs. Then you can get something up and running relatively quickly, have something to mess with, and plan your "dream layout" at your leasure.
  6. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hello Troy and welcome to the gauge.
    Here's an n-scale plan from one of my layouts that fitted a space 8' by 4' so with 4'-6" it would be easier. The main line winds its way around a mountain and douvble backs on itself.


    Attached Files:

  7. Troy

    Troy Member

    Thanks everyone for the warm welcome!
    And thanks for all the replies and suggestions.

    I like the look of the last layout posted by Shamus. A bit too much maybe but quite close to what I want but with no turntable.

    "It sounds like you want almost 2 railroads in one: a Passenger line and a mountain coal line."

    Yes, thats what I would like. I would like the Passenger train to run continously winding up through a mountain range on the perimeter of the layout and back to the station, but with the option of switching it to an alternate route occasionally. The freight train would also run on a continous route up into the mountains in the centre of the layout and back where it makes coal pickups and dropoffs. I would like the freight and passenger trains to be able to get to the yard behind the station when needed and I would also like the two trains tracks to run side by side at some stage of the layout then they split off on their own journey and they also cross under-over each other at some point.
    I guess some sidings, staging areas would be needed for some realism too.

    Ive spent the last couple of hours trying to use that Atlas software. Argh, its too much for me...

    One quick question...

    what are the pros/cons of using all sectional or all flex track for my layout? Is there a preferred method?

    Thanks again everyone.

  8. Troy

    Troy Member

    I just found this on the net....

    It looks very close to what Id like. Its in HO scale though so I guess there would be plenty more room when converted to N.
    Anyone have any ideas on manipulating this a bit to suit N scale and also to suit my other needs as explained in previous posts.

    It looks as though the whole thing is basically one line which would be fine for the passenger Train to run continously but I need another line for the freight trains to transport coal and a small yard near the station to store and repair trains.
    I also would like to be able to switch the passenger car to an alternate route when I feel like it.

    Thanks again,

    Troy. ;)

    Attached Files:

  9. A suggested layout for ya

    I built this one this evening (over the last 2-3 hours)

    Its a long, basic oval as the main line. with 1 broad (19" radius) curve on the lower left, and 11" radius everywhere else.

    There are 3 cities: the 'Big City' in the lower part of the layout, Complete with the main yard areas. There are 2 Yards connected to the same Arrival/Departure track, the Coach Yard (and Its engine track) and the freight Yard (with it's engine track)

    The Small town in the upper left has a passing siding/passender depot area, one or two Very short spurs for industry could be added without difficulty here (1 turnout, 1 straight, 1 bumper track)

    The Larger town in the Upper Right has a small industrial district off the passing siding. Its designed as a small Inglenook-style shunting puzzle, but can just be regular industry drop points.

    The Coal mine line follows the switchbacks (all 9.75" curves) around several mountains leading into coal mines and up over and through at least 2, and potentially 5 peaks (round each curve). it parallels the passenger track in the larger town before swinging around the freight yard and back around. In the lower left, it shares the broad curve with the passenger line. The Interchange track allows you to connect to 'the rest of the world'

    Attached Files:

  10. Troy

    Troy Member

    wow! Thanks very much for all your hard work. I like it alot! I just spent an hr or so playing around with it in MS Paint and made a some changes. Could you please have a look over it for me. Im not sure if its possible and if there is enough room for it.

    Hope you can understand it all....



    Attached Files:

  11. Troy

    Troy Member

    Sorry, I just made a couple of minor changes....

    Attached Files:

  12. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    Some nice plans posted here, just one suggestion of caution. Long tunnels need some sort of access for track cleaning and derailed train removal. Either 'lift-off' scenery or hand holes in the table work for derailments, but lift-off makes track cleaning a lot easier. Even with track cleaning cars you occasionally need to use a bit of elbow grease on the rails. With lift-off the seams can be disguised by shrubbery or running the seams parallel to the natural rock formation crevices.
  13. closer match

    well, some of the places you wanted spurs just won't work (there isd no way to spur off a 9.75" curve section, this is a pretty close approximation.

    I kept the industry area for now, but feel free to replace the whole thing with your river areas. I'd reccommend leaving the industry area, and making the waterfall/river up the middle of the
    layout instead, breaking some of the monotony of your long backstretch. I ddn't place any tunnels, but you shouldbe able to place them as you see fit.

    I used Atlas Code 80 sectional track for this whole thing, and all turnouts are the Atlas Standard. You might want to replace some of the long straights with flextrack. As a beginner I don't recommend using Flextrack on curves for you, it's trickier than you think

    the 2% grade for the outer track rises to a height of 1" starting after the crossover with the interchange track, and starts its decline in the upper right.

    The 3% slope is EXTREMELY steep, especially with the sharp curves. don't expect to be able to pull more than 5-7 cars up the slope with just a single engine.

    I placed a few buildings just as sample ideas, feel free to replace them as you like.

    note: the outer tracks are *right* up against the edge in this layout, so caution is reccommended!

    Attached Files:

  14. Troy

    Troy Member

    Thanks again for all your work. Ive been studying the plan again and decided on something I think will work ok. Ive attached the pic... I removed the outer track all together and the spur up in the top left and one in the top right. The outer track will now be at sea level (like it always was...) while the mountain track will still do its 3% climb.

