Prepairing to begin again

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by LoudMusic, Oct 7, 2006.

  1. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    I've been going over things in my head for a while now, trying to figure out just what exactly it is I want to focus on and how I plan to go about it. This basically goes from start to finish (italizised because it's never really finished).

    In a couple weeks I'll have two rooms, each about 12'6" square non-ajoining, plus closets and walk-in attic space on the other side of the wall. I could draw a floor plan but that's not really necessary. I have no bench work currently. So I'm trying to decide what to do.

    What I've got:
    From about 15 years ago I still have an HO Athearn powered A-B-B-A F1 SF Freight set and a set of SW1x00 cab and slug SF locomotives along with about 45 cars, about 35 of which could run comfortably on a smallish layout. Grantid they all run a little rough and just about everyone of them needs couple maintenance.

    My modeling tools have all been lost and / or destroyed. Rail nippers are not to be used on 1/4" steel wire. Files are not to be loaned to ANYONE. I do have all my basic construction and home maintainence tools (hammer / screw drivers / drills / level / clamps / etc).

    I'm 28 and in good health, with pretty good vision with my glasses or contacts on. I've got a couple workday evenings, and two or three weekends per month to myself.

    I do have two rowdy cats which could become destructive.

    My wife and I (along with 2 cats and 2 dogs) plan to be moving within two years. And then again in three to five years, and again, and again, and again, until we've seen and lived as many places as our old tired bodies will allow.

    What I want:
    My primary focus is running trains of moderate length, sitting back and watching them wind through basic scenery. I'd like to play with some simple switching, kind of industrial puzzle switching more than interchange yard switching. I find freight more appealing than passenger. I'm not concerned with era or any particular real-world railroad or geographic location. In fact I think fictional trains would be more fun than recreating a real thing. Steam, diesil, traction, mag-lev ... it's all trains, I'm not too particular.

    Now that you've read my cover letter, how about a facts sheet?

    Givens and Druthers

    Railroad Name: LoudMusic Railroad, LMRR

    Scale: ??? This is my biggest debate.
    Gauge: Standard!
    Prototype: None
    Era: Kind of 1930s to 2050s ...
    Region: In My Mind
    Railroad: None in particular, perhaps make it up

    Space: 12' 6" x 12' 6" second floor bedroom

    Governing Rolling Stock: Various Freight

    Relative Emphasis:
    80% Operation / 20% Realism
    70% Mainline / 30% Switching

    Operational Priorities:
    1. 'Long' Freight Train Operations
    2. Local Freight Operations
    3. Helper District Operations
    4. Engine Terminal Movements
    5. Mainline Passenger Train Operation
    6. Passenger Train Switching

    Typical operation Crew: 1, occationally 2
    Eye level of Owner: 5' 8" maybe?. I'm 5' 11" tall

    Minimum Radius: Undefined
    Train Length: 8 to 30 cars
    Maximum Grade: 4%
    Primary Trackage: Flex, then Sectional
    Couplers: Kadee, or equivelent N, manual uncoupling
    Power: DCC with thethered walkaround
    Duckunders / Liftouts: I could handle a duckunder, but not a crawl under. It has to be narrow.
    Distance between decks: single level, no decks
    Favorite Aspects of Modeling: (1) Building benchwork and laying track, (2) Operating trains, (3) Building locos and cars.
    I have 30(ish) hours per week for model railroading.
    I have $200 per month for model railroading.
    I can go 1 week without being able to run my favorite loco on a continuous run of track ;)

    Blah blah blah blah blah ... the real question, do I ditch my existing HO junk and adopt N, or do I try to salvage my current collection? Currently I'm leaning toward ditching the old and buying up new N. It would provide me with much more runnable track and rolling stock in the long run. Maybe I just need to go to the LHS and buy an N scale 'starter box' and play with it on the kitchen table. The rest of the decisions can be altered by that one initial choice. I also figure I'm doing a "modular sectional" layout. Something that can be sectionalized and transported, with fairly easy rearrangement into a new different shaped spaced, or even modules that match up with club standards.

