Advice on new HO layout plan

 
  bunjee23 Beginner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Hi Everyone,

I have always wanted to set up a model train layout and, now that I am retired, my wife has encouraged me to get a hobby - so this is it.

A room in our house has become available for me and I intend to build an 'around the walls' model railway. I live in Australia but have almost decided that I will model a North American railway, mostly in a rural setting (possibly something to do with grain transport as I love the big wheat silos!). The room available to me is approximately 3 metres by 3 metres.
I have been playing around in SCARM and have what I believe is a good starting plan. I intend to build the railway in stages and this is the first stage - a yard with a turnaround track. The plan is using Peco Streamline code 83 track. I have used #5 turnouts throughout and flex track. My minimum radius for curves is 550mm (almost 22 inches). I intend to use a DCC system for running.

I don't know how to attach my plan file, or even a jpeg of it, to this post, so could someone help me with that?

I would really like some feedback - good or bad as long as it's constructive - on this, so if you would like to help let me know.

Thanks
Nick

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  steve_w_1990 Junior Train Controller

Location: Trying to fix something on the PTA Network
I'm not exactly sure how to attach files to posts either, best thing I could suggest would be put it on a photo sharing site like Flickr, and then share the link in a post.

If the layout is going in a room, have you given much thought as to how you're going to access all corners of your layout? I haven't seen the plan yet so I can't really comment, but having some sort of lift out section would be very advantageous to you. (After a while, crawling on the floor to attend to dirty track/ de-railments will get very frustrating.)

Having solid sturdy benchwork will go a long way to creating a layout that you'll enjoy for many years. Have you had much woodworking experience?  Also adding an element of portability to a layout is always a good idea. There have been many beautiful layouts over the years that have had to be extracted from their space very violently because they never had any portability designed into them.

Look forward to seeing your plans, and hopefully offering some constructive feedback to help with your project.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hi,

Welcome to Railpage.

Your file has been approved and can be downloaded at https://www.railpage.com.au/downloads?mode=download.view&id=1233
  bunjee23 Beginner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
I'm not exactly sure how to attach files to posts either, best thing I could suggest would be put it on a photo sharing site like Flickr, and then share the link in a post.

If the layout is going in a room, have you given much thought as to how you're going to access all corners of your layout? I haven't seen the plan yet so I can't really comment, but having some sort of lift out section would be very advantageous to you. (After a while, crawling on the floor to attend to dirty track/ de-railments will get very frustrating.)

Having solid sturdy benchwork will go a long way to creating a layout that you'll enjoy for many years. Have you had much woodworking experience?  Also adding an element of portability to a layout is always a good idea. There have been many beautiful layouts over the years that have had to be extracted from their space very violently because they never had any portability designed into them.

Look forward to seeing your plans, and hopefully offering some constructive feedback to help with your project.
steve_w_1990
Hi Steve,

I have been able to upload my SCARM file to the Downloads section of Railpage. The filename is NickPlan02.scarm and is under the Model Rail section. https://www.railpage.com.au/downloads?mode=download.view&id=1233

My main idea is to build a pseudo point to point layout with turning loops at each end. Of course this file is only stage 1 and covers one end of the layout, so hopefully the only wide parts will be the ends. I'm thinking that the mainline run will be a maximum of 600mm from the wall, so getting to derailments and the like shouldn't be too difficult. The wider end parts will have access from both sides.

As for the benchwork, I like the idea to having some portability. Although we have no plans to move from here any time in the future, who knows what my wife will decide in a few years time!!!!!

I am not at all worried about building the benchwork as I have built a lot of furniture in the past, not to mention an extension room at my daughter's place. My wife says that anything I build will survive an earthquake, as I like to make sure anything I build is "fit for purpose".

Anyway, thanks for the reply and let me know what you think of my stage 1 plan.

