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Small layouts that could be combined

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Small layouts that could be combined
Posted by ron@329 on Sunday, January 07, 2018 6:34 PM

Had posted a while back about getting into this but got sidetracked with all sorts of home projects.  So once again, just getting started with model trains (well except for my Lionel trains as kid and a never really finished 3x6 N-scale setup when my son was a lot younger).  While we are empty nesters, not willing to devote a lot of floor space to a permanent large setup.  Rather, I would go small layouts that can be enjoyed independently and periodically taken to a larger space and joined together.  My first thoughts of N-scale 30”x60” layouts got ruled out because they won’t fit through the  room door without a lot of tilting.  So down to  Z-scale 2’x4’ layouts (with unfortunately its higher cost and lower availability of engines/rolling stock).  Actually, I’m probably more intrigued by trying to tackle Z-scale.
After lots of reading, Googling track plans, and reviewing some of the earlier feedback, came up with three layouts.  Totally fictional, set in the latter 20th century United Sates; diesel engines; freight cars of the 40 and 60 foot variety.  Leaning toward Microtrains track since the idea of snap together (Rokuhan) doesn’t appeal to me and I really don’t like the look of the Marklin turnouts (with all the works on top of the table).  Used SCARM software to do the layouts so I trust they can actually be built.  Would go the DCC route and incorporate JMRI computer controlled operations at some point.  My bent is toward interesting train management layouts rather than a focus on fantastic scenery and structures. But that doesn’t mean barren track on plywood of course – so would have structures, landscaping, track ballasting, etc..  In the three layouts I was looking for different train management experiences. Would probably run up to three trains simultaneously.  Haven’t got all of the structures and what not on the layouts yet but a basic feel of where I think I’m going.
The first two layouts are single level and the third incorporates overpassing.
The first one I would attempt provides a combination of let them run with some switching to work with the industries https://i.imgur.com/uOT56VL.jpg Would try running two trains in opposite directions in the blue colored “outer loops” to manage a combination of single track and double track operations.  Any switching activities would occur with one of these trains entering the inner loop and interacting with the industries.  The crossover in  the middle gives me a way to turn the train to exit on the mainline in the upper left direction from which I entered asuming this and the next layout are coupled together.
The second is a train yard and engine service layout https://i.imgur.com/AJa11Wd.jpg.  I knowI violated some of the cardinal rules of train yards but space considerations came into play.  So, for example,  there is the turnout on the left where the A/D track  and yard leads share some track.  Is the runaround being a complete loop totally absurd? The turnout at the top (from yard lead to mainline) is an added cheat so the layout, when joined with the industry layout, can act as a turnaround “simulating” having picked up a construct.  But in fact it would really just be a train coming in on the mainline from the upper right, switching onto the A/D track, then to the runaround and yard leads and finally using the cheat, heading back out on the mainline.
In  3D perspective, these two layouts joined together might look something like this https://i.imgur.com/VpyKh0O.jpg
The third is a let them run layout set in a mountainous environment https://i.imgur.com/6oUIwWb.jpg
One way that they might all  be put together is this https://i.imgur.com/t27Zv96.jpg
Would love any thoughts on the whole idea of the modular approach and trying to meet a goal of modules that make sense as interesting independent operations and as connected units, and most importantly on the layouts I’ve come up with.
Tags: layout , modular , Z-scale
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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, January 07, 2018 7:37 PM

Big blocks of text are hard to read for some of us.  What you wrote is better than a long post with no capitalization or punctuation, but a few spaces make it easier to follow. It may not be grammatically necessary, but reading on a screen is different than reading a newspaper.  Also a picture is better than bouncing back and forth to the link of the picture and the text of you post.

You also managed to nearly post pictures, which is a challenge to newbies.  Forgive me but I've reformated your post

Had posted a while back about getting into this but got sidetracked with all sorts of home projects.  So once again, just getting started with model trains (well except for my Lionel trains as kid and a never really finished 3x6 N-scale setup when my son was a lot younger). 
 
While we are empty nesters, not willing to devote a lot of floor space to a permanent large setup.  Rather, I would go small layouts that can be enjoyed independently and periodically taken to a larger space and joined together. 
 
My first thoughts of N-scale 30”x60” layouts got ruled out because they won’t fit through the  room door without a lot of tilting.  So down to  Z-scale 2’x4’ layouts (with unfortunately its higher cost and lower availability of engines/rolling stock).  Actually, I’m probably more intrigued by trying to tackle Z-scale.
 
After lots of reading, Googling track plans, and reviewing some of the earlier feedback, came up with three layouts.  Totally fictional, set in the latter 20th century United Sates; diesel engines; freight cars of the 40 and 60 foot variety.  Leaning toward Microtrains track since the idea of snap together (Rokuhan) doesn’t appeal to me and I really don’t like the look of the Marklin turnouts (with all the works on top of the table).  Used SCARM software to do the layouts so I trust they can actually be built.  Would go the DCC route and incorporate JMRI computer controlled operations at some point. 
 
