May 24, 2018
Just chipping away.. found a better way to configure the mine...
I think you'll like the switching lead you added. I'd make it a little longer, maybe follow the curve of the parallel track a little at the end. The best lead is as long as the longest yard track opposite.
You said something about continuous running, but you don't have that right now because of that gap front and center. You no longer have a full loop.
The double track on the extreme right end is great. It allows you to pull a train going counter clockwise in off the main line, then use the main line to run the locomotives around the train and put them away (the switch engine then starts taking cars off the train and putting them away several at a time). But you have to have enough room at the top end for your longest locomotive lashup to pull clear of the switch, so you can throw the turnout and run the string of engines onto the other track. That extra length of track beyond the crossover switch at the end is a vital part of any "runaround track".
It would also be handy to have a runaround track at the mine.
Oh! I forgot to mention that it's not finished! Yes, i did have the intention of connecting the top and bottom lines to complete the loop. In fact, the mine's two tracks are meant to reconnect to form a siding.
Actually, I spent an entire evening two days ago, drawing, connecting then redrawing, reconnecting and even rotating the entire yard in a failed attempt to have the main line connect from the mine to the yard. I never found anything I liked where I had greater than 11 inch radiuses, and allowing a train to enter the yard counter clockwise from the track leading off the mine. Or if it did allow it, then a train couldn't leave the yard except from the diagonal track.
Planning is difficult, how did anyone do it without software?? So I'm nowhere finished, but least I'm having fun!
I decided on a loop-to-loop type layout...
The left loop will contain industries (a large mine and some smaller chemical industry). Note that I did yet draw in the industry spurs within the loop, but I do have two sidings for these. The right loop contains the local interchange yard. And I still have the staging area out back.
Out in front following the edge, I currently drew in a bridge for a possible stream or edge of a lake, but I'll likely remove it and instead add in a siding. This long stretch will be the location of a town, and some very small industry or a small passenger station.
I can't imagine any way to get a longer run in the available space.
Remember that the single track between the loops will require reversing polarity every time unless you use DCC. You can avoid doing that manually with a detection system. DCC will probably require some kind of detection system.
Interesting.. I knew that I had two reversing loops and would need to use AR-1 auto-reversing modules (I am in fact using DCC), but it didn't occur to me that I may be able to get away with a single module on the track between the loops.
I just calculated the total length on the main line - just the loops and single line between them - and it's about 55 feet!
I've now finalized the plan, settling on the one shown below.
I've since both ordered online as well as visited a few train shops around town and gathered the full set of turnouts, flex track, cork, bridges and miscellaneous bits and pieces (including a digitrax AR1 auto-reversing module) I will need for this plan.
But first things first, I printed out and assembled the plan on letter sized sheets and covered my table to see what it would look like, and to later use as a blueprint. It might not be realistic, nor even absolutely plausible, but I'm happy with how it turned out!
(sorry for the quality of image, I'll have to eventually figure out a better light for my snapshots!)
For now though, I've picked up four sheets of 4x8 blue foam (1" thick) at the local hardware store, and I should start laying down some of the basic terrain in the next week or so.
Newbie here. I really like what you have done here. I don’t have a layout, nor any experience planning one, but have been thinking about what I’d like to build. You’ve been struggling with many of the issues I have and it’s been interesting to see the comments others have made. I’ll be watching this as it develops. I hope you continue to post updates through your build.
My suggestion is to just download one of the free track planning software and start learning through that. I ended up using XTrackCAD mostly because it's free. There's a bit of a learning curve, but after a while, you figure the little tricks to get it doing what you want, and start using keyboard shortcuts to speed everything up.
And then read. I bought several books (scenery, track planning, painting, etc), and I've been googling a whole mess of stuff. There's also an ad-supported online magazine, Model Railroad Hobbyist, that's very interesting. I've gone through the last year's worth of back issues at least.
