Layout Design general discussion

traingeekboy Jan 2, 2019

  1. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]
    Future Subway Layout.

    Random photos 002.JPG
    Future 1828 and future 1881 layouts

    Random photos 009.JPG
    Early painting of "Harte's Mill Crossing," circa 1881

    So I got me a hollow core door and sawed it in half, with the challenge being to see what I could do in a 32" x 40" space. One one square I am going to do an old west layout, trying to capture the feel of what it might have resembled when the Southern Pacific arrived in El Paso in 1881. As luck would have it, I went looking for this lumber salvage company, which took me right to the edge of a place called "Harte's Mill Crossing" on the banks of the Rio Grande River. This is just about smack where the old SP would have worked its way Eastward into El Paso, and also happens to be just about where the Spanish arrived in or about 1598. This little forgotten spot has an other worldly feel about it. I am going back with a shovel and bucket too dig up some earth to use for the scenic base. Arroyos, muddy river water, and twisted salt cedars (which I am told the railroad planted to suck up ground water destablizing the roadbed).

    On the second square I am going to see if I can wrest some flex track to create a layout for the John Bull to wend its way through some Eastern country side. The small space for the track will require a focus on the scenic bed to make the small track interesting.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
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  2. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Going to add in some stringers to the trestles. The sunken road is the depression on the left, the Rio Grande River will do a right elbow from the first row of trestles and then to the right trestles. Straight up will be an arroyo. Used WS plaster cloth over discarded packing Styrofoam, 15 inch Atlas curves, and WS Earth undertone. Monday I will go down to the banks of the Rio Grande and scoop up some soil for ground cover. Found some HO scale grape vines that will go to the right of the sunken road, as in the painting.

    How to make adobe structures will be another challenge. Any links? Any suggestions?
     
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  3. John W Zerbe

    John W Zerbe TrainBoard Member

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    Well I'm going to bite the bullet and start construction soon on "the layout." This will be my first one ever where I am actually going to build benchwork in a room where I have roughly 7' x 14' to work with to get started. This is in my "office" room over a two stall garage.

    So far, I have the following criteria:
    1) Will be against the outside wall so limiting to 3' deep areas
    2) will be two levels with a helix
    3) will want to be able to extend from one end in the future.
    4) will be roughly transition era but mostly steam (DCC)
    5) will have a coal strip mine and possibly an ore mine
    6) freelance western Pennsylvania so can run Pennsy, B&0, NYC, B&LE and maybe others.
    7) plan to have a smallish loop for DC track just to run a little Jupiter steamer as a little "local excursion" train. have already worked out how to make it a separate "power district" and have a dcc decoder hooked up to the outputs of my DCC++ command station with its motor leads going to the dc track segment.

    I've been playing with various track configurations on a pair of plastic folding tables that are 6' by 2.5' to get an idea of the type of stuff I want do track wise. I think I've gone about as far as I can on these tables without destroying them by drilling holes for wiring or actually mounting anything to them.

    I believe that I will have plenty of room for big long loops for freight and passenger trains as well as some switching at a coal tipple, ore mine, switch yard, etc. I also want to be able to automate running of trains in big long loops to be able to just start it up and watch it go. I'm fairly handy with wood working and to some degree electronics and my wife is willing to help with scenery, buildings and such.

    I've seen people's projects posted here and on youtube where they build out very elaborate framing for splined track layout. I don't think I'm ready for that level of commitment to the design. I think I want to do a general shape of the benches, build them with flat surfaces, and then build up from that. possibly cover with an inch or more of foam board to allow "trenching" for waterways and/or over and under passing.

    I guess what I'm looking for here is some general advise on approaching overall general shape of the layout to make it more interesting than a generic long U shape. I do plan to take lots of pictures of the space before I start, the construction of the benchwork in my basement and moving/assembling the parts upstairs.

    p.s. forgot to mention, this is N scale.
     
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  4. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds like an amazing project, John. Coming from the School of Trial and Mostly error, I might suggest you actually get a yard stick and feel how comfortable you are with a three foot reach. In my experience, much over 2 1/2 feet is troublesome, and I am six feet tall.

