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New railroader looking for HO advice

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New railroader looking for HO advice
Posted by Wdodge0912 on Friday, January 10, 2020 1:28 PM

Hello! I'm a new railroad modeler and I'm looking for some advice. 

So some background,  I bought a ton of HO track with a few good DC throttle packs, and now have quite a few engines running after picking up some more of those.  I also bought a lot of new track when the local store closed up as the owner retired.  

Right now though,  I don't have the room for a large sprawling layout however.  So for now I'm looking to build something smaller.  I have a Southern Pacific GE 44 ton switcher that runs really well, so my plan was a "door" layout,  36"x80". I've found a few plans I found interesting, using 15" radius curves.  I know my engine will be fine,  and as long as I use short 40' box cars and tankers, and 2 bay covered hoppers, I should be fine for running it around. I figured late 50s or 60s would be the era I have to model to make it all fit together. 

 

Where I need some advice though,  is what industry/industries I should put on the layout?. The wife and I are looking to get a house soon,  so I do want to be able to expand onto the layout later too. I was thinking when I do expand,  I can connect the layout I'm building now to a mainline with an interchange track,  and keep the ge 44 ton switcher to bring in the cars to the area. 

 

With a future expansion in mind,  would I be better to have 3 small industries,  or 1 big one? 

 

The big industry i was thinking was a single plant.  But I'm not sure if that would make sense when I expand later.  I was thinking though I would repaint the switcher and make it the plant's engine,  and not a rail line's. Pretty much the interchange would be where the bigger class railroad drops off the cars ordered from the suppliers, and the 44 tonner would bring them into the plant when the plant needs them. I figured the interchange would also have a small yard and stuff for servicing the 44 tonner as well. 

 

I'm just not sure if any of that makes any sense, if it's any kind of realistic at all.  Im also not sure that once I do expand the layout, what I'd put on that. The plan would be for this little one to remain, and add it into a big layout where I can run my much bigger locomotives.

I will say Im not too picky when it comes to modeling specific lines and all that, I really just want to watch trains roll. My collection is a big mix of locomotives anyways. Maybe later once I have room to really model I can change things up to a specific line, but then that comes with a whole other set of things to ponder before building.

Anyways, I appreciate any and all help that will get me going on a layout.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, January 10, 2020 6:30 PM

Welcome!  Welcome

First, your initial few posts are moderated, so it may take a while for them to appear after you post them.  Don't worry.  It's only a few posts, and meant for everyone's protection.

Second, can you design around those 15 inch curves, either to eliminate them or at least make them easily replaced when you get more space?

I think the idea of industries is to provide a reason for different types of freight cars.  My brewery only has one kind of car, the ice-bunker reefer, going out.  On the other hand, my tannery receives hides in old boxcars, salt in a hopper and fuel oil and acid in tank cars, and needs different, clean boxcars for finished leather goods.

Not for now, but give some thought to the railroads you wish to model, and the timeframe.  Eventually, that will help guide you in your purchases.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by peahrens on Friday, January 10, 2020 7:54 PM

Welcome, indeed.  I think you will find the Forum interesting and helpful. 

Are you fixed on having a loop on that size layout, requiring 15" curves?  That might be fine for having a good first experience, but I am sceptical that it would incorporate reasonably into a larger layout after you move.

That got me thinking about several things:

a) Consider a more linear switching (no loop) layout.  A number of folks enjoy that as a fun build and decent operation.

b) If you have room for 2 (or 1-1/2) doors, consider a longer or L-shaped switching layout for more features that could be included.

c) Lastly, if you think you would incorporate the layout into a larger layout later, my inclination would be to skip the door(s) and build module(s) with 1x4 support framing and plywood top.  that would be easier to mate with expansion areas in the future IMHO. 

d) I have not looked, but there might be some interesting linear (e.g., shelf) layouts in the MR track plan database, under "How To" above.

