N scale layout

Cleggie Aug 20, 2007

  1. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Dirk:
    My plan is to have all the track visible but you have thrown an interesting idea at me and one I will give serious thought. The whole lower level yard acts as staging for the upper level but I do want some switching and industry.

    I have been scratching my head thinking about how to scenic the lower level. So maybe some building flats would work to give it a big city feel. I had planned to make some building flats to hide the helix. Anyway thanks for adding a wider vision to my planning process.

    Carl:

    Thanks for the kind words mate, and welcome to the hobby.
     
  2. choochooOz

    choochooOz TrainBoard Member

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    Ken, thanks for the welcome:tb-biggrin:

    I was just wondering, how good are your artistry skills....I may have an idea that might work. You're wanting to cover the helixes and if I were you, I'd be adding something to the outside of each helix to prevent any derailments from heading "south", so to speak. What I'd do, since it's an industrial area, is get flexible pineboard and in those areas where you weren't looking at a helix, I would just attach it to the outside supports around each helix. However, where it was facing the tracks I'd have it flat and face on, so I could paint some industrial scenery onto it. Maybe something like a big factory....steelworks, mills, manufacturing plants etc. Give the model buildings you're putting there and the tracks a context to relate to and so anyone watching the trains there get the idea of built up areas. Have it tie into the industrial theme of that part of your model. That would be easier than trying to fill in the gaps with model buildings to hide the helix. That would make things look crowded and it'd get expensive!!!. A few buildings would be fine, but too many would detract from the layout.

    Cheers,

    Carl.
     
  3. Caddy58

    Caddy58 TrainBoard Member

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    Ken,

    some of my "space saving" ideas are born from sheer desparation. My layout room is too small (aren't they always?)

    If you have already shared your plan how to "hide" the helixes on the lower level forgive me for not looking them up (your post is already at 27 pages, great!!). I would seconf Carl's idea to cover them with a backdrop and use shallow buildings or paintings / photo cutouts to build the scene.

    Have a look at attached picture:

    [​IMG]

    You can see that the backdrop curves "out" and at the very right to the pics curves back "in" again. It actaully hides one of my 3 helixes :)
    The lower station tracks swing left into the helix and into the lowest staging level. I can enter the helix from below, but the track is 99% derailment free, so no big worries (though I lost a passenger car in there once...)

    What is missing is the painitings of the Tacoma city buildings on the backdrop, but I have never tried to paint buildings. so I am not sure yet how I will tackle them.

    Food for your thought
    Dirk
     
  4. choochooOz

    choochooOz TrainBoard Member

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    Following on from what Dirk has said, what you need to do with a painted backdrop like I suggested is to try and paint the pics in perspective. On something like a helix, you'll need at least three vanishing points in the background of the painting to get the right feel. Just as an exercise, grab your camera one day and go to town. Preferably pick a long street with lots of buildings and action going on. Then take a pic down the centre of the street. You'll see from your pic what I'm getting at....how the buildings on either side of the street recede into the background along a series of converging lines. So will all the other elements in the pic. What you need to do is to try and duplicate that on your back board. Best to sketch it on a bit of paper first and get an idea of what you want. You'll get the feel for it pretty quickly. Then just transfer the idea over to the board, sketch in all the elements you want there and start filling in the details:tb-biggrin:

    Hope that has given you some ideas:tb-biggrin:

    Cheers,

    Carl.
     
  5. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Dirk:
    I propped up some cardboard around the helix to simulate buildings some time ago just to get an idea of how I should go about this. My conculsion was, it will probably work. Not sure about painting, more likely use photos scanned and printed from my computer.

    Carl:
    Hmmm... all good advise however I won't be starting on this project for a while as there are a lot of other things that I will be doing first. Like making the lower level crash proof, fixing the upper level scenery, making more signals and playing around with water effects. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas it's all appreciated and I will be chewing all these ideas over in my mind.

    Other things:
    I built a balsa bridge to fit the causeway on the upper level. After I had glued it I thought it looked a little bowed. I then painted it and it totally warped out of shape. I tried to bend it back by placing a weight on it but that didn't work either. Result, scrap and start over. I used styrene strip as bearers and glued the balsa wood decking on top of that. So far so good I have painted the balsa and no warping occured. I will post some pics latter.
     
  6. choochooOz

    choochooOz TrainBoard Member

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    Another thing you could build a bridge out of is plastic card and rod that modelers use. It'd be a lot more stiff than balsa and wouldn't warp or buckle if you were careful with it. I would imagine you'd have to seal the balsa so it wouldn't get soggy with the paint.

    Cheers,

    Carl.
     
