Suggestions, questions regarding a small N scale layout

Discussion in 'Track Planning' started by hizzoe, Dec 23, 2004.

  1. hizzoe

    hizzoe New Member

    Hi all, I've been reading the forums now for a few weeks, and my starter materials have finally arrived so that I can begin building my layout. I've given it alot of thought, but I'm still not 100% decided on exactly what to do next, so I thought I'd turn to you people for some advice.

    I don't have alot of space, and from reading other threads in the forum, I picked the top layout from Mike's Small Trackplans Page.

    I had a spare piece of 2'x4'x3/4" mdf lying around, so that trackplan seemed ideal. I ordered 2 used DC controllers from ebay, 10 pieces of 30" N Gauge code 55 flex track (25 feet total), 3 left #5 turnouts and 5 right #5 turnouts, and an atlas SD 24 locomotive (which finally arrived today).

    While I was waiting for all the parts to arrive, someone at the office was about to throw out a cork bulletin board, you know, the kind that you hang on the wall and put papers on with thumb tacks. Suddenly I was inspired. I measured the piece, and it was 24"x36", only slightly too small for my layout, tho the trackplans page has a variation of the layout that I had chosen that would actually fit on a 2'x3' piece of material.

    The board seems perfect, it's rigid, light, and already has the perfect texture to attach track and houses to. A trip to my local office supply store showed two sizes of intrest to me, the afore mentioned 24"x36" size, as well as a 36"x48" size. They come in a variety of edging materials (oak and aluminum) and in a variety of colors (white, grey, and the traditional brown). The boards are also quite reasonably priced between $20 and $40 Canadian.

    Now, here are my questions:

    1: Does building a layout using this material as a base seem like a good idea? I have no problem reinforcing it with a lumber frame, so twisting wouldn't be a problem. My concern is that the layout last a long time while being easy to modify as the need arises. Any other concerns that I'm missing here? All my other layouts have been cork roadbed glued to huge expanses of plywood. Now that I have less space (and have downsized from HO to N), I was hoping to build smaller and much more realistic.

    2: Whether or not I end up building on the cork as a base, I was thinking of stretching the edges of the original trackplan a few inches. Keeping in mind that I only have 25' of track to work with, and that any extra track I have to order is frustrating weeks away by mail order, which way would be the ideal way to stretch the layout. Should I take it from the original 24"x48" and widen it to either 30"x48" or 36" x48"? Or should I lengthen it up to as much as 24"x72"? I have the ideal space for it in my house if I make it anywhere from 24"x60" to as much as 24"x72". Does anyone who has experience with Atlas Code 55 flex track forsee any problems with such tight radiuses especially on a roughly 3% grade?

    I know that I'll have more questions later, and that I'll have to make adjustments to my layout no matter what I decide. I was just hoping that with a little bit of planning and forethought that I'd be able to avoid some surprises up front.

    Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

  2. hizzoe

    hizzoe New Member

  3. just a note:

    Atlas code 55 track tends to slightly larger space than the code 80. If you try to duplicate the code 80 trackplans with sectional code 55, it won't fit
  4. hizzoe

    hizzoe New Member

    I'm using flex track tho. Does it have the same limitations as the Code 55 sectional pieces?
  5. Tad

    Tad Member

    No, but the turnouts are #5, where Atlas Code 80 turnouts are #4. That will make a difference as the diverging angle will be a little larger and will cause you to have to make some adjustment.
  6. hizzoe

    hizzoe New Member

    If that's the case, how much should I guess that I'd need to widen/lengthen the layout? is 4" all the way around sufficient?
  7. Bama Red

    Bama Red New Member

    I think you'll be disappointed if you use the bulletin board as a base for your layout. The material under the cork is not nearly thick enough (even with bracing). The last bulletin board I had at the office used a 1/2" thick piece of cardboard under the cork, surrounded by an oak frame! The MDF will also cause you some problems if you use traditional methods of attaching track and scenery - it will soak up any liquid (glue, alcohol, water) and will swell badly. I'd stick with a cheap 3/8" piece of scrap plywood - you might be able to get one at the local lumber yard for next to nothing.
  8. hizzoe

    hizzoe New Member

    Too late with the advice Bama, just before you posted, I had purchased 2'x3' pieces of cork bulletin boards. I can see how water and moisture could be a problem, but these boards are constructed of 1/4" particle board with cork glued over top. At least it isn't cardboard, and it's fairy rigid. I suppose I'll just have to be very careful with water getting on the layout as I build.

    After trimming, I put the butt ends together and screwed it all down to a quick little frame that I built. Here's how it looks. This is just a test fit before I glue the track down.

    Attached Files:

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