scrapping the old plan... in with the new!

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by Wiredup, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    So I'm moving into a new house and I'm already building numerous track plans to fill the 10x10 room that I'll be assigned as my 'train room' by the wife. I got 20 8 foot lengths of 2x4's and four sheets of plywood to start construction with....and I don't even move until November 1!!!!

    If had a few plans.... including:

    which was my most recent. But I'm having issues with 'friendliness' of this layout, not to mention operation interest.

    Most of my layout designs have featured two major things from the above layout... the passenger station in the lower right (which looks like a mess) and the valley in the upper left.

    Today I picked up a new book "Track Planning for Realistic Operation 3rd edition" at my LHS and had a good read. I picked up quite a bit and came up with this new terminal design:


    This will take up one a whole wall. But that's fine in my books because I I'll probably spend a lot of time in this section operation wise and it'll make it easier. I'll leave it at a 2.5 foot reach for bench work to avoid trains falling off the edge.

    I'm looking for suggestions, and comments on the terminal. Here's a legend for the colors:

    • Orange = engine mtc. tracks
    • grey = movement tracks for locos
    • yellow = yard
    • light purple (look in closely in the yellow) = caboose tracks
    • red = freight main
    • green = passenger main
    so far all curves are 11 or better (I think 12 is average) and all turnouts are #4

    Here are a few more pictures to give you guys an idea of what I'm trying to do:

    This is a crude drawing of the room (not to scale). The door is bottom left, and the closet (no door) is a walk in at the top right. The room not including closet is 10x10 according to the floor plan we have. I can put the terminal either on the north or east wall. (north being up for this drawing)


    This Valley is a pretty important part of the layout for me that I would love to keep, but I think I'm going to get crunched for room. What I want is a mainline train running over a branchline in the valley (4" rise from where the branch is operating) and the valley will either be a mine or a lumber yard. In reviewing my rolling stock I own... I'm leaning towards mine.

    Now finally... what my whole concept is.
    Late 50's era in the Canadian rockies using CN as a loose inspiration for the layout. I'm running an 80% steam roster consisting of:
    3 Heavy Mountain 4-8-2
    2 Light Mountain 4-8-2
    2 Mikado 2-8-2
    1 Shay
    1 Pacific
    1 Northern
    2 F7A
    1 F7B
    1 Challenger (pulling UP passenger)
    1 RDC-1
    1 RDC-2

    I'll have 3 passenger trains in regular operation. An 8 car Union Pacific, a 10 car CN Transcontinental (1954 scheme, pulled by a hvy Mountain), and a 5 car CP (Pacific powered). I also got a Daylight I'll run for fun.

    The big focus will be on longer trains snaking through mountain terrain. But I also want branch operation with one or two small local industry. I'm thinking of adding another small industry in the terminal area (empty space section....)

    thoughts? ideas?
  2. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    From your description, I assume that you prefer to set up multiple trains on multiple routes through nice scenery and watch them run. I'm not much on planning that type of layout (different strokes....), so I'll stay away from the track plan itself and discuss some other issues I see in your planning.

    First of all - no scale is mentioned. I'm assuming N scale because there is no way to even begin to get to where you want to go in HO in a 10x10 space.

    2x4s are awkward at best for layout construction. Mostly, they are overkill, and difficult to use effectively. Trade them in for some nicer 1x4s and 1x2s. Run, don't walk, and buy a copy of Westcott's Benchwork for Model Railroads book, and you will see why. Putting plywood over 2x4s means screwing from above. Bad move because it greatly restricts your ability to make changes as you have better ideas, or change what you want from your layout.

    For the size room you have and keeping the mountain scenery in mind, a combination of shelves mounted on wall brackets and/or L girder benchwork would seem easier to construct, much easier to modify, and probably cheaper. Open top benchwork makes for better mountainous terrain (and easier access during construction).

    I detest duckunders, liftouts, hinged sections, etc. Why? Nothing will end your layout faster than getting an injury that makes bending over unpleasant, and your layout requires you to do that every time you need a tool or supply. Can you really say that nothing of the sort will happen to you in the next 10 years? Even worse is the layout that requires you to move a section or duck under during an operating session. Sooner or later, floor diving will happen during an operating session - and it won't be in the aisle section that you are in. You needn't ask how I know this. Add the desperation attempts to rescue the floor dive to the human-generated earthquakes that happen to the layout when the swinging gate, liftout, hinged section, or duck under doesn't go precisely as planned. My layouts have seen enough bumps and snags just from me being clumsy with an elbow or wrist. When I add coming up too early on a duckunder, or dropping the liftout a smidge off proper location, or the gate where the wood swelled or drooped slightly....I'm sure you get the word picture. Although there are successful layouts with these devices, I am not one of those lucky people. And I find very seldom is the increased operational capability worth the pain. I notice that fewer folks build 2nd medium to large layouts with closed in operating areas than build 1st layouts that way.

