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

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

  1. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Okay, I think this is the final plan (tempting fate I know). I have added a second link to the full size bitmap for anyone who wants a slightly clearer image. I thought it might be too big to post directly... if it isn't I'll attach it here.


    I wasn't happy with the central switching area but the latest modifications allow me to run 3 trains continuously and then be able to switch the 2 mainline trains into stations whilst allowing the local loop train to run through a bypass siding to continue running.

    It gives me better access to the industries and the roundhouse and after several hours tinkering and playing with it in XTrkCAD running trains, I think I like it. The staging area is smaller than I wanted but I have listened to the advice on here and tried to balance everything out as well as possible. I have given the upper industry a double entry to allow the loco to switch ends and change running direction.

    I've put some rough colours in just to show how the feel of the layout runs from soft, rural down the left to hard brick and stone down the right. I think the two distinct textures should give the layout a nice feel and give the trains a varied backdrop to be seen against.

    The nice thing is that I am starting to visualise the layout as an environment rather than some track on a board which is going to make the difficult task of adding scenery a bit easier.

    Now that I have passed the planning stage, I can start building... I'll post images as I go.

    Thanks again to all who have offered insight and advice. As I hope you can see, it hasn't been ignored and I feel my layout has massively improved as a result. :thumb:
  2. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Model railroading IS supposed to be fun--but "fun" is not always the same as "easy."

    And dealing with derailments and power problems is not fun, nor is it easy. A little foresight into such things makes for more time running trains (and watching them run) and less time swearing and re-railing cars. Benchwork and trackwork are the foundation of a good layout--build 'em sturdy and right and you'll save yourself many headaches later.

    And one way or another, I have no doubt you're going to get good at using a saw before this project is over...

    The latest version of your plan is indeed an improvement--while the far reach you'll have to do to get at cars in the back corners still seems a little sticky, you have moved most of your potential problem areas closer in--about the only concern with the above plan is the S-curve in the upper right-hand corner.

    Seems like an interesting setup--are you planning on wiring for multiple cab operation or DCC?
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Lee: the trackwork around the 2 double crossovers looks a little complex. Before you install them, can you try out your operations to see if they're needed? Especially the 3-way switch.
  4. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Lee, I think David has something there, near each double crossover, you have two sets of switches that allow you to transfer trains from one mainline to the other. I think the same operations can be accomplished with just one (correctly placed) set of switches.

    Don't know if you can see my changes or not?

    Attached Files:

  5. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    This is now a really neat layout. Good work.

    Think about the possibility of access holes in the corners if you cannot walk all the way around the layout. As everybody can tell on this forum, trains only derail where they are hard to get to.
  6. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    Will: I see what you mean but this image will show it clearer and I will explain why I have done it...

    (oops, just noticed that I have modified this section from my last post so it's a bit different anyway :D )


    The reason the points are set as they are is so that equal length trains can access the station platforms equally. By moving the points where you did, you limit the length of the train that can be routed to the lower platform. The sections that pass through the crossings allow movement from the local loop to the loward roundhouse and left side industry.

    I have spent ages removing, replacing, removing and replacing again this section of the track. I have run it in XTrkCAD and it works just right. It is complex but I think sometimes, getting it just right needs it to be.

    engineshop: Funny you should mention the access areas, here's the latest incarnation with access areas in the top corners.


    My plan is to have removable scenery sections that either hinge upward toward the wall or can be lifted from underneath. I'm going to add bushes and foliage to hide the join... or at least. that's the plan.

    If anyone wants the layout as an XTrkCAD file, they're more than welcome. The actual running is more apparent as I have 4 trains set up on the layout.
  7. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    jetrock: Sorry, it's being run as DCC... meant to reply last night but forgot :oops:
  8. engineshop

    engineshop Member

    I like your older version better. You can have access without "cutting corners". On the left side- top and bottom curves, manholes, covered by scenery could be the solution. It is a little bit thougher on the right upper corner because of the bridge but I would still try to get an inside access hole (trap door design or something).
  9. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    I don't want to see joins in the scenery though and as I am planning a lake in the top left (inside the local loop) it would be hard to lift a section out without seeing the join. I can hide the corner joins with foliage, you'll never know they're there until they're not... if you know what I mean.
  10. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    First, let me say that Pete is saying exactly what I was tryingto convey to you...
    The short version of my own story goes something like -
    Man buys HO trainset at local 5 & dime...also picks up copy of MR, featuring George Sellio's F&SM...says to himself..."That's what I want in MY basement..." spends next several weeks sawing, drilling, & screwing together hundreds of dollars worth of benchwork...(wife's concerned voice coming occasionally from the top of the stairs..."Honey, are you OK down there...?"
    Story ends with around 250 sq. ft. of benchwork filling up one end of the basement...benchwork supports about 18 or 20 feet of flex track, 3 or4 turnouts, a wide array of tools, beer bottles, & cobwebs...The happy modeler is off pouring over trackplans, planning his next big "dream" layout...
    The moral of the story is - If I hadn't done that, I wouldn't have learned a valuable lesson...
    So go where your heart leads you, Lee!
    If you want a 4-track main line with double crossovers, & gobs of turnouts, go for it! 'Cause I know how that be so excited about model railroading, that you can't even sleep at night!
    I guess the thing is, that as we get older, it takes less to get us excited! ;) :D
    Good luck my friend!
    Keep us posted on your progress! :)
  11. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    It's funny but for the last 20 years or so, pretty much all I have done for a living is develop computer games and software. I have always pushed for the unachievable knowing that if I do achieve it, it will be worth it. Driven by the challenge of the things that might not be possible or might be too ambitious. I guess I have come to model railroading in the same frame of mind. Small just means that it will be something to take up and start again. I have always believed that if you have to do it twice, the first time was wrong and getting things wrong carries no satisfaction... for me anyway.

