Trains.com

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Model of the layout for layout planning

3550 views
10 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: East Lansing, MI, US
  • 223 posts
Model of the layout for layout planning
Posted by GerFust on Monday, September 15, 2003 11:55 AM
Despite using CAD software to design layouts, I have trouble really picturing the layout very well. I am contemplating a 1/4 scale model of the intended (shelf) layout so I can see it in 3 dimensions and make changes accordingly.

Has any one done this before and have any advice for what to use for the mock-up track, turnouts, buildings, etc.

Thank you.
[ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout, http://www.msu.edu/~fust/)
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: East Lansing, MI, US
  • 223 posts
Model of the layout for layout planning
Posted by GerFust on Monday, September 15, 2003 11:55 AM
Despite using CAD software to design layouts, I have trouble really picturing the layout very well. I am contemplating a 1/4 scale model of the intended (shelf) layout so I can see it in 3 dimensions and make changes accordingly.

Has any one done this before and have any advice for what to use for the mock-up track, turnouts, buildings, etc.

Thank you.
[ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout, http://www.msu.edu/~fust/)
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 15, 2003 1:56 PM
Why not build a full size mock up with posterboard and cardboard if you are going to build a mockup? Scan some track pieces and cut them out for track. Draw in roads and rivers with marker. You would be able to tell better that at 1/4 if you like it.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 15, 2003 1:56 PM
Why not build a full size mock up with posterboard and cardboard if you are going to build a mockup? Scan some track pieces and cut them out for track. Draw in roads and rivers with marker. You would be able to tell better that at 1/4 if you like it.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 15, 2003 3:56 PM
I've read about this method of checking the layout design but have not done it myself. My approach has been to build the layout benchwork and then use the actual track, buildings, etc. to finalize the details on how everything fits (or not). I've thought about doing a 1/4" to the foot model of my new layout but have decided it would just take that much more time away from building the real thing.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 15, 2003 3:56 PM
I've read about this method of checking the layout design but have not done it myself. My approach has been to build the layout benchwork and then use the actual track, buildings, etc. to finalize the details on how everything fits (or not). I've thought about doing a 1/4" to the foot model of my new layout but have decided it would just take that much more time away from building the real thing.
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Near Zurich, Switzerland
  • 50 posts
Posted by Rene Luethi on Monday, September 15, 2003 4:04 PM
You are right, and I did it for absolutely the same reason. When finished, I could see that I had to reverse my thought out construction order, due to different causes. One of them was accessibility. Or I had learned that my snow-covered scene was in the wrong place.
My drawings of the track-plane were one eighth of the layout size, so I transferred them to warping-paper and traced the track-lines with a medium sized, black felt pen. Take a waterproof one; otherwise you will end up with the entire right-of-way on the paper after gluing. Then I cut approx. ¼” away on both sides of the line with a pair of scissors. If there are more than one track, I cut ¼” outside the outermost track.
From ¼” plywood, I constructed a box of the size of the layout-room, also in one eighth scale. From one eighth of an inch thick plywood I had cut five eighths of an inch wide strips. From these strips I made the “roadbed” and glued the prepared “tracks” on the warping-paper to the “roadbed” with diluted white-glue. Diluted for that I had a longer setting time to move the paper-strips around until they sat perfectly, compared to the original track-plane. By using straight strips, I could gain some expertise in the method of curved roadbed with straight boards. The same method I used then for the sub-roadbed on my model railroad, it saves a lot of expensive wood.
From three eighths of an inch square wood profile I made the risers and glued them below the “roadbed”. Each of the three levels of the layout is self-contained and removable.
Rudimentary scenery was made from plaster-soaked paper towels and the houses from prepared wood-profile, cut to length and painted.
Sure, it was time-consuming, but it helped a lot in visualizing things, I would do it again.
Please excuse my home-made English.
Have a great success!
René.
  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Near Zurich, Switzerland
  • 50 posts
Posted by Rene Luethi on Monday, September 15, 2003 4:04 PM
You are right, and I did it for absolutely the same reason. When finished, I could see that I had to reverse my thought out construction order, due to different causes. One of them was accessibility. Or I had learned that my snow-covered scene was in the wrong place.
My drawings of the track-plane were one eighth of the layout size, so I transferred them to warping-paper and traced the track-lines with a medium sized, black felt pen. Take a waterproof one; otherwise you will end up with the entire right-of-way on the paper after gluing. Then I cut approx. ¼” away on both sides of the line with a pair of scissors. If there are more than one track, I cut ¼” outside the outermost track.
From ¼” plywood, I constructed a box of the size of the layout-room, also in one eighth scale. From one eighth of an inch thick plywood I had cut five eighths of an inch wide strips. From these strips I made the “roadbed” and glued the prepared “tracks” on the warping-paper to the “roadbed” with diluted white-glue. Diluted for that I had a longer setting time to move the paper-strips around until they sat perfectly, compared to the original track-plane. By using straight strips, I could gain some expertise in the method of curved roadbed with straight boards. The same method I used then for the sub-roadbed on my model railroad, it saves a lot of expensive wood.
From three eighths of an inch square wood profile I made the risers and glued them below the “roadbed”. Each of the three levels of the layout is self-contained and removable.
Rudimentary scenery was made from plaster-soaked paper towels and the houses from prepared wood-profile, cut to length and painted.
Sure, it was time-consuming, but it helped a lot in visualizing things, I would do it again.
Please excuse my home-made English.
Have a great success!
René.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 15, 2003 5:12 PM
In the January 1993 issue of MR Dave Frary begun a series of articles of building a Pennsylvania RR Layout. In that issue he uses a model of the model to check out the plan. He described how he built the model with cardboard, polyfiber and acrylic paints. May be worth to check out.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, September 15, 2003 5:12 PM
In the January 1993 issue of MR Dave Frary begun a series of articles of building a Pennsylvania RR Layout. In that issue he uses a model of the model to check out the plan. He described how he built the model with cardboard, polyfiber and acrylic paints. May be worth to check out.
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: East Lansing, MI, US
  • 223 posts
Posted by GerFust on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 6:34 PM
Thank you all for the advice. I have twice before started layouts, then ripped them up because the table wasn't large enough, etc. One of the things I'l be checking is if I can achieve what I want in two 6 foot shelves joined in the corner by a 3 x 3 foot section. I'd rather know if I have to extend to 8 foot BEFORE I make the frame and supports. I really appreciate the cautions, but after ripping up two layouts I really want to get this one planned well.

