New Nscale layout design... version 1

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by Wiredup, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    So I'll be moving to a new place by Christmas it looks like... so I've pretty much stopped pouring money into the current layout. I still plan on ballasting and doing a few scenic things to practice, but buildings and track will be on hold as I save for the new layout.

    Anyways, instead of getting a small corner of the house in the hallway i'll be getting a full on spare room. About 9m square... I haven't done the conversion to imperial yet...

    I'm wanting to build a double deck layout using a small helix to get up to the second level. I'm thinking a 2.5 foot seperation should be okay. The radius of the helix will end up being about 14" and have 2.4" of height per level. 3% grade. (if I remember correctly from Winrail's calculations..but I'll probably just buy a prefab Helix kit)

    Anyways, here is my first draft of my track plan. I already know areas I need to fix, mostly that of my ability to reach.


    The door way is right beside the engine faciilty...but once I move in I'll have to take a more acurate measurement. I'm also going to note that the lower left is too 'fat' and will create a big issue with reach. It's about 3.5 feet I believe of reach needed there. I can reach about 3 feet.

    The one thing I know people are going to say right away is 'where is the main yard' well that will be on the upper level.

    The lower left section is planned to be more scenic than anything.

    The middile section will have a 'scenic divider' to separate the two scenes. There will be a station on the right side, and a nice large suspension bridge on the other side. I'm thinking of using a Mirror in place on the left side to create depth, while a photo of a city on the other side for the backdrop of the station. Both these elements i'm quite happy with as they sit. The suspension bridge is 4 inches higher than the 'flat' land. The track to the left of the suspension bridge will be revamped to be closer to the suspension in my next version...and it will be at 'ground level' compared to the rest of the layout...but I plan on it being a stone bridge instead of suspension.

    Helix in the bottom right will be molded into a mountain side. The base of the helix will be 2.5 inches above level ground. (hence why I can run track underneath it).

    I'll finish the lower section before I start work on the upper section.

    What I wanna do is have a nice scenic layout based on the rocky mountains. There will be a second passenger depot and the main freight on the upper level. I also wanna do a lumber yard on the lower level (where the small yard is there). Other industries will be a berwery on the upper level and a small farm up there as well.

    This is a transition era layout (1955-1960). So motive power will be mostly fact the current roster looks like this:
    • Challenger UP: UP Kato passenger train (8 cars)
    • Heavy Mountain (x2)
    • Light Mountain
    • Mikado (x2)
    • 0-8-0 switcher
    • F7A (x3)
    • F7B (x2)
    • GP9
    • RDC1
    • RDC2
    • JClass 4-8-4 (to look pretty... I think it may just go in the dislpay case with some of my HO stuff)
    • Northern
    • Shay (x2)
    So far thats what I have planned for motive power. There will be three passenger consists (UP, CN, CP) and a couple of freights. Primary railroad will be CN. I don't plan on having HUGE long trains...average of maybe 11 cars per consists or less.

    ideas? suggestions?
  2. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    How are you planning to reach the open space between track runs - a duck under?
  3. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    yes, it will require you to duck under.. it will also require you to duck under to get to the closet! (which will be in the upper right corner.) thanfully said closet is a small walk in which will be great storage.
  4. jesso

    jesso Member

    I think if you follow the side of you track with your tabletop in the bottom left-hand corner like you did in the center, you wouldn't have that reach issue. Or at least put in a nook right behind the yard. What are the radius' on your curves? I have been running my UP Passenger train on my new layout and while it runs fine on the 9 3/4 turns, it does look a little weird seeing that much track in between the trucks. Other than that it looks like fun! Can't wait to see it progress!
  5. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    minimum radius is 11" curves. I think the flex track in certain sections gets as close as 8"...but its for such a small section the trains should run fine.

    I was sitting there planning the loop, and you can run the train 2 times around the left side of the layout, and three times around the right hand side before it comes back to it's starting point. This is just bottom level too.... That could make for some very fun operations!
  6. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    I am going to rain on your parade. The duckunders will be the death of the layout before it gets near completion.

    Don't believe me. Set up two stacks of cardboard moving boxes with the tops at the bottom of your proposed benchwork. Lay 2 1ft wide, 6ft long shelves across the top of the box stacks. Even if you have to buy these items, it will be worth the cost for the experiment. For ultimate realism, set some prize trains on the shelf boards, maybe 2" from the edge (just like your track).

