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

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

  1. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Jetrock: I always think of lines in pairs because that's how they run over here in the UK. As a result it's either 2 or 4 and 2 just wouldn't have enough going on. It possibly is a lot but it keeps the layout busy which is what I like to see.

    engineshop: I could honestly sit for hours just watching trains circle a track as long as there a few of them running at varying speeds that throw up random points of encounter across the layout. I don't want the challenge to be the running of the layout, I want the challenge to be building a layout that I can enjoy watching it run. I know some people enjoy the scheduling and the planning and the point switching. I just enjoy watching layouts work. Every now and again, I want to be able to switch carriages or freight wagons and then set them off to do their thing. I have looked at some complex smaller layouts and to be honest, they look like hard work to keep the trains running without disaster striking... and that's the problem, if it's hard work, it's not fun, for me anyway.

    Eventually I want to rig out the track with digital trickery so I can run automated schedules that I can just sit and watch happening... I did fancy a bit of height in the layout though, so that might prompt a bit of redesigning perhaps.

    I can fully appreciate the reach issue so I am offering up this problem. To run the steam locos I want, I need the widest radius curves, if you look at my trackplan, that is pretty much 3 feet across for the widest radius. In my mind, that sort of dictates the minimum width of the layout, or am I wrong here? I don't want to go down the flexi-track route. I want to confine the layout to fixed track sections. That may be a bit prohibitive but I would rather stick with them.
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    The "trainspotter vs. operator" debate is a long-lived and mostly futile one, so i won't try to convince you that you need a switching-heavy pike. But you might consider simplifying the layout to some extent.

    One way to increase access would be to do away with the return loop in the upper left-hand corner. This would allow you to convert the plan to a more traditional "dog-bone" design, allowing better access in that troublesome back corner.

    What's wrong with flextrack? In general, the fewer track joints you have, the fewer derailments you will have, plus you can work in nice smooth transition curves to increase reliability. For big locos, the worst part of the curve is the transition from straight track to curves--if the transition is wider, the actual center of the curve can be a bit tighter with fewer problems.

    Have you considered doing an around-the-room with a lift-out section at the entrance? That would allow your heavy-duty looping action without impinging so much on the center of the room.
  3. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    It would appear I have a lot to learn here... I thought my layout was fairly simple. :confused: I mean, take out the sidings and storage yards and it's just 4 loops isn't it?

    The return loop forms part of the local line. Any suggestions as to how I would keep that yet lose the loop. Should I integrate sections of the local line into the outer 2 loops and rely on switching to allow either sets of trains to use the common sections?

    It's not the flextrack, it's me... Give me a piece of track and a hacksaw and it is just guaranteed to go wrong. I'm not a manual building type of person, it's why I need the track side to be as straight forward as possible. Buy it, lay it, wire it, run it... hopefully in that order. I know you're thinking "hows he going to build that layout if he can't manage to cut some flextrack?". I can put things together that are the right shape and size. If I've got to cut and shape, bad things happen... believe me, it's not pretty. :oops:

    Yeah, there's a door that opens into the room in the bottom right corner though (opens upwards rather than downwards against the wall)... causes a bit of a problem. Otherwise, that would have been my ideal plan.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Lee...

    Flex track is not all that complicated to work with. It can be cut with rail nippers - they look and work like pliers. It will give you the ability to go beyond the sectional track geometry - especially if you want wide radii.

    Wide radii do not necessarily mean wide benchwork either... Your benchwork only has to be slightly wider than the track. At our local modular club, most modules are 2 feet wide, but the minimum radius for the main is ~40".

    Also - crossing the door does not have to be done with 3' wide benchwork. You could have a narrower duckunder, gate, or liftout. One of my favourite plans for round the room that is about your size (and would work well in N, as it is actually in HO) is Mike Hamer's Boston and Maine - Hamer/Hamer.htm

    You'd have to adjust it for the door, and you could probably double track it quite easily.