  7. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    OK, here is the bridge.

    [​IMG]

    It looks a little messy at the moment but I intend to clean it up by turning the blue area in the foreground into a swamp. Add a mound with a dead tree or two and some rank vegetation. I will change the color also to a muddy brown. The backdrop has a strip of masking tape fixing it to the layout that I hope will contain the water effect.

    I have yet to figure out what I will use to simulate water, there are a number of options that I am thinking about. The most likely cadidate being some type of sealing glaze from the local paint shop.
     
  8. CSXDixieLine

    CSXDixieLine Passed Away January 27, 2013 In Memoriam

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  9. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    WOW, thanks for posting the link Jamie, Bernie's work is simply awesome.
     
  10. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Ok, Here is a video that takes us on a journey from the Siverado yards on the lower level, up helix one and around the upper level through the reversing loop and back down helix one and return to the yard. The lighting is not great for taking vids especially when there is strong sunlight shining through the window so I appologise for that, enjoy.

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWjYpHt30oI"]YouTube - Across The Layout[/ame]
     
  11. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    Very nice video!

    Great work.
     
  12. CSXDixieLine

    CSXDixieLine Passed Away January 27, 2013 In Memoriam

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    THAT VIDEO ROCKS! Jamie
     
  13. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    There are so many great things about this video that it is hard to know where to begin. But my first impression can be summed up in three words:
    Trackwork
    Trackwork
    Trackwork

    Seeing that long train run flawlessly through a variety of curves, turnouts, and of course the helix serves to underscore the importance of good trackwork. The marvelous track plan, superb scenery, and nice backdrops just wouldn't be the same without trouble-free running.

    I am inspired more than ever to learn good track laying techniques, even if I never learn anything else in this hobby!

    - Jeff
     
  14. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

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    Ken, thanks for the layout tour! Very enjoyable :)

    -Mike
     
  15. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Jeff:

    Belive me I have learnt a lot from this layout, and with more to learn. It's been a great build so far and I am mostly happy with the upper level trackwise. There is lots of ups and downs in the track as well as curves, in fact I don't think there is a level straight section at all on the upper level, LOL.

    Send me a PM if you want to know how I set up my track and I will share what I have learnt.

    If you want more info on track laying tips do a search in the forums or post a question and I'm sure you will get some good info.

    Mystere, Jamie and Mike:

    Thanks for the kind words, I wanted to do a strat to finish trip over the layout to get an idea of how long it takes, well the answer to that one is around 10 minutes.

    Other things, I am about to attempt some water effect modelling starting with the causeway (that should be the easiest) and then the river. Shoud be fun, I will keep you posted.
     
  16. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    I will share with the group and anyone interested Cleggie's trackwork tips.
    The track and turnouts used on my layout are all Atlas code 55 (except for the two Peco curved turnouts at helix two) I also use Woodlands Scenic Foam trackbed, but I am sure that you could get just as good a result using cork roadbed.

    1- Start with a good solid subroad bed. Make sure that it is smooth and that any joins are even, also check that the subroad bed is level across the track. Up and down is ok but twists in your turns are not. When you are happy with your subroad bed a light sanding all over just to make sure it is all smooth.

    My subroad bed is cut from sheets of MDF fiberboard cookie cutter style with a jig saw. Then screwed down on to risers attached to the benchwork.

    [​IMG]

    2- After I have the subroad bed in place I the glue the foam roadbed down. You can see some foam glued down on the curve behind the stackcars in the above photo. The glue I use is liquid nails for both the roadbed and the track. Try not to stretch the foam but push it gently onto the glue that way it will stay smooth and even. Also make sure that you smear the glue evenly and that a little bit goes a long way.

    3- Following on from smooth level subroad bed lay your track and check that it is level across the rails. If there is a gradient it has to be gradual with smooth transitions. I do have some curves that have super elevation, that is they are banked slightly so that trains lean into the curve. If you do this be very careful not to over do it, I had one curve that took me ages to get right. My test loco kept derailing all the time. That also is good tip, use your fussy loco to find track weak points and keep testing untill you get it right. You need to get your eye down to track level and squint along the rail and look for little dips or hollows. You will need to correct any defects by slipping a small cardboard shim under the foam roadbed in the offending area. Sometimes laying a length of wood as a straight edge along the rail will help you see irregularities.


    [​IMG]

    I will do another post tommorrow with tips on joining track and laying turnouts.
     
  17. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

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    That causeway looks great as it. I cant wait to see it with water! :)
     
  18. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    Ken, have you had any trouble with the foam roadbed bunching up or wrinkling on the inside of curves? I saw a thread where that happened to someone.

