Introduction and comments please

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Go Big1, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. Go Big1

    Go Big1 Member

    Hey all. I have been lurking on this board for about 6 months now. This past summer I was cleaning out my shop and happened upon 2 boxes of old Lionel train stuff that was my older brothers (circa 40’s to 60’s). I never had my own train set, and typically just watched my older brothers play with this Lionel set. I set up a test track and was somehow able to get a loco and some rolling stock going, which my two boys (ages 3 and 5) thought was really cool. I must say I caught the bug a bit watching that Lionel train run around the track.

    So I start thinking about setting up a permanent track. When I look at the Lionel stuff, all the switches are broke, most of the track is all rusted – everything is a mess. Knowing how expensive and space consuming O gauge can be, I figured if I wanted to do a train set-up, HO would be the way to go. So I started sniffing around on the internet, and found this wonderful website. Everyone here seems very nice and helpful (a rarity on the internet indeed!). I have learned quite a bit reading threads on this forum, and have been truly amazed at some of the layouts and scenery some of you have.

    I have been messing around with the RTS software, designing a layout for the space I have (4x8 with an approximate 3x3 spur), and I wanted to get some feedback from you knowledgeable people. I don’t know when I will get around to starting my layout – I am hoping to start the benchwork in a couple months (there is a bathroom I have to gut remodel in the house first to keep the wife happy), but since I can’t start the physical work, I can still dream about what it might look like, right?

    Anyway, here it is. Please offer any comments that might make this layout better, more interesting, etc. I would love to do an inner loop of sorts, but it seems like most of you don't condone any radius under 18 degrees, and I just don't see how to get an inner loop unless you go to a 15 degree radius. What is everyone's thought on this? Is 15 degree too tight for use of lot's of engines and stock?

    I look forward to your comments, and look forward to learning more about this hobby. Thanks.

  2. CRed

    CRed Member


    I like it,simple and interesting at the same time.

    You might be able to get a 44 ton switcher to run on 15" radius or maybe you could do a trolly line inside?

  3. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    15" is too tight for a lot of equipment. Even 18" is too tight for many.
  4. wickman

    wickman Member

    Interesting plan is it going to be a walk around because if its going to be in the corner your going to have much trouble reaching to the backs. :wave: And yes 15" is rather tight and so is 18" for that matter bigger is always better but we all do what we can .:wave:
  5. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A lot depends on what you want to model. If you want to model modern day railroading with big long diesel engines and 72-89 foot long freight cars, you will have problems even on a 22 inch radius. If you want to model the 1950's, no big steam engines, 40 foot to 50 foot freight cars and no passenger service, you could run EMD Sw units, Gp units, F units or Alco S units, Rs, or Fa units on 15 inch radius without problems. You just need to realize the potential limitations of the equipment before you buy, and then buy carefully. If you want to run passenger equipment and are willing to accept compromise, there are some "shorty" passenger cars on the market made to run on tight radius curves.
  6. Go Big1

    Go Big1 Member

    CRed, Triplex, Wickman and Russ, thanks for the compliments and advice on the track plan.

    Wickman, as far as it being walkaround, yes it will be. I plan to have about 18 inches along the back side of the 8x4. I should be able to get to all areas without having to put a hole in the middle.

    As far as what I want to model, I don't have a particular place in mind. I tried to design a layout that would offer a couple of industrial/manufacturing spurs that my boys would enjoy bringing trains in and out of. I envision the town being a small blue collar industrial town, where the industry primarily supports the town. I am picturing a millwork plant and lumberyard "up the hill" on the 3x3 area (does millwork and lumber go together?). And the trains would go up and pick up raw materials and bring them back down into some sort of producing plant nearer the town (the big plant in the center of the layout). As far as what engines and stock I want to run, I grew up near the Rock Island lines that ran from Chicago to Joliet (and beyond), and have fond memories of watching the big freights roll through town. But with the Chicago area being flat as a pancake, I would rather model some other area of the country that has some hills, trees, etc but had a line that The Rock ran through. As for time, I guess late 70's to early 80's would be the time frame. Can I get away with engines and rolling stock for that time frame on 18 inch radiuses? If not, how do you get a 22 inch radius on a 4 foot wide layout?

    Thanks again for all the help everyone!
  7. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    If you want an inner loop, you'll need to go to 5-ft wide instead of 4 ft. I liked the two loop idea, with an inner yard, and ended up doing 6 ft x 10 ft. 6 ft is a maximum width for me, since it's a walkaround and I can reach only 3 ft into the layout, for all practical purposes.

    This looks like a great start. You can think it all through while you redo the bathroom. :) More thinking leads to less work when the time comes, in my experience.
  8. Hey, could you please send me that rts file? I would like to make a few edits and see what you think.

