N scale layout

Cleggie Aug 20, 2007

  1. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Hi all, as many will already know I have changed scales form HO to N. Now I am getting to the buisness end, having sold off most of my HO collection to buy N scale goodies I am getting the itch to run trains.

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    In the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about track and layout design.

    What I would like is a 50%- 50% mix of mainline running (love to railfan the tracks) and opperational switching (gota have something to do besides watching trains)

    I also like tunnels, bridges and mountains.

    I have mostly modern diesels and will run at less one coal drag. Also an intermodal train or two, a grain train and mixed freight.

    Maybe some passenger trains that will pop up from hidden staging to do a run-around.

    I have settled on using Atlas code55 track and turnouts. I have done some test track laying and have a reasonable feel for how to go about it.

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    I was alittle heavy handed with the gluing process and have washed some of the ballast off the roadbed (can be touched up) I used two different Woodlands Scenic ballasts. One a grey blend fine , the other grey fine. The grey fine looks and works the best. The track is gluded down on top of Woodlands Scenic foam roadbed with a very light smear of liquid nails. I used the same product to glue the roadbed to the base board. Again, I was in the beginning way too heavy handed with the liquid nails You only need a very light smear on the back of the roadbed to hold it down.

    Opps, have run out off time, gotta go to work, more latter, Bye.
     
  2. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Ken:
    The ballast and painted rails look great.

    How'd you weather the rails? Markers? Brush? Air brush?
    I've been pleased with the weathering markers by Floquil that I've used to paint some of the tracks in my yard. (Shameless plug for a fellow Trainboarder: Jim W (BNSF7173) was my source...he has moved but I think JTW Enterprises is still in business. Contact him by PM for more accurate information.)

    Regarding the ballast rinsing away as you apply glue...I've minimized this (but have not eliminated it completely) by misting the ballast before I apply the diluted glue mixture. I'm dribbling the diluted glue on from a 16oz Elmer's bottle that I've been refilling from gallon-sized jugs of Elmers for years.

    Please let us know a little about the room where the layout will stand, and any preferences (existing plans?) you have regarding shape of the layout.

    Any preferences regarding aisles/access?

    Have you developed a track plan based on your personal preferences, yet; or are you still trying to work out the specifics of your conversion of the plan in the magazine?

    You'd mentioned a double deck option...what do you have in mind?
     
  3. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Dave I'm back form work and now to continue:

    Firstly the painted rails happened by accident as a reaction to the white builders glue I used. It's water based something similar to Elmers I think.

    I did "wet" the ballast before appling the glue, I just need a little more control to make the glue flow evenly. I use a small squirt bottle to trickle the glue between the rails, it should then wick down the sides of the roadbed and bond with the ballast.

    The room size: 11' 6" x 9' 3"

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    The above plan gives a fair idea of what I am planning to do. I haven't worked out the track plan as yet. The upper level will be at least 54" from the floor, possibly 60". The lower level either 14"-18" below that depending on the grade within the helix.

    Speaking of helix, thanks for posting the sticky Dave, I downloaded the tables to my 'puter. I could still change things like maybe make the helix a larger diameter but I don't want to go too big as it will swallow up my opperating area.

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    My aim is to have this plan as an upper level opperating area, and have the lower level mainline running though mountains, tunnels over bridges etc.
     
  4. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Excellent!!:shade:
    Food for thought...

    A couple other modelers have developed variations on this plan. I hope they'll share their ideas with you, too...especially any changes they made (like the single reversing track instead of double that Pete mentioned) and why they wanted to make their changes (because you may not have the same factors influencing your layout). That way you won't have to reinvent the wheel.
     
  5. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    I have been inspired by some of the really great photography that I have seen in the "railfan photos" forum notably "the unoffical moffat route tour" by Hemi. For example:
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    These are some of the tunnel scenes that I hope to recreate on the lower scenic level of the layout. I will also look for some bridges and post some pics later.

    Thanks for the photos Hemi, really inspiring stuff. Here is the link to Hemi's tour:

    http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?t=73750
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2007
  6. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    I have started building the helix, I figure build the helix first then build the benchwork around it

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    Cut the support risers out of 20mm thick MDF, still need to make two more. Then make a framework to hold the risers in place at the correct radius. Sounds easy and is really, a BIG thanks to Dave H. (ppuinn) for working out the maths.

    http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?t=85383

    I've had to pull down all my previous benchwork including the plaster mountains, a bit of a bummer really, but sacrificed to the greater good of the N scale gods.

    So I plan to keep banging away at this for the rest of the week. I should get a bit done as I am working the early shift this week finnishing at 2:00pm. Weather permiting I can do most of the woodwork outside in the sunshine(he,he,he)
     
  7. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Ken:
    I'll be posting some more Helix construction info on drawing the helix loops later tonight.
     
  8. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Ken:
    Check out my blog, linked in my signature below. I've added several entries on helix construction.

    Don't rush too quickly into cutting and securing material together. You'll spend too much time going back to rework things.

