Starting in trains again after 21 years

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by VulcanCCIT, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    I had an American Flyer S gauge set over 21 years ago...I built an oval on 4x8 plywood, with a few turnouts....and a very cool mountain. My highschool budy had an HO set. Well, that was fun back then but I have not done much since. Now after looking at some Model Railroader magazines and a visit to the train shop I see some things are the same, and many are new... mainly DCC.

    Best that I can tell, I need to get my benchwork done and track plans complete before I do anything else (and a budget!!). I wanted to start simple, but wanted to run what I think are simple ideas by you all first.

    I wanted to just get 2 utility tables (since I own one now)... and 2 sheets of plywood, and put the plywood on the tables. I wanted to build a simple frame under the plywood with 2x4s. I am debating building legs for this frame, but for now, I just wanted to put the frame/plywood on the tables.

    I wanted to make an L with tables, with each piece of plywood forming the L. I will then base my track plan on that frame.

    one question I have as far as track planning goes.. if I want to do some kind of inclined grade... do you have to build a grade incline out of plywood strips? or can you use foam and glue the track to the foam? I have seen in the magazines these 1/4" plywood cutouts via a jigsaw put on some sort of risers to base the grade on, but just wondered if other methods exist?

    The DCC/Transformer world is daunting... should I start with a transformer and make the train go around until I learn other cool things like switches, and controls?

    Do you need to have the entire track built before you do scenery? or can you add/subtract over the years as you see fit? I have a basic track plan in mind, but as I learn DCC and other dos and donts, I can see this taking a while but I really like to build scenery.

    Please excuse any newbie-ness I might have...this is my first post on a train forum...Im usually on a computer networking forum! hehe
  2. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    :wave: Hi VulcanCCIT, and welcome to the Gauge.

    Cool to hear you are getting back into model trains.:thumb: :D

    Thats a great start, an L-Shape is what I have right now and I used 1x2s for the supports under the plywood.

    Yes there is other ways. The method you mentioned above about cutting out the grade is called the cookie cutter method. I personally have never tried doing it so I could not tell you if it's hard or not. One of the other methods for grade is Woodland Scenics Incline sets, Check there site out for tons of scenery items and things to help you get stared on scenery.

    You could do that or you could just dive right into the world of DCC, I would ask the guys at your LHS for info on DCC Sytems that are best for you. I just have to warn you, they aren't cheap:cry:

    It all depends on what you are going to do. You should probly lay out were you want the track to run and go around any obstructions (buildings, mountains, hills, rivers, or valleys) and then go from there.

    I hope this helps you to get started:thumb: . Ask all the questions you want. There are so many great modelers here that you never can't find help.:D :)
  3. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    :wave: welcome to the gauge IMHO I would stasrt out with Dc and just run one or two trains at the same time.
  4. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    I got to thinking I do not really have to do an incline, but what I really want is a mountainous type scene. The train going around a mountain, passing across a bridge over a river, sharp drop offs on one side of the track and a mountain on the other side.. so I guess this means the tracks need to be up high above the plywood. The site you sent me I think I could do that with that product.all of this is in my head. I want to just run and do all of this at once, but I know ill do it wrong and wish I studied first!
  5. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    Jim, thank you for the reply! Dc meaning direct current, just power to the trains and keep it simple for now?
  6. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    that is somthing elso take it slow and enjoy it.
  7. jim currie

    jim currie Active Member

    yes if you want to run more than one train you can do blocks .(sectons of track that are connected to more than one throttle):)
  8. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Welcome back to the hobby. To get things in proper perspective. Planning first. Planning second. Planning third. As for your comment about using 2X4's for framing in addition to the table tops, that may be a bit of overkill unless you intend to walk on your layout. I would think more like 1X4's What size will your tables be? You could also eliminate the tables entirely and just go with benchwork by adding legs to the framing that you spoke of.
    The grades can be built as you suggest using risers and wood sub roadbed or you can use extruded foam or Woodland Scenics makes lightweight foam riser kits. Speaking of foam, you could also substitute insulation foam planks for your plywood and save a lot of weight.
    As for DCC, it isn't that complex. There are several manufacturers who make basic kits that allow you to start operating right away.
    The scenery is usually added after the track work is in place. You could do smaller areas as you finish the trackwork in one spot.
    There are a whole lot of folks here on the forum who will have alternate ideas. Pick what you think will work for you and your budget. I will suggest one more thing. Go to a hobby shop and get a couple of books on basic layouts . Have fun and good luck.
  9. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    I ended up making benchwork... just a 1x4 frame with 2x4 its a 4x8 table. I will add another one of these tables in a few weeks...probably in an L shape.