  5. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Masonjar: Now you've done it... I showed that layout to my wife and she thought it was real nice, so much so that she said to run the layout round the room. When I said about the door, she just said "well you can move the door so it opens outwards". Flextrak and a hacksaw are going to be simple stuff compared to this.

    I don't know, start off building a layout and end up moving doors... there's summat not right here :D

    Cheers :thumb:
  6. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    As a European as well who had layouts than went in circle for years, I now enjoy point to point operation with less track an just one train going slowly around curves while another one has to wait at a siding.
    It is funny, when I talked to seasoned modeler twenty years ago, he told me the same thing. Maybe it is just something we grow into.
  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I hope you're not taking all the "keep it simple" comments as "negative remarks". It has more to do with the fact that we've all been there, designing that super layout as our first, and finding nothing but frustration, because we set too high a goal for our first attempt. The recommendation to start with just the basic loop, and get it running without errors, is one you might want to go with, especially as it's a first. Install all the turnouts in the loop, and spike them temporarily. That way, if there are problems, you don't have to rip up the whole thing, to fix the problem. Take it a step at a time, go careful and slow, and everything should be just fine.
  8. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    No, not at all. I fully appreciate the fact that there are people with far more experience and knowledge than myself. I've only been doing this for a couple of weeks so I have to seek as much knowledge as possible. The reason I designed the layout I posted was that I could build the outer loop to get it running. Then work inwards adding more loops as I went. That's why I saw it as simple so I was a little surprised to hear it called complex.

    Now though, I am faced with a round-the-room type possibility which to me seems a far more complex undertaking. I am a little confused by it all I must admit but thankfully, this forum is filled with what appear to be patient and helpful people, who don't mind answering questions and offering advice. Every bit of help is appreciated and hopefully, I can build a layout that will show the fruits of the knowledge shared here.

    I have got a bit of a side issue though with some of the used rolling stock I have bought. Some of it requires a bit of TLC before it will be ready. I bought a set of 3 wagons the other day that appear to have their couplings lower than all my other trains... I thought they were all standard. :confused:

    I'll get there... slowly.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Lee: This is probably the wrong forum to talk about this, but if you're buying British wagons with the "standard" coupling, the standards are not enforced. Some of the couplings will not couple to each other (Lima to Airfix/Dapol). Bachman adopted the NEM standard coupler pocket and mounted it too high. Ah, the free enterprise system!
  10. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    True, I'll not prolong it other than to say it wasn't the couplings being too low, it was in fact a set of Bachman wagons with the high coupling that was causing the problem, thanks 60103. We just need a "standard" standard and we'll be sorted.
  11. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Ummm... yeah... :oops:

    Sorry 'bout that! ;)

  12. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    4 loops is 2 or 3 more than most layouts that size typically have. It's not the sidings that are the problem, it's the loops.

    By running around the room you'd simplify that part of the line--you could relocate that loop to another part of the room, perhaps the upper-right-hand corner, allowing access to the back corner.

    Another potential disaster in that corner is the set of double crossovers to go from one set of double track to the other, right above that loop, which is going to be almost unreachable unless you can devise a sling to suspend yourself from the ceiling--therefore, ALL of your derailments will happen there. By relocating the loop to the upper right corner, you'd be able to reach them easily.

    The thing about sectional track is that it's NOT just a matter of putting the pieces together. Every place where two pieces of rail butt together is a potential derailment or loose electrical connection waiting to happen. If you're not comfortable enough to cut flextrack I'm sure you don't relish the idea of either soldering every piece of sectional track together or running separate power leads to EVERY SINGLE PIECE of sectional track--using flextrack means you have maybe one-fourth or fewer connections between tracks.

    Remember, those tracks carry your electricity to the trains--if a rail joiner works loose, or oxidation or dust or paint or random gunk or blue meanies cause a loose connection, I can guarantee you an infuriating time trying to figure out exactly why your trains won't run. Flex track means you have far fewer connections to check--in addition to its other advantages, like having curves exactly as wide as you want them to be, instead of what Peco or whoever thought they should be.