Thanks

Nick
  steve_w_1990 Junior Train Controller

Location: Trying to fix something on the PTA Network
I've tried downloading the file to have a look, and because the computer I'm using doesn't have SCARM (work computer), I can't view the plan.

If you could put it in another file format, that'd be great. Other than that, I'm not going to be much help in this instance.
  Old Northern Locomotive Driver

I can't open it either, as SCARM is a Windows only application, and I have a Mac.  Best idea for making it viewable would to do a screen capture and save it as a .jpg file, which can be viewed on just about any device.  Possibly SCARM has a menu item that allows you to do this from within the application - I know that RailModeller Pro does, and SCARM looks like a carbon copy of RailModeller Pro.
  Old Northern Locomotive Driver

If we're talking about an expanded version of an oval of track, here's a diagram of my layout, which is 1220 x 2440 or 8' x 4' in the old money.  After persevering with the idea of fiddle yard to terminus layouts and eventually giving up for over two decades, I find that this gives me more enjoyment than anything I have done in the past.

It's a .jpg file generated by RailModeller Pro, by the way (you can click on it to get an enlarged view).

  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
Best idea for making it viewable would to do a screen capture and save it as a .jpg file, which can be viewed on just about any device.
Old Northern
As a random act of kindness I just did that and put it in the Downloads section. Suppose it will be approved eventually.

Can it be linked from Downloads to appear in a post here, like flickr etc?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Best idea for making it viewable would to do a screen capture and save it as a .jpg file, which can be viewed on just about any device.
As a random act of kindness I just did that and put it in the Downloads section. Suppose it will be approved eventually.

Can it be linked from Downloads to appear in a post here, like flickr etc?
apw5910

Approved.

https://www.railpage.com.au/downloads?mode=download.view&id=1234

What software produces the other file type?
  apw5910 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Location: Location.
What software produces the other file type?
bevans
SCARM https://www.scarm.info/index.php

Just another layout planner.



^^^^ So why can't Railpage link to images in Railpage's own Downloads section?
  bunjee23 Beginner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Best idea for making it viewable would to do a screen capture and save it as a .jpg file, which can be viewed on just about any device.
As a random act of kindness I just did that and put it in the Downloads section. Suppose it will be approved eventually.

Can it be linked from Downloads to appear in a post here, like flickr etc?
apw5910
Thanks for that. I just sat down to export the plan as a jpeg file and noticed that you had already done it for me. Thanks again.
Nick
  LaidlayM Chief Commissioner

Location: Research
Around the walls is wise but it means a duck-under at the entry.  Re-hanging the door to swing out will help with space.  Think about having the track at 1.6m from the floor to make access easier and give a more realistic view.

Mark
  bunjee23 Beginner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Hi Guys,

Thanks for all your input. I have another question that I find confusing - the difference between electrofrog and insulfrog points (turnouts, switches). As I would like to run a DCC system, which is the best for this?

From my reading on the subject I have become increasingly confused. I understand that my question is a bit like 'how long is a piece of string' but there must be a best case scenario for each type.

As it seems very difficult at the moment to buy points (specifically Peco) it seems that I have some time to ponder this.

Anyway

Thanks

Nick
  steve_w_1990 Junior Train Controller

Location: Trying to fix something on the PTA Network
I just had a look at your plan, and keep in mind, this is your layout. Without fully understanding what you're trying to achieve with this layout, it's a bit difficult to pass judgement, and what I'm saying is only my opinion.



There does appear to be quite a lot of storage roads on this part of the layout. It seems you've fallen into the classic trap of trying to fit as many sidings and track in as possible. The problem with this is you then lose a lot of "usable" track (as you can’t park rolling stock on points if you want access to as much of it as possible). There also appears to be quite a few "run around" points that don't really seem to serve much purpose (considering you could just run a train around the balloon loop and have the locos on the correct direction to shunt wagons with).



