1. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I have one incorporated into a T-Trak module. Only problem is if we use a loop back we have to have the loop back on an AR circuit. To make the crossover work properly we need to have our tracks wired BWBW instead of the recommended BWWB.
     
  2. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    OMG!! It’s taken months for me to get these reversing loops and crossover working properly.

    First I was told to reverse the crossover itself. Then, when it was determined that that wasn’t sound advice, I had to buy another AR. Then, I assembled a rudimentary dogbone, just two loops connected to the crossover in the shank, and was having weeks of trouble trying problem-solve the faults I was getting.

    Then Rick Brodzinsky hit on my wiring scheme being the problem. I had it wired as though the crossover, set to ‘pass’, was the two straight sections of an oval (BWWB) and when I threw the turnouts to ‘cross’ it shorted in the middle of the crossover.

    Wiring it BWBW, as though the crossover services two parallel lines, was what was needed. Now it runs smooth as silk and I’m ecstatic about it! Lol!
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2020
  3. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I tell people not to look under my module, just follow the colors on the plug. I had wired my modules for the standard BWWB before buying the crossover. After using a meter on the crossover I realized that this will not work on a T-Trak setup with the recommended wiring scheme.

    The first time I brought a module to a show one of the guys there looked at my white wire into the blue plug and blue wire into the white plug and said I had my setup wired all wrong. I tried telling him it was fine as my club goes BWBW not BWWB. He kept insisting I was wrong and the club (which he was not a member of, he was the member of another club setting up at the same show) was on the standard wiring scheme. The look on his face when a train passed through my crossover and kept going was great! Also he heard the click of a PM42 when I entered the loop back and then it dawned on him how we had our stuff set up.
     
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  4. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Since my layout is on a HCD, this seemed like the place to post some of this...

    I've recently started construction on some landscaping for my layout. I'm using Woodland Scenics "Shaper Sheet" to constuct some features for my elevated section of track. The Shaper Sheet is pretty easy to use and I'm getting a pretty good looking foundation for the application of sand, gravel, my rock castings, etc., as we move forward. I'm then covering the sub-roadbed with plaster cloth.

    I could have worked the transition from the edge of the Shaper Sheet to the top of the sub-roadbed a little better. I may have created more sanding and smoothing work for myself than necessary, but its kind of a moot point now.

    If anyone has any tips or pointers on this process that you think I might benefit from, please share!
     

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  5. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    It looks like a good start to me...(y)(y)
     
  6. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Very nice work!

    This is kinda hard to explain, but I'm gonna try...

    The paths that railroad builders chose were based on where they needed to go, and the terrain along the way. Being economical and profit-oriented, they wanted low grades, and did not want to work too hard to get them. So they used the terrain along the way. Like cutting into the side of a mountain to create a ledge for a roadbed that slowly climbed along the side of the mountain, up to a pass. If they had to, they drilled tunnels.

    For example, the rising turn and split off to the bridge that you've shown... Maybe create a side of a bending mountain ridge behind the roadbed, such that it looks like they cut the roadbed out of the side of the ridge, instead of bringing in lots of fill on an otherwise flat plain. Railroad planners like to economize, using fill from nearby areas they had to cut (just like highways through hilly terrain do today). Cut the top of a mountain/ridge to lower the pass, and use that material to fill in part of the valley on the other side, as an example. This doesn't mean you have to construct your terrain that way, but it looks best if you make it look like it was done that way. Maybe somewhere along the mountain ridge behind your track, there was a gully that had to be filled, so your road-bed could cross it. 1:1 railroad planners did not like sharp turns either, so they could't always exactly follow the existing terrain on the side of a mountain.

    It may help to think of a topological map of your layout (with lines that follow equal elevations). Wanting to reduce road grades to reasonable slopes, they tended to follow along and roughly parallel to those lines on a topological map, unless the lines bent too sharply to follow with a train. Then they cut and filled to try to keep curve radii reasonable.

    As for the split in the track (going to the bridge), if you had the remains of a peak or ridge that "forced" that split to be located there (and perhaps tunneled and/or cut through for the other, non-bridge, route). This would be in the foreground/left of the pic that shows the bridge in view. Or the ridge/peak could have been behind that split in that pic, such that the split to the bridge was the earliest place they could make it on the route).

    In nature, water is what creates most terrain. A creek alongside the track under the bridge creates interest, and a reason that the terrain dropped off there (nature's cut), necessitating the bridge. Always think about how water would run if "rained" on your layout. How would it drain off without cutting through a road bed? Ditches and culverts are used to deal with water drainage on real railroads, so think about how they would be used on your layout. For example, that gully I mentioned, that was filled for the roadbed, will need a culvert so the water does not run over the tracks when it storms. On a topological map, water wants to flow at right angles to the elevation lines.