I do hope to try to continue documenting the build as I go along, and I'm glad to see that at least one person is going to follow along! thank you!
Following with interest
Finally some time to work on the layout, but didn't get very far.
Today I just cut two sheets of foam to cover the the table, now bringing the total depth of foam to two inches. I initially thought that I would make the base foam three inches but now think that may be a little much. The second layer of foam isn't glued down yet, but I put my paper plan on top and put in the Kato bridge I intend to use just to mock up. The river I'm putting in won't be very wide beyond the bridge, and I don't want the river down a steep chasm.
I'll go over the plan again before gluing everything down, but I'll likely just stay with the two inches of foam I already have here. For glue, I want to use 3M Super 77 Spray adhesive. I did a test on two scrap pieces of foam a few days ago, and if I let the glue set about 30 or so seconds before joining the pieces together, the bond appears very strong (I couldn't pull apart the pieces without breaking everything apart). The 30 seconds were indicated on the can for "extra strong bond".
Are you planning on doing switch machines or wiring feeders? I have seen layouts that put the wires in channels between the layers of styrofoam. If you wanted to do that, you could cut the grooves before gluing the second sheet down. Just a cool idea, but I would be worried about needing to access wires later.
About half of the turnouts I have on the layout will be remotely operated, and these are all Atlas code 80 remotes with the side-mounted switch machines. I will simply drill a hole through the foam and the underlying plywood base and have all the wiring underneath the table.
After going back and forth a few times, I settled on using remote turnouts for the main line, and caboose industries ground throws for all turnouts in the yard and industries.
Glued down the second layer of extruded polystyrene this evening.
I knew I needed some weights for the foam, and with nothing else on hand, I went into the backyard and picked up some bricks behind the shed (not sure why the previous homeowner had so many extra bricks, but they've come in handy here - just needed a quick rinse to get rid of the extra soil, grime and insects).
The plan was originally to use 3M spray adhesive, but I had heard some good things about Great Stuff and I just happened to come across this product in a local store. I also wasn't entirely sure I wanted to risk having spray adhesive all over the basement.
In the above picture, the sheets of foam you see are not the ones being glued down. I ended up using extra foam to try and distribute the weight of the bricks over the entire sheet of foam underneath (I hear others use scrap pieces of plywood, but had none on hand).
I'll see tomorrow if the great foam worked or not. The only downside is that I may not have had enough weight (21 bricks at 2.3kg each wasn't enough!?). The expanding foam did lift the sheet of foam to some degree, and the voids were not entirely filled. Net result is that along the edge I can see a gaps here and there. I thought the expanding foam would have expanded horizontally to fill the gaps more than vertically. Should be fine though, the gaps will be hidden by the fascia eventually.
I really like your plan and progress on your layout! Can't wait to see regular updates.
Thank you in2tech, I don't know how regular the updates will be what with work and the kids starting school, but I'm hoping to get good progress done at least every week!
So today I took the bricks off, and had a surprise...
The Great Stuff foam worked fine and is solidly glued down. It probably helped that I used a wire brush to scratch the surface of the extruded polystyrene before applying the stuff. However, I really expected the glue to expand outwards and not so much vertically given the 48 kg of bricks I added on top! As you can see, the foam board lifted up to to about an eighth of an inch in some places. When I was adding the Great Stuff, I was also staying at least two inches away from the edges, expecting more expansion that never came.
All that means is that along the edges of the table, I could now press down on the foam board and have it sink. I found a simple enough solution for this. I already own a Woodland Scenics foam cutter, which is what I used to cut the channel for the river in the above photo, and some weeks ago, when investigating what I could do with the wire foam cutter, and I came across this little trick...
I have an obsolete stack of business cards I use for scraps and for spreading glue every so often. I found that I could stack a few to lift the wire of the foam cutter to the right height, and push a piece of foam to create thin boards. I simply used these thin slices to fill in some of the gaps around the layout's edge, especially where tracks are passing overhead. I didn't even bother gluing them in, they are a tight fit, and the fascia will eventually keep them in place.