    Aisle width and reach are also important considerations. Unless you build the layout quite low, most of us are limited in reach to 30" or less. By the same token, 24" aisles can seem pretty confining and easy to accidently bump things near the layout edge with the afore-mentioned elbow or shirt sleeve. 30" aisles - width of a bedroom door - are a lot less confining. If you have 2 or more people in the aisle, even more aisle width is needed/wanted. In your case, I strongly recommend you mock up the proposed layout with cardboard boxes at the intended layout height to check both your reach and aisles before committing the plan to lumber. Try placing a piece of track on top of the boxes and a couple of cars on the track at your most distant locations as a test of reachability. I promise you, the full-size cardboard mockup will be the best money/time you can spend on layout planning.

    I have a 7.5 ft x 10ft space (end of a bedroom with a 60" wide window on one 7.5 ft side) that I want to put HO and HOn3 into. I have many of the same planning frustrations. I could get an around the walls layout but I would have to bridge that 60" window with a removable section as well as providing an access gate on one of the 10ft sides. It just got too complicated, so I went to a U shape with a 4 x 7.5 section that leaves a 30" aisle across the window. That leaves me a 16" section along the 10ft wall with a 25" aisle separating the unequal legs of the U. It seems I should be able to more or better with that space, but so far no brilliant ideas as to how have come.

    I said this because IMHO an E or G shape would work best for your situation. You don't show a window, which is pretty much mandatory for most areas. In most cases, a bedroom window needs to be big enough to be an emergency escape. Which also means it shouldn't be blocked off by the layout except possibly temporarily during operating sessions. Which is why in my situation I had a liftout section across the window which would only be in place during operations.

    my thoughts, your choices
  3. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    Thanks Fred. You've actually comented on earlier designs with the same general guidelines and I've taken heed.

    The new terminal design is start of a new layout design for me. There will be a duck under, but only to get in and have the layout operate around you. The duck will be only a one foot section and will be 3 1/2 feet off the ground minimum.

    Yes, the scale is N, and I do like running a few trains at a time through winding scenery. But I also like having a busy yard for switching opportunities.

    The 'complete' plan above has way to many 'wrongs' with it for access which is why I designed the new terminal to start off my layout. I'm trying to keep reaches under 2 1/2 feet from any section.

    As for wood dimensions...I was at Home Depot yesterday looking at dimension lumber and bought the 2x4's because 2x2's and 1x2's are not only more expensive but they also do not look durable enough. I can still exchange them...however the smaller dimensions are more expensive (by almost $0.50!) so is it worth it?

    I plan on building the lowest part of my layout to be 3 1/2 feet from the ground. The average height (terminal) will be at 4 feet.

    Looking at L-Brackets on some Canadian hardware/home renovation shopping sites. I found 20 inch brackets for $12.00 a peice. They hold 500lbs. If I mounted my 'benchwork' to these brackets would that be sufficient?

    Also the book you mentioned is hard to find locally. my LHS actually does not stock any books on the hobby (sad I know) and its the only decent LHS here. I get my model railroader books from Indigo/Chapters.
  4. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    For a Northern and Challenger with passenger trains to look any good, I seriously suggest larger curves and turnouts.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...Brackets will do fine...They're not the problem...It's how they are fastened to the wall that'll determine how much weight they can really hold. Also....dont bring them out to the edge of the layout, leave a couple of inches to add a "skirt" at the edge so it looks "finished"....
  6. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    My layout will be 30 inches in width at it's widest point (in theory) and the brackets I'd use are 20 inches. I'd also mount them on the studs. I was actually thinking of fastening a pair of 2x4's to the walls and then the brackets to the 2x4's (mostly at the studs) I really don't know why I wanna do that, maybe in my head it might be more secure.

    As for the passenger trains with northerns and challengers, my current layout (8x4 in the basement of my current place) uses 11 curves everywhere besides turnouts, and all #4's. They look fine for the most part. The con-cor passenger cars get a lil too seperated...but the Kato's look amazing and stay pretty close to each other. As for the loco's the Challenger looks great! and my Northerns I have (Daylight and J-Class) work fine of the 11's and still look pretty good. The J-Class has a bit too much cab overhang, but I can deal with it... I'm no rivet counter. :)
  7. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    The new yard looks a lot better.

