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Sources for HO layout drawing templates?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Frankfort, Indiana
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Sources for HO layout drawing templates?
Posted by Morpar on Saturday, July 9, 2022 6:51 PM

Good evening all! I took a hiatus from model railroading for over 10 years to do those crazy things like work too many hours and raise my family. Now I finally have the time, space, money, and support from my wife to build a layout. I picked up the book "How To Design A Model Railroad" and it has been VERY helpful in helping me set up my expectations and desires for this layout. The problem I am running into is there is a picture on page 45 of a CTT Inc. HO Scale Template for hand-sketching track work, and I can't find one or anything close. I know I am old-school and prefer to do my drawings with paper and pencil, so is there another source for a template like this? I played around with the Atlas software over 10 years ago but wasn't completely happy with it (could very well have been me though). If someone can offer me a source for a pencil and paper template it would really make my day! If nothing else what are the recommendations for track planning software? Thanks in advance.

Good Luck, Morpar

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Posted by PC101 on Saturday, July 9, 2022 7:55 PM

[quote user="Morpar"]

Good evening all! I took a hiatus from model railroading for over 10 years to do those crazy things like work too many hours and raise my family. Now I finally have the time, space, money, and support from my wife to build a layout. I picked up the book "How To Design A Model Railroad" and it has been VERY helpful in helping me set up my expectations and desires for this layout. The problem I am running into is there is a picture on page 45 of a CTT Inc. HO Scale Template for hand-sketching track work, and I can't find one or anything close. I know I am old-school and prefer to do my drawings with paper and pencil, so is there another source for a template like this? I played around with the Atlas software over 10 years ago but wasn't completely happy with it (could very well have been me though). If someone can offer me a source for a pencil and paper template it would really make my day! If nothing else what are the recommendations for track planning software? Thanks in advance.

 

[quote]

  I do not know what is on page #45 but did you look at ''CTT HO TRACK TEMPLATE'' on line? I see many types.

My CTT is part #5000 HO scale template, dated 1988.

Edit: BUT now I see nothing that you may be looking for. I guess this item is going the way of the Rotary dial phone. 

 

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Posted by wrench567 on Saturday, July 9, 2022 8:23 PM

   Proto 87 stores used to have printable turnout diagrams. They helped me layout and build my modules. Check out fast tracks. Curve templates are easy using a tramel or compass.

   I took the printable turnout templates and scaled them before printing.

     Pete.

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Posted by hon30critter on Saturday, July 9, 2022 9:47 PM

Morpar
If nothing else what are the recommendations for track planning software?

Hi Morpar,

I strongly recommend considering Eldorado Software's 3rd PlanIt. It is vastly better than the Atlas software. It will allow you to draw a layout that actually fits in the space available. It has templates for almost all track components. You can be drawing a track plan in a very short time which will show you grades, radii, track elevation, distances and much more. You can draw easements, both vertical and horizontal, and the list goes on. You can even run trains and create your own structures and scenery.

It is not the cheapest option, but IMHO, it is well worth the investment.

https://www.eldoradosoft.com/

Dave

I'm just a dude with a bad back having a lot of fun with model trains, and finally building a layout!

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Posted by BATMAN on Sunday, July 10, 2022 12:11 AM

I have cad programs for drawing house plans and I am quite proficient at using them but still enjoy old-school pencil and paper for MRR. I bought this pad of graph paper at Staples for $7.00 to draw my current layout. The squares are 1" which translates into 1' on the plan. It is pretty easy to figure out the size of turnouts and curve radius with this using a ruler and compass. Just a thought.

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1/videos 

You can never ever out-train poor nutrition.

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Posted by crossthedog on Sunday, July 10, 2022 12:28 AM

I too used graph paper. Whole pads of it. I planned my layout over and over again for a year before starting benchwork.

I tried to find a place to buy a stencil template for curves, something like this -- https://www.ebay.com/itm/294976431176?chn=ps&mkevt=1&mkcid=28 -- but they're hard to find these days and expensive when you find them, for a perforated piece of plastic that cost 5 cents to make. The manager of one train store I asked at said "nobody" plans track on paper anymore. Well, I don't much like being called nobody, but my umbrage didn't help me find an affordable template. In the end I used a school compass. And lots of erasers.

I can see the benefit of using software for that task, but I deal with software all day long at work, both documenting my company's software and fighting with the software tools I use to do document my company's software. It's enough already. I wanted my hobby to be fun -- and manual.

-Matt

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, July 10, 2022 2:32 AM

Personally, I wouldn't bother with all that rigmarole just to build a decent layout.

(I've deleted the rest of my reply - no point in suggesting alternatives when so many are readily available.)

Wayne

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Posted by Oliver1 on Sunday, July 10, 2022 3:33 AM

Hello! I also enjoy that book; have read it now 3 times, and every time I pick up some specific ideas for my new layout. I'm also back in the hobby after life happened.

The template the book refer's to is from 1988, while the book is from 2021. That should tell you something. 

