22" radius on a 4x8?

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#1
My space for my HO layout is limited to a 4x8 sheet of plywood and I'd like to begin to run Amtrak Superliner cars and six axle locomotives on my layout. I know that a 22" curve will come close to the edge, but how close?
 

julienjj

Noodle is good
#2
about 1 or 2 inches : 4x12''= 48 48-44 ( thats 2x r22") = 4"

I recommend you install a plexiglass fence over the edge, gives you peace of mind when you are running engine really fast
 

Motley

Active Member
#3
Good luck running the Superliners on 22" curves, I have 24" curves and had to install long shank Kadee couplers #26.

I would try to squeeze out another 4" on each side, maybe just a 4" strip of plywood can easily be added to the 4x8.
 
#4
Hey,

I had the same problem. I enjoy the superliners...and any other Amtrak cars, but it's hard to run them on a 4x8. Try just a station layout where you can operate them in and out of the station using switches, and a coach yard. I'm modelling Chicago Union Station, just for that purpose.

Good Luck!
 
#5
Superliners just wont look good on a 4x8. If you want to run Amtrak, I recommend joining a club that has a layout (what I did) or find a larger space. Supers just dont look good when squeezing around that sharp of a curve.
 

Espeefan

Active Member
#6
Superliners just wont look good on a 4x8. If you want to run Amtrak, I recommend joining a club that has a layout (what I did) or find a larger space. Supers just dont look good when squeezing around that sharp of a curve.
Afraid I have to agree. 85 ft passenger cars and 6 axles just don't look good on a 4 x 8. Too much overhang :(
 
#7
My space for my HO layout is limited to a 4x8 sheet of plywood and I'd like to begin to run Amtrak Superliner cars and six axle locomotives on my layout. I know that a 22" curve will come close to the edge, but how close?
Are you sure that:

1) H0 is the best modeling scale for you ?

2) That a continuous run loop is a necessity for you ?

3) a 4x8 foot rectangular table is the optimal use of your available space ?

The reason I ask is that a H0 scale loop of track on a rectangular table is a configuration that, while being common for beginners layouts, is a fairly inefficient use of space, especially in small rooms.

A continuous run loop on a 4x8 foot table pretty much limits you to sharpish curves - that's a given that most people understand right away.

But it also imposes some other limitations on you that you may not have considered:

a) Reach vs footprint. 4 feet is too deep to reach across comfortably. So you either have to keep the layout out from the wall and a have an access aisle behind it, or at least have enough free floor space in front of the layout to be able to pull it out from the wall to gain access to the rear.

This means that a 32 square feet 4x8 feet rectangular table layout will fill up a floor space of about 8 x 10 feet (to allow 2 foot access aisles on three sides of the layout).

Basically - if you put a 4x8 feet layout into an 8 x 10 room, that entire room is spoken for - you don't really have room to do anything else in that room - an illustration of a 4x6 in an 8x8 foot room - same difference with a 4x8 in an 8x10 foot room:



b) More than 50% of the mainline length is taken up by the two turn back curves at the end of the layout, and possibilities for spurs and industries etc is pretty much limited to running a few tracks into the center of the layout - not much room for buildings etc between the aisle and the track on a 4x8 H0 scale layout.

c) Visually, if you don't put a view block of some kind (a ridge, buildings, trees, a back board with a painted sky or something) down the spine of the layout, you only have room for one scene for your trains - and in a few seconds you will see the train that just passed you going east heading west in the back of the scene.

If you put in a view block to create two visually distinct scenes, you will need to walk around the layout to see the other scene.

So, if you really want to do a continuous loop on a rectangular table, I would recommend seriously considering N scale.

You can do a continuous run loop with fairly gentle curves for longer rolling on a hollow core door - 32" deep and 80" (6 2/3 feet) long. In terms of what you can fit onto the layout, that is roughly the equivalent of a H0 scale 5 x 12 foot layout. Curve radius wise, a 15" radius curve in N scale is about the equivalent of 27" radius in H0 scale.

And you can put that layout into a corner - since you can reach 30" or so into the scene (at least with the aid of a chair to stand on). Making the layout a better room mate.

You still would have the challenge of oval loops on rectangular tables, though.

Unless you put in a view block of some kind (a ridge, buildings etc) down along the spine of the table, you only will have one scene visually - with the train first passing through the scene once in the foreground, and then a second time in the background.

And if you put in a view block, to actually use that second scene, you need an access aisle to the rear of the layout, negating most of the advantage you won by having a shorter reach across the layout.

You would still have the advantage of gentler curves (about the equivalent of 26-27" radius curves for H0 scale) for longer engines and cars, though.

And you will be able to run longer trains - a medium sized engine is about 10" long in H0 scale, while an 85 foot passenger car is just under a foot long. A train consist of an engine and seven passenger cars takes almost 8 feet of length - ie the whole length of your 4x8 foot layout.