    Oh, and water does not run up hill; it fills up lakes until it can run down hill.

    I hope some of this makes sense, but alas, I fear it likely hasn't. Trying to draw a picture with words is most inefficient for me.

    Feel free to ignore this advice, or ask more questions (or both). It is, after all, YOUR layout! Have fun!
     
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  7. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Andy,
    As always your advice is helpful, informative, and instructive. And, you've done a better job of describing you're vision than you think... I understand completely what you're getting at in regard to creating and maintaining the illusion of how these considerations might have resulted in real-world reasons for the layout looking the way it does.

    How the layout has been so far imagined is, the area on the far side of the bridge (see 2.jpg) where my tape mesure and the tunnel at the end of the run-around is, is going to be a mountain that flows down into an industrial area contained in that loop of the folded dogbone. In the attached JPG, the RED line is the elevated portion and the MAGENTA line is the portion that you can see at the end of the run-around in that pic that goes into the tunnel. It comes out above the small yard at the bottom of the diagram. Once the mountain is constructed, much of what appears to be fills supporting the elevated RED line will be softened and sculpted into the mountainside and will, hopefully, have a more organic feel and look to it.

    The plan is to have the MAGENTA line enter the mountain via the tunnel mentioned previously and come out above the yard, while the RED line skirts the edge of the mountain on a shelf, and maybe enter a small section of tunnel depending on how ambitous I feel when I get to constructing that.

    I'm still trying to imagineer how the two spurs are going to service an industry here, or maybe more importantly what that industry will be. But the small spur off of the turnout where the MAGENTA line meets the GREEN line (see attached JPG) might not survive the final cut. As an alternative, should this spur be removed, I've created some space under that bridge (see 10. jpg) for an additional spur to parallel the existing. In that 10.jpg, the three lines you see are, from L to R; the run-around, the main, and the spur. I have room under that bridge for an additional turnout and spur to the right of the existing spur here so I can reduce the elevation from the mountain to where these "two" spurs would reside in a more realistic way.

    I beleive this is where you're suggesting the possiblilty of a creek. And that was actually a consideration at one point, as I wanted a water source to feed the lake I built (you can't see that in these pics). But I haven't committed to that as of yet as I'm still trying to determine if the spurs, as diagramed, are going to survive the final cut.

    To be honest, the more I hear those words out loud about eliminating the one spur at the confluence of the MAGENTA and GREEN lines above the yard, and adding another under the bridge, the more attractive this solution sounds in terms of how that might better service an industry, while simplifying the contouring of the mountain slope into that area. Maybe an industry that resides on an incline that might utilize gravity as a means of moving product or material to those spurs in a cut below. Any suggestions?

    In addition to the bridge that you've pointed out, in 6.jpg there will be another bridge where the styrofoam incline pieces end. This bridge will span the acess to the industrial area via a gravel/hardpan road.

    As I've looked at other builders here and how they plan their layouts, I realize that I've done much of this backwards. I've created problems for which solutions have to be engineered on the fly because I failed to properly account for some of these things in the planning phase. For example, I've yet to address where access to my downtown area (which will be inside the GREEN line loop of the dogbone) will come from, or how access to the lake I've built (under the box lid in 10.jpg) will be accomplished. Some of these things may wind up with Twilight Zone solutions, in that a solution is implied but not actually modeled. On the other hand, some 'off the layout' solution may yet present itself that addresses both of those problems.

    In the end, I'm getting an education through my errors, and through the helpful input from people like yourself, that my next layout will hopefully benefit from.

    G.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
  8. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Okay, now I see where you are going. You need access to a town in the middle of the green loop.

    I'm thinking a road, parallel to the green runaround/main/spur, above the runaround, entering the town.

    You would need more span on the bridge, and more room in the tunnel.

    The existing tunnel seems a little problematic to me. Generally, tunnels cut into rock do not have shallow roofs, because such roofs would be too weak and unstable, especially if they had to support a track over them. It also would have been easier and cheaper just to dig out the roof, and push the tunnel entrance back beyond the overhead track, to where the mountain might be taller. Tunnels rarely enter/exit the side of a mountain directly, but often there is a trench dug far enough back into the side of the mountain, to where it is more economical to start drilling the tunnel than it is to keep digging an ever-deeper trench. If the track and tunnel enter at an angle into the side of a mountain, naturally, the "trench" would be one-sided for a ways, before it ends at the tunnel entrance.

