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Author Topic: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?  (Read 797 times)

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Offline SMason

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A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« on: May 11, 2018, 12:25:11 PM »
Hello!

You may or may not have seen my intro post about a week ago, where I said that I was going to soon be making a start in N gauge and building a fairly simple layout. So here's me making that start.

Design Brief: Small, simple layout to learn the trade.
Specification:
  • KIS Tactics - Keep It Simple
  • Costs kept to a minimum where possible
  • Size kept equally small (610mm X 1220mm)
  • Layout is to be portable so can be stored upright behind a chest of drawers and moved to a floor/kitchen table for building and use
  • DC Power
  • Peco Code 80 Track
  • Track all on the same level
  • Plenty of scenic interest - Ponds below track level, hills above track level, etc.

Ideas: I have a few thoughts floating around on how to approach this, mostly consisting of an oval with a couple of passing loops and an internal fiddle yard. The variations on that theme are primarily based on the size and layout of the fiddle yard. It seems that more = more points = more cost vs less = less points = less going on. So I'm trying to find the balance.

On the scenery front, I want interest above and below track level in the form of ponds/streams as well as potentially having a hill at one end with a cutting that the track runs through. As you look at my track plans I'm thinking the 'lower' scenery on the left and the 'higher' on the right, I think a pond or reed bed in the centre of the curved passing loop would look good and would mirror a cutting at the opposite end. I think I'll achieve this by laying the track on a layer of foam to give the elevation above the waterways, using the same foam I'll layer up and create the hills. Any recommendations on sheets of foam that might be suitable? I'm looking potentially at 15-20mm thick.

To set a theme and era for the layout, I'm embracing Rule 1 fully. Set in the here and now, somewhere in the south of England and is somewhat of a preservation site/museum. I'm toying with the idea of it being owned by an eccentric English gentleman and the track doing a loop in the grounds of his estate - if anyone knows of any N scale National Trust properties I'd be interested!

The layout is very parallel to the edge of the board, so once I've got the track in hand and I'm starting to nail it down I shall see if it can't be offset a little. I have given myself about 40mm (ish) to the edge of the board from the outside of the track so I think I can twist it slightly to give it a less 'square' look.

Track - As mentioned, Peco Code 80. I have an amount that came with my 'Night Mail' set, so I'd like to make use of that. Points, I'm opting for insulfrog. I feel they're easier when it comes to wiring the layout? They'll also give me the option to isolate locomotives in certain areas of the layout should I not want them to move.

Power - DC, pure and simple - I have a basic understanding of how it works and can top up that knowledge without too much effort on my part, I don't see the need to go DCC and learn it all while trying to learn the modelling aspect as well. I'm wondering whether a link wire between the fiddle yard and main loop will be appropriate? Obviously trying to reverse a train into one of the sidings from the headshunt will cause it to lose power when the point is switched, so adding power to the headshunt should solve that issue somewhat. I think I'll use Peco wired fishplates to supply power to the track so I assume it'll be a simple matter of joining a set to a set?

The plan going forward:
  • Complete baseboard construction
  • Finalise track plan
  • Order track - test it
  • Decide on 3D scenery
  • Figure out what comes next when that time comes!

Layout Plan(s):


Plan one (above) has a much simpler fiddle yard and more internal area for scenic goings on. Plan two (below) has a slightly more populated yard. I'm undecided at this stage on which way to go, I'd like to run 1-2 locomotives so plan two seems the better option, however, how will it look - along with a suitable amount of scenery/buildings/etc - on a 4ft x 2ft board? Thoughts? The added level crossing in plan two is for reference, I'm not sure if I want it there or if I want to attempt to scratch build one. If I scratch build, I think I may well put it in the lower/yard area.



As of now, I have a baseboard almost ready to go. I'd like to put some felt on the underside to protect the floor/table it'll be resting on, it may also need another brace in the middle.

Any thoughts or advice is very much appreciated.

 :thankyousign: Sam.

