newbie's first 8x4 layout. suggestions?

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by unnamed, May 22, 2005.

  1. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    Hi there.. been reading the forum for a while so i have an idea of what i want to do with my corner of rails, but here we go since i am not too sure.

    a little background.. well i have been out of the train loop ever since the 80s when i was kid but as i have been heavily into rc it was inevitable i would return back to rail. i've chosen N gauge due to space and am not interested in steam (well for now) or long freight lines so that will not be a consideration. commuter and high speed passenger rail is what i am after.

    so i picked up a train and some rail to get me going. i finally laid out the base (which will be semi modular, non standard 2.5x4 pieces of plywood) and here is where i am at today (photo is at the bottom):

    i've drawn the plans on the board but it didn't show well in the photo so i did it in paint shop quickly again. don't freak at the bad markings [​IMG]

    i want to have 3 main lines, marked by l1, l2 and l3. l1 at the time is a stand alone, as i am a little stumbled at how to join it to the other 2. l3 is basically a big high speed rail and it merges at the north with l2, which also passes through the main station and train depot (3 depot lines, d1-3).

    then up by the 2nd station, line 1 might branch into a straight so that you can pull up the train into the station or go around the turn. whichever you want. [​IMG]

    the circles indicate approximate locations of the switches to join the lines together. it doesn't matter how they regulate power as long as i am able to control input into the depot. that's all that matters. D1-D3 must be power controlled so i can pull the trains in and out. i don't anticipate to have more than 3 but i have extra space so i could expand.

    i suppose my biggest concern is how to get the switches proper.[​IMG] as said above, my only need is to control d1, d2 and d3 depending on which train i want to run on l2/l3. l1 might be independant unless you think it should be joined into the others. I will not be running DCC. not for years to come anyway so it all has to be done analog.

    l3 does not stop at the station.

    none of the track is actually mounted and l1 is made up of old track so you can see it is not even straight. l2+ which i started on today is all brand new high quality track that is smooth as silk. so no worries there. i've already accounted for the module joints on the new lines, i will fix l1 when it comes to that. i just need something to run my train till the thing is complete.

    no the boards aren't mounted yet. as far as landscape.. the whole thing must stow away in my truck (or against the wall) for transport so no bridges or hills of any sort (i so wanted a bridge but space is against me) and grass shows dust too much so i am thinking of a desert layout. paint the board yellow and then put some sort of sand on it. suggestions of the best stuff for this application?

  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Why no bridges or hills of any sort? I assume that you will have buildings on the layout, and gentle rolling hills or small bridges aren't much bigger.

    Are you going to have any sort of framework under the plywood? Plywood warps, and unless you're only going to set it up on the floor, you'll need some structural strength and a way to attach the modules.

    The regularity of the lines, and your interest in passenger service, implies an urban layout rather than a desert scene--you could do quite a bit in N scale, laying out city streets and a busy commuter station in that space.

    I notice some S-curves that could cause problems in operation.
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Are we looking at the layout from the back or the front? Sounds like the back if the switches have to be controlled.
    Are you planning on DC or DCC control for the trains? This might affect how we set up the interchange between lines 1 and 2. The obvious means is a crossover -- two switches frog to frog, one in each line. The neat place for these would be at the end of a curve in the inner line at each end of the station. Unfortunately, that's at the joint in the boards. Next place would be the middle of the long straight.
    If you're planning desert scenery, the May or April Model Railroader had an article on how to do it.
  4. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    The buildings (which will be few and basically all mounted to one base per building ) will be easily removable. Hills and others i doubt i can just lift and pack.

    Yes city layout.. maybe one day. I think i can get away with sand and call it arizona. :oops: drop a few shrubs here and there. My aim is to keep scenery to a minimum so i can pack it in a box. Basically any scenery must not be part of the track in any way. The track will be permanently (well somewhat) mounted to the board.

    I will join the "modules" together but they will lay flat on the floor so no elevated support is needed. I've thought a lot about that and could have picked some great wood to lay it all on, but considering weight and size i went with this one. Dirt/animals are not a concern. Neither is traffic. It is out of the way in the corner.

    If you have a suggestion for a bridge + support columns that can be removed easily i would love to know about. I was looking at some urban kato viaducts but those require either the unitrack which i won't use, or some sort of mount to a base.

    The S curves are indeed evil and i think the entire line1 is terrible. It bent an axle on my kato last night which i promptly replaced today :curse: . I am still clueless as to how that happened. I did fix one of the curves after i took the photo but i simply ran out of track. Though they will all be properly shaped at the end. Yet i like it since it looks rustic, which fits nicely with my idea to run slow diesels on it, possibly steam.

    Thinking about it, placing some flat roads will not be a problem.

    Also i know atlas makes a nice grass matt that you roll onto the base for instant landscaping, anybody tried that?
  5. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    The problem is that the "grass mat" approach is kind of...well...toy-train-y.

    Have you taken a look at detailed model railroads? Things like tan-painted plywood, grass mats and removable structures on a layout that sits on the floor are fine for a beginner setup, but eventually you'll probably want to move on to something a bit more sophisticated.