    Not to be a joy kill, but unless you have really superb carpentry skills and are intimately familiar with the physics of model trains, perhaps you might wish to consider one of the published track plans out there?

    My dabbling with micro layouts is an extension of experimenting how small I can make something, which is good, as I am running out room to put things. Having said that, my personal experience, and watching a goodly number of other modellers, is being afflicted to fit as much as possible into a given area.

    What I like about many, not all, of the published track plans (published by manufacturers who really, really want you to succeed) is that typically they have pruned back what can realistically work in a given space. Just a thought.

    Latest addition to Hart's Mill:

    Harts Mill 5 001.JPG

    Clear Gorilla Glue was used for the swampy area about the log fjord. I find it easier to use than epoxy resins. There is a little
    escarpment bordering a stream in the painting, and soil is placed over the planks, so I'll be doing that next.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
  5. John W Zerbe

    John W Zerbe TrainBoard Member

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    Chops, Thanks for the words of advice. i'm looking at some existing track plans to use as a starting point with the intent of possibly stretching one and maybe adding sidings and such. I've been doing a LOT of research over the last year or so on this. I also take your point on reach and intend to make sure there aren't any tracks that I can't reach. As far as scenery goes, I plan to assemble it in sections that can be pulled away from the wall so I can step behind it on occasion. I have a wood shop in my basement where I plan to build the sections and test fit things.
     
  6. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Looks like a good start. Just as a guess, you might try wood, anything from pine to balsa, covered with fine sandpaper for adobe structures. Alternately, you might try casting them from concrete patch.
    BTW, thanks for your input over on my layout thread.
     
  7. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Concrete patch...sounds promising. I am going to make a test run by cutting out the basic shape from Styrofoam and covering it with the same river sand, maybe giving it a dark wash to bring out the texture. On second thought, Balsa might be easier to work with than Styrofoam.

    Hats off to you, I can barely nail to pieces of wood together!
     
  8. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Harts Mill 6 009.JPG
    Using a bit of scrap Styrofoam for the mud hut in the foreground. In progress.

    Harts Mill 6 002.JPG
    Found these a couple of years ago in a junk shop. Done by an unknown craftsman. The Spanish ox cart was done from scratch
    by the late "Doc" Harrison, long time member of the El Paso Model Train Club.
    Harts Mill 6 003.JPG
    The half dead scraggle trees on the left were made from tumbleweed from the Rio Grande River bed, dipped in Modge Podge,
    and rolled in WS turf.
    Harts Mill 6 006.JPG
    View from the dry river bed. Going to pour a layer of Clear Gorilla Glue this evening.
     
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  9. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Wonderful!

    I am interested in 1880's and although I am doing a larger scale, this layout gives me plenty of ideas.

    Those structures are very cool BTW.

    I am working away on something, but will need to post as soon as I get track down on my little roundy roundy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
  10. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    This sounds great. What I propose for people on this thread is to have some kind of small starter oval layout. The reasoning is that on a much bigger layout such as you are proposing, it may be some time before you can actually run some trains.

    I would suggest making a small maybe 2.5 x 4 foot layout that is very simple. to think in terms of an ideal toy train set layout. i.e. if you want a double mainline, don't even bother putting any connecting switches between them, just make a runner layout with two ovals.

    This way you have something to run and something to practice scenery and track on. A lot of model railroaders set out to make huge empires and then get stuck somewhere because the scope of the project can be immense.
     
  11. John W Zerbe

    John W Zerbe TrainBoard Member

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    I've been running trains on my folding table "layout" for quite some time experimenting with pulling trains of varying sizes around differing radius curves. experimenting with differing ways of driving switches, build DCC++ for controlling the trains. I plan to practice doing different types of techniques for trees, rocks, etc on a small piece of plywood in my workshop. I just hadn't thought to make that "experimenting area" an actual train set with a small loop on it.
     