AriH - I'll check out Dave Frary's article in my collection - thank you for that reference! Rene - thank you for the very detailed explanation - it will be helpful.
[ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout, http://www.msu.edu/~fust/)
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: East Lansing, MI, US
  • 223 posts
Posted by GerFust on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 6:34 PM
Thank you all for the advice. I have twice before started layouts, then ripped them up because the table wasn't large enough, etc. One of the things I'l be checking is if I can achieve what I want in two 6 foot shelves joined in the corner by a 3 x 3 foot section. I'd rather know if I have to extend to 8 foot BEFORE I make the frame and supports. I really appreciate the cautions, but after ripping up two layouts I really want to get this one planned well.

AriH - I'll check out Dave Frary's article in my collection - thank you for that reference! Rene - thank you for the very detailed explanation - it will be helpful.
[ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout, http://www.msu.edu/~fust/)
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 11:13 PM
One little suggestion: Auran's Trainz software (soon to be released in a new version, "Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004") is an excellent pre-visualization tool. I got back into model railroading because of it.

It's fairly simple to create your layout with their tools, and the beauty is that you can operate it as well. The only thing is that you cannot directly model things like aisleways or valance lighting, the "real world" accoutrements of the layout. For that, a larger-scale physical model might be a good idea.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, September 16, 2003 11:13 PM
One little suggestion: Auran's Trainz software (soon to be released in a new version, "Trainz Railroad Simulator 2004") is an excellent pre-visualization tool. I got back into model railroading because of it.