My bent is toward interesting train management layouts rather than a focus on fantastic scenery and structures. But that doesn’t mean barren track on plywood of course – so would have structures, landscaping, track ballasting, etc.. 
 
In the three layouts I was looking for different train management experiences. Would probably run up to three trains simultaneously.  Haven’t got all of the structures and what not on the layouts yet but a basic feel of where I think I’m going.
 
The first two layouts are single level and the third incorporates overpassing.
 
The first one I would attempt provides a combination of let them run with some switching to work with the industries  Would try running two trains in opposite directions in the blue colored “outer loops” to manage a combination of single track and double track operations.  Any switching activities would occur with one of these trains entering the inner loop and interacting with the industries.  The crossover in  the middle gives me a way to turn the train to exit on the mainline in the upper left direction from which I entered asuming this and the next layout are coupled together.
 
The second is a train yard and engine service layout    I know I violated some of the cardinal rules of train yards but space considerations came into play.  So, for example,  there is the turnout on the left where the A/D track and yard leads share some track. 
 
Is the runaround being a complete loop totally absurd? The turnout at the top (from yard lead to mainline) is an added cheat so the layout, when joined with the industry layout, can act as a turnaround “simulating” having picked up a construct.  But in fact it would really just be a train coming in on the mainline from the upper right, switching onto the A/D track, then to the runaround and yard leads and finally using the cheat, heading back out on the mainline.
 
In  3D perspective, these two layouts joined together might look something like this
 

 

The third is a let them run layout set in a mountainous environment

One way that they might all  be put together is this 

 

Would love any thoughts on the whole idea of the modular approach and trying to meet a goal of modules that make sense as interesting independent operations and as connected units, and most importantly on the layouts I’ve come up with.
 
 
 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by originaldirtguy on Sunday, January 07, 2018 8:06 PM

So, was that necessary? 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, January 07, 2018 8:07 PM

originaldirtguy
So, was that necessary?

It was for me.  It might be useful for others.

Now that I butchered the OP's post, I owe him an opinion.  The choice of scales is a matter of taste and space available.  Z scale would not be my choice, but that's not my decision.

Some people like round and round, some people like operation and point to point.  Your plan mixes both and I like the modular approach as I intend to downsize and move.  Actively managing more than 2 trains is a challenge.  If the third train is just going around a circle all by itself, that is not much extra effort.  But if you are trying to manage 3 which have the potential to run into one another or off the end of the layout, you will have your hands full.

I'm not sure your yard lead works in the third layout.  The better layout designers will have more to say about that, I am sure.  John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation is a must have.

All three layouts have reversing loops.  We cannot tell if you don't know what you don't know.  Nothing wrong with reversing loops, but you have to know they exist and how to wire them.

 

 
 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by originaldirtguy on Sunday, January 07, 2018 8:24 PM

Hi Ron,

I have seen some layouts that are N-scale and run in 2'X4' modules. Here's the thing, in my experience you need at least 24" of depth for a loop. That said, the thought of building a few 2'X4' modules that can be hooked together in various configurations is intriguing to say the least. My next project may go that direction.

"Is the runaround being a complete loop totally absurd?"

I have this motto: "It's My Railroad". Is it absurd to run a 24" loop for an N-scale train? Compared to the prototype, yup. However, we do what we need to do to enjoy our layouts and to share them with others.

I would encourage you to simply follow your gut, ignore the rivet counters, and let the rest of us know how it's going! I look forward to seeing your progress!

Hope this helps,

s~

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Posted by BigDaddy on Sunday, January 07, 2018 8:24 PM

In your final picture you can go from the left layout to the center and then to the right or back to the left.  Starting at the right layout, the only way to return to it is to all the way to the left layout and then back.

Not sure that's a deal breaker, just pointing it out.

 

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by SouthPenn on Sunday, January 07, 2018 9:52 PM

A 28" wide platform should pass through any door in a home without a lot or any tilting. 

The only 'Z' scale layout I have seen are at shows and they are entirely too small for me. The aggravation and frustration level will be very high.

Definitely an interesting layout. If you are planning to run the trains in continuous mode, I don't see how that would be possible with the mountain section. But I am not familiar with JMRI so maybe it would work.   

 

South Penn
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Posted by Choops on Monday, January 08, 2018 9:13 AM

too many loops around a board.

Dont like the loop on the middle section.  try to design it so that as you add sections the main line gets longer. 

Also does z scale have DCC available?  The design as you have will be a wiring nightmare for DC.

Steve

Modeling Union Pacific between Cheyenne and Laramie in 1957 (roughly)
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Posted by DSchmitt on Monday, January 08, 2018 9:25 AM

Choops
lso does z scale have DCC available? 

 

Yes                     

 https://www.tcsdcc.com/Customer_Content/Products/Decoders/Z-Scale/Z%20Series.html

Also AZL offered a few locos with DCC, but has discontinued them.          

 

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, January 08, 2018 3:18 PM

 WHen adding on that mountain section, the middle section could be changed to that it's just a single loop that gains elevation before transitionign on to the mountain part - so instead of a continuous loop it's effectively a single turn helix.

