Building a layout from scratch

Ezequiel Sep 6, 2020

  1. Ezequiel

    Ezequiel New Member

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    Well, as I mentioned in other posts already, I'm starting to build my first layout. And since I was encouraged to share the buiding process... well here it is. I'm taking it very slow so updates may be sparse.

    So in this first post I will write about the history of the project, it's current state, and plans for the future.

    Ever since I was a kid I wanted to build a model railroad, but for different reasons it never came to happen. Time passed and now I'm in my late 30's and married. And it just so happens my wife is very enthusiastic about the project too. I must also mention that she is very skilled when it comes to crafting, if you think she is going to help me with this project, you are wrong. It is actually me who's helping her with the more rough constructing and the electrics/electronics.

    We've been toying with the idea since forever, but last year we actually started to consider it seriously. We have a spare room with a table about 160x80cm, so the plan was to build our baseboard on top of it.
    [​IMG]

    Aquiring this kind of materials in my country is not easy nor cheap, and we had a trip to the US planned by the beggining of the year, so we included some tracks in our shopping list. And we did indeed bought track and even a train set.
    My wife and I are in love with japanese culture so when we saw this model, we just knew it was exactly what we needed.
    [​IMG]
    My only regret is that the 10-397 is not DCC friendly, but nevermind, DC is cheaper, and I think we can do everything we want, at least for now.

    I designed a layout which was a single track making a double loop. You can kind of guess it in the first picture. But after a few tests, we realized that a single track was not enough so we decided to move the table away and use the contour of the room for the layout.
    This new design has 2 separate loops, a detour, a double crossover connecting both loops, an alternate route for the inner loop going all the way to the top-right, and even a train yard for operations/parking. Certainly an inprovement over the original design.
    [​IMG]
    Plus, we will take advantage of a corner of the room which is currently just collecting trash, AND I think the weird contour of the room will make the layout look much more interesting.
    I just realized that there are a couple of updates missing in the picture above. There is going to be an additional detour right after the double crossover, and here you can also see the operation yard in the alternate route area.
    [​IMG]

    Since my experience is next to null, I'm going to build it in two stages. The first one is both main loops, and the second is the detour to the right. However, I plan to have all the turnouts in place for the expansion.
    Also, I want the whole thing to be modular, the main big rectangle will actually be divided in half and it will not be attached to the wall. Instead, it will be supported by several small pieces of furniture that do not yet exist either.

    I have not yet mentioned anything about the theme or the scenery. But I did mention we love japanese culture, and we do have a shinkansen, so yes, it is going to be a japanese themed layout. To the left it is going to be an urban area, hopefully resembling akihabara, and to the right it will reflect a japanese countryside.

    As I mentioned my wife is quite skilled in her handicraft, so she already starting with the buildings. Here is the first one finished.
    [​IMG]
    It is a reproduction of one the SEGA buildings in Akihabara.

    This weekend I was in the process of asking for prices of wood for the baseboard. Hopefully I can have the pieces before next weekend. We'll see.

    I look forward for your comments, opinions and suggestions.
     
  2. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    Welcome Ezequiel.
    I look forward to following your progress.

    When you get around to scenery, if you have a hard time finding modeling supplies were you live there is a lot of information on the internet about making your own matrrials.
    Here is one example https://modelrailwayengineer.com/
    Work on the layout when you can but don't stress about frequency of updates.
     
  3. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    This trainset is indeed DCC Friendly. It just takes a special set of decoders from Kato to make it work. FL12 x2 for lighting in the lead and tail cars and EM13 x2 for the motor cars (or only one if this is trainset only has a single power car). These decoders are usually available from Fifer Hobby and are reasonably priced. If you look at the instructions with the train you will see some drawings and Japanese instructions on how to install. Pretty much, you remove a small access panel in the bottom of the lead/tail cars and insert the FL12 in the slot provided. This will make the car's lights work (after the decoder is programed for direction and road number). The power car will need to have the body lifted off but the decoder once again slides into a slot and you are good to go after some programing. I set mine to have all decoders with the same address and the end cars were oppisite when it came to normal direction so they would switch between white headlights and red tails.
     
  4. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    That's amazing. Seems like not too long ago it was a big deal when MT was able to print legible reporting marks on car ends.
    Things just keep getting smaller.
     