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, January 10, 2020 8:24 PM

1. Don't rush it. Lots to research and learn about but,

2. Don't overanalyze and

3. Don't be afraid to build something and then tear it down. You will probably go through this a few times as you progress in the hobby and refine your interests. Those magnificent room filling layouts where the article says it is the person's very first layout - that's one in a million. 

 

                                        --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 snjroy on Friday, January 10, 2020 8:26 PM

Since you will be moving soon, I would suggest to treat this as a non-permanent fun layout. Make a loop with a few spurs, and find a few second hand industry buildings to put on it. Buy rolling stock kits and hone your skills. Meanwhile, do some research and explore the various aspects of this great hobby. Avoid spending big bucks on stuff - your new home might dictate things or offer great opportunities. Who knows, you might have to change scale, or have space for wider curves for large diesels on main line operations.

Simon

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Posted by Wdodge0912 on Saturday, January 11, 2020 8:59 AM

I guess the best way to approach this would be to have something now, and tear it down later. The house hunt is going to be a long process for us anyways, as we have nake sure it meets a few things for the mortgage stuff, and I may also (hopefully) be getting a new job here soon.

 

The layouts I have in mind could be bumped up to 18" curves, just I would of course need more space than a door for those. Maybe I could frame the door with 2x4s just for this? I have 18s, and would have to have bought the 15s anyways. I'm jus trying to get something going now that I can leave together, but can put away. I was going to have it stored just against the wall in my bedroom, and when I want to use it, set it up, probably with some folding legs.

 

Right now I dont really have a preference or railroad lines or anything like that, and what trains I do have are quite varied. I have Pennsylvania, lots of Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, CN, Rio Grande, and a few others that are inoperable locomotives. It was a very big collection for hardly any money. 

There is also the possibility of my grandpa giving me the stuff he has as he just tore down my grandma's layout she had. But that's if my uncle really doesn't want it

I suppose if I had to pick a line to model, I'd like to do something that would be local to me, here in Michigan. But I do like the older 60s and 70s trains, the GP9 would have to be my favorite locomotive. I do want to eventually get one of those, and also a few of like the SW1500 type switchers.

 

Maybe I'll build this layout with 18s, and use it for the random lines I have, and once I get a place to build a big layout, make that for a dedicated line.

 

In the meantime though, with this little layout, would I be best using 3 small industries, or 1 big one? And what would fit for an industry that would be served by the GE 44 ton I plan to use on it?

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Posted by UNCLEBUTCH on Saturday, January 11, 2020 12:49 PM

just thinking outloud;

I would forget about incorporateing this layout to a biger one, bythen you will have gained more skills and different ideas. Treat this as a stepping stone.

 15in r can work, but bigger would be better and more carefree. But if thats what you have, go with it.

I can picture this huge plant of some kind useing the whole space. With as many car spots as a number of small industories. and making use of many different types of cars.

 I did not use any kind of track plan. I built bench work to fill the space I had, and layed track where I figured it should be, if I didn't like it, I moved the track.

Point is you do not ''need'' a track plan, just an idea. I have found I get my fix from scratch building structures. I will build one then find a place to plant it. If that means moving a track  so be it.

So without a track plan,or prototype RR to hinder me, my layout provides an enjoyable hobby

Do not over think it

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Posted by dknelson on Saturday, January 11, 2020 1:16 PM

Industries small enough for a layout but large enough to actually be rail served are one of the never ending challenges for modelers.  Easier for guys who model before 1950.  Trucks really cut into that kind of market by the 1920s.  But here are a few that were still around in the 1960s and some even still today.

But first, while 15" radius will work for your 44 tonner and most 40' freight car models (but not the most highly detailed ones necessarily by the way), I'd still try to aim for at least 18" radius for fewer derailments and easier coupling/uncoupling.

