40" x 80" N Scale Unitrack Layout

Noah Lane Mar 26, 2013

  1. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Everybody,

    If you happened to read my introduction, I'm 31 and very recently got back into the hobby. I was into model railroading until about age 14, but I never lost my love for trains. I began my research and planning in late January and started construction about four weeks ago.

    I would love any advice, suggestions and/or constructive criticism!

    My layout objectives:
    - N Scale Unitrack
    - DCC Controlled (NCE Powercab w/ eventual booster)
    - 80 x 40" (to fit in a specific spot in my town house)
    - Solid benchwork
    - Freelancing a little beach or mountain town -still unsure
    - Ballasted track
    - Two main lines
    - Small yard ladder
    - 8-10 Switches
    - NCE Switch-Kats for DCC control of switches
    - Feeders to every piece of Unitrack. Not to the Unijoiners (from the many debates I read, this seems to be the most trouble-free route)
    - Switch control panel for local switch operation
    - No more than 2-3 locos running at once
    - No Grade changes
    - Extruded foam layout
    - A few truss/girder bridge water crossings
    - Clean looking facia

    After several revisions, here is my latest layout design (created with AnyRail trial software):
    [​IMG]

    This simply shows the gray areas of above grade hills/mountains (with my older track plan). Then there is a little pond on the left side hill w/ small waterfall trickling into the river below, which flows into the bay. I'd like to do a marina/wharf/boardwalk on the left side of the bay.
    [​IMG]

    This photo was taken on 02/23/13 after purchasing my first pieces of Unitrack at the World's Greatest Hobby Show in Sacramento, CA.
    [​IMG]

    This was taken 03/05/2013 after constructing my over-built bench work. I used to build skateramps so I just immediately went for the 2x4 frame. My next layout will likely be done with the orthodox ripped plywood rib construction. This works fine for my newb layout. Again, this is my older layout design. I eliminated the sharp inner curves and S-curve toward the top right among other changes.
    [​IMG]

    Another week later, and a little practice with good ol' messy foam shaping. I really need one of those hot wires.
    [​IMG]

    And a bit more shaping...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I'm now waiting for my next purchase of track to complete the layout. Then my Powercab and DCC Loco to start testing. It's all been very fun! I've definitely missed this hobby!

    Again, I invite any constructive criticism, suggestions, and/or words of wisdom! I do apologize for the information overload with this one post!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2013
  2. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    Ya know, when I see these threads where guys get so much done in a short time, I get SO jealous! I've had my HCD layout for over a year and it's still in the "the track is on the door but not fastened down" phase. I can't wait to see more progress and thank you for giving more reasons to get off my duff and get working on my own layout!
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes. He is definitely making some great progress. Great to see how this is coming along!
     
  4. mhampton

    mhampton TrainBoard Member

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    I am assuming that the drawing posted at the top is the one you are going to build and the track in the photos is going to be relaid. If you run clockwise so that all of your switches (or turnouts as the case may be) are trailing-point, there is no provision to cross from the outer loop to the inner loop without backing the whole train through the only crossover. Otherwise, it will be great for watching trains run.
     
  5. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    That is correct. The drawing at the top is the layout I'm going to build. The pictures show a previous design that I realized wasn't going to work. I hadn't purchased all of the track for that layout either. A suggestion from another member on Whistle Post forum said to eliminate the S-Curve at the top right. And also I felt the inner radii were to tight. The original design looked something like this:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    John- do not feel bad. Even though it seems I have made a lot of progress, I am very much lacking in certain respects. For one, I have no trains or railroad electricity at this point. I wanted to get a base design and layout going. Since I plan to move forward with DCC operation, it was out of my budget to purchase everything at once: ~$450 of Unitrack, raw construction materials, hobby tools, misc, DCC starter set, rolling stock, and decoder equipped locos. I was recently married and am fairly early into my career, so model railroading is not exactly at the top of our financial priorities.

    I am building this layout incrementally. I plan to buy the remaining Unitrack soon, then the DCC gear, and then the first loco or two. Since I can't test at this point, I am trying to allow for flexibility in the design. No track will be glued down until I have thoroughly tested everything.

    I'm not sure if it's the best route for developing a layout. I simply felt this approach would provide me plenty of entertaining busy work without too much immediate payment shock. I love every bit of it so far!
     
  7. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Love the vertical scenery you have. That tunnel looks like it belongs there!
     
