New layout, concept to completion

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Oroka, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    Okay, a few of you know me from my "Converting EMD GP7 to EMD NF210 " thread. While I am creating my NF210, it is time to start my layout.

    This is a project with my father. I have some experiance with layouts, and a fair bit with building model airplanes.

    We have been discussing the size of the layout today, I was suggesting a 4'x6' layout, he wants to do a 4'x8' simply cause the plywood comes in 4'x8' sheets [​IMG] Whatever the size of layout, the plan is to get some plywood, mount folding legs on it, then build it up with foam.

    We are from Newfoundland, so we are loosely agreed that it should be a Newfoundland scene. Occasionally he says stuff that sends shivers down my spine... things like 'we could use legos to make houses... they have pretty cool legos out these days' or 'astro turf would look great as grass'... [​IMG] I want to do this scene justice, but I think he just wants a trainset to play with for a week[​IMG] But I am dedicated to this project, and with my great internet searching skills, we should beable to fake our way through it all!

    Okay, some inspiration pictures.




    I havent decided on a track plan yet, but it is going to have a waterfront along the entire front of the layout. I have a copy of XTrkCAD, and once I figure it out... I will post something.
  2. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    Nice pic!

    Reminds me of the trip to N.S. many years ago. I slept inna tent along the Newfoundland shore and looking at your photo- I feel like I just woke up there.

    Good luck with the project.

    Mark :wave:
  3. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    Thanks MCL RDG, I choose those pics because they really represent Newfoundland, or at least my vision of what Newfoundland is. Rocky, trees, and water.

    XTrkCAD is proving to be... quirky. Anyone have any suggestions of better software?
  4. shortliner

    shortliner Member

    There is a yahoo group at for anybody having problems. There are no big problems that asking questions won't help to clear up
    Shortliner(Jack) away up here in the Highlands
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Just because plywood comes in 4x8 sheets is no reason to build a layout that size. However, if you can get the space, it's better than 4x6.
    You need to brace the underside of the plywood; it'll sag between the legs if you don't. Some 1x3s all around should do it -- may a few across as well.
    Humour your father a bit as long as it doesn't look as if Red Green built it. Astroturf? You must have some pretty wild grass out there! I think you could make a cornfield with it.
  6. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    Well, in both cases, I made him understand that I am not doing this just to play with trains... I can get a $40 HO set to do that with. This is a challenge, something to accomplish.

    I actually convinced him of a 4x6 layout. We have already went out and priced the plywood and foam. That bracing shouldnt be a big issue... glad someone mentioned it. I am assuming that the bracing should be perpendicular to the plywood, as the bracing itself will flex if paralell.

    Also, we decided to use partical board rather than true plywood. Partical board is 1/3 the price, and looks wont matter as it will be covered.

    Here is something to throw out there... I plan on using ALOT of pine trees. Is there a way to make realisitc looking pine trees yourself, or do you have to buy them?
  7. skipgear

    skipgear Member

    Ply is more expensive for a reason, it's better. Particle board or oriented strand board is easily effected by humidity and temp. It's not a huge deal for a small layout but the ply will result in a more stable and solid layout if you need to move it.

    If your plan is to sheet the whole thing with a layer of 3-4" foam before building, you might skip the ply completely and just make a stronger sub-frame with a few more stringers and glue the foam directly to that. It makes it much easier to run wires and such later. Just make sure your sub frame resists twisting, the foam is more than strong enough to support the train and scenery. Frame it so there is no area larger than 2x2 unsuported.

    Also, bolt and screw, don't nail the sub-frame together.

    Also, if you can fit 4x8, do it. The shorter the layout, the more the train is always in a curve. It's much nicer to see a train drifting down a long stretch of gentle curves than coming out of one turn, just to enter another. Shorter also makes it harder to do any kind of yard if you are looking to do that. Materials cost will not be drastically different.
  8. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    Particle Board

    Hey Oroka,
    My first layout was built on a sheet of particle board. It held up well, but for me the main drawback was the weight. A layout that size made of particle board will be very heavy.

    I agree with skipgear about the foam. I've built a couple of layouts using the blue foam without plywood underneath and have been very satisfied with the results. If you brace it like he suggested, you should have no problems.