    Other than "What scale do you think I should proceed with?" I don't know that I have any questions yet. And I'm seriously considering buying some N to play with first.
  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Why, an HOn3 modular layout...of course....Wha! oh! OK :D :D :D

    There was a time when I would have recommended stay with HO, but I'm not going to argue with anyone about the qualities of N scale. In the current market, there are some really nice N scale locos, and really neat rolling stock. So, I will only go so far as to recommend your layout be modular. Takes a little more thought, and planning, but the best way to go, considering your choice to "keep moving".
    My personal preference would be 24" X 3'-10 1/2" modules. ( Two sheets of 3/4" plywood, make four 2' X 4' pieces, and two 4' X 4' pieces. Well, 4', subtract 3/4"twice = 3'-10 1/2") The resulting crate will hold as many modules as will fit vertically, I used 1" X 2" for "rails", for each module to rest on, and each module frame can be locked in place by driving screws through the crate into the frames.
    Even " Lowest Bidder Movers" (I was active duty Navy for 21 1/2 years) didn't do any real damage! I had an 8' X 10' layout, with a 2' X 8' extension. With the workbench, it occupied a 16' X 10' space, or I could unpack only a couple of modules when space wasn't available.
    That layout is, of course, history now. I am stripping the last three modules, to build three new ones. I used 1" X 2" for the module frames , 3/8" plywood for subroadbed, and 1/2" Homasote roadbed( weight ), and the frames are still as straight as the day I built them, thirty years ago!
  3. fsm1000

    fsm1000 Member

    Personally I would go On30, but that's me LOL
    I recommend making a model of your model first. This will give you some extra skills as well as seeing if the scale you want to use will work for you.
    Next, Make it in module style so when you move you can move the layout as well and use it entirely or in parts in the new place.
    Reach should be 2 feet or less and 3 inches below your hieght will shorten that considerably. Try armpit hieght.
    Read sites like mine [tons of links on it too] that offer free info THEN after making a model and reading a lot, you will be armed with enough knowledge to buy some dvd's etc on scenery etc that will get you started. Not to dampen your enthusiasm, but spending a few weeks now doing this will save you months of anguish later.
    Hope that helps :D
  4. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    I don't remember seeing a lot of N scale rolling stock "kits" - seems like everything was ready-to-run in a clear plastic box. Are things like Athearn N scale cars kits or are they all pre-assembled? Part of the fun is loosing pieces and breaking ladders during assembly. If I can't have that in N, then I'm sticking with my busted up HO cars ;)
  5. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Well I didn't know what it was asking by "eye level". Seems kind of an odd request to me. My previous layout was at 48 inches, or mid chest. I got about a 30 inch reach from that height, but crushing anything near the edge of the table.

    My "models of my models" have been done in 3D. Pretty effective!
  6. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    Givens and Druthers

    Railroad Name: LoudMusic Railroad, LMRR

    Scale: ??? This is my biggest debate.
    Gauge: Standard!
    Prototype: None
    Era: Kind of 1930s to 2050s ...
    Region: In My Mind
    Railroad: None in particular, perhaps make it up

    Space: 12' 6" x 12' 6" second floor bedroom

    Governing Rolling Stock: Various Freight

    Ok dude want some help with a layout plan? Kinda key point for me is where the heck is the door and where is the closet. If you could make a ruff picture of those spots in the room Ill give ya a hand.
  7. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    N scale isn't for the kit enthusiast. Almost everything is ready-to-run, but if you're trying to model a prototype accurately, some major kitbashing or scratchbuilding of given equipment will be needed, as the variety available is less than in HO.
    I sure hope your forehead is higher than that... [​IMG]
    That's a little small for 30-car trains in HO. Quick calculation of some examples:
    A-B-B-A F-units (48' each), 30 41' cars, caboose (let's say 35'), allow 4' for distance between cars... In HO, that's 18'4" long. In N, that's 10'.
    3 SD40-2s (65' each), 30 52' cars, caboose, same assumptions: 22'2" in HO, 14'1" in N.
    Even in N, a single deck 12'6" square layout may have difficulty handling those.
  8. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    That's what I figured. I don't know that I'm ready for scratchin' and bashin'. I need to get my basic assembly skills back together before I start tearing them up ;)

    Didn't have a ruler handy :)

    I don't think I'd run all four locos together - in fact I don't think I ran more than an A or maybe an A-A lashup on my previous layout. But even so, it looks like I'd be restricted to about 12 cars in a train with either scale. Bummer.

    Speaking of engines and cars, I've found myself really enjoying the looks of ALCo locomotives lately. The RS-3 and C420 specifically. And we happen to have three C420s running on two short lines within an hour drive of my house. I could find myself basing a fictional short line on either of them and doing it in N scale.