Lumberyard.  Two local lumberyards in my home town were rail served.  One had the siding along its building which was enclosed with loading doors on the track side - not the open lumberyard like the Atlas kit.  In fact the spur had its own spur so loads and empties could be exchanged.  Lumber could arrive by 40' boxcar or on flatcars.  There were still 40' flatcars in the '60s although 50' and 52'6" were more plentiful.  The other lumber yard would be even easier to model as its yard was blocks from the tracks - the cars were delivered to a team track and the lumberyard sent its flatbed truck to unload the freight car.

Bulk Oil Dealer.  Plenty of oil heat still in the '60s so plenty of bulk oil dealers in cities and towns.  Large tanks (most horizontal that I recall), with a pump in a small shed for unloading tank cars and an office that was also in a small building.  Local delivery by tank trucks like those Classic Metal Works sells.

Junk Yard.  Another example where the structure is usually a small shed.  Some junk yards shipped by rail.  Some received by rail.  The yards had a crane with an electrified magnet.  

Plastic Bag Factory.  Not an obvious choice but plastic pellets arrived in covered hoppers.  ACF CenterFlows for example, another reason to consider 18" radius.  The factory itself was compact but had storage tanks (vertical) along side.  It did not ship by rail, just loads in.

Table Factory.  Another non obvious choice.  The tables were big heavy "church supper" types, with laminate on top and folding metal legs.  Boxcars brought in the wood and perhaps the large rolls of laminate which are very heavy.  Perhaps also the casks of the glue used but my hunch is that was a truck delivery.  This industry's spur also had a second switch so loads and empties could be exchanged.  I am pretty sure they shipped the tables themselves by truck.

 

ReadyMix concrete.  Had its own siding and I assume cement or aggregates or both came in by rail (coverted hoppers).  Perhaps gons for the aggregates in the old days but not that I recall seeing.  Cement mixer trucks took the finished product to local customer sites.  Not a huge facility, but busy which is why it warranted rail service.

If this layout did become part of a larger one perhaps that would be the time to consider one large industry that has its own 44 tonner.  It might be possible to save the track.  Consider this.  In my town there were two "frontage tracks" on either side of the main.  Sidings left those frontage tracks so the local switcher could do its work without fouling the main or having to worry about the timetable.  That is also the situation seen on large industries that have their own railroad locomotive.

A factory that makes heavy machinery gets loads of steel and a siding to store the steel.  It might also get loads of things like foundry sand (covered hoppers) or cutting oil (tank cars) or lumber for pattern making or securing finished loads (boxcars/flatcars), and all might have their own storage spurs.  Machinery might be moved around the plant on shop flats (often archaic old flats with archbar trucks ) to a painting area, or stored before shipment.  Scrap might be moved around and stored until there is enough to ship.  The various areas of a large factory are almost like separate industries with their own types of cars involved.  

More modern than your era but an ethanol plant is another example where various sidings in the same industry serve various purposes.  The corn arrives by truck but the gasoline to denature the finished product arrives by tank car.  The ethanol is shipped out by tank car.  Spent grain is converted into animal feed -- if "wet" it is shipped by truck to local farmers but if dried it is shipped by covered hopper.  So the gasoline tankcars, ethanol tank cars, and spent grain covered hoppers have their own sidings and areas and the plant switcher moves around to those various areas of the plant, almost like separate industries.   

With some planning and that frontage track idea you could save the track from the layout with separate industries and convert it to a large industry switched by its own locomotive at a later date.

Dave Nelson

 

 

 

 

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Posted by Wdodge0912 on Sunday, January 12, 2020 12:32 PM

Where could I find information about what and where railroads were operating and what industries they served? I definitely like the 50s-70s, and would like to do something where locomotives from that timeframe wouldnt be put of place with earlier/later ones (like a steam engine)

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Posted by wjstix on Sunday, January 12, 2020 10:44 PM

Since you're new to the hobby, I'd suggest starting out with Kato Unitrack. If your door is 36" wide, you should be able to fit in their 16-7/8" radius curves, plus it will be a lot easier to build and to change as new ideas hit you. 