    Good luck on your layout. Looks like you've picked a neat prototype!:wave:
  9. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    Yeah, that is a good idea, just use the foam, and reinforce it. I actually did a... I think is was a 2'x2' layout with my brother, strictly on foam. Now, it was small, so it didnt need to be reinforced, and before I got the track layed down, I could carry it under my arm to put it away :D

    Reinforced foam it is!
  10. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Trees, rock, and salt water! Yep! any place from Portland Maine on out to the maritimes, there's a place of beauty.
  11. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    So it has started!



    Dad and I standing around looking at the materials. Much progress is being contemplated ;)

    Outer frame

    A joint (not that kind of a joint ;) )

    The finished frame

    Tomorrow we want to get the legs on, drill a few holes in the cross members incase we want to run wires through those spots, and then glue the foam to the frame. We have already glued the two sheets of foam next to eachother, there are interlocking lips on the sides.

    BTW, we are using 'weldbond adhesive', my 'glue everything to everything' glue.
  12. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    More progress... I love my digital camera :D

    Frame glued to foam.

    Cross members installed.


    Layout 1, Gravity 0

    Dad splurges and gets a whole trainset.

    My SD7 showed up today too!

    We got some extra foam, flex track, a power pack, some curved track from the set, and a bunch of cars. Tomorrow I think I may start making a hill or something...
  13. TrainClown

    TrainClown Member

    I love the fish the fish plant in the first photo. Your off to a good start. For some, the hardest part is deciding what to do, and you seem to have that set. So your on yer way. Keep the pix coming.

    TrainClown ;)
  14. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    LOL, when you said 'fish plant', I thought you were talking about one of my step mother's fish bowls :D She takes these huge clear vases, puts some plants that like water in them, then puts little fish in them. They are quite nice.

    But yes, the fish plant really does have that Newfoundland 'feel' to it. I have been away from the Island for... 6 years now, I havent heard someone even talk about a fish plant for all that time.

    Many pics to come.
  15. Chessie6459

    Chessie6459 Gauge Oldtimer

    Looks like it is coming along at a good pace. Great Pictures.:thumb: :thumb: :thumb:
  16. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    Omg! Its Alive!

    Now, this is definatly not the final track layout, I havent even got any switches yet. We just wanted to see it working and in action. Tomorrow or friday I am going to start a grade, and maybe the rest of the hill around it.

    Turns out that my stepmom's brother has also started a N scale layout at the same time, nither of us was aware that the others were doing the same thing! He appearantly is going with a American Civil war theme, he already has a juniper steam loco. He is saying that he will have actual running water on his layout?!?! I would be hesitant on doing that myself, with live tracks and all...



    Okay, this cork trackbed stuff... how do you get it to bend around bends in the track? The trackbed I have has a angled incision on the bottom (?), is this somehow related?
  17. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    The slot in the cork roadbed is so you can split the two halves apart. You then lay them with the vertical edge (formerly the outside) along the centre line of the track. The angled edge makes the edge of the ballast "roadbed" appear more prototypical.

    I would recommend using latex caulking to "glue" the cork to the foam, and the traack to the cork. You do not need very much, so get a small plastic spreader as well. Use thumb tacks or map pins (whatever they're called in your neck of the woods) to hold the cork in place as the caulking dries (not very long - overnight is lots of time).


    PS - I would highly recommend to your stepmom's brother that he NOT have actual water on the layout, not only for the reason you stated, but also because it won't look right... water doesn't "scale" properly...
  18. yellowlynn

    yellowlynn Member


    The cork roadbed is in 2 pieces. Break it apart at the seam. The angle is for the ouside of the track so the roadbed slants from the rails. By laying 1 side at a time, it bends around curves good. After 1 side is lined up and fastened down along the centerline just butt the other side up against it and VOILA!!!!!

    Hope this helps.

  19. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    That is what I thought, but thanks for confirming my idea.

    Well, I dont think my stepmom's brother would take well to me telling him how to do his layout... even if it is a safety issue. I just hope he dont learn it the hard way.
  20. Oroka

    Oroka Member

    Question, anyone have any suggestions on how to cut styrofoam level? I am trying to cut a grade for the layout, it cuts straight, but not level...

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