    I've reduced my layout to something more moderate but I feel that if I go any less then I will have gone too far. I have to start putting my visions into reality before I forget what they look like.

    Unfortunately, one of the perils of getting older is that sometimes, our bodies grind to a halt. Mine has at the moment and it's extremely infuriating. It's given me chance to spend some serious time with XTrkCAD and it's been worth it. I'm still not a fan of the GUI but as a testing tool, it's wonderful.

    Once I get back in working order again and begin the construction, I'll post regularly... it'll keep you all amused if nothing else :D
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Lee: the trackwork makes more sense now that I see the platforms, and the crossings in the scissors crossovers.
    I would still be inclined to move the points for the upper platform back to eliminate the 3 way points. It does give an extra long platform track, but you could use it for Midland trains with 2 or 3 engines.
  13. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    May the winds of furtune keep your sails filled, and your course steady. Go for it!
  14. LeeC

    LeeC Member

    If you mean for the top line of the three then I could do that no problem. Only the bottom 2 that surround the lower platform are intended to carry trains of any significant length. That's why I changed the positioning of the lower sets of points as they restricted the lower platform. The top line is essentially a bypass for the local line should the central rail be in use. It also allows freight to run through without antagonising the passengers waiting for the trains to take them to a nicer place :D

    I'll have a twiddle and see what I can come come up with, thanks for the suggestions.
  15. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Track plans tend to improve with frequent iterations--yours is certainly coming along! The only thing that I'm concerned about in your latest plan are a couple of S-curves--one along the middle top, the other in the small loop with industrial track just beneath it. S-curves can cause derailments and other complications...the easiest solution would be to use flextrack and either make a straight path with no S-curve, or a more gentle curve, along the back wall.
  16. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I've always found too, that you'll make further alterations after you've started laying the track...Things on paper don't always come out exactly precise, & thhings will occur to you during the track laying process, that you may not have considered during the planning stage...
    Once again, good luck, Lee, & keep us posted! :)
  17. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    Much nicer layout Lee. Best of luck to you. As someone who thought the very same way as you only last year, don't underestimate how big a job that layout is -- particularly the hairy turnouts. Laying them is not *at all* like laying out turnouts on Xtrkcad (I used to be a programmer too, and still get infuriated that the real world doesn't have cut and paste... :))

    Two pence part one: Definitely try flextrack. It's so much easier than bits of track (you'll do the long lengths in no time at all). And you can make it flow in not-perfect-circles which looks so much better. And it's cheaper, isn't it?

    Second penny: Plan your layout exactly as it is. But don't plan on building the local loop as phase 1. Build the main loop first, even with just one track, and run it. Then (if you haven't already) double-track it. Once you've found out how much work is involved, and you've got two trains running, then build the local branch line and the complex switching in the passenger station. Or, more likely, find out that you don't like that idea after all and re-design it in CAD first. But you're no worse off if you decide that you were right all along and subsequently build it exactly as per your plan, are you?

    And the third one (no-one expects the Spanish Inquisition...) is... where the **** are you going to get that three-way turnout from?

  18. jetrock

    jetrock Member

    Indeed, one of the most infuriating switches from track-planning software to real-world physics are those spots where the sectional track sections connected just fine using the software, but in the real world the connection is just **THIS FAR*** (holding fingers an infinitesimal distance apart) off, enough to create a monster kink that guarantees that every train you send through there will derail.

    With flextrack, you just bend the track a little bit, check to make sure your connection is nice and smooth, and bang, you're done.

    One downside I have seen in most track-planning software is that in many cases using the "flextrack" tool is more difficult than just plunking down bits of sectional track, whereas in the real world flextrack is much easier and more intuitive to use--its wiggliness and flexibility make it handy in the analog (real) world but difficult to model easily in the digital (software) world.

    And, again, cutting flextrack is really very easy with a Xuron rail nipper.

    Doesn't Peco do a three-way turnout? I actually liked that part of the plan--it axes a nasty S-curve that was jumping out at me in a previous iteration of the track plan.
  19. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Peco do a 3-way. In code 100, it's an equilateral one (symmetric on both sides) while in code 75, it's a lap turnout with the right track coming off a few inches before the left.
    Get the flextrack. Also get a radius gauge -- usually a metal strip curved to fit inside the rails and keep the curve constant. Probably won't be available in all your radii. Comes straight as well!
  20. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    D'Oh! This is HO, right, gottit.... :D

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