    What plans do you have for supporting the upper deck around the outside of the helix?...the supports in your picture look great, but only long enough to support the immediate helix and not any flat areas outside of the helix.

    Will the upper and lower decks be connecting directly to the helix, or will there be tangent pieces to connect the helix to each deck?
    Will any portion of the top helix loop be visible and sceniced except the tangent?

    Would you please post a track plan showing how track to and from the helix (helixes?) will connect with track on the 2 levels?
     
  9. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Ken:
    In the diagram showing the layout shelving, there seems to be deck surface all the way around the helixes. If you are careful about positioning your helix center point and the helix support base panel is large enough, it would be possible to use the helix support base panel to support the lower deck surrounding the helix.

    On the upper deck, similar care in positioning the helix (and cookie-cutting the loops of the helix so there is no need for seams) will let you drop the loops directly onto the steps of the supports, but you will need to make the supports wide enough at the top to support the upper deck outside of the helix. Essentially, the outside edge of your supports from the bottom up to about 5th or 6th step will fit inside the helix circles you drew on your shelf plans. But from the 5th or 6th step up to the surface of the upper deck (or maybe for the thickness/depth of the upper deck's fascia board), the supports need to be wide enough to extend to the outside edge of the upper deck.

    I'm pleased the bowl-shaped spiral helix concept will find a home on your layout. I'm going to post or link pictures of others' spiral helixes in my blog, and your pic of the 6 supports would be a great one for showing others what completed supports will look like before they are installed on a support base panel. Keep posting those in-progress pics, please.:shade:
     
  10. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Ok the weather gods have been working against me and I haven't done any more work since the weekend. Yesterday I received two boxes of N scale stuff so that was a good excuse to just goof off. Today, arrgg, it's cold and showery.

    I have been doing alot of thinking about how to do the benchwork part of the helix. I am only building the one at the moment the other will be built later using the lessons learned on the first. The top of the helix will be sceniced over and the tangent track will spiral up from a tunnel and a cutting onto the top deck.

    I was going to make the sub-roadbed sectional but I like the idea of a single "cookie cutter" section cut from a sheet of 10mm MDF. I was worried about the seams in a sectional set up, just too much room for error and miss-matches, plus lots of sanding to smooth out bumps.

    The dimentions of the helix are: 42" outside diameter x 32" inside diameter with a total rise of 16". I also plan to cut the base out of a 20mm sheet of MDF cutting the outside diameter of the base board 46". A little larger than originally planned but it still fits and allows supports for the upper deck.

    I built something similar to this at work, ok it was smaller, outside diameter 800mm. The concept was similar, a spiral bowl but constucted out of 8sgw stainless steel. A vibratorary feed bowl for feeding parts into a machine for automatic assembly.

    I'm not sure that I will post a track plan as such, as I'm not big on drawing plans. I will probably draw one up after I have completed the track laying. Most of what I am doing is engineering on the fly with a little help here of course. I checked out your blog Dave, all good stuff, thanks.

    I will post some pics when there is something to show.
     
  11. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    It took me an age to draw the cut lines for the track sub-roadbed. I finally finished it tonight. Here are some pics.

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    This is a 4' (1200mm x 1200mm actual size) square sheet of medium density fiberboard (MDF) it is 6mm thick not the 10mm I originally planned it should be stiff enough and not sag if not I will add extra supports.

    The first step is to divide the sheet into 8 equally spaced sections (remember high school geometry?). In the center I fixed a screw and attached a stringline. Then measured and plotted the measurements for each loop on the division lines (these are tables from Dave H. please check out his blog and the tutorial for more info)

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    Then it is just a process of "joining the dots". Wrap the string around the pencil a few times pull the string tight, position the pencil over the first measurered mark and scribe an arc from one sectional division to the next.

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    This is what I ened up with, not perfect but should do the trick. The red dotted lines are the track center lines, the black lines are the cut lines.

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    This is a closer look at the all important transitional areas. The inside loop is the lower starting point, the outer loop is where it finishes. (more to come)
     
  12. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG]

    This pic shows the support risers in place. They form the bowl on which the sub-roadbed sits, and in turn are supported by a base board. That will be the next task, stay tuned.
     
  13. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    WONDERFUL JOB!!!:thumbs_up::thumbs_up::thumbs_up::thumbs_up:
    Very Impressive.

    How wide will each loop be...looks like about 1.5 inches (or 3.5 cm)?

    Do you plan to shift the access hole through the support base panel and through the helix access hole to the side a little so it isn't centered and you have a little lip on one side, or do you plan to center the hole and just make the hole smaller all the way around (so you have a wider rim that keeps the same distance between the bottom helix loop and edge of the access hole)?

    I didn't explain it too well, but to do the support base panel lines, you do NOT need to draw much of the spirals, just the 8 compass point lines and exact measurements from the center to the inside edge of the bottom/smallest loop. That smallest loop is all you need to draw...and really, just where the inside edge of the bottom loop crosses the compass point lines.
     
  14. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Dave I haven't made the base yet, I just sat the risers on the sub-roadbed to get a feel for how it would look. Each loop is 1 1/4" just wide enough for woodland scenic foam roadbed. Although I am not sure whether or not I need to lay foam roadbed on the helix loops?