    I have used 1x2 and 1x3 on my layouts and I haven't had a problem with it, and I used to have to store my layout vertically against a wall so it got a lot of up and down movement.
  8. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    thanks for the comments so far.

    Here is the near final track plan... I think


    Color guide is as follows:

    • Orange = Engine facilities
    • Grey = industrial spurs in main terminal
    • Yellow = main yard
    • green = passenger tracks in terminal
    • red = freight tracks in main terminal
    • lightest blue = branch line
    • blue = main line
    • purple = hidden staging
    A walk through:
    The Terminal will be built at 7 inches above 'sea level' (or the base plywood) which will be foam on a wood frame. The hidden tracks below will be on cork glued to plywood base @ 'sea level' Tracks will be accesible from the front

    Helix in the lower left starts at 1 inch and raises to 6 inches, while the lead track back to the terminal finishes off at 7 inches right before the terminal tracks. The helix will be contained within a mountain. helix might have to be raised for the branch line to get access.

    Branch line operates at 1 inch in the main section at the lower part of the layout, while the main line is operating at an average of 5 inches. It kinda scoops up and goes down again...should look pretty neat. The lead to the branch is at 4 inches. (see turnout at bottom right...which is the only section I'll have troubles reaching)

    There will be a lumber yard in the valley between the two main line runs in the branch, and a mine at the small yard north of the main line.

    Industry in the main terminal is yet to be decided but will most likely be oil refinement. I may also built a brewery beside the round house at the gray trackage on the left. But it will only be the building face as it will be built into the wall.

    A river will run under all three tracks at 7 feet down 10 feet across with three trestles running over it. Very exicted about that as its one thing I told myself I MUST have in my layout.

    So my acomplishments in this track plan are as follows:

    • passenger terminal for my passenger trains
    • a valley section with intertwining trains
    • bridges going over a river
    • a snakey main line through mountains
    • a steam engine facility
    I'm happy that my plan was also able to include

    • industry scenes
    • a hidden staging yard
    • a helix (for the challenge!)

    I'm pretty happy with this design which should keep me busy for many years to come. I plan on doing the terminal section first. Then complete bench work for the rest of the layout, then complete the branch line and lower main line...finishing off with the helix.

    The specs

    • average radius is 13" with 11" being the smallest.
    • average grade is 3% with the highest being 3.7% (branch line)
    • largest reach is aprox 3 feet
    • total track cost as shown $880 (most sectional track will be replaced with flex)
  9. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    WoW...!!! That's pretty ambitious....
    Gonna take a lot of work....But that's what we're here for..Right..??

    Good luck with it..!!
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think that you've put too much stuff into the top section. You have 3 or 4 operating sections there and none anywhere else. This will give you lots of scenic sapce, but the operators will all be crowded together, getting in each others' way.
    Also, that section is getting wider. I have a section that is 30" deep and today the cat was walking long the back track and I could barely lift him off.
    And I think you need to get some reference on benchwork. (Are you near enough Toronto? I have the Linn Westcott book.) There are usually articles on it in MR during the year.
  11. Wiredup

    Wiredup Member

    Well... I'll be the only operator, so I'm not to worried about it getting too crowded. I won't be hosting any operating sessions. I just like to watch trains do their thing along the rails mostly. But I have the yard in there for switching opportunities to give me some variety. And I want lots of scenic space...

    Pretty much I designed the layout in scenes... scene one is a busy yard/passenger terminal. scene 2 are trains on the mountain side crawing through the rocks. scene 3 would be crossing the river, scene 4 would be a work train operating in a valley while a mainline passenger cross overtop.

    I'm in Edmonton, so quite a ways from Toronto. I'm gonna pickup the Kamblach book on Benchwork on Tuesday if I can't find a shop that has the Linn Westcott book instock.

    The section is quite deep. which does scare me a bit. What I plan to do is start construction of the terminal and then see how much I can shave off after I build the passenger section. Because of the location of the staging tracks I can still move them farther back. it really depends on what passenger station kit I get, or if I scratchbuild one. I would like to shave at least 3-5 inches off the depth of the terminal bechwork.

    all good points though David. I appreciate them and will see what I can do modification wise... because who knows...just because I have no plans for operation sessions now does not mean I wont in a year or two once the layout gets farther along the construction phase.
  12. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    That's overkill, but it's your call; however, if you do it that way, remember to allow for the "stand-off" caused by the 2x4 furring strips attached to the walls.

    What I use to secure shelving securely is lag bolts directly into the wall studs. That provides more than enough attachment to support the heaviest loads, but if you're still worried, add a brace to your bracket between the upper and lower ends, making it a triangle. You can buy brackets ready-made this way, and it will greatly increase the load bearing capacity.

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