Layout stumped!

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Hookedtrout, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    The new Digitrax DCC system showed up and I'm still in the process of trying to get my layout established.

    What sequence has everyone found the easiest? I'm looking at a flat deck, I've layed out the track and I'm ironing all of the routes out but I can't picture how much room I'm going to need for the hillside coming down into the layout and room for roads and buildings etc. I haven't purchased all my buildings and stuff yet. Do I need to get all this together first and place in on the layout as I decide, should I draw out the roads and stuff? I'm affraid if I get the track where I want it and start attaching it I'm going to find I don't have the room I need in certain places?

    I guess I'm back to the which came first the egg or chicken issue? :cry: Did they build the city first and then bring in the RR or build the RR first and put up the city afterward?

    Thanks, Hook
  2. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    That's always been one of the issuses in building a MRR. Sorry, but there seems to be no easy answer. I reccomend you lay the track and get it running and then start drawing out scenery/buildings in small areas and try doing it in chunks. If you are using kits then you need to have an idea of how big they are before you can plan where they go, so you just about need to build them first. If you scratch build you can build to suit the lot. You also need to remember we do lots of selective compression. You have to find you own path grasshopper. :D Fred
  3. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    If you have a walthers catalogue alot of the kits have footprint sizes listed.This helps in planning.(leave a little extra room around industries etc.Town area's should have roads,sidewalks parking area's etc.
    You are going to end up with area's where nothing will seem to fit.This is where kitbashing and scratchbuilding comes'll figure something out for those area's over time and get plenty of help in here if you ask for idea's.
    Take your time.Rome wasnt built in a day and neither was the Northern Pacific Railroad(with the NP in many instances the Railroad came first and the town went up afterwards )
    You will find inspiration at the oddest times.Likely while you just hooked a nice cutthroat :D
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    TG is correct.If you don't have the buildings made then a mock up or a foot print will work wonders in seeing how everything will fit together.Yes,drawing out your roads is a excellent idea as that will show you if it will work the way you have it planned.As far as checking a hillside then use a small towel and (say) some Athearn kit boxes,this will show you the foot print of your hill(s).Stack the boxes in a stacked stagger position and place the towel over the boxes.
  5. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Now that's the most inspiring thing I've heard since I started this adventure :D I need to get out the Winston 3 wt, tighten on the Lamson LP1, check the tippet, tie on a BWO size 18, relax a bit, hike across the pasture and hit the Henry's Fork for some thinking time. Thanks for the advice.

  6. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Thanks for all the tips, all great ideas, a lot of them just what I fugured they would be. I guess the fun is the not knowing where you'll end up. If it was all a big kit, layed out and ready to be assembled there sure wouldn't be much fun in that now would there. :D Be like a paint by numbers I guess. You'll find me on the river just west of the house if you need me.

    Hook----ed up I hope.
  7. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    Well, first came the landscape. Then, usually, came the railroad, followed by "civilization".

    You must have some terrain in mind. Youlikely have a table area, as well. Build up your terrain with crumpled newspapers and duct tape, just to get an idea of how it will appear, then lay your track, and finally lay out your roads and buildings. This will give you a good idea of how it will all come together. Mark what goes where, draw it out on your lumber, and get after it! Bear in mind that the so-called "footprint" of buildings as listed is often nominal, does not include overhangs or sidewalks, much less parking lots. Trying to pile too much into a given area will make it look phoney, so don't overdo it. Place thing to suit your own tastes. Don't feel that you're obliged to do anything to please the Prototype Police. If it looks good to you, it is right.

    Scott Fraser
    Calgary, Alberta
  8. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Sounds like pretty sound advice Scott. I think I'm going to route some wire under the deck for the DCC and get it all ready to hook up and then do some of the paper type landscaping to give me a general idea of how far out the mountain/tunnel area is going to come. From there I think I'll just get the terrain in as I want it and as far as the buildings and stuff and getting too crowded, I think I will look at it like an old rural area for now with just a few buildings etc and get a few very basic things set up for now and as time goes along I'll bring in some construction crews :D (that would be me and Squeak) and we will bulldoze a few new roads to some of the more rural areas and add a few new businesses and call it a different year or something. You know progress and all.