    This would mean that you need a bridge for the red line where it passes over the magenta line, in front of the actual tunnel. Such a bridge could also be long enough to span the aforementioned road into downtown too. Behind the bridge, as the magenta line curves left, it could part ways with the road, and enter a tunnel further back. The road could continue and exit layout at upper right (on the diagram), perhaps via a narrow valley, and most valleys have a creek or river. (What do you think cut the valley?) Maybe the creek passes under low bridges/trestles on the railroad and/or roadway, on its way to the lake you built?

    The roadway also means you need a longer bridge (or two) to span it and the green lines at center stage. What radius curve is that leading to the top end of the bridge (per diagram)? Could you replace it with a section of curved single track viaduct? I have seen someone separate the Unitrack section from the viaduct structure, and paint the sturcture black (or silver), to mimic a heavy steel bridge, over which gravel roadbed and track were then laid (the reinstalled Unitrack section). It looked really good. If a 19" radius curve was used there, then Kato has a new 19" radius, 15 degree curved bridge. Kato also has piers that join the ends of viaducts and/or bridges, using "S-joiners". You'd have to tear up some terrain you've already created though...

    In the end, you'd have a road to provide automotive access to the town. Throughout history, roads were often built alongside railroads (and vice versa), so the combination of roadway and adjacent track would be fitting. The run-around track might even double for a small passenger depot and siding in the town.

    Oh well, you probably have even better ideas about how you want your layout to proceed... Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  9. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    LOL! You're funny!:D
    I love that you think I have better ideas... I'm LITERALLY jumping from one poorly conceived notion to the next and trying not to drive myself crazy with trying to remedy them as they reveal themselves.

    As for access to the town, I'm considering simply cutting a tunnel into the newly plastered Shaper Sheet just prior to the elevated split on the GREEN line loop side of the of the layout with maybe a concrete "Eisenhower Tunnel" type portal. This would imply access from off-layout on the back side. Since what I'm intending is only a small shopping section of a town, I think a backdrop of a small city scape on the rear facia indicating that the city 'proper' resides off layout and on the other side of that elevated track might provide some context for what is being imagined as a kind of 'historical' downtown area that will actually be on the layout inside that GREEN line loop.

    As for some of the other issues, I'm simply going to have to live with some of my missteps. It's really more important at this stage to get trains running so my grandson and I can enjoy some of the fruits of these labors. But, this is going to serve as a kind of TRAINing ground for future endeavors and will, eventually, be given to him so he and his father can put it in THEIR garage as I convert an upstairs room for a D&RGW shelf build I'm doing research for.

    I'm hoping, hope springing eternal as they say, that I'll have a better understanding of how to plan a layout that reflects a greater level or realism and functionality in its design after the experience with this layout and the research I'm doing for the next. In truth, I don't know ANYTHING about even the most basic fundamentals of railroading, how a yard actually works, what the signalling means along the track, etc., etc.

    My ignorance is the most daunting of all of my weaknesses! LOL!
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
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  10. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    George,

    See what you did there? You identified the ultimate, #1 goal for this layout. All else becomes secondary. Terrain, tunnels and trackage simply melt into into the backdrop of a much bigger play, on a far more significant stage.

    I told you you had even better ideas than mine!

    I don't have any grandchildren yet, but if/when I do, I sure hope I get the opportunity to do what you are doing!
     
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  11. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    A little off topic, but I was the most reluctant grandfather you could imagine! I told all of my kids that the first one of them to make me a grandfather was going to be taken out to a prepared hole in the desert! Lol! I have two sons and a daughter, and it was my daughter who was first to violate the grandchild prohibition... and since I only have the one daughter I felt a bit conflicted about taking her out. I have a spare son, but only one daughter...

    In failing to make good on my threat my oldest son and his wife seemed to think that the prohibition had been lifted and produced 4 of their own in rapid succession. I think their plan was to keep me backing up and on my heels as they overwhelmed me with grandchildren. It seems to have worked... Now, whenever I visit, I'm greeted to tiny voices shouting "PAPA!!" and smothered with kisses and hugs as they all vie to show me whatever it is that's new in their lives since my last visit.

    Needless to say, I never dug those holes... and my reluctance has abated somewhat lol!
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
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  12. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    That sounds exactly like the politicians that are running things right now!

    It looks like you are getting along quite well in the progress of your layout. I would recommend from time to time set the tracks up and check that everything still runs smooth. I found this helps in the early stages of layout building. Sometimes things can crop up as you are laying your base that are much easier to fix when things are still in a rough stage.
     
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  13. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    LOL! Doesn't it though?!

    Thanks Massey, that's good advice... I think I'll take it!
     
