Perils and pitfalls... yeah, I'm a newbie.

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by LeeC, Mar 5, 2005.

  1. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Hi peeps,
    I know you've seen hundreds of "This is my first layout, help me" type posts but really, any advice or suggestions here would be much appreciated.

    I am about 2 weeks into my starting building an N Gauge layout and after getting a couple of locos and some rolling stock, I am about ready to begin building. Here's my planned layout:-


    The room is about 9 feet square and I have decided U-shape to get as much in as I can. My layout is based round a twin long-distance line (the 2 round the edge) to get as much running length as possible, which surrounds a twin local line. I like to see interaction between trains so I wanted to run lines as pairs. I am thinking, left side is industrial (top left) and storage (bottom left)whilst right side runs to rural and inhabited... small village etc... The long-distance lines are all wide radius curves too, to avoid problems running the steam locos I want to run. I discovered that they don't like the narrow radius turns too much due to the long rigid running gear.

    The top section will house the main station area feeding all 4 lines, with a station for the local service toward the bottom. I am trying to go powered for all the points to avoid reach problems and where possible I have put a straight section before points. Where this hasn't been possible, I have tried to run points of the widest radius curves to minimise de-railing.

    I have designed the two seperate lines so that the outer lines on each can run pretty much uninterrupted whilst allowing the inner lines to pass trains into the sidings. I would have like to have fed the main yard (bottom left) from both sides but couldn't think of an easy way round it in the space available. I had been thinking a spiral into a lower storage but I think that the yard provides quite a valuable part of the appearance in a layout so I want to keep it if possible.

    It would be great to hear any suggestions or thoughts on what I am planning or have done. I look forward to being part of what appears a thriving community... I have certainly seen some impressive layouts on here to provide inspiration.

    Oh, I am using Fleischmann Piccolo track for construction running a Fleischmann DCC Twin-Centre for control. Hopefully, people won't tell me that it was a bad idea using that :)
  2. Livesteam

    Livesteam Member

    wow, that will be big, also you should get tons of engines and cars, you will have the room for it all.
  3. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Looks like lots of track.
    Will you have any room for structures and scenery?
    or are you an operations guy who doesn't care about scenery?
  4. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    That could actually be my downfall :( ... I suspect that I may have overestimated the spaces and might not have as much room as I think I have. I'll just have to see and adapt as I go. I quite like the layout of the track though so I might have to sacrifice some scenery perhaps. I could do with some information on building sizes so I can try and construct some. I can import the plan into 3DS Max and build structures in there to get some idea. I don't know how big buildings are though which makes it a bit difficult.

    I think that in the end, the fact that I am building a layout to run trains might just win over the scenery. It's my first layout though so I expected some mistakes. That's why I posted here, as there are people who can see problems through their own experience.

    Thanks for the response, it is appreciated.
  5. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    I have a "Structures" pdf on my website

    Look under Jan. 18th, 2005 and you will see "the CVR Structures suggestions file is online" click the word structures to view it, or right click and save it.
  6. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Brilliant, thanks Will.

    Oops, just noticed that there is a section on this forum for this kind of thread. First post and I'm gonna get in trouble for posting in the wrong area... not a good start. :oops:
  7. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Don't worry Lee becuse you are an N scale modeller it is quite OK to post your layout plan and queries here. On the other hand, if you posted your layout plan in the track planning forum, you may get more responses as other scale guys would see your plan. If you would prefer to have this thread in the track planning for the future area just let me know and I could move it for you.
  8. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    That would be great if you could move it for me, thanks Matthyro... sorry about that... I'm just a bit giddy from all this train lark, can't think straight sometimes. I feel a bit like a kid and I'd have to swap the numbers in my age round to get close to being one :D
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Lee: since you'll be running DCC, I don't see any major electrical problems e.g. reverse loops.
    You might consider separating it into sections with insulated rail joiners (or whatever Fleischman uses) to make troubleshooting easier. I think separate the loops and maybe the yard.
  10. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    So if I created say 5 sections, does that mean that I would run 5 feeds to the track (1 to each section) instead of just the one?

    I don't know much about how the electrics work at the moment but I suspect that the output from the twin-centre won't be enough for the whole layout so I am going to need additional power anyway...