http://katousa.com/HO/Unitrack/g-single.html

Stix
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Posted by Wdodge0912 on Monday, January 13, 2020 1:13 PM

wjstix

Since you're new to the hobby, I'd suggest starting out with Kato Unitrack. If your door is 36" wide, you should be able to fit in their 16-7/8" radius curves, plus it will be a lot easier to build and to change as new ideas hit you. 

http://katousa.com/HO/Unitrack/g-single.html

 

If I already didnt have a bunch of track and stuff I'd probably go N scale instead.  But a friend was selling a big tote of stuff, 5 transformers (2 really good MRC ones, one is a that goldish metal throttlepack, and the other is a tech 2) quite a few locos, but only a few worked, and times of track to make like 3 4x8 ovals, I paid $30 for all that.

Plus I picked up a ton of Atlas code 100 when the local hobby shop traded hands and restructured, the old owner retired and sold the business to another store that is more board games and magic cards, no trains. But I bought a ton of track there for like $2 a pack of track, with him throwing some other goodies in for free (like the 2 accurail box car kits) and I bought a couple sections of flextrack for $2 for both of them.

The only thing I wish he had was switches, as I only have 3 old ones that I dont know how they work, 2 are brass. 

I might just hold out on building something until I get some room.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 5:37 PM

Wdodge0912

Where could I find information about what and where railroads were operating and what industries they served? I definitely like the 50s-70s, and would like to do something where locomotives from that timeframe wouldnt be put of place with earlier/later ones (like a steam engine)

 

For small industries on a small layout I would suggest Tony Koester's book(let) Space Saving Industries for Your Layout.  It's a good resource, as are many of the MRR books.  Have fun!

https://www.amazon.com/Space-Saving-Industries-Layout-Railroader-Planning/dp/1627003959/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_0/146-8910760-2642654?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1627003959&pd_rd_r=4f9e4e33-a4b6-4b21-9133-200e7b429e1f&pd_rd_w=bPjrB&pd_rd_wg=N3Umi&pf_rd_p=5cfcfe89-300f-47d2-b1ad-a4e27203a02a&pf_rd_r=GTPXCKQPXNGNDTDN8ATT&psc=1&refRID=GTPXCKQPXNGNDTDN8ATT

 

Andy

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by delray1967 on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 8:37 PM

Hi Wdodge,

I belong to the Southeast Michigan Free-Mo group. Building a module is a good way to start when you don't have room, and if you take it to setups, you can run on a bigger layout. Try your hand at building a small section of layout (my first module set was a 2'x12' switching layout)...If it works, great! ...if it doesn't, then you haven't lost much and it's a learning step.

I model the C&O in the Detroit area, in the late 60's and the 80's; I can switch eras easily on a small layout. Someone else suggested you build a simple layout that can be dismantled and reused (if deemed worthy). This would let you experiment with track arrangements and get to running trains quickly...while you take your time, research your prototype and make several plans for a more permanent layout, or group of modules. My 'permanent' home layout is 2 Free-Mo module sets: the switching layout and a 4 track, 180 degree, curve (that gets used as a fiddle yard), the rest of my layout is temporary track on an 18" wide shelf.

If you are interested in building a module, check out Free-Mo websites or for some 'local' help/advice, check out SE Mich Free-Mo Yahoo/Google group, or groups.io (or whatever it is).

Welcome to Model Railroading! :D

http://delray1967.shutterfly.com/pictures/5

SEMI Free-Mo@groups.io

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Posted by Wdodge0912 on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 3:28 AM

 

 

 

 

The Milwaukee Road Warrior

 

 
Wdodge0912

Where could I find information about what and where railroads were operating and what industries they served? I definitely like the 50s-70s, and would like to do something where locomotives from that timeframe wouldnt be put of place with earlier/later ones (like a steam engine)

 

 

 

For small industries on a small layout I would suggest Tony Koester's book(let) Space Saving Industries for Your Layout.  It's a good resource, as are many of the MRR books.  Have fun!