Online port perran

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2018, 12:35:39 PM »
All looks interesting to me Sam except, it is preferable to have a short section of straight track before a point. This may not be possible in your plan and if you are careful to lay the track perfectly, you possibly will get away with it.
I think plan 2 gives more porential but the problem with either is that trains will need to reverse into the headshunt to access the main line. Whilst not impossible itís probably not good operating practise. Could you  have the 3or4 sidings accessing the main line directly with the headshunt (or long siding) off of these?
Just my musings.
This does all lend itself to good scenic potential though so looking good.
If it looks right then it most probably is right.


Offline Newportnobby

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2018, 12:42:00 PM »
Some questions from me, Sam:-

Many small locos will likely stall on ST5/6 set track points. Do you plan on having any small locos?
Are you intending to have a station and, if so, where are you likely to site it?
Will you only be using the Farish controller from the set? They are actually good controllers but have no accessory capabilities.

Personally I'd look at taking baseboard level as 'ground zero' and then laying all the track on 50mm battens above 'ground zero' such that you have the ability to create scenery above and below track level (bear in mind you'd also need buildings like a station to be at the same level so cut your baseboard surface accordingly)

Offline SMason

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2018, 01:00:50 PM »
All looks interesting to me Sam except, it is preferable to have a short section of straight track before a point. This may not be possible in your plan and if you are careful to lay the track perfectly, you possibly will get away with it.
I think plan 2 gives more porential but the problem with either is that trains will need to reverse into the headshunt to access the main line. Whilst not impossible itís probably not good operating practise. Could you  have the 3or4 sidings accessing the main line directly with the headshunt (or long siding) off of these?
Just my musings.
This does all lend itself to good scenic potential though so looking good.

Thanks for the feedback!

When you say a short section of straight track, I assume this is to reduce derailings and such?

I'm not sure I follow your meaning about the sidings and headshunt? I understand having them access the main line, but how are you linking the headshunt in? Off of the other end of them? Apologies!
« Last Edit: May 11, 2018, 03:21:00 PM by SMason »

Offline SMason

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2018, 01:14:27 PM »
Some questions from me, Sam:-

Many small locos will likely stall on ST5/6 set track points. Do you plan on having any small locos?
Are you intending to have a station and, if so, where are you like to site it?
Will you only be using the Farish controller from the set? They are actually good controllers but have no accessory capabilities.

Personally I'd look at taking baseboard level as 'ground zero' and then laying all the track on 50mm battens above 'ground zero' such that you have the ability to create scenery above and below track level (bear in mind you'd also need buildings like a station to be at the same level so cut your baseboard surface accordingly)

Good questions!

Yes; I'd like to run smaller locos. Thinking about it, the majority of locos I want to run are on the smaller side. 0-6-0 Pannier Tank, 4-4-0 Schools Class, I do fancy a Class 66 though. As of right now these are pure fantasy - I only own a Class 47 currently. So your point about smaller locos stalling is a bit of a worry and leads me towards plan one slightly and/or a bit of a redesign.

I am intending on having a station of some sort. It'll most likely be on the top straight and on the inside of the oval - hence the location of the level crossing on plan two.

In all honesty, I hadn't thought much about the controller yet. I don't see why I shouldn't use the Graham Farish controller, I have it already after all. That being said, I want to treat this layout as somewhat of an interactive diorama, so having accessory control might be useful.

That's a good thought about the baseboards, I'll add that to my list of investigations. I sense what I'd planned is different only in using foam to lay the track on rather than battens. I'd leaned towards the foam as I only really want a little bit lower than track level, so I figured it'd be easier to remove the areas I want as opposed to building up everywhere else. Food for thought though.

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2018, 01:57:09 PM »
Hi Sam. Yes, I was thinking a short straight will help with avoiding derailments.
And....thinking about it again, I believe your headshunt idea is ok.
You could, of course link the right hand end of the headshunt directly to the loop if you wanted.
If it looks right then it most probably is right.