    Well, just have to get to the hobby shop and put my hands on some N scale now.
  9. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    Space: 12' 6" x 12' 6" second floor bedroom

    Governing Rolling Stock: Various Freight

    Ok dude want some help with a layout plan? Kinda key point for me is where the heck is the door and where is the closet. If you could make a ruff picture of those spots in the room Ill give ya a hand.[/quote]

    If you would like, hook me up with the details bro....if you dont want my help just tell me bro ill be ok witout helping you as well.
  10. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    This is the south bedroom. I'll draw up the north bedroom next.

  11. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    can you use both rooms or do you have to pic from one of them to use?
  12. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Here's the north bedroom. It's a touch larger. The only measurement I forgot was where the doors swing too. Wasn't necessary on the south bedroom because they swung into eachother (REALLY IRRITATING!). But I bet you can figure it out :)

  13. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Well they're not joining. There's about 20 feet of hallway, maybe more, between them. In these pictures north is up in both of them. The "Doors" face eachother. If I was planning on staying here a long time I'd take the doors of the hinges and run a 1' deep shelf down the east wall of the hallway and have myself one heck of a layout! :)

    Oh, and here's a picture of my dogs on our last camping trip, because I know everyone here cares as much as I do ;)


    Love them dawgs!
  14. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    So basically what I've personally come up with for that room is a bunch of 2x4 tables bolted together in a collection of ways. Kind of modular, mostly just sectional. The tables them selves could be raked clean and reused in different ways. Here are some examples. The two on the left (10 x 10 and 8 x 12) would fit into my bedrooms with plenty of room and not banging into my walls.

    Pay no attention to the legs - this was done with an object grouping and I didn't feel like rearranging the legs each time.

  15. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Here's a good "up skirt" view of the way I plan to build my 2x4s. With bolt holes on consistant centers I can bolt the tables together in any of the configurations you see above. I need to figure out how to do legs too.

    1/4" Plywood on top of 1x4 framing and 2x2 legs. Probably using 1/4" bolts for the legs and 1/2" bolts to hold the tables together.

  16. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    dude I have a plan for you .....Give me till tommorow to scan it.

    I have 3 islands with one turn around loop on the far right. you said 4% grades so im thinking I might make it have 2 levels of mainline wel see what you think about the benchwork layout i have.\
  17. gottaBreal

    gottaBreal Member

    also this would be sweet if you could knock the wall out where that closet is....we could use that as the other loop around back. hmmmmmmm Dont forget im talking about the first room you put up.
  18. R. MARTIN

    R. MARTIN Member

    I agree with Pete. HOn3 deserves some serious consideration. The equipment might be more expensive but the quality is so much better. Scale is a really something you need to do some soul serching over. Long drags of cars and lots of track with little switching is good for N-scale. If you want a lot of detail, switching, seriously detailed rolling stock and scenery then consider HO. HOn3 has more personality (in my humble opinion) with dangerous bridges and hair-pin curves. Going to mines and lumber camps along pathes where mountain goats fear to tread. The modular idea is a good one. It lets you build either sectional theme branches made up of several modules, or to plug into a club layout, or both. If you really go off the deep end you could try (god forbid) hand laying some track. It's relatively easy to do but be careful with this idea, it's highly addictive so once you start....... Flex track is better that sectional if hand laid track doesn't appeal to you.
  19. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Well don't count on me doing any de-construction to the house. We like it the way it is ;) Take all the time you want. I haven't even bought lumber for the tables yet.

    I think you're right about the scale - it pretty much sets the mood of the whole endevour. I'd never really looked at a narrow gauge before, other than thinking that guys who model narrow gauge are generally a little bit kooky ;) I think my reason for avoiding it is lack of availability, but maybe that's not an issue anymore. Do you have any suggestions for online HO narrow gauge shops and information?
  20. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    If you like the building of kits and superdetailing, then the narrow gauge stuff might be for you. There was an article in The Interchange, 's newsletter a while ago by Trevor Marshall (a Toronto modeller whose name you may recognize from his contributions to RMC), He did a fantastic presentation to OVAR a while back about his conversion to On2("Owen who?", in his words) for many of the reasons you also give...

    Here's a link to the article (pdf format):

    He's included a bunch of web links as well.


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