Looking very good. Man was that gift in February, this year right? A very expensive one You got the bug fast. Took me over 40 years to get as much stuff as you have, and I think you have more than me One note, of all the people I have followed over the years who design their layout in a model train or CAD program, including myself, it never end's up being exact. So dry fit everything before you glue any track, switches, buildings. etc... down. I still can't bring myself to glue anything down on my small 2' x 4' layout ( 2 of them to make and L if need be ). I also change it up all the time
Best of luck, and most of all have fun! Looking forward to updates whenever you get to them. Don't burn yourself out either Myself, I'll take breaks for month's and when I feel like "playing" with the train's, that's what I do!
I'm having a lot of fun with this right now, and luckily my other hobby is photography, so I can take breaks here and there. I'm the same with photography, there are times when I don't pick up the camera for months, and then get right back into it. I also usually take en entire week off each year for a photography trip, where a friend and I go on a road trip somewhere picturesque and just shoot all week long - been doing this for the past 7-8 years now! I couldn't do so this year due to the surgery, so that hobby money is going to the trains instead. I try to keep to a simple budget! Though after buying all the track, I suspect the buildings on my layout will be cardstock boxes for a bit of time
That bit you mentioned, about it never ending up exact... funny you should mention it since that exact topic started bugging me tonight! I started assembling some track together in the yard, just to start seeing how this stuff comes together...
Obviously nothing permanent, but already I'm seeing that the real turnouts are a slightly shorter than what was printed, even though the print is at the correct scale (the grid lines are at the correct 12" spacing). Really this is not what's bugging me. No, what's bugging me is how to transfer my track plan to the table. I spent a lot of time getting that track plan looking just right, and with simple easements too!
For the river that I carved out, I just basically stuck a pin through the paper along the river edges, and then connected the dots (pin holes) on the foam with a marker after removing the paper plan. I can do the same for much of the track, marking the center-line, but this is going to be tough on grades, and on the higher elevations! I wonder how others deal with this?
I'm also exclusively using flex track for the entire layout except for the turnouts. I can't see how I can temporarily assemble the track, since I can only cut the rail to the right length once. How do the experts do it? just pin the cut pieces in place, or go ahead and glue it down?
I'm going to browse some youtube videos on flex track and see if I can't find some answers.
Haven't visited this thread in a while. It looks like things are progressing quite nicely. Like the finalized track plan and it looks like you have good potential for some nice scenery.
Worked quite a bit on my layout, though in all it's not much actual progress.
I figured that I needed to start somewhere, and that somewhere was going to be the industrial yard.
So, to start with, I pinned down all of the yard's turnouts onto the paper plan, and then added the most likely locations for the ground throws. These are all from caboose industries. Some will be trivual to set up, but others cannot be located next to the turnout and will need to be set up a little further away (no space between the tracks). I couldn't find much information online on this, but several years ago, I was scratch building and flying remote control airplanes. My solution will be install pushrods under the tracks. This is how we used to connect servos to the aircraft control surfaces, and I can't see why it wouldn't work here.
After figuring out the ground throw locations, I drew an outline directly on the paper plan, creating a template for the cork sheet I will install underneath the tracks. Immediately I realized that some buildings were much too close to the track and relocated these further out. It was then a simple matter to cut out the paper plan, and use that as a template to cut the roll of cork for the track bed.
Once I had the template cut out, I also used the hole in the remaining paper plan to outline where the cork will be located. In the above photo, you can see how I used latex caulk to fasten the cork to the foam. It was fairly easy to do so. Actually, the must difficult part was sanding the edges of the cork to a taper, just like can be seen on regular track bed. Note that I left the areas for the ground throws oversize. Once installed, I'll further trim those to the correct size.
At this point my bricks are holding down the cork while the caulk cures.