Thread: Small N scale layouts?
March 1st, 2010, 08:39 PM #11
Thanks Mark, Yes I do need to think about that. I am really trying to get an idea of what is possible and what is not. I am a static modeler of 1/35 armor and 1/700 ships, I did a few Dio's but mostly vignettes. I am also an oil painter. I am looking to put my skills to the test in Model RRing now.
I am striving for detail and accuracy, as I can see you are too on your website. My focus is on accuracy of scenery, detailing of the trains themselves, and the structures incorporated in my layout. I have ideas in my head what the final product will look like, but have to get them down on paper soon. I am not a CAD guy I like paper and pencil.
Since I have not decided on which route to go. Mining scene or Mill type City scene I am up in the air as far as making lists, and I AM a list maker for sure, I love lists !!!!
If I do the city scene the city Paterson NJ is nearby so I have 1/1 refs to work off of. Always wanted to do Paterson a former industial giant. It would be complicated as I want it Real as can be and to try to shrink it down is going to be work.
March 1st, 2010, 08:57 PM #12
If you set your layout in an earlier period, you can fit more operations in a small space.
Almost no space is too small to build a layout. Some people have made a hobby out of building layouts in boxes. Others have websites devoted to "micro-layouts," which are also smaller than yours.
Go here to see more 2x4 layouts: show me your 2x4 layouts! - TrainBoard.com. Especially take a look at Randgust's beautiful logging layout, smaller than yours and with a 4% grade!
Type in "2x4 n scale layout plans" to Google and prepare to be swamped with ideas, like http://www.cke1st.com/m_train2.htm. You will see as you look around that people make building "flats" or cut them into shapes other than square in order to fit truly great industrial scenes between tracks in small layouts.
March 1st, 2010, 09:56 PM #13
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My layout is a 4x5 rectangle. I layered the foam so that it was sturdy enough to be moved. I can turn it sideways and put it in a closet. You can run a ton of track in that space, but with loss of real estate for any buildings or roads. I didn't think of this at first and land locked my town lol. check out the video of my layout:
the sweet thing about this layout is that with the addition of 2 turnouts i can add a mainline and expand someday, but a compact layout was my goal for the time being
March 2nd, 2010, 12:09 AM #14
Here's my two contributions. I'm a big believer in the tiny portable module idea. I have two - one is 18" x 36" (the original Hickory Valley Railroad featured in MR) and the second is under construction - hasn't really been named but should be the "Ross Run".
This module is the 'sawmill to interchange' concept - featuring the mill, shop, and offices (all actual prototype structures, scratchbuilt). It is built as a loop-to-loop with 8" reverse curves. There is a reversing loop and a storage track UNDER the visible top loop, the grade between is 4%. My little 2-6-0 can handle four 40' cars and a caboose on it, that's all it needs. It's been a successful portable display layout since 1977.
The second 20" x 42" Ross Run module is the 'log pond to woods' concept, but I made it relatively complicated with a reverse loop underneath, a 3-track storage/staging yard, a connection to the lower Hickory Valley loop. The visible track on top is basically a logging railroad switchback up a 4% grade to get to a logging area. The design on this one is specifically to show off the right-hand side of an Atlas shay pushing uphill and squealing around tight curves. All the track is in now, along with the electrical work, but work is suspended now due to all leftover time making resin kits.
I think you can do just fine on tiny layouts. I think industry-themed layouts are the best - I think steel mills, refineries, logging, etc. Don't try to put three towns and 25 mixed industries - find one big industry that uses several different kind of cars instead. Industrial scenes are great for tight curves, small locomotives, short trains. You could just as easily do Ross Run as a coal mine. Small cars and small engines are great. Ross Run works with my 9-mph Climax A locomotives just fine, pushing log cars uphill.
I had to do the complicated hidden storage track in Ross Run because I now host two Shays, a Climax B, two Climax A's, a Heisler, an 0-6-4, and a pair of 2-6-0's. It's become a challenge on just where to put all of them.
March 2nd, 2010, 12:20 AM #15
Just to encourage you - seriously - not to diss the tiny layout for possibilities - You can do just as much, photography-wise, on a smaller layout, if you plan ahead. The vertical background hills on the HV do a great job of establishing depth and disguising the incredibly small size.