    On a side note, have got the plan into 3DS Max on the right sized baseboard so I can start adding buildings and features now to it all. At least I can assemble the layout before actually going out and buying wrong buildings or other items. I can see whether the available space will allow me to create enough scenery to make it interesting... should be a laugh.

    On that note...

    Will: I had a look at the .PDF for the CVR structures and assuming I have the scale right (worked out to 1 foot = 1.9mm on the plan) it looks like buildings will be fine. I am going to build some of them in 3D and add them to my layout to make sure... thanks for the info.
  11. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You would need to run a feed to each section.
    If you look at threads on wiring - especially DCC wiring - we always encourage LOTS of feeds. The rail joiners don't join that well after a while and they add extra resistance to the circuit. I would have a feed on each loop anyway. If one of your switches breaks down, it could disable much of the layout.
    Just make sure the extra feeds are connected the right way round -- hook one up and test, then hook the next up and test.
  12. Livesteam

    Livesteam Member

    This is going to be in your house?, make it a little bigger and you can start a n scale club.
  13. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Ah right, you mean so that as a train passes from one section to the other, it doesn't change direction because of the reversed feeds?

    I'll have a good look at the wiring threads, I want to make sure that I get that part of it right, thanks for the info.

    Livesteam: I wish it was bigger, unfortunately, it's the only spare room in the house but it will do to get me started.
  14. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Lee: if you're using DCC, the track wiring doesn't affect direction because the direction is controlled by the chip in the loco. But if you reverse the wiring on one loop, you will get a dead short when something crosses over.
    With your setup, you only have to wire for outer rail and inner rail.
    There was one thread where someone was using one of the ready tracks that came pre-wired and had a short, even though he had all the red wires connected together and all the black wires. Seems one of his terminal sections was turned around and the red and black wires were goind to the wrong rails.
  15. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    In terms of "perils and pitfalls", I am going to have to agree with Will - there seems to be too much track.

    Depending on what you want to accomplish here, a double main (for instance) could be considered overkill. Double main is still a relatively new feature in a lot of places...

    You also do not seem to have a lot of industry space. If you are a "a train run through it" kind of guy, then ok, but if you want to be more prototypical you will need to show that your road can make some money... There are only two areas I see for industry - the sidings "north" of the turntable, and the two sidings to the "northeast".

    You also do not have anywhere for your trains to go "off layout". This could be staging, or simply an "interchange" track that runs of the edge of the layout, implying a connection to the world not represented on your layout.

    In terms of simple access (if your room is 9x9, I assume a 3 foot grid) - 3+ feet reach in some places (back of the yard, into the corners) could be problematic.

    Can you give us some more ideas about the era/locale/industries you plan to have? I hope that my comments help... and I think it is great that you have got a roundhouse/steam servicing facility!

  16. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Two questions to ponder; Can you reach the most distant track, to rerail a train, etc.? and, What will you break in doing so?, once the layout is built.

    Building sizes? If you scratchbuild, you have control of size. If you intend to use kits, you should be able to get the size from the kit box. ( Walthers is very good about printing the building "footprint" on the box.

    I thought you could get a lot more in the same space if you went N scale, .........then I built the drydock!, and space disappeared, Quickly!
  17. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I’d have to go along with the crowd here, Lee…

    Your potential perils are –

    Track & turnouts…

    Your potential pitfalls are –

    Track & turnouts…

    My advise to newbies is always START SMALL & SIMPLE!!

    You have multi track main lines, branch lines, yards, & engine facilities…While this may be within the realm of possibility for you, it’s an awfully big bite to swallow for someone just starting out…

    My advice would be, since your plan is basically a folded oval, start with that…then add a passing siding or 2 in a couple of places (keeping in mind that a passing siding needs to be at least as long as your longest train, minus locomotive)…add a couple of spurs off of these to industries, or whatever…just by doing this, you’re already looking at at least a half dozen or so turnouts…plenty for a first time layout…but it’s also everything you need to run trains, & do some switching operations.

