New on here. Starting my first layout

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NScaler

Engineer in Training
#1
Hi guys. I have been reading the forums here for awhile now, but I am new here. I have already introduced myself in the appropriate forum ( Howdy from Indy ). I signed up to get some help, and learn more about the hobby. There are some pretty helpful people here and I hope to learn more about layout design and operation. So anyway, after two or three weeks of trying to come up with an N scale design, I finally came to the realization that I suck at designing a layout. So recently I stumbled across a design that will work for what I want to build. I rotated it, changed a few things around, and this is what I came up with...


Whoever designed this, thank you very much!

Now, for the benchwork, I modeled up my benchwork using Mastercam. Here is the complete benchwork with 4" of pink foam. The fascia will of course be cut to match the scenery in higher areas...


Here is a lower view of the L girder construction. I hope I have this right?...


Here is a close up view of all the layers. The joists sit atop the L girders. Then I have a 1/4" sheet of plywood. Then the two 2" sheets of foam (colored differently so you can see each sheet). I know 1/4" is probably thin. But I plan to brace this up more in areas that need it. Where it's not needed I want to keep it as light as possible...


I plan to cut the roadbed out of the plywood and raise it in ares that need raised. The foam is just on the model for height reference. The rest of the terrain I plan to create with cardboard strips and plaster gauze. And you can't really see it, but these are two separate tables, with a small section in the middle connecting them. If I ever need to disassemble this it shouldn't be too difficult to do so after I get the track torn up.

Any criticism is welcome. I am new to this part of the hobby so I will appreciate any advice you guys can give me.
 

Motley

Active Member
#2
Ya that layout plan looks great. You have a reverse loop there on that top section. So you will need an auto-reversing module.

And your benchwork design is very detailed. Everything looks good.

Why don't you just use the 2" foam on top the plywood? Its easier to create all the terrain using foam. And for grades, you can use Woodland Scenics curvable incline sets.

Will this be DC or DCC?
 
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NScaler

Engineer in Training
#3
Ya that layout plan looks great. You have a reverse loop there on that top section. So you will need an auto-reversing module.

And your benchwork design is very detailed. Everything looks good.

Why don't you just use the 2" foam on top the plywood? Its easier to create all the terrain using foam. And for grades, you can use Woodland Scenics curvable incline sets.

Will this be DC or DCC?
Ok, this is where I am going to show you how much I don't know. I have the ability to build the benchwork, lay the track, and scratch build the scenery. And I can model some pretty intricate stuff. But wiring and all that I figured I will learn along the way. I don't know how an auto-reversing module works. So thanks for pointing that out. Can you elaborate just a tad? I know on a reverse loop the polarity must switch. So does this module do that automatically? This track plan just happened to be shaped the way I needed it to be, and had some features I wanted. The hard part for me is going to be getting it all wired up correctly because I have never ran any more than a loop around a Christmas tree outside of my dioramas.

So are you saying not to use any plywood under the roadbed at all? Because that would be a lot easier. I was just going to do what I have seen a lot of modelers do and cut the roadbed into the plywood and bend it up where the grades were.

DC or DCC. I don't know. I know DCC allows for some pretty cool functions on the trains. Is it easier to wire up a track using it? I was planning on using Atlas Code 55. I have seen a lot of people are using the Kato track. I went with the Atlas for it's flexibility and cost.

Thanks!
 

Motley

Active Member
#4
Go with DCC, its a lot easier to wire up, and you can run sound locomotives, and runs multiple locomotives at the same time without any special toggle switches. There is a DCC auto-reversing module by Tony's Trains, called the PSX-AR. I have one of those on my layout, and it works great, and is easy to wire up. You will have to cut gaps in the rails, and wire the auto reverser to that reversing section. But don't worry about it until you have the track laid.

Some people do what you decscibed as a cookie cutter for grades. I just use the Woodland Scenics 2% incline sets, they are easy to work with, and no calculating of grades and such to deal with. And with the 2" foam, you can just carve out that river you have there, below the track surface. Much easier to do that, and trying to do it with plywood. Just use cross braces no more than 12" space in between to support the pink foam.

Atlas flex track is the way to go, much easier to layout and have more ability to lay down what ever curves you want.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#5
Any criticism is welcome. I am new to this part of the hobby so I will appreciate any advice you guys can give me.
I think the cut-off curve around the round house to the branch line is going to be a problem as far as the grade is concerned. Having it there almost dictated that passing siding and the track coming out of the "yard" area is going to have to be on a slope. Is there a reason for the two entrances to the branch?

The 4th and 5th tracks next to the round house seem plenty very short. Is there a specific reason for that? I'm guessing there might actually be more storage space if the 5th track is eliminated.

The three parallel double ended tracks in the very center seems to be a odd configuration. Is this a specialized industry? Usually an industry would have 1 switch off the railroads main track (branch track in this case) and then have the other switches off of that track.

Other than some main yard design questions this looks like a very action filled railroad. I can see simultaneously 3 trains on the main and 1 on the branch.

Edit- and oh by the way there are two reversing loops in there, not just one.
 

NScaler

Engineer in Training
#6
The 4th and 5th tracks next to the round house seem plenty very short. Is there a specific reason for that? I'm guessing there might actually be more storage space if the 5th track is eliminated.
I added that extra turnout just to get the 4th flex track evenly spaced. I meant to delete that turnout and reconnect the 4th track but I forgot. See below.

The three parallel double ended tracks in the very center seems to be a odd configuration. Is this a specialized industry? Usually an industry would have 1 switch off the railroads main track (branch track in this case) and then have the other switches off of that track.
Yeah, I am not sure what I was planning there. The original wasn't like that. I kind of wanted a big yard in the middle but instead what you said makes more sense. Let me know if the revised design is better.

