Ideas for shallow/long layout with variety

Michael Doleman Feb 1, 2018

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  1. Michael Doleman

    Michael Doleman TrainBoard Member

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    I wanted to say thanks again for all the great feedback I've gotten, here, with various questions I've had. I've learned more here than from any of the books I have, that's for sure.

    I've posted and gotten feedback on a couple layout ideas, but my thinking on where the set is going to end-up is shifting, so as it turns-out, the platform will be a bit narrower, and much longer, than I'd originally thought. I was originally aiming for 24" X 48", but now I am looking at something more like 20" X up to 72".

    My aim is to pack as much diversity and interest as possible into that space. My partner is also very interested in the hobby, so she kinda wants her own "side" of the layout, to do her thing -- which is fine by me. With it being a really long layout, I think it will be much easier to accommodate -- either by putting a physical divider down the middle, or putting the mountains there. My core idea is for there to be a very long, outer oval, from which a double cross-over puts trains onto a smaller, "commuter" loop, and also from which are extended sidings for freight. I want to incorporate a nice, mid-sized passenger station as a central feature.

    I'm definitely not a stickler for accurate re-creation of exact, real-world places -- in fact I think I want to avoid that level of specificity. That said, my very general target time/place is era II/III in smaller-town, rural Germany/central Europe.

    In designing the thing, I seem to be stuck in ovals-within-ovals, and can't break out. I seem to always end-up with roughly the same concept, and it looks very stilted and rote -- very "train set" oriented. I'm using all Rokuhan sectional track, btw, and don't want to get into anything too serious in terms of using a lot of flex track or modifying anything heavily.

    Any suggestions, or -- better -- references to good-looking (but relatively economical) layouts in a similar space configuration would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
  2. mdvholland

    mdvholland TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Michael, I think you will find a longer layout base easier to plan a nice layout on.

    You probably checked out Rokuhan's own webpages with trackplans, they are ok but a bit conventional: http://www.rokuhan.com/english/layout/index.php

    Take a look here for a nice set of plans by (former...) z scale master David K Smith: http://davidksmith.com/track-planning/hcds.htm Most are in Z but can be converted to Z without much ado.

    In general I think with this surface you will indeed work with ovals, dogbones of end-to-end layouts with two or more 180 degrees curves. Personally, I like wide curves that show the trains at their best, so you might want to try and implement those where you can. Rokuhan has more options than Marklin, with its R245 en R270 (http://cms.rokuhan.de/service-und-beratung/gleisgeometrie/gebogene-gleise.php)

    Matt
     
  3. Michael Doleman

    Michael Doleman TrainBoard Member

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    I've definitely looked through the Rokuhan layouts -- a couple of those have good core concepts, but none are expressive enough for what I would like to accomplish. You're right: they are very conventional.

    Some amazing stuff in that other link you provided -- thanks for that. I particularly like the 30" X 90" N-scale set-up, which may translate well to a 20-ish by 70-ish inch Z-scale layout. I am always blown-away when I see what other designers are able to accomplish in such limited space.

    In my case, I'm very reluctant to do anything that involves flex track, so that probably curtails severely what I can accomplish. I'm willing to apply small sections if/when there is really no other solution. I find it very difficult to get my designs to follow those nice, long, flowing-yet-intricate patterns, with the sectional track pieces. I think that I've calculated the correct radiuses, etc., but then I end-up being off by enough that it ultimately doesn't work...

    One of the things that I keep coming back to is that now that I have enough room for it, I might like to include a reversing loop. In practice, though, part of me thinks maybe it's more trouble than it's worth...
     
  4. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    Michael,

    In real life railroads are much like the models: a very long oval. The shape may be dog bone or like a cartoon barbell, but it's oval. It what you connect to that oval that makes it interesting.

    As far as the bench work size, I feel 30" X 72" maximum. That size fits through doors and down stairs and even in the back of my car. A depth of 20" is a bit thin to do much more than an oval unless you build it like a dog bone.

    Something to consider is building your layout in modules. This has several advantages. You can treat the layout like a sectional sofa varying length as shape as the need changes. Also, you can do it in small sections, say 4' length: a city scene, a yard seen, etc. I've observed that people are more successful in completing a smaller first layout. In modules you can expand your ideas over time. Also modules make it easier for several people to work on a layout at on time. The popular module specification in Z is X Bend Track. You can find it's specification at:
    http://www.ztrackmagazine.com/pdf/Z-Bend_Track_Manual_2004.pdf
    You don't have to follow the specification unless you'd want to join in with other modelers at shows, but it will give you some ideas.

    My current layout project is in modules. One city module (Livermore CA in the 1950s), a grasslands end module with tracks crossing over and a yard module turnaround with the ability to continue through to some other yet to be defined module.

    Flex track isn't hard to use, but I agree with you. For a first layout use it in moderation and avoid building curves. Rokuhan track still offer many possibilities with their sectional track.

    Mark
     
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  5. mdvholland

    mdvholland TrainBoard Member

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    Michael, you might want to plan your layout with a software application like Anyrail. Affordable and easy to use. Free trial with limited number of tracksections.
    https://www.anyrail.com/en

    Matt
     
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  6. Michael Doleman

    Michael Doleman TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the link. I currently use a Mac-based program called RailModeler Pro. It is working extremely well for me. It has a library of all the Rokohan track segments I intend to use. I especially like that it will automatically fill sections with flex track, and let you know if it will work or not.
     
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  7. Michael Doleman

    Michael Doleman TrainBoard Member

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    Gotta say that I really like the modular idea. The is a really great idea for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that 90% of the fun, for me, lies in the planning, building, and tinkering, as opposed to simply running trains on a completed layout.

    I managed to finally come-up with a plan that fits into a 20" X 66" space, and looks pretty reasonably decent. I was able to break the mold, at least, of it looking like concentric running tracks, at least :) Two dog-bones of oblong size & shape, so there is plenty of variety. I took a cue from some of the other plans I looked at, and that's what got the creativity flowing, a bit more.

    Part of the reason I really want to dial-in the first layout is that the piece isn't going to be down in the basement... So it's been decided that it will be built more like a piece of fine furniture (I'm a woodworker, also), and occupy a specific location in the house. Main reason: my girlfriend, unlike me, doesn't really care for the planning/tinkering part of the thing -- she just likes to run the trains, and is unlikely to do so if the set-up is all the way down in the basement. And I concur -- the whole point in selecting Z scale was to be able to do a lot in very little space, and I love the idea of being able to incorporate the thing as part of the living space.

    I will definitely be paying close attention to modular design, though. That seems like a wonderful idea -- thanks for the link on that!
     
  8. ddechamp71

    ddechamp71 TrainBoard Member

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    My current layout (which is the very first one) is made exclusively with flextrack (Micro-Trains). I found this very easy to work with, provided you follow the golden rules that define it.

    You should read the 7th page of the link below. ;)

    http://peskar.org/model_trains/model_railroader/[Kalmbach] Model Railroader.pdf


    Dom
     
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