N scale layout on a 2' x 2' board

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by antiqueradio, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. antiqueradio

    antiqueradio New Member


    First time poster, long time lurker.
    Looking for ideas on an N scale layout that would be 2'x2'. Would like a continous run with a siding serving a quarry. I was thinking of the plan in "101 TRACK PLANS", the Kettle Hills & Eastern RR. The quarry could be in the middle but how would I bring in a siding? Anyone have an idea or a plan I might like?

    Thanks, Bill.
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I'm assuming you really meant 24" by 24". Let's look at reality. If you use standard 9.75" radius curved track, that means a circle of track is 19.5" across - track center line to track center line. The outside edges of the ties will be at least 20" across. That leaves 2" between the track edge and the edge of the table - a bare minimum to prevent floor diving by derailed trains. And you still have no room for any straight track into which to insert a turnout for your siding or spurs.

    The track plans in 101 Track Plans were hand drawn before N scale or Atlas (or other commercial) turnouts were commonly available. The track plans do not give enough space to use Atlas turnouts (uncut or unmodified), and have everything fit in the allotted space.

    Atlas offers free RTS track planning software to download that is pretty simple to use, but only has Atlas track in its library. For your purposes, the software will give a very good idea of what will really fit, and what won't.

    Unless you go to a substandard minimum radius (7.5" or less in N), you will need a little more length to achieve what you want. Otherwise, at a bare minimum, 36" length instead of 24" may get you a 3-4 car passing siding, and a spur for your quarry on the other side of the oval.

    I have several plans drawn (mostly with RTS) for 4'x6' spaces in HO, which may fit into a 2'x3' space in N. I would redraw them in N using RTS to be sure. Perhaps tonight I can post some of these plans.

    Hope this helps, and doesn't throw too much of a wet blanket. It's just that to stay within 2'x2', you will need to go to flex track and less than normal curve radii.
  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    However,, if you came in from one side of the loop with a turn-out and immediately continued the turn-out into another into the inside of the loop?

    The spur from the outside would then be a suggested connection to the larger outside world....and...:thumb:
  4. antiqueradio

    antiqueradio New Member

    Thanks for the input. I do plan to use code 55 flex track and need to keep the 24"x24" layout size. I'm just looking for a way to get a single track spur into the middle where the quarry will be.

    Mountain Man, I can't visualize your idea, can you give me a better idea or a sketch of what you mean. Sounds like a good idea.

    Thanks, Bill.
  5. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    It can be done, with a Peco small turnout and 8.5" radius main and 8" siding curves.

    I just don't know why you'd want to. You're going to have to run a short loco and very short cars. You can't do much switching, other than in-and-out.

    But whatever floats your boat.

    Attached Files:

  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    With those radii, it looks like a passing/runaround track should be possible, no? Even one with a turnout in the middle. There are more options than a loop with one spur.
  7. GWoodle

    GWoodle Member

    For equipment, look for a Trix FM switcher unit & some shorty ore cars. IIRC the ore cars may be out new in the Atlas Trainman line. You may also find some MP 2 packs. I don't know what radius the new Bachmann 44ton may be able to take. You could try the 3axle Plymouth.
  8. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    No. Not unless you shorten the siding radii to 7.5"

    But that wasn't in the original request.

    You can do all sorts of things if you want to use 6" radii, but then it just gets silly.

    Attached Files:

  9. antiqueradio

    antiqueradio New Member

    Here is the layout I need to work on. I need a way to add a single spur to the inside to service the quarry I'm planning. The squares on this plan would be 6" apart so this is actually a little smaller then 24"x24" so it could go a little bigger and still be 24"x24". I was thinking of adding s switch under the overpass in at the upper right to bring it in. Any ideas or opinions?


  10. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    The problem is you are trying to squeeze something extra into an already very tight plan. You need to stretch things out so that you can add a length of tangent track to fit the extra turnout, and still have room inside the already tight mainline curve for the spur.

    I'd suggest using Peco track, because the turnouts are smaller and sharper than what's available with Atlas.

    Mainline curves are 7.5" radius (very sharp). Quarry siding is 7" radius. Mainline grades are 3.5% to get a 2" separation at the crossover.