    Not sure on where I should put my river, tunnels and road yet...

    Could you possibly send me your RTS (.ral) file so I can load it up?
    I havent a clue on how to use that program but I wouldnt mind having a play with it.... or just a list on what track I need to buy most importantly. Does the RTS software output an inventory list on what track was used in the plan?

    Also, is it possible to use Peco Flextrack for the straights and Peco Turnouts without messing up the precise position of everything? I guess it wouldnt work for Peco curves either because they don't come in the same radius as Atlas?
    I would have liked to use all Peco if possible but Im not sure what to do now...

    One last question... How should the layout be wired? I mean, which parts of the layout should be isolated from each other?
    I have seen drawings of peoples plans on the net and they sometimes have the tracks on their plans drawn in different colours to visually seperate the circuit.

    Thanks again, Im very happy with your layout and I think we are on a winner!


    Attached Files:

    • tt1.jpg
      File size:
      50.8 KB
  15. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    Stick with a single brand for best results. Mixing brands can require shims to match at joints - not a major problem, just need to know - had to mount my Peco turnouts on 1/16" veneer for shimming up to Atlas height. Peco flex everywhere with Peco turnouts is a good choice, but go with at least #6 frogs or longer. Avoid Atlas flex on tight curves, can go out of gauge. Not sure about Peco flex staying in gauge, maybe others could input here. Atlas sectional better if radius right and you shim where needed.

    The Peco #4 turnouts can cause derail problems. Also make sure the turnouts are perfectly flat, have seen many Peco right out of the box with the rails at the points bent upwards and need to be straightened before use (the resulting hump lifts pilot wheels and prevents them from tracking the points). Electrofrog (all metal frog) is most reliable (for stall prevention) but wiring is more complex than Insulfrog and auxiliary electrical contacts (microswitch or contacts on switch motor) need to be used for max reliability, ie points get dirty and don't switch current properly.
  16. Peco

    Well, Peco's stuff is workable. Their turnouts are a little longer. atlas Standard (#4.5) turnouts use a 15-degree curve section of 19" radius, while Peco's #4 use 9" radius (according to their website), I would replace all the turnouts here with the Peco #6 (medium), which uses an 18" Radius. They are a little longer in the straight, so you'd have to remove a short straight to make it work. I can't find a listing of the exact curve radii used by Peco, but find the closest match to the 9-3/4", 11" and 19" radius curves I used.

    I can email you the RAL file, private message me with your email address.
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    For tunnel access to rerail or clean track, another trick you can do is to cut an access hole under the mountain adjacent to the tunnel. Then if you need to clean track or rerail you crawl under the mountain, and if the mountain is high enough, you can stand up. You will probably be crawling under or ducking under to gain access to those tracks anyway, hopefully you get the trackwork perfect under the tunnel to minimize derail problems. If you use this method, use a piece of masonite as a wall along the side of the track next to the open area to keep trains from falling to the floor.
  18. csxnscale

    csxnscale Member

    How about this one Troy ?


  19. Little more research

    Well, having done a lot of N-scale research, I have this for you, Troy:

    Atlas Code 80 makes the following sectional track
    5" straight
    2.5" Straight
    1.25" Straight
    30-degree section 9-3/4" radius curve
    30 degree section 11" radius curve
    15 degree section 9-3/4" radius curve
    15 degree section 11" radius curve
    15 degree section 19" radius curve
    #4 (Standard) Turnout
    (5" Straight + 15 degree 19" radius curve)
    #6 Turnout (7" Straight + 10 degree 38" radius curve)
    and Crossings at 10, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60 and 90 degrees

    Peco makes:
    6-7/8" Straight
    3-7/16" Straight
    2-5/16" Straight
    22.5 degree section 9" radius curve
    22.5 degree section 10-3/16" radius curve
    45 degree section 9" radius Curve
    45 degree section 10-3/16" Radius Curve
    #4 Turnout w/ 22.5 degree 9" radius curve section (nicknamed the 'derailler')
    #6 Turnout w/ 14 degree 18" radius curve section
    #8 Turnout w/8 degree 36" radius curve section
    and onlyt a 20-degree crossing

    I would reccommend using the Peco Flex for the straights, and Peco #6 turnouts, and the Atlas curved sections for the curves. the tracks have different tie counts as the main difference, and that wont be as noticable in curves. the Turnouts are longer, so you may have a bit less storage space on the yard tracks, but nothing too serious.

    the peco #6 turnout uses a longer straight section so you'll need to adjust your straights length, and is 1 degree short of the 19" radius track, but that should be able to be fixed within your 'wiggle room' in any track plan.

    As for wiring, this is a fairly simple trackplan. I'd isolate the two engine pockets, and each Spur, the passing sidings (and you probably want to add one more passing siding on the backstretch since you lost the double track), the yard from everything else, and insulate the coal track from the passenger/freight line. In addition, every 6-8 feet of track you should isolate *one* rail (always the same rail) and add a feeder wire. This will help avoid 'drop outs' as current falls off the farther from the power pack you get. These can also be set as 'blocks' for DC operation, or just left as 'booster power' if you go DCC

Share This Page