    Now, every time you come into the room, duck under the shelves between the box stacks and stand up on the other side. Repeat for a total of 4 duckunders, 2 each direction. Make the last 2 quickly to simulate something going wrong on the other part of the layout, or you responding to a call from somebody else in the house. How many times did you bump the shelf boards? Each bump of the shelf board represents a 9.0 scale earthquake with accompanying damage to your layout. If Murphy is visiting, this will be the opportunity for your prize locomotive sitting on the track that is too close to the edge to transform itself into a gravity seeking missle. And the layout damage does not include the scrapes and bruises to your head, back, or shoulders. Discovery of these facts of life shall remain undocumented to protect the guilty. Rediscovery is left to the astute observer.

    Duckunders, liftouts, gates, etc., are inherently evil devices. When you design a layout that forces you to use them during normal operation, you give them much greater opportunity to inflict inconvenience at best, and pain at worst. Remember, in times of crisis (when you have a runaway train on the far part of the layout), all liftouts and gates automatically become duckunders or leapovers. Again, how I know all this is better left unsaid.

    Sad reality is that any portion of the layout that is incovenient to access, especially via duckunder or access hole, eventually suffers from neglect. The more inconvenient, the faster the neglect. It's just human nature. I've seen this happen personally on 2 layouts I built with my father.

    I suggest redesigning in an E, G, or U shape. If you must have a center pit, make that the only operating place for the layout. That way, you are not ducking under during the course of normal operations, just at the beginning and end of each session. You did remember to bring every tool you could possibly need with you the first time, didn't you?

    my thoughts, your choices
  7. seanm

    seanm Member

    That is such great advice and something we should all listen to! Thanks for the wisdom. I can tell it is from experience.
  8. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    Wow Fred, I never thought of it like that. I'll have to revisit that design angle and see if I can come up with something else now...

    The trick is fitting everything I want into this space. I even sacraficed on the bottom level for the engine facility already... (I wanted it bigger)

    So... I'll come back with a redesign over the weekend.
  9. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Another voice of my past says that if you fit everything you want, you have put in too much. I learned this lesson in sailing but I still often forget it in my enthusiasm for whatever I'm doing. Less is more fun.

    In sailing (or boating), what boats get used the most? The smallest ones; the ones that require the least maintenance and effort. At one time, I owned a 25ft cruising sailboat. I sailed it from the Florida to the Bahamas and spent 4 weeks cruising - once! I trailered it to Lake Huron and cruised the North Channel for a week - twice! And I sailed from Key West to the Dry Tortugas once. That was the extent of my cruising while owning the boat for 14 years. By the end of the time, maintenance had overwhelmed me, and I hadn't used it for years. Launching and retrieving from a trailer was a 2 hour process each way.

    7 years later I bought a used Laser (14ft one man sailboat) for $800. Beach launched it every day and went sailing during vacation at Lake Tahoe. No special tow vehicle needed, and maintenance was a cinch. Sold it 3 years later for $700.

    I could do a lot of chartering at exotic locations for the money I paid to buy and maintain the bigger boat.

    The same applies to model railroading. Not many of us have the time, money, and space for the dream layout (and you need all 3!). That's what club layouts are for, unless you are truly gifted with sufficient resources and dedication to the hobby. I truly believe many (but not all!) would be better served with a series of small layouts exploring our varied interests and desires.

    Lesson applied to your situation (my recommendations): Pick the 2 scenes (features) you want the most. Build a table layout that will later become a peninsula in your grand scheme, incorporating the top 1 or 2 scenes or features. Add extensions (and scenes/features) on shelves around the wall as time/money/desire permit. Stop adding on before you get tired of it.

    again, just my thoughts, but your choices
  10. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    Definately good things to think about regarding layout design. I guess for me the two scenes I want most are a nice hilly/mountain area where you can have two trains intertwining via bridges (thinking a main line passenger train flies over the bridge while a small bridge line operation operates below) and the other one I want is a long suspension bridge... I dunno why, but I really like the idea.

    By the way....I just sold my Lazer 4 years ago.
  11. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    A minimum is a minimum. Even a tiny section of too-tight curve can derail long equipment.

