Returning to the hobby.

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by webmaster, Feb 18, 2006.

  1. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Hi guys,

    I have noticed that most of you are across the pond, and I know that you normally do things on a grander scale than we do in the UK, but I'm hoping that you might be able to help.

    A bit of background:
    I am trying to design a railroad for my 12 year old son & myself. I used to model in 'N' many years ago. Started as continental when I was small and then changed to US, but I gave up and sold all of my equipment and rolling stock due to a lack of space when we moved house 11 years ago. I have in the last 12 months (in anticipation of one of the kids flying the coop :) ) been building a collection of HO rolling stock and Santa Fe loco's.
    Well the time has come & I finally have a spare room that I can use to once again get in to this great hobby.
    I have been doing other modeling in this time, to 'keep my hand in', just not railroads. :cry:

    What I am trying to achieve:
    I am after an industrial railroad set around the Santa Fe region (there will be no passenger cars) with plenty of shunting/switching action for both my son & I. What I have come up with so far is basically 2 sides of the spare room, one for him & one for myself, where we can both do our own thing as well as delivering traffic to each other.

    I have decided that I would like 2, possibly 3 main industries. These being, Walthers Valley Cement factory, a container yard and possibly an oil refinery/depot.
    My son has said that he would like some sort of incline so that trains can also run at a level that is above the main line.
    I would like if it is possible, a turntable with a 3 stall roundhouse.

    I have decided on a lower level three track, which will be purely functional (no scenery) as a staging area, where full trains will sit until needed.

    The problems: (You knew there would be some :D )
    There are two main problems.
    The first is that the room happens to be the smallest in the house! It is 8' x 8' 5", 244cm x 257cm
    The second, is the fact that I'm under strict instructions from 'Er indoors' that there must be a bed left in the room so that it can be used as a guest room. :curse:
    I have decided to put the bed on coasters (little wheels) so that it can be pulled out from under the layout to be used. So this pretty much limits the size to 2' on two walls and 1' on the door side & the window side. (The window is opposite the door)

    Although I would like a turntable, my longest loco is a 4-8-4, which would mean having a turntable that is some 22" in diameter.

    What we have so far:
    I have used Atlas's freeware CAD program to try and design a railroad. The lower staging level I am happy with, but the top main level I am not. These can be seen at One major problem here is the fact that Atlas only have one turntable in this program and this is half the size of the one that would be required for the 4-8-4.

    Where the door is, I am going to hinge part of the layout so that it will swing like a gate into the room for access and then be shut once in the room to complete the circuit.

    I do hope someone can help us out. :)

    I think I've covered everything, but if I havent, just shout.
  2. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Looks like a small room like that would lend itself to N Scale once again, so much more could be done.

    Your track plan looks like it utilises the space the best you can with HO scale. Remember, doing a modern era layout means longer freight cars which means larger radius curves.

    My father has a 4x8 HO layout, he has a couple of autorack cars, while they will navigate his 18" radius curves, they look horendous doing so.

    As a rule of thumb, our local club has limited the radius of curves on our new HO club layout to 30", anything tighter just does not look right.

    In N scale, you can use 18" radius and they trains look great, the club's suggestion, when asked by others about track plans would be to take an HO track plan and build it using N scale track.
  3. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Indeed, you can do alot more with N in a small space than you can HO, but I love super detailing which is a bit hard in anything smaller than HO. :cry:
  4. JAyers

    JAyers Member

  5. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    A 4-8-4 won't like 18" curves at all, or #4 turnouts. But why will it need a 22" turntable? A 15" turntable should be long enough. That, combined with a 3-stall roundhouse for engines that long, will still be huge on a layout limited to about 40 square feet of actual shelf area.

    I've seen, on sites like this one, in magazines, and in person, enough proof that superdetailing isn't much harder in N than in HO.
  6. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Because the loco is 18" long and the only turntable I have managed to find that is big enough to accommodate it is a 22" one.

    As far as super detailing goes, you will always loose out the smaller you go in scale. The smaller the scale the less you can see. When I say that, I'm talking about things like rust trails from rivets etc...
  7. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    You could lie to your software about the turntable -- make the stall tracks a bit longer for the amount of extra turntable you need. (I think the one shown is probably Atlas's 9" job.)
    I have a name for a rather level western layout: Council Flats.
  8. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    I had a look at the website that JAyers mentioned and have had a little inspiration. I have made another track plan however, It doesn't have a turntable :cry: , and I don't know if there will be enough room for the industries either? It's an awfully tight fit :D

    Thanks for the suggested name 60103
    Comments welcomed.
  9. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    I design my layouts crowded, and that second version is overboard.

