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Layout design, new to the hobby

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Posted by johnvosh on Sunday, March 1, 2020 11:48 AM

Getting the wood at work this weekend and then building it, can't wait. I am maximizing the space of the layout in the room and will leave the peninsula until the very end before installing it.

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, February 22, 2020 12:10 AM

Hi johnvosh,

As Byron (cuyama) has pointed out, your turnouts are not drawn to scale. When you come to build the layout that may cause some real headaches. I'm going to suggest that you invest in a layout planning program like 3rd PlanIt. Yes, it costs money. However, when compared to the total amount that you will invest in your layout, it is peanuts IMHO. Yes, there is a learning curve. Personally, I don't think that the 3rd PlanIt learning curve is all that difficult for just designing a layout. If you want to do 3D renditions of your benchwork and all your scenery, then that is a different story.

https://www.trackplanning.com/

I used 3rd PlanIt to design my old club's 20' x 25' layout. It allowed me to position every piece of track including turnouts precisely. It allowed me to draw patterns for every piece of benchwork, every piece of subroadbed and Homasote roadbed, and it allowed me to draw track laying diagrams to within 1/16". Everything fit. There was only one short section of subroadbed that we had to adjust manually, and that was only out by a few inches.

Why not get it right the first time?

Dave

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, February 21, 2020 11:34 PM

I could be wrong, but it seems like your sketch still shows the angles of the turnouts (track switches) sharper than commercial parts will be. So less might fit than you think ... and tracks like the yard/staging area may have less usable length in the clear than you hope.

Good luck with your layout.

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Posted by xdford on Friday, February 21, 2020 9:17 PM

Hi there,

I have had a 4x8 for many years and one of my regrets is that while the back of the layout has a gentle curve, I wish I had sacrificed an inch or so of radius at the front of the layout and laid a gentle convex curve rather than a straight section.

The back with the curve makes the layout look visually more interesting and fools some people looking at pix that it is a bigger layout than it really is.

You might get an idea from http://xdford.freeasphost.net/stag01.html  and the first page of this thread http://yourmodelrailway.net/view_topic.php?id=15547&forum_id=21&page=1

Hope this helps,

Cheers from Australia

Trevor

 

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Posted by johnvosh on Friday, February 21, 2020 8:39 PM

Well, I am up to revision 6 now... probably 1-2 more revisions until final!

 

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 9:14 AM

johnvosh

 

 
Doughless

 

Agreed.  I assume he will use properly spaced joists.  Just can't figure what the aversion to setting down thin plywood would be.

 

 

 

 

Ya, I am going to putting properly spaced joists and 1/4 inch plywood is expensive as we only have it in G1S. I work at a Home Hardware lumber yard, and I try to buy my materials thru the place I work instead of the competition.

Would a 1/8" or 1/4" hardboard work? Or would you suggest a 3/8" plywood as the base and then 1" or 1.5" rigid foam?

 

I don't want to misguide you on how to construct your table tops.  I don't use foam and wouldn't want to make specific suggestions as to how best to use it.  I was just implying that some folks use the 2 inch thick stuff directly on joists, never heard of using thinner foam without some sort of plywood.

Its a matter of personal preference, and I'm sure you could find information on this forum or other sources that speak to the best methods of building with foam.

Personally, I don't use foam at all, but use 3/4 plywood over open grid framework with 16 inch spacing of joists.  Probably no better or worse, just habit.

- Douglas

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Posted by johnvosh on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 8:50 AM

Doughless

 

Agreed.  I assume he will use properly spaced joists.  Just can't figure what the aversion to setting down thin plywood would be.

 

 

Ya, I am going to putting properly spaced joists and 1/4 inch plywood is expensive as we only have it in G1S. I work at a Home Hardware lumber yard, and I try to buy my materials thru the place I work instead of the competition.

Would a 1/8" or 1/4" hardboard work? Or would you suggest a 3/8" plywood as the base and then 1" or 1.5" rigid foam?

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 8:04 AM

riogrande5761

 

 
Doughless
Not clear why you would have an issue with setting foam on a 1/2 thick or even 1/4 inch thick plywood layer.

 

Or build an open grid frame with cross pieces at least every 16 inches, maybe every 12.  I would guess that would be sufficient support, but I don't use foam being old school and prefer to work with wood.

 

Agreed.  I assume he will use properly spaced joists.  Just can't figure what the aversion to setting down thin plywood would be.