    A little at a time I guess.
  9. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Read back through your post a second time and I read table as my whole layout deck and after reading it again I questioned my first thoughts. I'm new enough to all this train terminology that some of it I don't have a clue, what is a table area. :confused:
  10. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    Hook, my advise, for what it is worth, is that since you are at that very indecisive stage I would go and do two things. One of them is get a copy of aWalthers catologue and the second purchases I recomend is got to a local craft store or hardeware store and purchase a roll of paper. You can get the rolls of white or brown paper that rolls out ontop of tables that cater's use for patries/events, also include some pensils and erasers. Sit down and decide on a plan that you wish to do, be realistic, I would suggest a little smaller one than size that you are going to build this way you can always make alterations as you proceed. Look through the Walthers book and decide on a few industries that you would like to include. Most of the buildings that you choose will list, or show, the size that is required. Take some cardboard, any will do, cut out this size or maybe a half inch larger, fiddle room, and write the industry on it. Also out of cardboard cut out what radius's you are mostly going to use from the plan..18,22,24, 26 etc. Now roll out the paper on the floor or a sheet of plywood on sawhorses, or if you have your benchwork up on it. Now start to draw out your plan on a one to one basis. This way using your track plan, track curves, and building sizes cut out of cardboard, you can easily see what fits where and visuilize what will look the best. You can draw in anything you wish, land contours, roads, streams, bridges, etc. I have used this method for years not only in starting a layout but making changes. I can see where everything will go and ensure it fits, of course you can make minor adjustments as install the real things. It is much easier to erase a line on paper and make adjustments that way than repeatedly laying track then ripping it up, this way I have found eliminates a lot of flustration....Ron.
  11. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Spent a few hours out in the shack today playing. :D I pretty much had the track laid out so it's just a matter of exactly where I want the sidings so I moved them around and played a bit with some different ideas. I'm liking it more and more as I move along and the creative ideas are starting to roll for some landscaping. Had some more supplies show up today so we made some progress. I do think I'm going to figure out what industry/buildings I want and make a few templates to lay out just to give me an idea of how they will fit in, I also like the idea of keeping it small and simple to start with and I'll add a little as I go along.

    A couple of operational things that surprised me, I have one new rolling stock that seems to derail fairly easy, it's a UP flat car hauling some John Deere tractors. Not sure what's up with that, any tips on what to check? It seems to derail on corners, not necessarily at track connectors. I just hooked up the old tyco transformer to give the train a run around to appease Squeak as he was at my heals begging to see the train go. It also surprised me that the sidings were operational (the train would run on them) without being wired in seperate. Not sure why but I thought they had to be insulated and the wires ran seperate to them. Maybe it's the DCC that requires this, guess I'll find out if it's different once I get brave enough to hook up the DDC power instead of the old Tyco. Learning as I go.

    Thanks for all the support. :thumb: :thumb:
  12. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Regarding your derailing flatcar. If you have a NMRA gauge, check the gauge of the wheels to make sure none are too wide or too narrow. Then check how the trucks are fastened to the car. A three point suspension system consists of one truck being left loose enough to rock while the other truck should not rock, but none of the trucks should bind when swiveled.
  13. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    Thanks Russ:thumb: I'll get a guage coming in the next order so I have one here and I'll check the rest of the items as you advise.
  14. dsfraser

    dsfraser Member

    "Table area"? The flat surface you're going to use to put your layout on. My layout is in a 12x16 foot room. Some parts of it are 4' wide, some parts of it are 2' wide (L-shape, two levels, around two walls, with a helix ). Basically, I mean that if you put a mountain along the skinny part, realistically, you will only be able to use the front edge of the table to place track. Farmer Ron's suggestion to draw it all out on kraft paper is a good one.