    A Santa Fe Northern is 18" long? I was working on the assumption it was about the same length as an NYC or UP Northern.
  10. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    It is a Bachmann Plus Northern 4-8-4 Item # 31320
    It measures exactly 17 4/16" from the front cow catcher to the rear coupling. The Real thing is 120' 10" which in true 1/87 scale is 16.6" recurring, so I suppose Bachmann goofed a bit with the size.

    It was an impulse purchase, what can I say :D
  11. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    I think I have designed one that will do what I am after without being over cluttered. #3 is almost perfect (as far as I can see, but then I'm biased :D )
    The only niggly bits are the passing loop on the left needs to be longer, unfortunately Atlas code 100 doesn't seem to include curved points/switches, as that would sort out the length issue. The other is the small turntable :curse:

    Any thoughts?

    Opps, I forgot all about the access to the lower staging level. :oops:

    Added access to & from the lower staging area.:D
  12. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    For curved switches, you'll have to use another manufacturer, like Shinohara or Peco.

    You do notice that one of the staging access points leads not to a mainline, but into a dead-end track? incidentally, do you want the triple switchback in that area? It'll be a real annoyance to switch.
  13. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Yes your right Triplex. Unfortunately, because Atlas don't do curved points, I couldn't put it where I really want it which is just at the top of the loop as at the bottom. I might just stick a LH switch in there for now as I have at the bottom.

    Triple switchback is good, as it allows for plenty of movement and needs to be thought about so that you don't get yourself stuck.:D

    I was a bit bored today, so I built a website for the railroad.:)
  14. dwyaneward

    dwyaneward New Member

  15. A note on the small turntable: RTS includes the Walthers turntable, which is quite a bit larger than the Atlas table, load up the Walthers dataset in RTS to place that turntable
  16. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Hi Squirrel,

    I don't have that library? I only have the following libraries:
    Atlas HO Code 83 Track
    Atlas HO Code 100 Track
    Atlas HO Structures
    DPM HO Structures
    Life-Like HO Structures
    RDA HO Structures
    Walthers Cornerstone HO Structures

    Is it possible for you to e-mail me that library?
  17. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member


    Atlas RTS software only has Atlas track libraries (naturally). You will have to use another package to get other track libraries. XtrakCad is also free, little bit more of a learning curve (do the tutorial first!), and has all the libraries you can want. There are other non-free software that also have many more libraries.

    Since I don't use sectional track, I use the RTS as a "will it fit" and "over-crowding" sanity check on my plan. I know if I can do it with Atlas sectional track in RTS, I can build it with flex (or handlaid in my case) track and cut down points (turnouts) from various manufacturers. Knowing there is room enough, I go ahead and start building - I don't worry about getting a precision plan in software.

    Again, you can easily cut the straight ends off of Atlas points beyond the points and frogs to get a better track flow. You cut the rail and ties, and install rail joiners just like flex track.

    yours in planning
  18. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    That would be why i don't have it then :D .

    It was more of a 'Will it fit' process as when I draw by hand I always draw the curves to tight. The only sectional track I ever use is the switches, everything else is done with flexi track. apart from anything else, it works out a whole lot cheaper.
  19. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    I have a Bachmann 484 Niagra which negotiaed 18" curves after I filed off some of the detail underneath the front of the loco. You'll have to do the same, but it will work. Your turntable shown in the layout is 9" in diameter, or 3/4 one of your 12" squares. A 22" turntable would be as long as 2 of your squares, and as wide as 2 of your squares, and would occupy 4 of your 12" squares in the diagram. Additionally, the tracks coming off the turntable would be at least 2 squares long. This means that the turntable area would take up about 1/2 of whatever wall it was put against, not counting your mainline tracks curving around the wall, or the switches leading into the turntable area. Doesn't seem too workable to me.
  20. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    Yes your completely right about the sizes George.
    I'm sort of err'ing towards using a smaller turntable. As you say, using the one that I would like to have used will take up 2 squares somewhere on the layout & I would only (if I'm lucky) get 1 line to run behind it.

    As it's only the one long loco I have (the rest are diesel), I think I could get away with just keeping it pointing in one direction.

    Are you saying the rest of the layout doesn't look workable, or just the turntable element?

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