It's fairly simple to create your layout with their tools, and the beauty is that you can operate it as well. The only thing is that you cannot directly model things like aisleways or valance lighting, the "real world" accoutrements of the layout. For that, a larger-scale physical model might be a good idea.
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • 7,470 posts
Posted by ndbprr on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 9:11 AM
You can draw your plan by hand with one of the templates available at hobby shops. The big advantage over freehand is when turnouts are drawn they fit. I think every one of us can cram more track into an area than is practically possible. One of the big reasons for this is underestimating the length of turnouts or getting teh frog angle wrong. With that caution and one of the templates you can do pretty much anything that one of the CAD programs will do. You can also then use clay to build up a profile of what the scenery will look like. Quite frankly as an engineer with several patents to my name and having learned drafting in school I also have a terrible time with CAD programs and don't use them either. My brain is too conditioned to thinking in scale rather than full size drawing.
  • Member since
    September 2002
  • 7,470 posts
Posted by ndbprr on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 9:11 AM
You can draw your plan by hand with one of the templates available at hobby shops. The big advantage over freehand is when turnouts are drawn they fit. I think every one of us can cram more track into an area than is practically possible. One of the big reasons for this is underestimating the length of turnouts or getting teh frog angle wrong. With that caution and one of the templates you can do pretty much anything that one of the CAD programs will do. You can also then use clay to build up a profile of what the scenery will look like. Quite frankly as an engineer with several patents to my name and having learned drafting in school I also have a terrible time with CAD programs and don't use them either. My brain is too conditioned to thinking in scale rather than full size drawing.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 11:43 AM
Few people can draw up a plan and have it work. I've seen some do it, but very few. My method was to get the benchwork shape I wanted, then did my track planning right on the benchwork with real turnouts. I had a diagram of what I wanted, but it was rough, and I did modify as I went along. Planning in one to one scale is much easier. Start in sections; after you have the first section up you will have a better sense of what will fit where.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 17, 2003 11:43 AM
Few people can draw up a plan and have it work. I've seen some do it, but very few. My method was to get the benchwork shape I wanted, then did my track planning right on the benchwork with real turnouts. I had a diagram of what I wanted, but it was rough, and I did modify as I went along. Planning in one to one scale is much easier. Start in sections; after you have the first section up you will have a better sense of what will fit where.
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: East Lansing, MI, US
  • 223 posts
Posted by GerFust on Thursday, November 6, 2003 12:01 PM
Here is an update on this approach. It really didn't work too well. Using compas and ruler, with templates for #4 and #6 turnouts, I came up with a design that was realistic. I made models of the footprint of buildings and those worked nicely. Luckily, this approach was working very well.

Just for the fun of it, I ran the layout through Atlas RightTrack as a double check. It did not agree that I could fit what I wanted, how I wanted, a typical problem for layout planning. But it made sense in miniature.

So, I think I'll use flee307's approach and do a full-size mock-up since this is a small layout. It will be interesting to see if RTS or my hand-drawn model is closer to the reality of the full-size mock up. Now, if I can convince the wife and kids that having large pieces of cardboard in the living room is a GOOD thing....?

-Jer
[ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout, http://www.msu.edu/~fust/)
  • Member since
    February 2001
  • From: East Lansing, MI, US
  • 223 posts
Posted by GerFust on Thursday, November 6, 2003 12:01 PM
Here is an update on this approach. It really didn't work too well. Using compas and ruler, with templates for #4 and #6 turnouts, I came up with a design that was realistic. I made models of the footprint of buildings and those worked nicely. Luckily, this approach was working very well.

Just for the fun of it, I ran the layout through Atlas RightTrack as a double check. It did not agree that I could fit what I wanted, how I wanted, a typical problem for layout planning. But it made sense in miniature.

So, I think I'll use flee307's approach and do a full-size mock-up since this is a small layout. It will be interesting to see if RTS or my hand-drawn model is closer to the reality of the full-size mock up. Now, if I can convince the wife and kids that having large pieces of cardboard in the living room is a GOOD thing....?

-Jer
[ ]===^=====xx o o O O O O o o The Northern-er (info on the layout, http://www.msu.edu/~fust/)
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 7, 2003 6:47 PM
Did anyone mention in the 2003 walthers catalog was a atlas track page made to copy and cut up for the purpose of toying with ideas? I think it was there. that will get you some track pics, who knows what scale they are in though.

I find myself filling up my pda with little doodles of different track ideas for my own. I figue if I keep coming up with little twists I'll consider more and when real track gets nailed down the space will be maximized for functionality and cool look.

It's hard to beat just taking the real stuff and moving it around a table though.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 305,205 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Friday, November 7, 2003 6:47 PM
Did anyone mention in the 2003 walthers catalog was a atlas track page made to copy and cut up for the purpose of toying with ideas? I think it was there. that will get you some track pics, who knows what scale they are in though.

I find myself filling up my pda with little doodles of different track ideas for my own. I figue if I keep coming up with little twists I'll consider more and when real track gets nailed down the space will be maximized for functionality and cool look.

It's hard to beat just taking the real stuff and moving it around a table though.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Users Online

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!