Balloon Loops in practice (because of the enormous amount of real estate required to build them), are only really employed at mines (where trains can pretty well drive in, load and leave with no shunting required), and ports where the loads are transhipped to another mode of transport (generally a waiting cargo vessel).  



With this sort of design in mind, the first thing that comes to mind is a coal unloading point at a harbour. You could have an unloader to run coal wagons through, with a port next to the tracks, and a huge coal stockpile with some sort of reclaimer to load ships with. This would eliminate almost all of your track inside the loop, but it would create a very busy, interesting scene.



As much as I love having as many sidings as possible to shunt with, the reality is, I very rarely used them, unless I was staging another train. Most of my operating sessions consisted of putting on a DVD on my TV, and starting the trains in motion, and watching them go by. That’s where I got most of my operating pleasure.



As I’ve had to demolish my layout since, most of my pleasure in the hobby is coming from building kits.



Also, looking at the design you’re working with, this kind of track layout might be something worth considering.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZDmSF1bG_g




I’m already half way through construction of my new layout, but it definitely was some food for thought.



Now your second enquiry was to do with insulfrog vs electrofrog points, and the difference between the two.


Simple answer is both will work on DCC. I’ve successfully used both types on my previous DCC layout, so which direction you decide to go, is ultimately up to you.


They are different, and I will try to explain both types, and the advantages and disadvantages of both, so hopefully you can make an informed decision as to which you decide to purchase. It does get a little intense, so bear with me.

First thing to do, is establish what the points “frog” actually is. This is the part of the turnout where both the normal and diverging rail come together and travel in their respective direction. (See google if you’re not sure. Without a diagram, it’s a bit hard to describe adequately).


This becomes a problem on a model railway, as it creates a point where both the positive and negative track power can come directly into contact with one another and cause a short circuit.


To demonstrate this principle, have a look at a set of model railway points. Look from the facing end of the points (the point where, if you were a driver, you’d be able to go either one direction, or the other).


Place some alligator clips on the points at the facing end before the moving blades, then follow the current path for both the positive and the negative rail through the turnout with the points in their straight and diverging routes.


(Alternatively, go on Peco’s website, and download and print a points template. With this template and two different coloured highlighters, start drawing a line from the facing end of the points to where the current would flow if the points were set in either direction).


You will observe that with the points in the straight direction, the current at the “frog” will be positive, and with the points in the diverging direction the current will be negative.


If you have a dead end siding on its own, with no separate feeders powering them, then it’s not really an issue, but once you have separate feeds going to the tracks, and no way of separating them, you’ll have short circuits stopping any trains from moving.


Model rail manufacturers have devised two methods for dealing with this problem. One method is to insulate the frog (usually with a piece of plastic moulded to the correct shape). This prevents the current from coming together, and these type of points you can install, without any extra wiring to anything, and they will work.


For pure simplicity of wiring, these would be the way to go. They do have a small “dead” zone at the frog, and this can create big problems for small 0-4-0 shunting locos (especially on DCC) but if you don’t have any of those types of locomotives on your layout (or have keep alives installed to get them over the “dead” bit) then you should be ok (I’ve got an IDR X200 with a stay alive installed, and it worked no dramas over the insulfrog points on my layout).


The second way of dealing with this is to use what’s known as “live frogs”. They have just normal rail over the frog, and these do require either a points motor with switches preinstalled (such as a tortoise or cobalt) or a “frog juicer” (plus appropriate wiring) to ensure current is flowing in the correct direction. You will also need to install insulated rail joiners at the frog rails to isolate them from other tracks power supplies. These do require quite a bit more work to install, but it does eliminate the “dead zone” of the insulfrog varieties and generally (in my opinion) help things run just that little bit smoother. It may seem intimidating at first, but once you’ve wired one up and got it working, you’ll be able to do them with your eyes closed.


For a detailed installation video on how to install insulfrog points see:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz0xn5sySZE


Hopefully this is of some help to you. Best of luck with your build, and I look forward to seeing your results.

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