Newbie looking for help with MTH layout

Discussion in 'G / O / S Scale Model Trains' started by atjurhs, Jun 28, 2004.

  1. atjurhs

    atjurhs New Member

    Hi All,

    I am fairly new to this, and I need a little help putting together a track layout. I currently have a full circle of O54 MTH track and six 10" straight sticks that together form an oval. I would like to put together a track layout that can reverse directions on the outer O54 loop. So this means that I need to either utilize an "X" crossing or to have an inner loop with a spur back to the main outer loop. Either way it means four switches. What I need help planning is what size swithes do I need to get: O42, O31, or O27? Well the answer to that really depends on a lot of other factors. Without spend $80 on MTH's RealTrax software, or making lots of trips to my local train store, how do I go about figuring this stuff out?
  2. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    First, if you want to keep the same basic dimensions, you will have to measure the straight section on the switches. How long are they? Then it would be a matter of substituting the switches for the straight track. Also the straight track can then be used for the inside of your loops. You may have to buy some half or quarter sections to make it work. IMHO, I'd look at using O54 switches, if available. Otherwise O42 would be the way to go. Also you will need a 90degree crossing and this is where your smaller sections of straight track will come into play. The idea behind the O54 switches is to make it easier to match the curves on the outside oval with the inside loop.

  3. atjurhs

    atjurhs New Member

    Greg, I'm not sure I follow your track layout. Is this a pure figure 8 with two straight section to form the outer oval? If so, how does that require a 90* crossing? Can you send me a simple drawing of what you're thinking?
  4. Greg Elems

    Greg Elems Member

    Yes, a basic figure 8 with two straight sections. I was under the impression that is what you were planning on doing. If you were going to keep the layout dimensions at 54" x 104" I don't think you could do it any other way. Mixing the O54 circle with O27 switches makes for a lot of odd track. Even when I was mixing my O42 with O27 track, I had to use a few odd length curves and straight track. Of course my track was old used tubular track that I didn't mind cutting. I wouldn’t want to do it with the MTH track, too nice looking.

  5. atjurhs

    atjurhs New Member

    Ok, great I understand how you'd layout the track. The O54 switches are certainly available.

    I've also been thinking about placing a bridge cross-over (using the "steel arch MTH bridge") in lieu of the 90* crossing. This would force a rise height of at least 4and3/4 inches and then 60 inches (an 8% grade) leading up to and after the bridge. I'm guessing my total length would get extented to about 200 inches. I'm not sure, but it sure would be cool! Could you tell me what size curves to use in this configuration?
  6. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I'd be concerned that your locomotives might not like the 8% grade, especially if pulling more than a couple of cars. I've heard of people getting away with 6% grades but even that's a bit high. (And that's on O27 layouts with very lightweight nowhere-near-scale cars.) Can you lengthen your layout a bit to get the grade down?

    As far as what curves to use, I'd stick with the O54. Definitely don't go any sharper. Trains don't like sharp curves; they like grades even less, and sharp curves on grades are the worst of all worlds.

    I definitely agree with your thinking that a bridge and trestle would be more interesting than a simple 90-degree crossing.
  7. atjurhs

    atjurhs New Member

    Good points Dave. Thanks.

    What if I take a 45* crossing and rotate/position it so that two of the legs lined up as a 90* crossing would. Then the other two legs immeadiately connected to O72 turns that would eventually marry up with the already existing O54 turns. Would I be able to connect this?

    My thinking is that it elliminate the tight turns and has something a little differnt besides just a figure eight inside an oval. It would kind of be a skewed figure eight inside an oval. I don't yet know how I could work in a bridge, but in time maybe something else could get added....
  8. Dave Farquhar

    Dave Farquhar Member

    I would think you'd be able to connect it. You may end up having to cut a section of track to an odd length in order to get it to match, but that's OK. A lot of people do that. The best thing to do is experiment. Fit the track together on the floor, see if you like it, run a train on it, see if you still like it, then if you do, put it on the table and screw it down.

    Skewed figure-8s and skewed ovals are very common. They're more interesting to watch. Common tricks include the use of half sections and different-sized curves (mix in some O42s and O72s, for instance). Anything to make it look less like a circle. This also makes it more realistic; if a railroad has to shift a line a little to lessen the grades, they'll do it. I'm more familiar with Lionel, K-Line, and Gargraves track, so I'm not positive what specific pieces are available from MTH, but the same principles apply.

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