https://www.amazon.com/Space-Saving-Industries-Layout-Railroader-Planning/dp/1627003959/ref=pd_sbs_14_t_0/146-8910760-2642654?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1627003959&pd_rd_r=4f9e4e33-a4b6-4b21-9133-200e7b429e1f&pd_rd_w=bPjrB&pd_rd_wg=N3Umi&pf_rd_p=5cfcfe89-300f-47d2-b1ad-a4e27203a02a&pf_rd_r=GTPXCKQPXNGNDTDN8ATT&psc=1&refRID=GTPXCKQPXNGNDTDN8ATT

 

 

I'll have to pick that up. The only books I've bought so far are layout books, mostly Atlas ones, but I've picked up a few others that are for smaller layouts.

 

delray1967

Hi Wdodge,

I belong to the Southeast Michigan Free-Mo group. Building a module is a good way to start when you don't have room, and if you take it to setups, you can run on a bigger layout. Try your hand at building a small section of layout (my first module set was a 2'x12' switching layout)...If it works, great! ...if it doesn't, then you haven't lost much and it's a learning step.

I model the C&O in the Detroit area, in the late 60's and the 80's; I can switch eras easily on a small layout. Someone else suggested you build a simple layout that can be dismantled and reused (if deemed worthy). This would let you experiment with track arrangements and get to running trains quickly...while you take your time, research your prototype and make several plans for a more permanent layout, or group of modules. My 'permanent' home layout is 2 Free-Mo module sets: the switching layout and a 4 track, 180 degree, curve (that gets used as a fiddle yard), the rest of my layout is temporary track on an 18" wide shelf.

If you are interested in building a module, check out Free-Mo websites or for some 'local' help/advice, check out SE Mich Free-Mo Yahoo/Google group, or groups.io (or whatever it is).

Welcome to Model Railroading! :D

 

 

I seem to be having trouble finding that group. But I definitely can use some local contacts for advice on things. There's a few Locomotives I have that need some work to run properly, maybe I could meet up with someone and see about maybe getting them going.

 

I bought oil and stuff for them, just havent worked on them, but I know my one Santa Fe F unit is an Athearn that needs some work. The light lights up, but it doesnt move. I do have a bachmann of the same locomotive, and picked up a b unit for that one, that I could run with the Athearns passenger cars. But really my main want to model is a freight system, so I might also find a place to sell or trade off some of the locomotives I have and get some others, maybe try and get all of one certain line. 

 

I know I have that Southern Pacific 44 ton switcher, a lot of Santa Fe, theres a Rio Grande dummy loco , a CN F unit, and a Pennsylvania F unit with a dummy and a B unit too. 

 

We are still looking for houses, and I'm hoping to find a new job as well before the wife and I can both work in the same area, which also helps with the house hunting. 

I'm thinking I may just continue to build an oval on the kitchen table for now and when we do get a house, maybe I can try and find a cheap used pong pong table that I can use for a layout. 

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, January 15, 2020 8:12 AM

Wdodge0912

Where could I find information about what and where railroads were operating and what industries they served? I definitely like the 50s-70s, and would like to do something where locomotives from that timeframe wouldnt be put of place with earlier/later ones (like a steam engine)

 

Many railroaders choose to model industry in their own vicinity, or what they observed when they were younger. For example, I live in an area where lumber and mining were still active in the transition era (1950s), so I did some online searches on these industries in my area. There is a lot of stuff online... 

Simon

PS: there were few steam switchers in that era. But some 0-8-0s were in service up to the 1970s. They were exceptions, but they existed.

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Posted by Wdodge0912 on Thursday, January 16, 2020 12:55 AM

Well a new house may be coming sooner than later, as we are putting an offer in on one tomorrow, but it seems to be a pretty popular house. I'll have the master bedroom on the main floor for a hobby room. Its right off the second living room. The first is going to be our animal room (we have 3 pet rabbits)The real master is up stairs, so that will be our actually bedroom will be.