- Douglas

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 7:07 AM

Doughless
Not clear why you would have an issue with setting foam on a 1/2 thick or even 1/4 inch thick plywood layer.

Or build an open grid frame with cross pieces at least every 16 inches, maybe every 12.  I would guess that would be sufficient support, but I don't use foam being old school and prefer to work with wood.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, February 19, 2020 6:51 AM

I'm not experienced in building a layout using thick foam as a structural element.  Others may have done this.

Not clear why you would have an issue with setting foam on a 1/2 thick or even 1/4 inch thick plywood layer.

I'm pretty sure hinges attached directly to foam isn't going to hold up very long.  You're going to need some wood or metal as a structural component on both sides of the gate, IMO.

If you're going to access the closet rarely, you could simply forget the hinges and just build the bridge as removable.  Simply lift it in and out of place.  I think of a hinged swing as for something that's going to be used alot, like near the entrance, and wouldn't be needed to enter a seldom used closet, IMO.

- Douglas

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Posted by johnvosh on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 8:52 PM

Doughless

IMO, the simplicity of the plan....and that's a compliment BTW...means you don't really have to have a precise drawing of the plan before you build the benchwork, at least the parts not by the door or the staging area (think about that area for a while).  It sometimes helps to actually see the blank canvas built and then start to position tracks to where it might catch your eye differently than what was envisioned when you drew it.  You really don't have many options to make the shape of the layout any diffierant than an around the room donut.

However, you might want to angle the benchwork near the entrance door, making the plan sort of a five-corner plan instead of 4, to be able to swing open the door or enter the room without having to worry about the position of the layout swing gate.  Swing the gate after you've opened and passed through the door.

I would make each shelf as deep as possible to maximize scene depth, keeping in mind that each far corner could be a tough reach if the shelves were more than 24 inches deep.  Still, there are ways to minimize reach problems into the corners.  Also, that new fifth side of the plan, the part by the door, should be narrow as to make it easier to build and swing a gate.

Good luck.

After doing some thinking while at work today and reading your post and a few other I've changed my shelves again....My sheets of rigid foam at work are 2 feet wide by 8 feet long. I am not going to put any plywood underneath the foam and will be going with 1.5 inches thick. I can make the bench in total 10 feet by 10 1/2 feet because of the heat register along the one wall

The left side is going to have two benches. They are going to be 5 feet long and 32 inches wide.

The back wall (without a door) will have 2 benches that will be 32 inches wide and 3 feet 11 inches long.

Where the closet entrance is, I am going to make a hinged lift up thru way. I am not sure how I will attach the hinges to the foam yet, it is going to be a narrower section and I am going to make it 16 inches wide and 2 feet long.

The next bench on this wall will be 16 inches wide by 5 feet 4 inches long. I had to take and go do some measuring. The door has been removed so I don't have to worry about swinging a door open or closed, which also gives me a couple inches extra space. If I keep a 16 inch shelf right to the door way, it still leaves with an 18 inch walkway space. I would probably just make a swing up shelf that is a bit wider than two track spacing, again with a couple of hinges.

Then the last shelf is going to be 32 inches wide by 4 feet 6 inches long.

By making most of the benches 32 inches wide instead of just 24 inches, it will maximize my room for scenery and extra track if I wanted to add it.

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 7:09 PM

johnvosh

Here is Rev 4 sketch of my layout, showing the track. I have basically extended the layout in the above example to 10 feet by 10.5 feet and am putting a 2' X 7.5' staging area in the closet with a tunnel thru the wall. And I have made it 2' wide instead of just 1', to give me more room to work with scenery.

I plan on having a hinged lift up at the main door, which I have removed and then a hinged lift up going into the closet. The area going into the closet will have a double bridge and a nice river flowing under it.

I have also added a second mainline and another track along the 32" wide section.

This sketch is to scale, as I copied most of the track from the original layout and extended it. I think it will look good once it is all built!

 

 

IMO, the simplicity of the plan....and that's a compliment BTW...means you don't really have to have a precise drawing of the plan before you build the benchwork, at least the parts not by the door or the staging area (think about that area for a while).  It sometimes helps to actually see the blank canvas built and then start to position tracks to where it might catch your eye differently than what was envisioned when you drew it.  You really don't have many options to make the shape of the layout any diffierant than an around the room donut.

However, you might want to angle the benchwork near the entrance door, making the plan sort of a five-corner plan instead of 4, to be able to swing open the door or enter the room without having to worry about the position of the layout swing gate.  Swing the gate after you've opened and passed through the door.