In N scale, those 85 foot passenger cars are about 6.3" long - and in 80" of track length you have room for a train consist of 10-11 passenger cars and an engine.

If your main goal is running longer trains and trains with long cars, going down in scale may be a very good idea.

And there is nothing that says that you have to do a continuous run N scale layout as a rectangle - one can e.g. do a folded dogbone put into a corner, and still not have too crappy reach and scenic separation:



Continuing on - if you want to do H0 scale, another option possibly worth exploring is to not create a loop on rectangular table.

You can e.g build a quite nice urban passenger railroad station on a 2 foot deep and 18-20 feet long shelf along just one or two walls in a room, and focus your modeling on modeling trains arriving and departing (or trains "just having arrived" or being "just about to depart").

Depending on desired modeling era, you can have engines being cut off and serviced, mail cars being taken to the post office, express freight being taken to the railroad express agency, restaurant cars or sleepers or observation cars being switched out of the train (to go onto other trains) and so on and so forth.

Or you can build a small town with a depot and en elevator on e.g. an 8 foot long and 18" deep scene, and off to either side of this area you can one "drawer" with five tracks holding e.g. 5 eastbound trains on the left side of the modeled scene and and another drawer holding five tracks on the right side of the modeled scene.

You can now have a variety of trains passing through your small town. Dropping off cars that later will be picked up by another train, or spotting cars at e.g. a warehouse or a team track or an elevator in your little town.

In general, running a layout as a set of not so deep shelves (or on a set of not so deep tables) along the walls allow you to use far bigger curve radius even in H0 scale, since the center of the curve does not have to be on the layout - you are doing quarter circles instead of half circles.



Running along the walls, where you cannot see the whole layout at the same time also allows you to have visually distinct scenes along the various walls and a far longer run, and allows industries and buildings both behind the trains and between the trains and the aisle/pit.

Having a wall behind the buildings beyond the tracks also makes it possibly to model just one side of a bigger building or a bigger scenery feature (like a mountain) - since you don't need to find room for the rest of the building or scenery feature.

You can also run continuous run in H0 scale with fairly gentle radius by considering doing a do-nut shaped layout instead with the operator (and any spectators) located in a pit in the center of the layout, rather than walking around a rectangular table.

You get into the central pit either by ducking under a narrow section of layout in front of the door, or having a swing gate or lift up or lift out piece of track. An illustration, using the same room as in the 4x6 example further up in this post:





Anyways, there are lots of options for building a layout in a smallish room.

It is not necessarily a given that "all I can fit is a 4x8 foot H0 scale layout".

I would suggest exploring some other options as well - and see if you perhaps have other options than trying to run 85 foot H0 scale passenger cars on a loop of track on a 4x8 foot table :)

Smile,
Stein
 
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#8
Very nice analysis Stein.

You're right about the limitation of a 4 x 8 layout.

Also, I want to mention that you rarely see only one loco on a train so in 4 x 8 format you cannot setup a consist of two or three 6-axles locos plus 85' foot cars that won't fit on that format.

I limited myself to 4-axles stuff and 65' is the longest I have and it still don't like the way it look on 22" curves.

I think 4 x 8 was best when cars were 40' :D
 

Motley

Active Member
#9
I find it strange that so many beginning modelers automatically restrict themselves on a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Why is that so popular size of a layout?

They may have a room available, in which Stein illustrates very well, that can hold an around the walls layout that utilizes that space better.

Don't be limited to that 4x8 sheet of plywood, there are many other options available for a small layout.
 
#10
I find it strange that so many beginning modelers automatically restrict themselves on a 4x8 sheet of plywood. Why is that so popular size of a layout?
The magazines, particularly MR, have published so many 4x8 track plans over the years, and still do, plus it's the largest one piece table-like piece of wood readily available to just about everyone in North America.

SteinJr, your analysis is an excellent piece, worthy of any commercial publication.
 
#11
Good luck running the Superliners on 22" curves, I have 24" curves and had to install long shank Kadee couplers #26.

I would try to squeeze out another 4" on each side, maybe just a 4" strip of plywood can easily be added to the 4x8.
It won't look good, but I did manage to get a superliner around a 14" curve on a branchline at the club (that curve has since been redone)
 
#12
Thanks for all of that Steinjr. Someday i want to break away from the 4x8 when I graduate high school, then college. Once i have my own home my larger layout will be designed with the ability to easily run Superliner equipment on it. I love Amtrak equipment and my LHS recently started to stock superliners on a regular basis. I'm going to begin collecting these cars and "test run" them on my current 4x8 layout. I'm not too worried about looks, but beleive me, someday i will be. Like others have previously mentioned, I want to model a scaled down version of Chicago Union Station in the future seeing as it would be easy for me to do since I travelled through there on the Capitol Limited and the California Zephyr the past two years.
 