I will have to fit my desk in the same room, but if I get a new one, I should be able to fit a 4x8 with 3 sides exposed (a short end against the wall) I'll have a big walk in closet for storage, so I'm fine there too, I'll probably put a little bench in there to work on things, like trains, or my RC boats. I'll have to store everything in there, but I figure I can store stuff under the table and have it on a roller cart to pull out.

I'm looking at a few layouts and I think one I can change the 15s to 18s or even 22s. It has a split in the middle with a yard on one side, and the industries on another, but it's set up as a point to point. I was thinking with going up to 22s, I could add in another yard track, and make the outermost part of the main line and have it switch back in. I might even be able to make the next one a runaround. But I'll have to see.

 

I havent figured out how to upload a picture here, and I cant get a link to the plan I'm talking about or I'd have done that to show the plan I'm thinking about. 

However, I do have a few books of layouts too from Atlas, and I may see if I any uncle doesnt want grandma's trains, and I may remake the layout that's been put on the table. It was the first layout of the first book I bought, and I didnt realize it until after I had the book and went to look at my grandmas trains to see what the layout was (it was removed and made to just 2 ovals).

So much opens up when you have room.

 

As for Industries, I think just some generic ones like Lumber, Limestone, and coal might be what I do. I dont think I'm ready to model a specific line yet, and having such a mix of lines right now, I think going with a generic setup would let me run them all.

I am thinking the biggest steam I'd want to run is a 4-6-2. They just look like a good steamer that wouldnt be too big to handle smaller curves or turnouts. I probably will end up using #4 turnouts for my layout just to save some room. I'm going to try and use the 22" curves, but the 18s would let me have a narrower table, and I'd probably make it longer if possible 

 

EDIT: I realized I'll all over with Ideas in this post. But pretty much if we get the house I'll have room and will be trying for something I can have loop around with at least 18" curves, and have a hidden yard on. Still want to model something where any rail line would fit, along with steam engines, small switchers, and my bigger diesel locos (I have a 6 axle Santa Fe I'd like to run)

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Posted by Wdodge0912 on Saturday, January 18, 2020 1:15 AM

So I think I have a layout decided. It'll have a 22" radius curved oval on the outside, and an 18" radius curved oval on the inside, with a couple switches off for industries. I'll work on finding a photo host so I can upload it. 

 

I'm not sure on if I want to connect the outer loop to the inner. I'm thinking I wont and can keep the outer loop DC, and have the inner DCC. I'll  wire them both up as I would for DCC, but then once I go DCC, until I fully update, sell, or display my locomotive Roster, I can run the DCs on the outer loop, and the DDCs on the inner part with the industries. 

 

In the mean time, I think I've settled on a rail line, or 3. I'm split really between C&O, Milwaukee, or Pennsylvania Rail Road. I'm in Michigan, and I know C&O and Pennsylvania both ran here at one time, bit i Do like the colors of the Milwaukee. 

 

I know C&O and Milwaukee also had the Locomotives I want in their rosters as well, I haven't looked too much into Pennsylvania's though. C&O from what I can find though didnt have a SD7 or 9 though, but at least they had an RSD12. 

 

Ive also found conflicting info on a GE 44 ton switcher for C&O. Some dont list them having one at all, and other places say they do, when they acquired M&NE in 1955, taking and using theirs after being remembered to 8303. I'm going to assume the places that actually show the informantion on the loco would be correct.

 

My lean right now is to C&O. Also if I decided to model more modern stuff, I can add some B&O when they merged to the Chessie system. But right now I'm sticking to late 50s and early-mid 60s

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Posted by snjroy on Sunday, January 19, 2020 7:12 AM

Sounds like a good plan. If I were you, I would plan for a connection between both loops in the future(i.e., keep yourself some space). Many start with dual DC-DCC layouts but realize later how DCC makes the experience so much enjoyable. I am one of them : my layout is now 100% DCC. I am slowly converting all my dc engines. Some may never get converted....

Simon

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