  8. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Hemi. I'm somewhat satisfied with the way the mountain/hills are turning out. I only wanted to go 1 foot above grade (at grade being top of 2" foam base layer). So the peaks of these mountains are 160 scale feet. My issue is that I want them to resemble mountains (rather than foothills), but I can't go nearly high enough to approach accurate scale. But I haven't mounted any of the above-grade foam features, yet. I may or may not get rid of some of the existing mountain features. We'll see!
     
  9. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

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    if it's still possible I would a second cross-over to the mainline. When running clock-wise you can only go from the inner to the outer-track. You'll like the possibility to go back to the inner track.
    BTW you also will find out the yard is out of reach, an issue not easily addressed.
    Smile
    Paul
     
  10. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    Paul- I appreciate the advice. I had already been working on a design with a second crossover from the inner to outer mainline. I'll post it when I decide on a route. Of course, whenever I go back to the drawing board, I always find places to make more modifications! More importantly, what do you mean by "the yard is out of reach?" This concerns me a bit.

    - - -

    For the fellow newbs like myself: these, and other layout suggestions I have received from the experts reiterates why not to buy a bunch of pricey Unitrack up front! Only get enough of the particular pieces that you'll likely use, just to familiarize myself with the fit and behavior of Unitrack. This helps avoid having gangs of excess track. My 2 cents.
     
  11. PaulBeinert

    PaulBeinert TrainBoard Supporter

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    Paul is probably referring the fact that the yard is in the back of the layout, the back track is about 30" from the front and at the moment it is behind some scenery and that edge is against a wall so you are going to have a reach ...
    The only mitigating factor is that it looks like the height is around 30 - 32"
     
  12. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    Oohhh okay, wow I must be slow today! Yeah, having the yard back there isn't ideal. I have considered turning the layout around -which is still totally possible. I'd mainly have to scrap the above grade mountains and construct new ones. Luckily, my Home Depot has 2" 4x8' sheets of Pink Foamular for $14!

    I made my bench work 35" to fit below the half wall to the right. I planned to keep scenery low profile between my operating position and the yard. Also, I am 6'1" and can fairly easily reach over there.
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Last I checked at mine, it was a lot more steeply priced. Wow. I should check again!
     
  14. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    It's normally $30ish, and my closest Home Depot typically doesn't carry 4'x8'x2" sheets. They just happened to have 6-7 sheets from a special order that was never picked up so they marked it down to the 1/2" sheet price of $14. It appears I'm the only who has bought any.
     
  15. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    I enjoy creating layouts in AnyRail....maybe a little too much! I really need to buy the full version. For now, I just create the top half and bottom half in separate files and splice them together. Cheap skate much?

    Below are five variations of my layout design. The main objective, as Paul suggested, is to crossover from the outer main to the inner main. Previously, I only had a crossover from the inner to outer main.

    Let me know what you guys like the best.

    Perhaps the most simple version w/ an added single crossover
    [​IMG]

    Crossover added near top of the layout. Potential derailments may be a concern with this version.
    [​IMG]

    The added crossover near the bottom slightly re-routes the inner main, and uses a #6 turnout.
    [​IMG]

    And this adds a bunch of extra unnecessary track. But I kinda like all of the switching action.
    [​IMG]
     
  16. paulus

    paulus TrainBoard Member

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    just another version, all turnouts up front.
    BTW I would like to have MY layout at armpit height, probably using the space beneath for storage. My taste, your choices.
    [​IMG]
    Smile
    Paul
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2013
  17. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

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    Wow, Paul! I like that a lot.
    Noah, you have the opposite problem that I do. I have more locos and cars than I could ever operate on my layout. Besides my American prototype equipment, I have a small collection of Japanese stuff. Oh, and don't worry about liking track planning. There are many here that will tell you that it's a hobby unto itself!
     
  18. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    I can't see the image you posted for some reason. I looked again when I got home yesterday and I can very easily reach and view the yard, so I doubt I'll pursue flip flopping the layout. I would also prefer the taller layout, but that is unlikely to happen until I have a dedicated train room one day.

    I'll do you a favor, look for my address in you messages. Just box them up and send 'em over your surplus locos! :)
     
  19. Noah Lane

    Noah Lane TrainBoard Member

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    Okay Paul, I was able to see it from my phone. Very cool! I see the benefits of using Flex track -much more organic looking. For my newb layout, I think I'll stick with Unitrack. But I will try to think outside of the box for shifting the yard near the front of the layout.
     
  20. David K. Smith

    David K. Smith TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not that I imagine there would be any real interest, but here's an adaptation of Paul's plan using Unitrack, just to show what can be done. (Paul has an aversion to Unitrack, and never posts plans using it--insert big fat winking thingie here...)

    [​IMG]
     

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