#13
Thanks for all of that Steinjr. Someday i want to break away from the 4x8 when I graduate high school, then college. Once i have my own home my larger layout will be designed with the ability to easily run Superliner equipment on it. I love Amtrak equipment and my LHS recently started to stock superliners on a regular basis. I'm going to begin collecting these cars and "test run" them on my current 4x8 layout. I'm not too worried about looks, but beleive me, someday i will be. Like others have previously mentioned, I want to model a scaled down version of Chicago Union Station in the future seeing as it would be easy for me to do since I travelled through there on the Capitol Limited and the California Zephyr the past two years.
I think you missed my core point. It was not "it is nice to have a large layout".

It was "if you actually have little space, then it makes sense to consider some other approaches than a 4x8 rectangle for a H0 scale loop of track".

To illustrate my point - the room I could build a layout in is 6.5 x 11.5 foot, with a chimney base in a corner taking away 2 square feet, for a total of 72 square feet.

There is no way I could fit anything as big as 32 square feet 4x8 foot rectangular layout into that room and still have some sensible use of the room (I could put in a 4x8 with a big hole in the middle, and crawl under the table to get into the pit).

So what did I do? I built a layout that went around the walls of the room instead. 38 square feet of layout, room for several visually separated scenes, access to everything - and the option of building nice curves for longer equipment. This is what I ended up with for my layout:



Btw - note that I actually did not bother to go for bigger mainline curves than 22" radius - since I only run 40-foot cars and short engines. 22" radius is a 4x curve for cars that are 5.5" long (ie 40-foot H0 scale cars). For a car that is 12" long (ie an 85 foot passenger car in H0 scale), you need a curve with radius 36" to get up to 3x curves.

But there certainly is room if I had wanted to make gentler curves for longer - my upper limit for a continuous run track plan is about 36-38" radius - the width of the room is just 6.5 feet. But if my main goal had been running passenger trains, I would have gone for N scale - where 22-24" radius curves would have nice wide curves for passenger equipment.

Some images showing the layout (not in a very completed state):














Is is a great layout? Nope. But there is plenty of room for trying out some different scenes which won't have interfere with each other too badly visually. There is also plenty of space for storage and a workbench under the layout:





Smile,
Stein
 
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Selector

Active Member
#14
Agreed. Cutting that sheet of ply into three or four lengths will have you into a around-the-wall shelf project that will keep you busy for months just getting it scenicked. You'll have a more realistic linear railroad, just like in real life, and you'll be able to reach it all easily.

Crandell
 
#16
When I said "bigger" layout i meant an around the walls type, by cutting up a 4x8 sheet. I certainly appreciate all of your points and will be using them in time.
 
#17
I guess it depends on how realistic you want the train to look. It is possible to modify the trucks on a Superliner to make them run on 18" radius curves, but it looks bad. If you don't care about looks, and absolutely have to have superliners in HO, on a 4x8, just perform "surgery" using washers on the trucks, to allow more play in them, and install longer length coupler shanks, and you will be back on track so-to-speak! :)
 

Espeefan

Active Member
#18
I'm a fan of "beyond the 4 x 8" myself, but they do have their advantages for beginners. Even the most basic carpentry skills will get you by. You can buy the wood in one piece. There are track plans that will work nicely on them. It gets you started building something, instead of getting stuck in the planning stage. The old "HO Railroad That Grows" started with a 4 x 8, and so did the Gorre & Daphetid. If you keep to 40 foot cars (60 footers for passenger trains) and four axle locos or small steamers, trains will look OK on it. Your available space, time, and money budgets will determine what's best for you. MR has a good section on 4 x 8 layouts this month. Check it out.

PS: Great for N scalers!
 
#19
So does anybody else find it odd that I can run any passenger car-even bi levels on a 24" radius, but yet the single level Amfleets won't run at all, and yet Walthers says they will run on a 24" radius. Just a thought?
 
#20
I guess it depends on how realistic you want the train to look. It is possible to modify the trucks on a Superliner to make them run on 18" radius curves, but it looks bad. If you don't care about looks, and absolutely have to have superliners in HO, on a 4x8, just perform "surgery" using washers on the trucks, to allow more play in them, and install longer length coupler shanks, and you will be back on track so-to-speak! :)
I've run it on a 14 inch radius curve. It makes a horrible squealing noise and looks awful, but it will make it around. (I was "breaking it in" on the branch line at the club)

So does anybody else find it odd that I can run any passenger car-even bi levels on a 24" radius, but yet the single level Amfleets won't run at all, and yet Walthers says they will run on a 24" radius. Just a thought?
The Walthers amfleet trucks are total trash. They don't roll very well and they also don't like curves. Inboard bearing trucks are hard to do in HO scale since the axle is held in by the inside part of the axle and not the needlepoint. The only solution is to lube the hell out of the trucks and/or swap out the trucks for the ones made by IHP (Imperial Hobby Productions).
 
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