I've probably designed more tiny layouts that will never get built than you can imagine. I designed one on a refinery theme (based on my local hometown) - basically a 1x4 shelf layout; and also a 3x3 one based on a Central Pennsylvania shortline - more or less the Bellefonte Central.
Get familiar with the best friends of tiny layout design:
Old Trix switches - with the absurd 9" radius curves
Peco short switches - that's what's on the Ross Run
Trix curved switches - 9" inside, 11" outside. Look on *bay, no longer made.
Peco C55 Electrofrog 4's - great if you have the room and great for low-speed short locomotives with short wheelbases.
I'm using Peco C55 now, HV was built with C80 mercifully buried beyond the tie-tops. But the Peco C55 mates up fairly well with those C80 switches with ridiculously tight geometry.
As far as for locomotives - with the Bachmann 44-tonner a REALLY GOOD out of the box critter, you don't need to resort to the tactics I did. But the Kato/Life-Like SW's work fine on curves this tight, the Atlas Shay actually does, the Atlas 2-6-0. I limit myself to 40' cars though.
Last edited by randgust; March 2nd, 2010 at 12:38 AM.
March 2nd, 2010, 10:50 AM #16
Exactly what i wanted to see, Outstanding work. I have a few ideas on layouts narrowed it down some, I have a great Atlas book from 1970 with HO layouts in it also. Have to get drawing a little and figure out buildings and scenery to scale.
In this type of small layout what is the minimun radius I can really go with, can I use 9" ? or is it way too sharp a curve?
Whats the deal with switchbacks ? I hear alot of negative comments. One plan I have in the HO book has a switchback in it, looks good to me, it can be taken out of this particular plan I think though.
March 2nd, 2010, 11:59 AM #17Send lawyers, guns, and money . . . .
March 2nd, 2010, 12:45 PM #18
Ah OK, thats a tight turn 4 and 5 in I would think, but as you say if it fits the bill and my Locos can go around it it's possible i might use it. I saw the Kato track plans I like them enough but want more trackage for sure in the way of sidings and such, this will be determined as I get my design down on paper. I think it would be a huge advantage to use either an Atlas Plan or Kato plan as the parts I need are already described, I can then experiment on my own with additional trackage. All Scale also has some great plans, with parts lists. Either way I am going to be running short trains as whichever layout I go with it will have switching involved I don't really want a main line of any size if possible. So it's a matter of me getting going now with paper and pencil ,today I hope. My main concern is as I said accuracy, detail and scenery that will make it interesting, not a flat, plain, oval layout.
March 2nd, 2010, 12:53 PM #19
I going to order some of the Tomix track from Japan and test what works and what doesn't.Send lawyers, guns, and money . . . .
March 3rd, 2010, 12:03 AM #20
Even a simple 2x4 layout can get quite good with one stunt - put a scenic divider down the middle and isolate the two views from each other. Think of it as two connected shelf layouts or two back-to-back dioramas. That eliminates the basic roundy-roundy issue. And get it up around 48-50" off the floor.
Also think vertically, and if I can figure out how to do staging on an 18x36, nobody else has any excuses!
And I like to put this out as a reminder for all the guys that want to outlaw truck-mounted couplers - there's two N scales, really, the guys that want to do UP main line in a basement, and the guys like this with only 2x4 feet and figure they must be able to do SOMETHING with this scale.
My first real N layout was only 3x6, then the HV, then the current 'big layout' (8 x 5'6) then the Ross Run module, and a whole lot of help on friends 'big layouts' over the years.
I did a switchback on Ross Run because the actual prototype used a switchback to go up Ross Run.
I have this topo up on my office wall when my rail designers complain that 'its too hard to do'....'can't be done'...and other whining.... look right under the map title. 600+ feet of vertical drop and five switchbacks, and this wasn't a logging railroad - it was a PRR coal line.
Helix? Who needs a helix?
In case you wondered why PRR and NYC buried the hatchet in the Clearfield coal district and used trackage rights over each others lines, that's the clue. Each of them had monsters like that.
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