                                     -Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by ron@329 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 12:44 PM

Thank you for reminding me that 28" will fit through the doorway.  Not that I doubted it, but I cut a piece of wood just to check :-).  Armed with that info I've tried redoing the layouts in N-scale on a 28x58 (long story about why 58) surface with an actual "active" area of 24x54 (to insure space for the 3/4 inch framing for the support and some working space for things like Tortoise switch controllers).  Have successfully done it with Atlas code-55 (except for a Peco code 55 double slip switch to help provide reasonable length for the train yard; I know the Atlas and Peco won't play together out of the box but found an explanation of the tweaking you have to do to the Peco track to make it work).  Also did it completely with Peco code 55.  Managed to stay with close to a 10 inch minimum radius for the most part.  All of this, of course, has been done with the SCARM software, not for real.

Not sure which way I would go yet or if I should consider code 80 (Atlas or Peco).  But N-scale is clearly back in the running.  BTW, I confess, while I have played with N-scale in the past, I have never actually had my hands on Z-scale.  It will take a visit to the train store (closest Z-scale dealer is about 50 miles away in Pasadena) to touch and feel Z-scale before I can make a final decision.  Thanks again for waking me up on this.

As for your second comment, there is the reversing crossover track in the middle of the mountain section.  As another commenter pointed out, I would be "in trouble" if I tried to run continuous with just the indusry and mountain section in play because the industry reverse is in the wrong direction.  Was aware of that up front, but hadn't envisioned running just those two modules together.

JMRI just provides computer controlled automated running.  There are several software packages that support this, but JMRI happens to be open source and free and it is Java based so it will run on just about anything.  That tickles my fancy since I was a software engineer for 40 years.  It doesn't per se solve potential routing issues like the one you are suggesting.  Lot's of You Tube videos and WEB sites about it, and automated computer control in general, if you are interested.

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Posted by ron@329 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 1:06 PM

I hear what you are saying.  I think I got into that loop "bind" because I wanted each module to also stand-alone and not be point-to-point in a small layout.  Will think about modules that just extend the mainline such as what happens, for example, when a number of people bring their modules built to NMRA standards to a club and they all get hooked together.

As you might have noticed from my previous reply, N-scale is back in the running and DCC is clearly available there. As for Z-scale, another commenter mentioned AZL.  Digitrax also make decoders, that based on their WEB site, will work with some AZL, Marklin, and Micro Trains engines.

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Posted by ron@329 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 3:41 PM

RE: All three layouts have reversing loops.  We cannot tell if you don't know what you don't know.  Nothing wrong with reversing loops, but you have to know they exist and how to wire them

Yes, well aware they are there and have been doing a lot of reading.  No way I would attempt this with DC, but with DCC I think I can pull it off --- not to say I won't get it wrong the first time.  Actually, there are autoreverse units out there that make managing it with DCC a bit easier.  For example, there is one discussion here http://www.amhobby.com/products/tech/generic/guide_areversers.html And if anyone has any experience with this approach I'd love to hear from them.

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 5:32 PM

 You can fit way more than 28" through a door. Our temporary holiday layout when I was a kid, it broke down into 4x4 foot sections. It easily fit through a door and then made a sharp turn to go down to the basement for storage. The real limiting factor was the low headroom at the bottom of the basement stairs - even as a kid I had to duck or whack my head. Once IN the basement, there was more than 6' headroom.

 The key is how THICK the benchwork is. A 4x8 section with 4 foot long legs will be very difficult to get through a door. A 4x8 section that's maybe 4-5" thick will easily fit through a door.

                                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by ron@329 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 5:41 PM

Legs will not be an issue.  Not having had a lot of experience with structures, landscaping, etc, is it an issue if the layout is tilted to the vertical, or nearly vertical, to get it through the door?

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 6:08 PM

I don't think most people glue their structures down. Maybe the guys that go to MR shows do.  A layout had width and length.  In my own situation with 2x7, I have to back into the furnace room and then go forward up the stairs, with the legs removed. 

Basements, especially, have structural poles and things that get in the way going to the stairwell.

 

Henry

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, January 11, 2018 7:22 AM

 On our old home layout, everything but the track came off. On the club modular layout, most things are permanently attached, but taller things like some stacks and some of the really huge buildings do come off. But those modules are all transported flat, in rolling carrying racks we built, they don't get tilted up on end.

 The dirty little secret, you'll probbaly never use it again even if you DO take it with you. I built my last layout in moveable sections. Moved it all to my new house and stacked it in the basement. And it sat there for over 3 years just taking up space until I had it all hauled away by the junk man a few months ago. I didn't even save the track - I'm not using Atlas on the next layout. Only thing I saved was the scraps of extruded foam because I will need a LOT of it to fill in landforms.

 For most modular layouts, you don't want anything much wider than 24" anyway, so that sort of thing is easily moved through a standard door in normal orientation, without tipping or tilting.

                               --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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