  5. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    If you ever get a chance, take a look at the Kato ICE train... The printing is so small you would think that it is nothing more than a bunch of small red dots to represent the car numbers... then get a magnifying glass and you can see the numbers printed as clear as day. This being said from someone with excellent close in vision.
     
  6. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

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    That building looks fantastic. Most layouts in Japan are still DC so you shouldn't feel bad about holding off on decoders.

    I see a lot of Kato #4's in that plan, so I'll give you the same warning I was given many times. The points for the #4/P481 aren't perfectly flush with the rails, and some locos have a tendency to pick them. You should plan on filing them down for smooth running, and you might consider using a #6/P718 where the yard comes off the alternate route.
     
  7. Ezequiel

    Ezequiel New Member

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    I know about the decoders, but are you sure they can be used on this set? I found some contradictory information but everything is unofficial. This site agrees with you that it is DCC friendly, but this guy claims it is not, and that the 10-276 set should be used instead...
    The 2 page manual that came with the train explains how to dissasemble to add interior lights, but it mentions nothing about converting to DCC, the FL12 or the EM13. And the cars do not have a bottom access panel as I've seen in some Kato DCC convesion videos.
    [​IMG]

    I'll look into it, thanks!

    Why is that?
     
  8. Ezequiel

    Ezequiel New Member

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    Fortunately, we were able to advance a lot this week.
    The first order of wood pieces arrived just in time on Friday:
    [​IMG]

    So the two main pieces of the baseboard are ready. I turned around one of them so you can see what it looks like on the underside.
    [​IMG]

    There are also new buildings. Here's a Tokyu Hands next to the previously shown Sega building.
    And and a traditional Japanese house for the countryside area of the layout.
    [​IMG]

    And here an elevated passegener station...
    [​IMG]

    Also, I may have mentioned I have this old transformer that only has 2 speeds forward and 2 speeds backwards:
    [​IMG]

    It works fine, but there are 2 issues with it:
    1- I would like to have a little more control than 2 fixed speeds.
    2- I want to be able to control 2 trains at the same time.

    So since I have some experience with electronics, I'm planning to build my own controller.
    Here is the first prototype:
    [​IMG]

    Well, I hope you enjoyed this little update. I certainly enjoyed working on it.
     
    badlandnp, Mudkip Orange and MK like this.
  9. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the update.

    Your base board looks nice and strong.
    Did you glue and screw it??

    Are those braces in the corners?

    How are you hoing to connect the two base board pieces?
     
  10. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    Probably this.
    Lets see if Mudkip replies back to you.
     
  11. Ezequiel

    Ezequiel New Member

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    Just screws. I have glued MDF in the past, but this pieces would not stick together.
    I don't have the clamps to let it dry for a long time, and they would not stick after holding them with my hands for only a couple of minutes. I guess the pieces were too big and the glue surface was too small, so any tiny movement before it completely dried took them apart. I was going to use screws anyway, so it's not like they NEED to be glued, so... just screws.

    Not sure what they are called, so here's a close up:
    [​IMG]
    You may note I did not get a perfect fit. I'm not super happy about it.

    I'm going to make a couple of holes on the sides of both pieces and use these. Not sure what they are called either.
    [​IMG]
     
    badlandnp and Mudkip Orange like this.
  12. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    Wing nuts, bolts and washers.
     
  13. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    how are center gross pieces fastened on.
     
  14. Mudkip Orange

    Mudkip Orange TrainBoard Member

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    Newton's first law. Your train wants to go straight. The curve track and the switch force it one way or the other. When you put a switch after a curve the train wants to go to the outside, the wheels are rubbing against the outside rail. Most of your switches, that means the train wants to go straight. But if you're on the alternate route the train wants to go into the yard. So you want that switch to be perfect.
     
  15. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I was unaware that there are 2 versions of this train. So it is possible that the one I am familiar with is the easy DCC and the one you have is more like the orange TGV which requires you to manually wire a decoder in.
     
  16. Ezequiel

    Ezequiel New Member

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    Well, they are 10cm wide, so I made a 5cm cut in each and them fit them together. Then added a braces on opposite sides for a little extra toughness.

    Thanks, I will reconsider that when I get into that section of the layout.
     

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