    Once you’ve accomplished this much, you can always expand into more track, or you may decide that this is enough…You may want to start on some scenery, or structures…Trying out different aspects of the hobby will help you discover the parts of it you really like, & the parts you don’t…

    In other words, rather than building a layout that is all track & wiring, build something smaller that has a little track, a little scenery, & structures, etc…You’ll have a much better idea about what direction you want to go in after that!

    Good luck, my friend!

    Keep us posted on how you’re doing! :)
  18. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Phew, loads of stuff here to process, I'll try and answer in turn.

    MasonJar: My main goal in building my layout was to get several trains running at the same time. The idea behind the two mains was that I can put 2 moderate trains and let them run and not see them in a particular area for a while. There's no functional economy as such, more of a "there's some sidings here because there's a bit of industry". I like things to exist for a reason, even if the reasons are disjointed. It's something to gauge appearance round more than anything a sort of themed layout rather than real and practical. I want to watch the interaction of trains, lots happening rather than lots of space for a bit to happen in (if that makes sense). No particular era although there will be no modern buildings and as such no modern trains. I suppose if anything, I am looking at the period where steam moved to diesel/electric if anything.

    Sumpter: I am trying to minimise possible derailings by track design based on what I have read and by keeping speeds down. I will more than likely build low to high from front to back with scenery to keep breakages down to a minimum. I am also looking at height of the layout to maximise reach too. I reckon I can get a good 3 1/2 to 4 feet reach if I build at the right height.

    Drew1125: I fully understand your philosophy, I just can't work like that unfortunately. Too small would be easily achievable and would probably leave me with a layout I would get bored of. This would cost large amounts of cash and would earn large amounts of grief from my wife. By building big, I can build modular. I can build the outer loops first for example to get trains running. Gradually, I can build inner sections and then finally I can build scenery and other cosmetics. It's long term to keep me interested, I am guilty of a short attention span sometimes and I can't afford for this to happen here.

    I have no doubt that my layout will adapt and change but one thing that will remain is the 4 functional independant lines that can run simultaneously. It's the core of my ideas so that has to stay. It's all about getting this into a managable layout. I also want a 4 track station and a storage yard or 2 and a turntable.

    My wife suggested off-layout storage but I want to try and keep things in view, sidings full of coaches and wagons, turntable run-offs full of locos.

    I have no doubt that many of you are thinking "he's mad, he's gonna have sooooooo many problems" and you're most likely right. If I don't get them though, it will all just be that little bit too easy. It's got to be a challenge so that it can in turn be rewarding. I write computer games for a living so I guess I am looking at it like an ambitious train game. I am using XTrkCAD so at least I can see the end results before I commit track to board..

    I'll post photos as I go for your amusement, it's the least I can do.

    Thanks again for everyone's input and thoughts, you've certainly given me plenty to think about. :thumb:
  19. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    4 functional independent lines? That just seems like a lot for such a small area.

    One suggestion, mentioned above: If this is your first layout, try to design it to build in stages. You can use the "HO Railroad that Grows" as a model: the track plan starts out very simply, on a flat piece of plywood, and over time more track and scenery is added. This prevents early burnout from trying to do too much at once, and will also teach you how much operation you like, if you haven't done much yet.

    It sounds like you already have this idea in mind.

    The other concern I'd have with this track plan has been mentioned--physical access. Generally, any reach greater than about 30" is prohibitive for a model railroad that isn't sitting on or close to the ground. While reaching three feet may not seem like a big deal, reaching and manipulating small objects (like N scale couplers) while hovering over three feet of highly detailed track, scenery and structures that WILL NOT support your weight can make you feel like a really incompetent circus acrobat.

    The example I like to give is this: Imagine holding your infant child the same distance above a priceless collection of very delicate ancient glassware. The panic induced by imagining this situation is roughly analogous to the real panic you'll feel when you put your hand through your meticulous plasterwork and your $300 locomotive goes flying through the air.

    When it comes to track planning, sometimes less IS more.
  20. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I believe you will get bored with your alyout pretty fast. Right now you have 4 ovals with no challenging parts. You could actually run four trains at the same time and leave the room for the rest of your life.
    You got enough space to do something really exciting if you start thing 3 dimensional and only one track oval with sidings that can make your life as a dispatcher a nightmare.
    I would check out small (smaller than yours) layouts, get some ideas what is possible and start from there.

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