  9. wickman

    wickman Member

    Now were talkin :wave:
  10. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    Since you have room to get around the 4x8, you have room for a great around the walls layout! I am guessing that you have at least 9' x 10' along your walls. A lift out will take care of any duck under problems. Assuming a 2' shelf layout, you can easily get 30" radii on your curves. That would allow you to easily operate modern equipment or 85' streamlined passenger cars.
  11. wickman

    wickman Member

    I hate to say it but Alan is correct. Thats the exact same reason my new layout is not a walk around and is now an around the wall with big loops on 2 ends. On mine I just went a bit extreme on depth but I understood what I was getting into. Well something else to think about anyway :wave:
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Mike: I'm going back to your original post. You may have some classic Lionel there and It sounds as if it still works. Classic Lionel track is still available and you should be able to find a train show or flea market where you can get a deal on used track.
    You Lionel will run around a tighter curve than the HO, but you won't get quite as much siding into your space. The boys might enjoy seeing the older stuff run.
  13. Go Big1

    Go Big1 Member

    Santa Fe - I totally agree with thinking/planning this layout for a while before actually doing it. That's why I'm here at The Gauge!
    Spawn, I sent you a message regarding how to get the RTS file to you.
    To Alan and Lynn, I have thought about doing a longer (10+ feet) more "dog-boned" layout that would provide 22 inch or more radius turns on the ends, but my problem is that to the left of my planned area is my shop bench and other shop materials that I cannot infringe into. To the right, the corner of the basement is about another 4 feet away (which would get my length to 12 feet), and I could run to the corner and go about 4-5 feet on the other wall, but my issue over there is I have a sewer ejection pump about 2-3 feet off the corner. Do I want to have my trains running behind/past this pipe that goes from the basement floor up to the rafters?

    The other thing that concerns me is the potential portability of the layout. I am not sure how long I am going to be in this house, and I would hate to not be able to bring my layout with me should I move. For those of you that have the bigger, longer layouts, is there any plan for portability built into your plans?
  14. ^Modular benchwork^

    Just build your benchwork in sections, usually square ones, that can all be bolted together instead of maknig one huge, unmovable bench.
  15. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    maybe instead of a trolley you can put those life like subways to good use! that would be cool, a subway under your railway!
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Modular benchwork is more rectangular than square. At the club I belong to our corner modules are 4' x 4' with the inside and outside corners knocked off which makes them a bit more trapazoidel than square. The typical module is 2' x 4', but as a sectional layout the size can be what is most convenient for you. You may have a scene that works better in 2' x 6' or 30" wide instead of 2'. The beauty of the sectional design is that you can build a big layout that easily breaks down into small pieces if you move. You could also put some of the layout sections on locking tool box type castors so that you could infringe on the area where your work bench is, and then just roll it out of the way when you want to work in the shop area. The same with the sewer vent, make a narrow 2 track shelf behind the sewer vent that is easily removed for a move. You just use the area behind the vent as an unscenicked pass through, or if there is room to stand between the vent pipe and a narrow shelf, the vent pipe would be behind when you operate. Another advantage to the sectional layout idea is that you could run 48" or even 72" diameter track instead of O27.
  17. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    The Rock Island shut down early in 1980. Passenger service ended in '78. However, RI did have SD40-2s and U30Cs, which won't stay coupled to freight cars on 18".
  18. Alan B

    Alan B Member

    If you are going to stick with a walk around, you have a bad "S" curve where your spur goes off to the "L". I would remove the outer row of buildings and use either a curved turnout on the left end. Otherwise, move the switch 9" to the right. If possible, use 22" radius curves on both ends. You may have to go to 4' 6" on the layout width. This is not really a problem, just build the benchwork to support the layout rather than using the tabletop for support. (You shouldn't do that anyway, but lots of model railroaders use the table top as the strength deck.)

    Build the layout using the "domino" method that David Barrows uses. I did. My "L" shaped layout survived one move and is in the process of being rebuilt. I used 1x4s to build the boxes and 2x2 legs. When using 1x lumber, you should pilot drill the holes before screwing. I use the glue and screw method on joints that need strength and will be permanent. I pilot drill and use nuts, washers and bolts for legs and X braces.

  19. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    They don't derail on 18' radius. My Kato sd40 and my U34 ( close enough) can pull freight ars on the inner ovel of my layout without problems.

    in most cases the only thing you can't run on 18 inches are passenger cars.
  20. Go Big1

    Go Big1 Member

    Wow. You all have given me some great ideas to think about! I think I am steering myself (with your help!) towards a longer layout that narrows in the middle, with bigger turns on the two ends. This might help me in two ways, I could get 22+ inch turns for more flexibility; and I could make a more portable layout.

    What I need to do is get the dimensions of the corner of my basement and create a new RTS plan. Hopefully I can put something together quickly for you all to look at.

    Thanks again for all the help! :wave:

    PS - Triplex, you are absolutely right. RI did shut down in 1980. I guess I remember those big Maroon/Red & Yellow trains from my earlier childhood (ie early 70's) than I thought. What's funny is I really don't remember much of the blue paint scheme.

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