    You are aware that you'll have to cut and shape things to fairly precise dimensions in order to do benchwork, right? Especially if any of your track will be anything but totally flat and level? All of this will be MUCH more challenge than the cutting of flextrack. I assume that you're not planning on setting up this layout on a series of dining-room tables, after all...

    Incidentally, there are much better tools for cutting flextrack than a hacksaw. First choice is a "Xuron" track-cutting tool, essentially a diagonal cutter with flush cutting ends to cleanly cut flextrack. Second choice is a Dremel motor-tool with a cutting disc. Third is a small razor saw. A big hacksaw is the WRONG THING.

    Changing the door is going to be easier than benchwork--two hinges and a dozen screws, you probably won't even need to buy anything except some trim paint. Or you could just keep the door closed and only drop the bridge when inside the room.
  13. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Sheesh, I read all that I by the time I got to the end, my only thought was "this hobby is supposed to be fun isn't it?" I think that if I hadn't already bought some stuff, that would probably have stopped my in my tracks (forgive the pun).

    The fact that I am supposed to be building this as relaxation and fun is now somewhat negated by the "fun" of watching trains fall off tracks or stop running due to electrical faults. :(

    Whilst gripping onto the merest hope that I haven't made a bad choice with this hobby I actually went through my first (probably of many) redisigns and came up with this....


    I feel this has addressed some of the pitfalls of my first attempt and might give me a layout I can run. Am I going the right way with my understandings of what I was doing wrong or am I still missing fundamental errors that may cause me problems?

    The double track that runs right and around the turntable is rising at this point and runs the back section of the layout raised partway up a hillside. The big blue bit is water (not real obviously, it's bad enough with the thought of the train falling off, don't want it sinking too ;) )
  14. siderod

    siderod Member

    Dang! I like that one ALOT more!!! Looks more industrial BUT still has room for scenery.

    I don't see any major issues right now...besides, what is a plan but an unplanned series of revisions to the plan? hehe

  15. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Thanks siderod. The only 2 concerns I have are the top industry forces the train to enter from the wrong direction. and the points just up and left from the turntable are a bit messy. I need to find a neater way to allow access to all lines in both directions without encroaching on the station area. I am trying to avoid having to reverse trains against the natural flow of the layout.

    The thing I like about XTrkCad is the ability to actually run trains. It means I can get a feel for how the layout works. The UI and interface are horrendous mind you, deffo needs a rework... like my layout did :D
  16. seanm

    seanm Member

    I like that plan MUCH better!! I think you even have some room for access hatches in teh beck left.... the back right is a nother matter. I know you said a 3-4.5" reach is managable... True! But do you want to be planting scenery and soldering track at teh limits of your reach?? Sure you can probably pluck a train up at 3.5 feet, but can you wire a switch that has malfunctioned?

    Just some thing to think about....wirth exactly what you paid me for it. (smile)... I am coming from experience here. I made a 3' wide layout against a wall and it was terrible doing anything beyond 2' reach. You will be reaching across your beautiful track and trains and you are bound to bump something loose.

    Anyhow. It does look like a fun layout! I like XtrkCad as well. Very handy for what if's.
  17. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Second plan is much better.
    I can see you are a quick learner, Lee.
  18. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    You are on the right track. Did you calculate the % of the grade around the Roundhouse?
  19. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Yes, it is 1.7% assuming I have given enough clearance (1 1/2 inches or 38mm from bottom of the track)... Is that too much or is that okay? For some reason the figure of 2% seems stuck in my head as something to stay below so I tried to.

    P.s. Thanks Will... you can teach an old dog new tricks despite what they say :D
  20. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I don't think that is enough but you can go up to 2% and even move the bridge a little bit to the left to get even more clearance.
    You will lose some clearance because of the thickness of the bridge.

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