    I'm going to build a small n-scale layout, and I want to try the cookie-cutter technique except with 3/4-inch blue foam instead of MDF or plywood.

    - Jeff
     
  19. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Mark, We may have to wait a week or so as I have got busy at work but I am excited about it and will be up for it soon.

    Jeff, When I lay the foam down initially it does tend to bunch up and go wrinkly on the inside of the curve, but liquid nails is a very tacky glue and seems to hold the foam well. Just a little gentle pushing gets rid of the uneveness. You could take a sharp blade and cut some small wedges out of the inside curves of the foam as a last resort.

    Ok, more tips. To get nice even curves like the ones around the top of the helix I take two lengths of flexi an join them together with standard code 55 rail joiners and solder them. Just two small spots of solder on the outside of each rail and joiner (not the inside of the rail as this is where the wheel flanges of your rolling stock run). If you look at the underside of flexi track you will notice that one side has alternate gaps and this alows the rail to slide while the other side is solid and the rail fixed. Make sure that the gapped sides match when you make your joins.

    I use push pins to hold the track at one end and with the gapped side facing the inside of the curve you can then simply push the other end and the track will form a natural curve. You can smear some glue on the foam roadbed and then push the track down using push pins to hold the track in place.
    (More to come)
     
  20. Cleggie

    Cleggie TrainBoard Member

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    Sorry this thread is a bit dissjointed as I get watching T.V. while typing and time just slips away. Then I realise that it's late and I have work in the morning and my brain has stopped working, abort, abort, abort!

    More tips continued:
    Try and have ALL the tools you need for the job close at hand. Nothing worse than getting set at the back of the layout then realising that your rail nippers are on the bench on the other side of the room.

    A word about tools:
    1/ You need good rail nippers, Xuron are a good brand and you should ONLY use them to cut rail, nothing else! (plastic ties accepted)

    2/A set of small files are a must also as you need to file the ends of the rail to remove any flashing, burrs or to trim the rail for the right fit.

    3/ A pair of small needle nose plyers. handy for pushing and pulling rail or removing rail joiners.

    4/ Something to spread/smear the glue. I have a wooden handled putty knife that works well.

    5/ I also have an old kitchen carving knife that I use for sliding under track or roadbed to pry up missalignments and fix Boo-Boos. If you are careful you should be able to reuse track and roadbed. I have successfully lifted track even several months after glueing.

    6/ A small bubble level. I found one at my local hardware store real cheap plastic item but ideal for what I use it for.

    7/ Soldering iron and flux-core solder to join rail and attach feeder wires.

    You will likely need to use other tools also like cordless drill, jigsaw, screwdrivers, hammer etc. but those are the main tools that I use when laying track.

    Following on from the last post:
    If there is a lot of track to be layed I will sit at my workbench an solder lenghts together but never more than two as I like to have some expansion joints when I lay the track. So I start with a whole bunch of double length flexi and away I go.

    When you make a curve with the flexi-track the sliding rail will slide out at both ends if you have the gapped ties to the inside of the radius. After glueing and pinning the track down, snip the protruding rail ends. Clean up the ends with a small flat file and fit rail joiners. Slide a new double length of track into place and push the rail into the rail joiners apply glue to the roadbed and smooth the track into place. While the glue is still soft you can still push or pull the track to get a nice shooth curve. Be careful that the new section of track is a smooth transition at the join with no kinks and is flat. Getting your eye down to track level and squinting along the rail helps as does running your finger lightly along the rail, then as a final test push a boxcar or autorack along the track and look for wobbles. Any slight dips or irregularities can be fixed by slipping small cardboard shims under the roadbed. When you are happy, then continue.

    Eventually you will run into part of your track plan where there are turnouts. All my mainline running is over #10 turnouts and it is essential that these opperate flawlessly, and they will if you take care laying them. The rule of the thumb here is, straight and level. More offen than not your turnout will be close to a curved section of track. For good opperation make the lead into a turnout straight, even a short 2" lead in will help. Think of the leading truck of a six axel loco, a straight section the lenght of the truck will guide your loco onto the turnout wheels straight. The same goes for curves away from the turnout. Not sure how well this would work for steamers, maybe a section the lenght of the drivers should be straight.

    I like to place the turnouts on the layout first and run the flexi from them or to them as the case maybe. I use the least amount of glue to secure the turnouts in place as I don't want glue on the throw bar or point rails and I never solder the joiners.

    I can't think of anything else at the momment (but I'm sure there is) so I will bring Cleggie's track tips to a close. I will add others when I think of them or if there are any questions you wish to ask, fire away.
     

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