I would make each shelf as deep as possible to maximize scene depth, keeping in mind that each far corner could be a tough reach if the shelves were more than 24 inches deep.  Still, there are ways to minimize reach problems into the corners.  Also, that new fifth side of the plan, the part by the door, should be narrow as to make it easier to build and swing a gate.

Good luck.

- Douglas

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 9:26 AM

riogrande5761
Here is a case for going with larger radius curves despite plans to run only 40 and 50 foot rolling stock.

.

Thatb is why I test everything with an 86 foot high cube boxcar and double-stacks even though I model 1954.

.

However, all these cars must also be able to pass through a 24 inch S-Curve.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 6:03 AM

johnvosh
 
riogrande5761

 Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines.

I'd only go 24" if you are running 60' rolling stock or shorter, but that's me.  Everyone has different tolerances for curves.

 

 

 

I think I will probably be running 40' and 50' rolling stock for the most part, that's what I have bought for right now anyways. 


Here is a case for going with larger radius curves despite plans to run only 40 and 50 foot rolling stock.  In a word, "future-proof", a term I used to hear in the computer building hobby.  In otherwords, build the layout so it can handle what comes in the future, because if you get a wild hair and decide to run longer rolling stock, the layout will be able to handle it better.  And it may not impinge on running qualities of your basic track plan to increase curve radiii by a few more inches.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, February 17, 2020 6:37 PM

deleted:   the pic has appeared

 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by johnvosh on Monday, February 17, 2020 6:18 PM

Here is Rev 4 sketch of my layout, showing the track. I have basically extended the layout in the above example to 10 feet by 10.5 feet and am putting a 2' X 7.5' staging area in the closet with a tunnel thru the wall. And I have made it 2' wide instead of just 1', to give me more room to work with scenery.

I plan on having a hinged lift up at the main door, which I have removed and then a hinged lift up going into the closet. The area going into the closet will have a double bridge and a nice river flowing under it.

I have also added a second mainline and another track along the 32" wide section.

This sketch is to scale, as I copied most of the track from the original layout and extended it. I think it will look good once it is all built!

 

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Posted by johnvosh on Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:03 PM

snjroy

About the plan itself, if you really like to run trains, I would consider having a double mainline. A single mainline will look 'longer' and have more visual appeal. It also leaves more space for scenery and buildings. But if you want to run trains, especially with others, a double line is a lot more fun.  

One last point. Duck unders are a pain, especially if you need to carry things to the other side, like cars to a staging area. I installed a hinged liftout and never regretted it. Do a search on google and you will find a few good threads on this forum on how to build one.

Simon

I think, because I am doulbing the size of the layout in the plan above, I will probably have no trouble running a second mainline. I will not be having duck unders, and am going to be making two sections on hinges to make it easier. And after doing some more measuring, I think I am going to do my layout at 44 inches.

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Posted by johnvosh on Sunday, February 16, 2020 7:01 PM

riogrande5761

 Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines.

I'd only go 24" if you are running 60' rolling stock or shorter, but that's me.  Everyone has different tolerances for curves.

 

I think I will probably be running 40' and 50' rolling stock for the most part, that's what I have bought for right now anyways

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 14, 2020 5:02 PM

snjroy

I designed my own layout after reading lots from various sources, including Armstrong's book. I also used pen and paper - I'm too busy to start learning about new software for designing just one layout. The key thing about paper is that you need to calculate the squares for switches and curves.

John Armstrongs "squares" discussion is the only part of his book that I didn't work with my brain, so I tossed it out but everything else was very helpful.

Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines.

I'd only go 24" if you are running 60' rolling stock or shorter, but that's me.  Everyone has different tolerances for curves.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:54 AM

I designed my own layout after reading lots from various sources, including Armstrong's book. I also used pen and paper - I'm too busy to start learning about new software for designing just one layout. The key thing about paper is that you need to calculate the squares for switches and curves. Aim for a minimum radius (depending on what you want to run). Many here would say that 30'' radius curves is a minimum for a mainline operation. I think that 24'' works fine if you don't operate extra long equipment or brass engines. Anyway, if you aim for say 28'' radius, that means that a quarter of  circle will eat up 28'' by 28'' on your layout, plus a few inches for ballast and side-play. For the switches, as mentioned by others, you need to measure at the very least the proper length for the switch itself, and then calculate the space for the outgoing track. Mine was a bit off when I actually got down to laying track, but give yourself some wiggle room and it should be fine.