Edit- and oh by the way there are two reversing loops in there, not just one.
Yeah, I saw that. It's slightly hidden.

I think the cut-off curve around the round house to the branch line is going to be a problem as far as the grade is concerned. Having it there almost dictated that passing siding and the track coming out of the "yard" area is going to have to be on a slope. Is there a reason for the two entrances to the branch?
I saw that when working on the grades. I was banging my head up against the wall. So I came up with this solution...
 
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NScaler

Engineer in Training
#7
Go with DCC, its a lot easier to wire up, and you can run sound locomotives, and runs multiple locomotives at the same time without any special toggle switches. There is a DCC auto-reversing module by Tony's Trains, called the PSX-AR. I have one of those on my layout, and it works great, and is easy to wire up. You will have to cut gaps in the rails, and wire the auto reverser to that reversing section. But don't worry about it until you have the track laid.

Some people do what you decscibed as a cookie cutter for grades. I just use the Woodland Scenics 2% incline sets, they are easy to work with, and no calculating of grades and such to deal with. And with the 2" foam, you can just carve out that river you have there, below the track surface. Much easier to do that, and trying to do it with plywood. Just use cross braces no more than 12" space in between to support the pink foam.

Atlas flex track is the way to go, much easier to layout and have more ability to lay down what ever curves you want.
All this makes perfect sense. I wasn't even thinking I would have to cut the river into the plywood. Duh. I have more than enough foam so I will do this your way.

Thanks for the tips guys!
 
#8
I used 1/4 Luan as a sub-road bed that was 'cookie cut' and glued onto a the second foam later. This foam layer was also cookie cut to match the sub-road bed and cut/sanded to form the grades. The Luan worked well to provide a transition into and out of the grades.
Check my built thread for details.
 
#9
The bottom left side has 6 spurs, but I am having a hard time seeing how to fit 6 industries in there, unless it is a logging spur, scrap yard, or slag dump that uses similar configurations.
 
#11
You might want to make a track go off the layout to connect with other railroads. Even a simple single track, with a different color ballast, and an old switch tower can be a perfect starting / ending point for your trains.
 

NScaler

Engineer in Training
#13
I see what you mean about the lower left area being kinda busy. That area is from the original design and I was having a tough time deciding what to put there. I think the spur just above the river will be a grain elevator. Then onto the lower left I will rework that for a paper recycling plant. Where I am from in Terre Haute Indiana they also had a paper mill and a box factory. I may try to fit one or both of those in there somewhere. With the coal mine and power plant I think I will have plenty of gondolas right? I would like some box cars and a few tankers as well.

Thanks for the input!

Oh and hey waltr - VERY NICE! I love the turntable. I want to build one just like it.
 

NScaler

Engineer in Training
#14
I have a question for you guys. I used Atlas code 55 track in SCARM to layout the trackwork. But I have found out that it doesn't work with standard Micro Trains wheel flanges. I always liked the look of code 55 over code 80 for my dioramas. But I have never had an actual layout to run trains on. I am thinking I will go with Peko code 55 track. What are the advantages of using code 80?

Thanks
 
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otiscnj

Well-Known Member
#15
Code 80 rail would be substantially heavier rail, than code 55, and probably used on a 'heavier duty' mainline. I'm not sure if code 80 is considered slightly 'out of scale,' or not, but it should offer more reliable operation for anything with larger/older flanges. Its also more commonly available, I believe (+ costs less).
 

NScaler

Engineer in Training
#16
That's kind of what I figured. I prefer the look of code 55 so I think I am going to go with that. Just curious, do people normally use different code track together?
 

NScaler

Engineer in Training
#17
I have made some changes to the design. I thinned it out a bit and modified a few things. Please tell me what you think. I really need the advice of more experienced people I think. My smallest radius looks to be 11-1/2" or so. And all grades are less than 2%. I have attached the 3D view to this. It's pretty crude. I plan to make the terrain a bit thicker than what is shown so the river will be a bit lower.

 

cajon

Active Member
#18
The Coal fired power plant lead should come off the siding above & not off the branchline. As it is there's a whole lot of switching to be done to get it set up for spotting on the branchline. And if that's a double Xover to the intermodal place & the spur on the right, it's one big waste of money! Also put the yard tracks above the turntable/roundhouse so they can be longer & straight. Coupling on curves is a BPITA!
 
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Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#19
I agree about the curved yard tracks. While I know that coupling on a curve is less of a problem with N-scale with the truck mounted couplers, but it could still be an issue.
I also agree about the double crossover for the two front most industry tracks. Definitely overkill. A simple single turnout for each one is sufficient. On a branch line one is not normally concerned about "keeping the main clear" for through trains. There aren't any.
I disagree about the power plant though. I like it on the lower level branch. Having it there more or less dictates a dedicated train from the yard just for that one industry. One train for the power plant, another train for all the other industries out there.
 

NScaler

Engineer in Training
#20
I disagree about the power plant though. I like it on the lower level branch. Having it there more or less dictates a dedicated train from the yard just for that one industry. One train for the power plant, another train for all the other industries out there.
I was kind of thinking the same thing in my unexperienced way of thinking. I would rather have a little more work getting the coal from the coal mine to the power plant by having to drop it at the yard, then make up a train. The power plant, outside of the round house, will be the main feature on my layout.

I am still tweaking, and I thought I would be started on this a week or so ago. So I appreciate you guys giving me advice. Every change I make seems to be making this design better. I have made the changes you guys agreed on, and I have modified the track at the power plant to more resemble this...



So here is rev 4...


I still welcome more discussion about the track plan.
Thanks again guys.
 



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