    Vertical separation of 30" railhead-to-railhead is excessive. I can't recall seeing more than 24".
  12. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    So I went to the new place and did some measuring of what the room will actually give me.

    it's a 10x10ft room with a door in one corner. Which is a bit of a pain. So my layout originally posted is a total no go.

    I sat down and played around tonight...but I know one thing is for certain. I overcomplicated the north-east corner of my layout. I'm trying to fit too much in there and it's becoming an issue. I would like to keep it as is, because in my head I envision a really cool scene. Think of it as a mountain valley.

    From top to bottom... track 1 starts at 0" it way up to 2.5" one track section before it crosses the track below it. The track it is crossing (track 2) starts on a grade heading down so it is at -2.5" by the time it reaches the mini-yard. Which will be a lumber yard.

    So I like that. I even compressed it a bit from the original design in the original layout (South-west section) and left it as is.

    Then! I decided that I should put a cross over track at the 2.5" height and have a nice long viaduct over the whole valley (I like bridges. :mrgreen:) which will ink with the freight yard/engien faciliyt in the bottom.

    Thats where the mess up happens. :eek: Because it just looks messy and there is too much track there for me to build some scenery... so I think anyways.

    The engine facility/yard is now 100% done in my opinion. There is just no other place for me to put the yard that I will be happy with. So it goes there. That and I like the general area.

    The duck under will be the small 2ft section at the door way where the two tracks cross over each other. Track will be seperated by 4 inches. The yard/engine facility and the passenger station/town (center section) being at 3.0" above what I'm refering to as 'sea level' in my layout. The whole thing will be 'enclosed' to prevent things from getting bumped and falling to a tragic death.

    The center section will be devided in half scenic wise. The northern half being the town/city. The lower half being a bridge over water scene. Divider on the scenic side will be a mirror to help with depth of vision. The lower track will be hidden, but accesible under benchwork for aiding in derailments and general track mtc.

    IF you notice the bench work is definatley sectional. The first section I would build would be the sections for the engien facility. Why? So I can actually run trains. I think if I can build that area up first I could play some shifting games with my locos and freight until I get the main line complete.

    Opinions? help? options?

  13. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    As far as duckunders..When young and flexible they work just fine..Old and creaky better go with a lift bridge.

    Its that simple.
  14. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    I modified the dunk under this morning. :)

    Instead of the two tracks being stacked I made it a double tracked bridge that will be removeable to get through. I'm going to provide power to the lift out section by socket style electrical connections. :thumb:

    That way other operators (dad) can get through. The wife and I are only 26 so it's not a huge issue for us...yet.

    I also modified the upper left corner (North west) a bit. Gotta post that revision up.
  15. seanm

    seanm Member

    the isle near the turntable sure looks narrow... only a foot wide? you might want to stack a couple of cardboard boxes that close together and see if you can get by.
  16. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    I was thinkin of that. I checked the distance and it's 38" across. 40" if I modify it for as much distance as possible while still giving a 2 inches of space between the edge and track.

    I figure 35" is absolute minimum before I start complaining.

    I can still modify it a bit and move the center section north about 5" (max) which will give me a lil more room.
  17. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member


    this is the new revision.

    More room to work around the layout. Need to reach areas are a lot friendlier, and there are only two major issues I will have with reach now. Thankfully they shouldn't be an issue in the long run.

    Branch line is complete and is no longer a small 'shelf' style section. The Branch uses mostly 9 1/2" radius curves. But we will only see the Shay, RDC, and a Mogul on those rails. The rest of the layout sees an average of 11-12" radius curves.

    I got my station, my yard, my bridge over water, my valley, and my engine house. I'm pretty happy with this revision.
  18. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

  19. pikeyser

    pikeyser New Member

    Rethink your curves and your space.

    The really good hobby members, and site administrators are telling your two main things. Your curves are too small for your available space. You can easily have 15, 19, 22, or 28 inch radii for your curves. Just because your locomotives will negotiate a 9-3/4 inch curve, doesn't mean that it should.

    The second point is that you are wasting most of your space inside your track layout. Use a "W" or an "E" configuration to salvage some of this space. With a room of your magnitude, less is definitely more.

    Think a lot more about your options. Paul

Share This Page