About the plan itself, if you really like to run trains, I would consider having a double mainline. A single mainline will look 'longer' and have more visual appeal. It also leaves more space for scenery and buildings. But if you want to run trains, especially with others, a double line is a lot more fun.  

One last point. Duck unders are a pain, especially if you need to carry things to the other side, like cars to a staging area. I installed a hinged liftout and never regretted it. Do a search on google and you will find a few good threads on this forum on how to build one.

Simon

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Posted by johnvosh on Friday, February 14, 2020 7:26 AM

This is the plan that I am roughly basing my layout on, but expanding it. It has all the turnouts and radius' on it and I am really just making it longer and wider and adding/changing a couple of things.

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:12 AM

You could also go old school and get a pad of 11x17" graph paper and use a compass to draw your curves.  If you draw a scale on the plan, you can set the compass to certain radii and draw in curves and be sure everything fits as intended.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by cuyama on Thursday, February 13, 2020 4:11 PM

mbinsewi
A "not to scale track plan sketch" gives you a start, but, it can lead to disappointment come time to lay track.

+1. There are a number of areas of the Original Poster's sketch which won't work the way they are drawn. This is especially true in the staging area, where the frog angles and curve radii are much too sharp to actually be built. Both the number and the length of the staging tracks in the clear will be much less than drawn.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:04 AM

johnvosh
What free software would you recommend? I downloaded SCARM, but am having trouble figuring it out.

While I have used WinRail as well as SCARM, which I very much like, I cannot recommend any track planning software. Each has quite a learning curve to, just like any CAD program. While track planning software helps you draw your track plan, it does not design it. For that process, you need to know how railroads operate, what type of operation you want to emulate, and last but not least, some basic knowledge of how to wire a layout, because that may influence your choice of layout design.

My best recommendation to you is to get the Armstrong´s book on how to plan a layout for realistic operation, available through our host.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:46 AM

I'm the wrong guy to ask for track planning software, as I did mine "old school", paper, pencil, and scale rulers.

I'm sure others will jump in and advise to what programs are good.  I do understand that most programs have the sizes of things like turnouts all figured out, as far as manufacturers, but I'm not sure.

Mike.

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Posted by johnvosh on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:39 AM

mbinsewi

A "not to scale track plan sketch" gives you a start, but, it can lead to disappointment come time to lay track.

Take the time to do a track plan to scale.  There are templates you can use for turnouts, etc., to get the size and spacing right.

I also like the fact that you include a staging/storage space.  Just make sure it fits it's purpose, as far as train lengths, and has access from both directions of your layout.

 

What free software would you recommend? I downloaded SCARM, but am having trouble figuring it out.

My model layout is based loosely on rev 5.11 Heart of Georgia, that I have expanded and changed a bit to suit my layout size, and then adding the staging yard in the other area.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Thursday, February 13, 2020 8:11 AM

A "not to scale track plan sketch" gives you a start, but, it can lead to disappointment come time to lay track.

Take the time to do a track plan to scale.  There are templates you can use for turnouts, etc., to get the size and spacing right.

I also like the fact that you include a staging/storage space.  Just make sure it fits it's purpose, as far as train lengths, and has access from both directions of your layout.

Mike.

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Posted by johnvosh on Thursday, February 13, 2020 7:36 AM

Here is my 3rd revision to my layout plans. The track example on the layout is not to the scale, just roughly on there to get an idea.

 

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:58 AM

Hi johnvosh from a fellow Canadian!

Welcome to the hobby and to the forums!   Welcome

I would agree with what Richard said about changing some of the benchwork parts. I would change parts 1, 2 & 3 so that you have a natural gap at the entrance to the room. To be specific, shorten #1 so that it lines up with the door opening, eliminate #2 entirely, and extend #3 to fill in the gap left by #2. That will give you two solid benchwork edges on either side of the doorway to mount your removable span to.

As far as how to bridge the gap across the door opening, there are many viable possibilities. My old club used a lift out anchored in place by using 3" door hinges with removable hinge pins. It worked reasonably well but getting the hinge pins into place was fussy, and as the seasons changed it wasn't possible to get the second pin into place at all. It still worked but the rail gap at the end where the pin wouldn't go in became considerable.

You might want to consider using a system that doesn't require quite as much fiddling to get it into place. I'm sure others will offer advice on how to cover the gap at the door.

Dave

 

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