Templates have to be specific to a track system, otherwise you cannot trust the design. My favorite track vendor has a template for their track system, but I find it much quicker to use a rail CAD tool. I can iterate new design ideas much quicker than by pencil. Indeed, I have iterated more than hundred ideas on my current layout. Iterations are what improves the quality of a design.

There are several good rail CAD tools around; I evaluated many and settled on AnyRail. They have most track system's detailed geometries encoded and their designs end up being reliable. Learning curve is pretty quick; you will be productive within 15 min. They have a free version with up to 50 elements, I believe. They also have a good forum with active users helping each other out.

Good Luck!

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, July 10, 2022 5:34 AM

I own a CTT HO Scale Template. I bought it back in 2004 when I first got into scale model railroading. I no longer use it. I found it marginally useful when I built my first HO scale layout. 

That Minitrix Track Planning Stencil that Matt linked to eBay is quite similar to the CTT HO Scale Template. So, if you really want to take the template approach, that is something to consider.

I guess that I am old school. I still use pencil and paper to design my layouts. I have large pads of quadrille paper that I rely on for very accurate scale drawings. The squares are 1/4" and can be easily adapted to turnouts and crossovers and double slips. That is something else to consider.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, July 10, 2022 7:49 AM

I own one but found it all but useless. I used a circle template for curves on my drawing, worked great and then I laid out the layout with throw away brass sectional track and photo copy turnouts of the type I was useing. This worked great to make sure I had no big mistakes and to try other idea if I saw something I didn't see before or a way to get a larger or smaller walkway when needed.

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Posted by crossthedog on Monday, July 11, 2022 12:01 AM

rrebell
I used a circle template for curves on my drawing,

I found the circle template invaluable as well. It didn't have all the sizes I needed but I got great use out of it, and on the diameters it didn't have I used the old pencil compass.

Returning to model railroading after 40 years and taking unconscionable liberties with the SP&S, Northern Pacific and Great Northern roads in the '40s and '50s.

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Monday, July 11, 2022 2:11 PM

I used the CTT template that Rich mentioned. I also followed the advice on using “squares” in John Armstrong’s track planning book and cut out half circles of the minimum radius to quickly check if things would fit. My layout is a triple deck monster with several hundred feet of hidden track. I had to plan everything out to make sure it would all fit and that the elevations/grades would work out.

Certain elements of the track plan were set in stone: placement of curves, starting and ending points of grades etc…other areas were adjusted as I built the layout to provide for maximum aesthetics and functionality. Things look one way on paper and quite another in front of you in the layout room so I made some revisions. This link shows how I approached the plan for my yard and the adjustments I made to the original plan to make things work and look better:

http://thewilloughbyline.com/willoughby%20text/Willoughby%20Yard%20design.doc.pdf

 

My two cents,

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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Posted by NVSRR on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 12:54 PM

I have a ctt template (and rotary phone which works) and I don't use either much.   I found a design compass and making sure the drawing is done to scale, including switches, and that works well.  

shane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by gerhard_k on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 4:51 PM

The fundamental problem with these small-scale templates is that the resulting drawings are not very accurate. This stems, in my view, primarily from the difficulty of aligning the connections of curves and turnouts accurately; just a small discrepancy (which will be imperceptible at the small scale) will throw off the locations of track further down the line by serious amounts, especially if your layout is squeezing a lot of track into a small space. 

The advantage of CAD programs is that those angular misalignments just don't happen, and (assuming the CAD program has accurate models of the track system you plan to use, which they all do nowadays) your track plan will actually fit into your space. 

Now another option, which has already been mentioned, is finding full-size templates on your track mfr.'s website and printing them out, but you still have to be very precise in lining these up, end-to-end, making sure the curves are exactly tangent to the legs of the turnout - it can be surprisingly fussy.  

Yeah, I also like to draw old-school, but you need to be practical or you risk disappointment.

Best of luck - Gerhard  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, July 12, 2022 11:31 PM

rrebell
I own one but found it all but useless. I used a circle template for curves on my drawing.

I also own a CTT template, and I do not like it, and find it very useless.

As rrebell said, just using circle templates and a straight edge to draw tangent track works much better. Turnout size is easy to lay out on graph paper with a little care.

-Kevin

Living the dream and happily modeling my STRATTON AND GILLETTE Railroad in HO scale. The SGRR is a freelanced Class A railroad as it would have appeared on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954, in my personal fantasy world of plausible nonsense.

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Posted by ctclibby on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 3:31 PM

Have never seen a CTT template. I use Xtrack and find it easier to print 1:1 the trackwork or turnout you are playing with then attach it to the layout.

I also have a rotary phone that still works. In fact, Libby MT is one of the few areas left in the USofA that allows those phones. A few years back when we actually had dial tone, the phone was sitting on the table and the daughter came in and picked up the handset then started 'Pushing' the numbers on/in the dial. You should have seen her expression when I showed her how to 'spin' the dial. The line was only used for DSL so she never knew that you could do that.

Todd Hackett

 Libby, Montana 59923

 I take only pictures then leave footprints on railroad property that I know is not mine, although I treat it as such...

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