    At least it fits.

    Attached Files:

  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Note that this plan has 15" curves in HO. If you make it half the size, you'll have 7.5" curves, as shown already.

    Note that 101 Track Plans says you can fit an N layout in half the dimensions of HO. You can't. N is 55% of HO.
  12. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I repeat my comment that the track plans in 101 Track Plans were hand drawn without the assistance of software to ensure things would fit.

    Also, Atlas turnouts are longer and broader curved than the plans in 101 Track Plans allowed for - regardless of whether you use N or HO scale. To build a plan with commercial turnouts will usually require cutting of some of the turnouts to get the plan to fit in the advertised space. Cutting and curving commercial turnouts is not an evil thing to do, although many modelers are reluctant to do so.

    The best thing to do, as has been demonstrated in this thread, is to re-draw the plan in a software package using the turnouts you have or intend to use.

    As has been stated, the plan you chose uses 15" radius curves in HO. To fit the plan in half the space requires curves of half the radius. 7.5" radius curves in N are doable, but are just as limiting as 15" radius curves in HO. Parallel tracks in N cannot be spaced at 1/2 the spacing in HO (typically 2"). Separation must be greater than 1/2 HO because N is actually bigger than 1/2 HO. This is another reason to redraw the plan using real N scale standards and practices before launching into construction.

    my thoughts, your choices
  13. BillW

    BillW New Member

    I've been inspired by the posting of the original track plan. Although I've never read the original book, I think that layout has a lot of potential to be a fun mini-build over the rest of winter. In fact, I just bought all the supplies necessary to assemble it in N scale (locomotive, track, etc). This is my first attempt at anything N scale. While Antiqueradio spoke of doing it in 2'x2', I will build my benchwork to 2.5'x2.5'. I made a full size plan on newsprint and found, by expanding 6" each direction, the original plan could be reproduced with minimum 10.5" radius curves. I tacked down some flex to this radius and is awfully tight, but it seems doable if I limit myself to four axle diesels and <40 foot cars. Two by two feet seems a possibility, but the curvatures IMHO become ridiculous. I will omit the small siding since I can't imagine it adding much to the "fun" of the layout. Initially I considered building the layout on an even larger table, but I worry this would detract from the cuteness of the original plan. I want a railroad that can easily be moved around the house as I built it. There are some interesting scratchbuilding possibilties too with the four brides to accomodate the crossover and creek. My railroad will be set in sort of a mountain environment. I am getting away from my HO layout and projects, but this will be a satisfying diversion.

    I hope you continue with the build, Antiqueradio. Thank-you for the idea.
  14. BillW

    BillW New Member

    Just an update with regard to where I'm at with the new railway. I've since built the bench work for the layout. Given the size, it is a relatively simple sort of open grid design. Soon I shall begin a new thread in the n-scale section as I suppose this is beyond the scope of track planning and will include photos. I was wondering though if anyone is familiar with the minimum NMRA height clearances for n-scale. Unfortunately I do not own an NMRA n-scale standards gauge and have yet to purchase one. I want to ensure I maintain minimum height clearances where the railway passes under itself and in the tunnel sections.

  15. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic


    The NMRA minimum height clearance is 1-21/32 inches, or close enough to 1 5/8" as makes no nevermind. I always use 2" as a rule of thumb, it gives you enough headroom for just-in-cases.

    If you stick to the plan, and go with 2-2.25" grade separations, you should wind up with about a 4% grade.
  16. BillW

    BillW New Member


    Thank-you for the information. I was initially going to calculate 55% from my HO standards gauge, but I can't find the gauge under a mountain of other disorganized train stuff. I'll stick with four percent grades throughout.
  17. jdetray

    jdetray New Member

    Anyone contemplating a small layout should check out the Micro/Small Layouts for Model Railroads web site. It is full of inspirational small layouts.

    Annoyingly, this forum does not allow new members to post links, so the best I can do is provide you with the URL as follows:

    - Jeff
  18. sdkid

    sdkid New Member

    Just checking in to see how this is working out for you. I have something similar in mind.

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