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  12. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    It's worth considering. My experience is that I spend way too much time planning and not playing trains. When I have built layouts, I always would run into problems that would get me hung up. Sometimes I would just decide to toss the entire layout, track and all. I wish I would have kept some of them, because I now realize my stumbling blocks are no longer an issue.

    As I keep hammering away on in all my comments here: even if you do not put scenery on your layout, it's worth considering having a oval to play with while that master layout is being worked on.

    The little layout Chops posted is actually very interesting to me. Speaking of which.

    The comment about using wood forms is interesting. One model material i am interested in using for things on my layout is this:
    https://www.staedtler.us/en/product...oven-hardening-modelling-clay-standard-block/

    It's a plastic modeling clay that hardens when baked. It might make for some nice adobe and you could mix colors to get the right color for your structures.

    Since I am exploring a scale that doesn;t really exist, I need people figures. I am considering making my own, as the commercial products for other larger scales are actually pretty awful. I had considered getting O scale figures and cutting them in place to make them shorter. Or, maybe i can do a mix. I can use adjusted O scale bodies, but make my own more realistic faces.
     
  13. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Added Clear Gorilla Glue for the Rio Grande. It didn't bubble, but it did cling to the surface, which gives a nice ripple
    effect, as if flowing. Very pleased with it. Finishing touch will be the adobe hut.
     
  14. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    Chops, you are basically doing the layout I am planning to do.

    Super simple with lots of character.

    It looks great!
     
  15. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    I look forward to see what you achieve! Having done the Old West theme, next on my mind is the Old East!
     
  16. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Was waiting to see how the Gorilla glue water turned out. Looks really good. Definitely going to try it.
     
  17. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    It might look like bubbles in the image, but it is actually ripples of the Clear Gorilla Glear adhering to ripples in the base texture of the river bed. Has a nice animated look to it. Resins, and WS will provide a very flat, mill pond surface, which is fine for mill ponds. Also, those resins tend to have air bubbles (that are suggested to be removed with a butane torch. That will also burn up any scenic effects, such as reeds, etc).
     
  18. in2tech

    in2tech TrainBoard Member

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    Mine is freelance and changes all the time :) Not sure I will ever settle on an actual plans, although I am trying too! Apparently for me anyway, my enjoyment is constantly changing the track around on my two 2' x 4' modules if that's what you want to call them!
     
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  19. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    In2tech, sounds great, I love experimenting with new designs. The track plan for Hart's Mill Crossing was dictated by chopping a hollow core door in half and this is maximum amount of track that will fit. I've seen this other guy on another website make it even smaller, in HO, and in the center he devised a switching spur to a gravel pit.

    The tightest radii I've yet accomplished is nine inches on a small trolley module (2x4), and that is so tight that even one of my two axle trolleys couldn't take it.

    This is what I am starting on as HMC reaches completion, as your handle implies, I got a tech question for you, if I may. I am wiring up this SA1 from Heathcote to automatically deliver the subway train end to end with a stop in the middle. After letting it sink in, the schematic looks pretty straight forward, but the guy from Heathcote sent an additional page where he penciled in a resistor to one of the power feeds. Do you have any notion what or why he added that resistor (center bottom of handwritten page) ??

    SA1_stationstop_and_IRDOTS.jpg
    Subway 2 006.jpg with resistor.jpg
    Subway 1 002.JPG

    Guess I won't have any radius issues on this one! It will be four inches by six feet, in a PVC tube.
     
  20. Chops

    Chops TrainBoard Member

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    Regarding layout plans, this one is something I'd like to do, fits in about 4x4 feet. Thinking of a mangrove swamp in some Floridian backwater:

    4 x 4 RP.jpg
    I forget who the author is, but not me. He did it on a CAD program.

    I recollect seeing a photo-real finished layout that filled the better part of what appeared to have dimensions of a airplane hanger and featured an impossible number of pine trees bisected by a some Swiss passenger train under catenary. He basically had unlimited funds and likely had a small army of craftsmen build it. It was so dull I wanted to go put my head in the oven. Working a confined space is much more challenging, from my perspective.
     
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