    The plan for the base is to have an access hole a couple of inches in diameter less than the inside loop.
     
  15. Carlw

    Carlw New Member

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    Hi,

    Maybe this is a daft question but why dont the loops face outwards so that access is easier? I.E the inside is the upper loops and the outside the lower loops

    Carl
     
  16. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Carl:
    It's certainly a possibility, but then it's impossible to hide. With the bowl-shape instead of the wedding cake/pyramid shape, a modeler can run a vertical covering around the outside and continue it right into the backdrop for the rest of the lower deck.

    Also, all track is 100% reachable from inside the bowl-shaped helix, but you'll have to reach around at least 1/4 of the pyramid-shaped helix and maybe even more when you want to clean or repair track and the tracks toward the top of the helix will be especially hard if there is any upper deck nearby.

    The bowl shape lets you put upper deck around the entire helix without challenging access at all (once you duck under the lower level and pop up into the helix). I'd encourage anyone using a helix (spiral or stacked) to set their lower level at an elevation that makes it possible to get into the helix by squatting and duck walking rather than crawling on hands and knees. Even with carpeting, crawling is hard on the knees and may sometimes require awkward twisting to move from crawling to standing or from standing inside to crawling out. By duck walking under, it's just a matter of squatting to get low enough to clear your head (about as much bending as if to pick up a coin from the floor), duck walking into or out of the helix, and then standing up. For my personal level of agility at this time in my life and hopefully for the next 10 years, squatting and duck walking is easier on my knees than crawling. As they say: "Your results may vary."
     
  17. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Hi Carl, welcome to Trainboard. In this forum there is no such thing as a daft question.

    Dave sums it up well, in my situation reversing the bowl to a pyramid would create access problems on the far sides facing the walls. It is better suited to a peninsula where you have access all the way around, nice idea though.
     
  18. ppuinn

    ppuinn Staff Member

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    Carl, I got to thinking about how I could show what I was trying to convey in words, and I think I found a place on my layout that shows some of the difficulties with making the tracks visible on a wedding cake/pyramid helix between two decks.

    This pic shows where several tracks, each about 4 inches apart from tracks above or below, pass through a doorway. The bottom track centerline is 6 inches into the doorway, the 2nd is 4.5 inches, the 3rd is 3 inches and the top is about 1.5 inches into the doorway. The fascia board for each level is flat on the bottom but wavy on the top so that (when I finally get around to it) I can have small bushes or the start of a hillside on the outside of the track to provide a little protective fence, but still have each shelf only 1.5 inches wide. The largest radius of the bottom curve through the doorway is about 23.5 inches, and the top radius is about 19 inches.
    These dimensions will yield a structure that is exactly like one half of the wedding cake/pyramid shaped helix you described.
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    Imagine having a top deck that is 4 inches above the highest track shown in the picture and sticking into the doorway about 6 inches...just as far as the bottom level. This arrangement is a little like theatre seating with each row a little bit higher than the row in front of it, and then the balcony sticks out over the lower rows of seats. Maintenance on that top loop of track, just beneath the imagined "balcony" of the upper deck, will be tough to reach and impossible to see or to make repairs or drill holes or solder joiners .

    Imagine the tracks continued to loop all the way around to form a complete circle instead of a half-circle and that the balcony upper level is 6 inches out on the north, east, and south sides of the loops, but is a 4 foot wide peninsula on the west side and the helix is at the end of the peninsula so you can only stand on the north or south of the helix where it meets the peninsula. A 2 foot reach to the bottom 3 tracks might be a little awkward but is definitely do-able. Unfortunately, that top loop will be REALLY tough to reach for cleaning and will be impossible to work on for significant track repairs.

    Sooo...From my perspective the wedding cake helix is not a good idea if there is a "balcony" type of upper deck above the 3rd and 4th loops of the helix...
    BUT your idea works perfectly for situations where no balcony overshadows long portions of the helix.
    And it would be a dynamite solution for fitting around a basement pole in the middle of the floor (enter the wedding cake helix from the west, circle around and up the column and exit the helix to the east. Such an arrangement with a lower deck at 48 inches and upper at 65 inches would allow you to have an around (most of) the room, doughnut shaped, double deck layout that was entered with a small nod-under by the pole.

    :thumbs_up:Great question, Carl!! That rustling noise you hear is the sound of track planners scrapping their old plans to see how they can incorporate your wedding cake helix on their layout.
     
  19. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    The jigsaw was running hot today, here are some pics.

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    This is the base board, marked out and pre-drilled ready for the jigsaw

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    The base board with risers in place sandwiched between two 3" x 1". A good idea as it turns out.

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    When it came time to drop the sub-roadbed in place I was able to tap the risers in and make fine adjustments to get everything fitting snug. Next job, build some benchwork to support the helix.
     
  20. Flash Blackman

    Flash Blackman Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You sure made that look easy. Can you move it by yourself? That is a great job! I have seen others that I thought were very complex.
     

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