  14. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Continuing to work on this section of elevated sub-roadbed. I've decided to attempt the leveling with this earth colored grout that I found an open bag of at Home Depot. They let me have it for almost nothting... I got it cheap and they don't have to continue to clean up the spillage in the aisle, so it's a win for both of us.

    I started with applying some adhesive and then applied a pretty heavy layer of grout. I know that the adhesive will only bond a thin layer of grout to the surface, but there may be some areas where that's all that's needed... and I want to use the least amount possible to get the job done.

    Once I get this level and flat for track I'll be cementing this with some scenic cement and moving on to the next section...

    Assuming it all works of course! LOL! If not, I'll be tearing it out and starting from scratch... so, be prepared for that, becuase that seems to be 'my thang'!
     

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    Last edited: Aug 24, 2020
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  15. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I'm not sure if this is your thought process or not but it looks like you could smooth out the grout, put the track in place and then wet it to activate the mix and use that to glue the tracks down. It would also work well for a leveling agent.
     
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  16. PapaG

    PapaG TrainBoard Member

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    Funny you should mention that, because I tried it. The first time I tried it and got the track put into place and connected I wound up disturbing the grout so much that the result didn't really advance my cause much. So I took it apart and started weighing my options... none of which were going to be any easier than what I was trying (and what you're suggesting).

    So, I finally arrived at a method where the track was merely laid, without being connected, along that incline. I determined that the priority was simply getting the incline as flat as possible without affecting the grade any more than I could get away with. As a result, the track wasn't in the exact location it needed to be, but it provided some quick visual indications as to where my low spots were. The high spots were more easily rememdied with a little wiggle and some pressure, but the track needed to be removed for the low spots to be filled and then put back into place to check for flatness again.

    For the most part it worked pretty well. I didn't want to wet the grout with the track in place as this was going to leave a hardened impression in the grout when it set, and that impression might not be in the exact place that the track was going to be when the layout was completely assembled. It would be close, but I was afraid that it might create problems down the road. So I removed the track and smoothed the impressions out with a small wallboard knife before wetting the grout down with alcohol and scenic cement. I almost just used water but was afraid that water might not penetrate the grout all the way to the foam underlayment, and I didn't want to risk having a crust of hardened grout that was riding on top of dry grout that had never gotten wet.

    I got all of it but about 8 inches done last night and will be checking on it when I get home tonight and finishing it up. I know it's going to take another pass to get it just right as there are still a couple of low spots, from my attempt at leveling the track impressions out I'm sure, but from what I saw this morning it's pretty close.

    The risk with using the grout is that it's going to be much less amenable to sanding the high spots down when cured, if there are any, than plaster would ahve been. But I think it's going to work pretty well.

    Once this is done, I'm taking your previous advice and going to run trains for a bit to make sure that everything is still operational. And, I'll be drilling holes to run my feeders to this section of the layout while I'm at it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2020
  17. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    I recently started a HCD layout based on MR's Carolina Central. It's being built on a 30×80 door.
    The Unitrack was salvaged from a layout built as a Christmass present for my nephew in 1996. The underside of the track is a solid grey and the track had connectors with copper conductors which I replaced.
    On the underside of a piece I had written Merry Christmass Jimmy from Uncle John 1996.
    I retired last year and find myself once again getting back into the hobby after a couple year break.
    My wife had her treadmill where the layout is but decided she wanted it in another room. YES!
    Now I have enough space for my watchmakers bench, drafting table, storage shelves and small layout all in one room.
     

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  18. logging loco

    logging loco TrainBoard Member

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    20200825_234854.jpg I'm going with 2 cab DC for now. I don't know squat about DCC but I'm open to learning after trains are running.
    I had to trim a bunch of track pieces to get the track to fit how I wanted. I had the industry spurs and interchange tracks "dry fitted" but took them up in preparation for painting.
     
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  19. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Looking good (y)

    That looks a lot like my old32x80 Hanging HCD layout :D

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    (y):whistle:
     
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  20. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Nice job!

    It looks like you have used several of the expandable Unitrack sections, which work very well.

    You can save some money by cutting down fixed-length sections to the length you need. You just cut a section of the roadbed out of the middle, and slide the roadbed ends together. I would use a small razor saw for cutting the roadbed. Then trim the rails to length. There is an article online on one of the big N scale vendors' website about how to do it, and it has been discussed on these forums before. One discussion I remember (but can't find it) involved converting a 30 degree curve of a given radius to 15 degrees.

    You can also use this technique to replace multiple, adjacent, shorter sections that add up to a custom length less than 9.75" (the length of the longest straight Unitrack section).
     

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