Offline Newportnobby

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2018, 04:23:52 PM »
I have to say if you intend to run small locos like pannier tanks, diesel shunters etc then I would replan using code 80 track and electrofrog points. Normally I'd say change to code 55 but your oval of track is code 80 as are the curved points which are a crucial part of your layout plan, and I never recommend mixing codes. Therefore, I'd suggest you redraw the plan in SCARM using the set track curved points (ST44/45) but using medium electrofrogs elsewhere. This will have the effect of reducing lengths of straights but will also get you into the electrics of electrofrogs - a benefit for if/when you go larger. Whether you use set track or flexitrack between the points I'll leave up to you.
Probably not what you wanted to hear :hmmm:

Offline SMason

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2018, 06:23:22 PM »
You're quite right port perran, I could link the headshunt into the main line, it would be similar to the passing loop on the left side. I had thought of that in an earlier plan, but I felt it made the layout too symmetrical. Although... why have the headshunt when I could use the internal side of the passing loop to the same end?  :hmmm:

It's not that I want to hear certain comments, I'm all for taking on as much advice as possible - I don't want to make purchases then find that what I've bought isn't the best choice. You make a valid point about learning electrofrogs, this is something I'd like to take forward onto a bigger/more permanent layout in the future. I'm just curious about isolating certain areas, although I imagine that can be done with switches on a control panel of some sort... To the internet! More research to be done!


Offline SMason

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2018, 08:25:14 PM »
Thank you Lindi, very insightful. I sense people have had different experiences with pointwork. It is reassuring to see a small loco traverse a small point without issue, having had a look at redesigning my plan it's quite challenging to use the larger electrofrog points!

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2018, 09:53:09 PM »
Many folks will have opinions about the set track points and mine was made on the basis of experience, albeit a long time ago with Poole locos. Since using electrofrogs I've had no issues in over 30 years. I just hate to think of newcomers to N suffering possible disappointment and giving up the hobby.

Offline longbow

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2018, 03:22:56 AM »
Do not run a Dapol Schools on minimum radius curves as this may result in broken valve gear. 

Offline SMason

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2018, 11:03:50 AM »
This is taking me some time! Hello again.

So anyway, I have had a redesign, adapted it, then changed it. Rewrote my specification, created a whole new plan and eventually came up with this;



I've even annotated it and had a think about power feeds as well!

While the size of the baseboard hasn't been able to be changed and some insulfrog points remain, I have reduced the number of those points and replaced many with electrofrog ones. I've tried, where possible, to run into these points with a straight section as well. However, there simply isn't the room to do this at T7 - Although I think the slight curve breaks away from what could be quite a linear feeling layout and allows a longer loco shed.

As I mentioned earlier, I've had a think about power feeds as well. So I've marked in blue anywhere that the track is isolated - the frogs of insulfrog points and where isolating rail joiners need to be placed.
I'm thinking; the outer rail of the oval being the positive, inner, negative. The feeds at T3, T4 and T5 being the primary power sources, and the feeds at T7 and in the siding after T2 being separately switched for loco storage.
I'd also like to explore the possibility of installing point motors - because why make a first project easy? I'm eventually planning to set this layout into a coffee table, so if it's under a glass lid accessing points may be a weeny bit tricky. So with that in mind, I think planning for such things now will be much better than trying to remodel at a later date.

So, if I may put a couple of questions to you;
I'm not missing anything glaringly obvious about that wiring setup, am I?
If I do motorise the points, can a CDU be fitted to the board or does that need to be off-board like a PSU?

Thanks, Sam.

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2018, 11:14:32 AM »
If your trackwork is elevated, you can mount the CDU anywhere on the baseboard, under a convenient hill, perhaps.

Otherwise below board anywhere close to where the power comes in.
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline SMason

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Re: A learning curve. Or is it full circle?
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2018, 11:35:26 AM »
If your trackwork is elevated, you can mount the CDU anywhere on the baseboard, under a convenient hill, perhaps.

Otherwise below board anywhere close to where the power comes in.

Great, that somewhat simplifies my thought process.

 

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