    It's possible to keep scenery relatively low without having it absolutely flat--some folks who build modular layouts create special boxes to put their modules into, which allows even hilly and contoured layouts to be transported "stacked" on top of each other. My own layout is designed to break into bits that I can fit in the back of my station wagon, although I wouldn't be able to stack them on top of each other.

    Trains look best when viewed from eye level, which means you'll have to lie down on the floor to get the best view. Also, how will you connect the modules to each other?
  6. Zman

    Zman Member

    You can make some natural scenery like hills by shaping extruded foam board, covering it with Sculptamold (sp?) and painting it. It doesn't need to be attached to the plywood base. I agree with jetrock that it might end up looking a bit toy trainy, but remember that the toy train aesthetic is a legitimate and respected part of the hobby. Get Toy Train magazine sometime and see what incredible layouts people are making. After all, in the final analysis, all train sets are fantasies.
  7. Papa Bear

    Papa Bear Member

    You can use the viaducts or any of the Kato bridges without using Unitrack for the entire layout. Just substitute a standard Atlas rail joiner for the Unijoiners at each end and it will mate to Atlas code 80 track. Kato also makes a conversion track that you can use to mate Unitrack to Atlas track.
  8. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    Great to hear. My problem with the unitrack is that the roadbad is elevated way above standard track which will take some adjusting to level out properly. I'll see what i can find though. I missed some pretty nice kato viaducts on ebay a while back. I've been working on it though since the original curves and i would have finished the basic lines by now but the local shop ran out of track. How annoying is that? Now i have to order through towerhobbies or some place else.

    You all know it that by the time i get the lines down i will be putting on scenery despite me not wanting to. It's just so addictive :)

    sorry for sounding so scatterred. work has been driving me insane lately.
  9. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Normally, model railroaders use foam or cork roadbed underneath the track (rather than nailing it directly to the wood) to simulate the ballast roadbed that trains actually run on.
  10. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    Cork is something i have considered and since nothing is actually mounted yet i might lay it down. Though the wood is smooth enough not to need it.

    Because the local shop ran out of track i've been doing nothing on it lately. Sigh.
  11. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Cork isn't really used for smoothness--it is intended to match the profile of real railroad lines, as well as to deaden sound.
  12. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    Well i see many people putting the cork over the entire surface :confused: . I like the noise though. Makes it seem more real :p
  13. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    i've been busy... i need to find a folding 6x3 table now so i can get it off the floor..


    i might revise the depot as right now it does not seem feasible or long enough. Switches are expensive and add up :(
  14. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Really? I have never seen anyone put cork over the entire surface of their layout--I don't see the point of that at all.

    Have you changed your mind about having the layout on the floor? You might be better off building legs for it than buying a table to set it on--that way you can get at the underside of the layout for wiring.
  15. unnamed

    unnamed New Member


  16. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Well, that's what I figured--but believe me, if you're planning on setting your unframed plywood on top of a 6x3 table, it's *not* going to work well.
  17. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    never say never. i am the king of making it work. if i wasn't moving in 2 months i wouldn't even be going through this and would simply ground it on a nice 200lbs piece of 3" wood.

    stay tuned.. my track eater will eventually reach the scenery stage. help :oops: :D
  18. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    the cork is worth it in the long run, your layout will look nicer. especialy when you cover teh cork with ballast. the cort road bed is a strip of cork that you lay on where the track will be, then you nail the track to cork. its a worth while investment, and its worth it to do it now then have to rip up tracks and scenery later to try and install it.

    it may seem pointless now, but you'll wish you had it later. i've also never heard of putting cork over a whole are, unless its for yard tracks, but generaly you only use the cork to

    A.) support tracks. sheets are used for yard tracks. while you can easily cut the cork to fint turn outs, you can also buy switch pads mad for the appropriate switch. its not hard to mount it down either. all you have to do is uese common elmers glue.

    ***it does reduce the noise, but it will still be plenty loud. if i left my trains running in my basement you could still hear them from almost any room in my house, and its fairly big***

    B.) rase track side buildings up so things such as warehouse doors are level with the doors on a boxcar. this is where sheets of cork com in handy.

    also, its a good idea to build benchwork, especialy ona a smaller scale liek that. things can easil warp, and that can cause derailments and other problems. also regular benchwork will give you easier oppertunities in wireing.

    other than that it looks you have a nice layoug comeign along. good luck
  19. unnamed

    unnamed New Member

    Well i am listening ;) bought about 30feet of cork, some nails and some more switches which should be here tuesday so i will get some actual track laying done.

    meanwhile i've been working on my viaduct/raised line and that should turn out quite interesting at the end.

    i joined the 'modules' together and all is level as it has to be so i doubt i will put any sort of side supports.. i feel i can do without those.

    have a great 4th of july weekend guys.
  20. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    just put enough supports so your table doesn't bend or sag when you pick it up. otherwise it will creat alot of frustration/

Share This Page