    Question on roadbed. how do you attach that wood, and how do you attach that to the foam from woodland scenes? Then I know the track nails to the roadbead.

    I have bought some track for a simple oval, 2 turn outs and some flextrack...a box of roadbed, one box of the foam risers and a power supply. so I have enough to goof with for now. Oh and a Southern Pacific diesel and one box car :)
  10. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    The foam limits you to gluing the roadbed down. I use carpenters glue. I've also used Elmers glue in the past. Of course, you can use track nails if you are working with a plywood table top. Just make sure the nails are long enough to go through the roadbed too. Atlas track nails are the correct length. If you glue your track down to the roadbed, you can use pins temporarily to hold the track down while the glue cures. I would suggest getting your turnouts located an fastened down before the remainder of the track goes down. Did you get rail joiners?
  11. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    yes I got rail joiners, a pack of 100 and the atlas track curve pieces had them too. so if I wanted roadbed on the wood, how do you attach that?
  12. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Glue your roadbed down to the plywood. Lay the roadbed and track down temporarily and mark its location prior to actually gluing things in place.
  13. jasbourre

    jasbourre Member

    Below is a link I found usefull when I starded my layout

    I'm not saying this link is the best but its a good start.

    I wish I could remember this other site I found once, but if you search for it you may find it. "Building a Model Railroad step by step."
  14. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    You haven't mentioned your railroad room. Do you have access on all sides of the benchwork? If the 4x8 is tight against a wall, you will have difficulty reaching the back of the layout. Typically, the length of your arm is a comfortable reach. If the bench height is low enough for you to bend over the layout, you can reach a little farhter, but unless you plan for places to put your hands and build in scenery elements like parking lots or such with strong support underneath, you will find yourself having difficulty reaching the back of a 4x8. If you put 2 4x8s in a "L" shape, the reach to the back corner will be impossible without actually climbing on top of the table. If you have room to get all of the way around 2 "L" shaped 4x8s, you could get more railroad in the same space with smaller shelves mounted againts the wall, with a 4x4 turn around at each end of the railroad.
  15. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    the room is pretty is 12' x 35' so I have a few feet on either side. I might end up putting the 2 4x8 tables end ot end.... I have not built table 2 yet... the jury is out on how I want to do this. I might do as suggested and have a 4x4 for a turn and then some smaller piece connecting over to the 4x8. table height is 36"
  16. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member


    Always good to see someone taking the bull by the horns and jumping right in. All of the suggestions above are good, and you'll have something going in no time. Good for you!!

    Oh, you forgot something....A CABOOSE...!!!

    By official NMRA rules, announce1 ALL MODEL TRAINS MUST HAVE A CABOOSE...!!!
    (Just kiddin'...About the NMRA, not about the caboose!!)

    Good luck to you...:thumb:

    Gus (LC&P).
  17. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    How many "interference" points are there, ie-door ways, clesets, etc.? If you have the whole room available for a model railroad, depending on where the door is, you could do an around the walls layout with turn arounds at each end that wold total something like 90 linear feet!
  18. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    | |
    | |
    |<---- Sliding glass doors ----> |
    | |
    |__________french doors__________|

    thats kind of how the room looks so I was going to keep it towards the window side of the room with some walk around space...and closer to the left sliding glass door as its not used much.

    The comment about the caboose is funny! When I was buying all the stuff, the old gentleman that was helping will need one more thing! He left to the back of the store... and I thought...Oh I bet he is bringing me a caboose! No...he brought me rail insulators! hahah
  19. VulcanCCIT

    VulcanCCIT New Member

    the room is a mess, but here is what I came up with for bench the fun begins!! I hope it works, again, I have not ever built bench work...the American Flyer system long ago was just on a piece of plywood sitting on a picnic table. I appreciate everyones help!!!!!!!!

    Attached Files:

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