My Official Layout thread

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by BASEBALLRULES, Dec 31, 2006.



    So I've begun on my layout, i purchased the 15 necessary pieces of code 100 flex track at my LHS and some cork roadbed as I have decided to scrap the EZ track i currently have been using.

    Here is my layout plan

    My 3 working Locos

    My defunct switcher circa 1960

    and my space in general

    I have a couple of quick questions though before i order the necessary switches
    it says i need either #4 or #6 switches, can someone point me in the directoin of the site that gets me the most for my money and what switches i should be looking for?
  2. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    I would use #6 switches rather than #4. THe #6 switches have a gentler curve so it's easier for locomotives to negotiate.

    Nice engines BTW. A Union Pacific Pacific. sign1 (the 4-6-2 is called Pacific.)

    That GP38-2 looks like an Athearn.. If it is, it's a solid engine and all you need to do is dress it up with details and put Kadee couplers on it, and it will serve you well for many many years as long as you give it good yearly maintenance! :thumb:
  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    For 22" radius curves or less, use Atlas #4s. The Atlas #4 is really a #4.5, and has an internal radius in the curved part of 22". These radius dimensions come NMRA Recommended Practice 12.3(, but are not binding or used exactly by any turnout manufacturers I know of. If you are not using Atlas, than a #5 is recommended (Atlas doesn't make a #5 in HO).

    A #5 has internal radius of about 26", and a #6 is over 36". But a true #4 has 16" radius curves. So a #4 is too small, and a #6 is takes up a lot of space unnecessarily on a layout with 18"-22" radius curves.

    The only exception might be in a crossover situation between 2 parallel tracks. There, you should use a higher turnout # to reduce the impact of the resulting S curves.

    Walters/Shinohara makes some nice curved turnouts that can save space on small layouts. However, the actual radius of the 2 legs is usually a couple of inches less than the catalog states, according to those who have measured theirs. The sharpest has a measured inside radius of about 20".

    my thoughts, your choices
  4. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I would stick with the #4,5 since it's a smaller layout they take up less real estate and you'll have room for other things.
    As far as looking for good switches. I have a mix of Peco and Atlas on my layout. Both work very well for me. The advantage of Peco switches are that they have a built in positive snap that keep them in place as well as they are power routing. They are more expensive than Atlas but with atlas you have to get a ground throw to keep the points in place.
    As far as deals on track. There are a number of discount Model shops on line. I tend to deal with internet model trains, or discount trains on line. Don't forget to try that auction place as well

    Oh yeah, you're defunct switcher is an Athearn Hustler. Terrible little beastie. It was rubber band driven off a couple pulleys to the really wide axles. It ran in either two speeds: stop and warp. I have two of those things with re-gearing kits that you use to be able to buy for them that made them run a little better.


    What is the best method for drawing a centerline and what sort of tools do i need so that i get an accurate curve radius?
  6. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    All you need to draw a curve is a string, a pencil, and a pin. Tie the pencil to one end of the string, and the pin to the other. Now you got a compass to draw a circle with. Hope this helps!
  7. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    I laid out my track, sans roadbed, until I was satisfied, then using a Sharpie made a series of dots on the (foam) board below by poking through the ties, keeping it on center by eye.

    But first, as you mention, you need accurate curves for the flex track. I had the same need, and simply used a string tied around a push pin at the vertex of the curve. I then held the Sharpie marker tight to the string, and drew the line. This worked great for all types of constant-radius curves. Since you are using flex track, however, you can vary the radius as you go. This is trickier, but can be done with the string wrapped once around the marker, and rotating the marker to let out string slowly as you proceed around the curve. IT will take some practice to get it right, but works reasonably well. Something else I have done is changed the radius part way around the curve, making two arcs that join seamlessly.

    It's a lot of fun if you like geometry. :)

    The suggestion of using curved turnouts is a good one, too. I will have two in my layout and I hope they work well.
  8. 91rioja

    91rioja Member

    I've tried string as well, but i'll warn you, the wrong kind of string will stretch and result in malformed curves (don't ask me how I know :oops: ). I now have a yardstick that I have drilled holes down the centerline; one at the 1" mark, and then at points corresponding to the radius I wish to use. Tack it down at the 1" line, insert the Sharpie and draw my radius.

    For the centerline, I measure off of the edge of the layout to my centerline in a few places, and take my 4' T Square, and draw out my centers on all sides of the layout. Once I have established those lines, I know that if I have a siding 2.5" off of the mainline, I draw another centerline 2.5" off the main.

    Hope this helps.
  9. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    Yep, just make sure you are not using elastic or bouncy string.. I think the non-elastic string for tying newsprint/magazines into bundles for recycling works well for this situation.
  10. Glen Haasdyk

    Glen Haasdyk Active Member

    I have a yardstick as well and it is easy to use since you don't have to contiuously re-tie the string.

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