    I'd suggest that before you go too much farther you get a hold of a copy of John Armstrong's book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" (Kalmbach). It is excellent, and I only wish I'd read it before building my first layout (which was scrapped soon after I'd read it). I spent over a year planning my second layout, which is still under construction. Go ahead and build a "starter" layout, just to be able to run trains. but don't invest a lot of time of money into it, and expect to tear it all down when you're finally ready to begin construction of your next, second-generation, layout.

    You want to be able to run trains. This will keep your interest up while you decide how your "ultimate" layout will appear, so build it! Use it! And keep thinking, dreaming, about your ultimate layout (which will fill a room 60x100 feet, on several levels, with two or three hidden staging yards, and use 827 switches!)

    Like all of us, you will eventually be forced to compromise between what you want to do and what you can do, to comply with space, cash, and time constraints, and to keep your "better half" onside.

    Model railroading is a deep abyss. Once you step off the edge, there is no going back. You will find your own "comfort level", where you can do your thing and be happy. At one extreme, you can run Thomas the Tank Engine with PS-1 boxcars around an oval, without losing sleep. At the other extreme, you will balk at buying a Proto RS-99 because the long hood is 2 ½" shorter than what it is supposed to be, and will stay awake nights fretting over whether that latest NYC boxcar you built had a Younstown or Superior door. You may choose to create your own freelance railroad, or may decide that you want to stick with an authentic roadname. You might decide to model the 1960s or the 1990s, or to to not worry about era and run 0-8-0s as tourist trains in combination with SD60s. Whatever you choose, these are your decisions, an no one can fault you for what you chose to do.

    Get some track down so you can run trains. Then spend weeks or months or even years researching, decide what direction you want your "model empire" will take, and go from there. It is a lifetime hobby, so be sure of what you want to do before going to a lot of effort to make it happen. (And odds are, you'll change your mind more than once!)

    Have fun

    Scott Fraser
    Calgary, Alberta
  15. Hookedtrout

    Hookedtrout Member

    A lot of great info Scott, thank you. The most interesting thing you bring to light is what's in the layout for me so to speak. And interestingly enough I've done a lot of reading and learning from the forums and the crazy thing for me and only time will tell where this will all take me but at this stage I'm building the layout for my 6 year old son. I'm not one do the simple plywood and stick an oval on it but I do realize that building a layout that incorporated realistic operation wouldn't be the best thing for a 6 year old. In other words doing a long layout with a multitude of sidings and industry to do rolling stock drops and pick-ups wouldn't be in the best interest of a 6 year old. I may be wrong but I think a 6 year old needs a train that goes in a circle so to speak with a few sidings so he can start learning the realistic operation.

    As you mentioned we all have our own idea of what trains and era to run and I was hung on this for awhile but I've decide that there isn't anything wrong with having a new diesel loco (Squeaks favorite) and the BLI 2-8-2 my idea because I know having sound and added effects will entertain him a whole lot more once he hears and sees it operate and I'm doing the era on the old side, not paying a ton of attention to getting it exact but I like the appearance of and old rural area with a few grain, cattle, or coal things going on and maybe a bar with a house of ill repute upstairs, wait better not go there Squeak would ask too many questions, he asks enough already.

    As for me personally the building and creating the whole thing is what I enjoy, I love being creative and building and playing in my wood shop. Running the trains with Squeak will be a bonus but I'm sure it will consist of mosty maintaing the trains and layout and keeping out of his way. :D As he grows I hope his interest grows as well and I'm sure we will grow into something that we aren't at during this initial stage.

    Thanks again for all the words of advice and the challenge to put some thought into it with a mix of stop and play once in awhile. That is great advice, if you don't stop and enjoy the building and creation can become a burden.
  16. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Frankly I've always laid track first, then scenery later. But then again, I must have a good "mind's eye" because I've always been able to visualize the scenery, countours, etc. just from a track plan.


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