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Author Topic: A corner layout with hidden loop-around  (Read 673 times)

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Online codepoet

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A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« on: May 25, 2020, 09:47:05 AM »
I would welcome feedback and comments on my layout plans. This is my first n-gauge layout and first as an adult. I have already build the bench work and am starting to lay track and learn lots of lessons :( In particular I wanted to have a hidden loop-around, but that has given challenges laying short radius curves and clearance between tracks. I have also included a helix to reach a higher level, and a staging yard underneath everything, so the bench-work is a challenge. Did I mention that I am trying to make it free standing and light enough to be removed from the room if necessary?
Here is a picture.


I have also uploaded a video showing around the layout plan:



I would really welcome comments - good or bad!!
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 09:57:17 AM by codepoet, Reason: typo »
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

Offline Bealman

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2020, 10:02:58 AM »
Firstly, I confess to not having watched the video right through yet, only snippets.

However, first impression of the plan was, where does the scenery start and stop? It seems to be all hidden storage, with very little scenery.

Is the track below the terminus on the left side visible and scenic?

The terminus itself seems very limited in operational interest. Apart from running trains, I can see very little point to this design - sorry!!  ???
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2020, 10:15:57 AM »
hmm.... don't take this the wrong way but it looks a bit ambitious for a first layout. Don't set your sights so high that you become overwhelmed with the build? 

I have a nasty feeling that you'll struggle to gain access to the storage sidings behind/underneath the helix.  Trains WILL stick, uncouple, or derail in the worst possible places - that's a fact of life I'm afraid!

1m depth on the right hand side? That'll be a severe stretch to reach the back, especially with multiple levels.

For tight curves use sectional track, it saves the hassle of fighting with flexi track.   If your track planning software doesn't include sectional curves which go down to the radius you want then that's really highlighting that you're trying for curves which are just too tight.    Aim for the largest radius you can accommodate, not the smallest. You'll be rewarded with better running and a better looking layout.

The helix is a tight radius, which means a severe gradient between each level. Both of those factors will combine to limit train haulage capacity.

It's a multi-level plan so open-frame construction is pretty much a given in my opinion, and it will have less weight and easier for wiring and fitting point motors on the upper levels.  You say it needs to be removable and you've already built the benchwork, so I hope you've followed the construction methods people use for exhibition layouts? Make the boards small and light enough to be manageable, use pattern makers' dowels for accurate alignment and secure the rail ends at board joints.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 10:24:55 AM by ntpntpntp »
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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2020, 10:20:16 AM »
This picture might make it a bit clearer which parts of the layout are scenic.




Thanks you for the feedback @Bealman. The answers to some of your questions are in the video!
The operational interest thing is really interesting, as that has been one of the things that has been on my mind - where are my trains going to? Perhaps they are just going to destinations not on the layout as represented by the staging yard. I am hoping to create a bit of a depot behind the station, so the operational aspect is getting the trains turned around, locos swapped over and ready for the next trip. Since I do not know anything much about prototypical operations I am somewhat exploring in the dark.


« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 10:27:46 AM by codepoet »
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2020, 10:34:05 AM »
OK, thank you, that's clearer - that is the scenic section, then.

However, most of the layout is still hidden, and I too share worries about accessibility.

May I ask what period you are modelling please? Your terminus suggests fairly modern, due to lack of runaround loops,  etc. in that case, a turntable would not be necessary.

« Last Edit: May 25, 2020, 10:35:49 AM by Bealman »
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2020, 10:59:59 AM »
That's pretty much how I thought the scenic trackwork would be.   I can't help thinking it seems very continental / alpine in design - is that the intention?

I started building something very similar in size and shape back in the 80s when in a rented flat (top floor of a 4 storey building so lots of lugging wood up many flights of stairs!), but it never got much beyond the frames and some track bed laid before I moved out. By then I'd already realised it was too ambitious for the space available. 

The boards were totally wrong for my new place and were scrapped, instead I went for a portable "stand in the middle" design in a spare room. It was multi-level but with long straight gentle slopes rather than a helix. I made sure the storage yards were not covered over by scenery, and situated on the inside where I stood (not at the back).   Sadly not many photos exist, but this shows the 3 levels.
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2020, 11:13:41 PM »
hmm.... don't take this the wrong way but it looks a bit ambitious for a first layout. Don't set your sights so high that you become overwhelmed with the build? 

I have a nasty feeling that you'll struggle to gain access to the storage sidings behind/underneath the helix.  Trains WILL stick, uncouple, or derail in the worst possible places - that's a fact of life I'm afraid!

1m depth on the right hand side? That'll be a severe stretch to reach the back, especially with multiple levels.

For tight curves use sectional track, it saves the hassle of fighting with flexi track.   If your track planning software doesn't include sectional curves which go down to the radius you want then that's really highlighting that you're trying for curves which are just too tight.    Aim for the largest radius you can accommodate, not the smallest. You'll be rewarded with better running and a better looking layout.

The helix is a tight radius, which means a severe gradient between each level. Both of those factors will combine to limit train haulage capacity.

It's a multi-level plan so open-frame construction is pretty much a given in my opinion, and it will have less weight and easier for wiring and fitting point motors on the upper levels.  You say it needs to be removable and you've already built the benchwork, so I hope you've followed the construction methods people use for exhibition layouts? Make the boards small and light enough to be manageable, use pattern makers' dowels for accurate alignment and secure the rail ends at board joints.
Thanks for the really helpful feedback. You have confirmed some of my fears, so at least I am correct in some of my thought processes. I realise that it is ambitious, but I consider building it to be the hobby, not just operating it once it is built, so I know this challenge will keep be busy for several years.
I have deliberately made the scenery high above the area that the staging yard will be, to make access from underneath a bit easier. Obviously I am going for open frame construction as has been suggested. That was one of my motivations - to build a layout where I could just position the tracks in space and then join them up with scenery, rather than having a flat board. My biggest worry about the hidden sections is how to service / repair the track rather than retrieving trains.
I had not considered that the 1000mm depth was too much, through realise that is near the edge of what would be workable. I am not concerned about being able to reach across for construction as I can just separate the two frames, and move the one I want to work on away from the wall in order to access the other side. I will need to keep my 14 year old sweet so he will be willing to help me move the frames whenever I want to do this.
My tightest curves are 228mm (Peco set-track 1st radius). The loop around is more than a yard long, so I am challenging myself to join a bit of flextrack on a 228mm curve, because I want to learn how to do this, so I do not get any problems laying the helix which will be 330mm (inside) radius, and will have to be flextrack. Avoiding kinks is the problem, but I have been trying the 'staggering the join' trick. I have also had some luck removing the webbing from the rails, bending each rail individually, and then feeding the webbing back on. This has worked for short, tight curves mixed in with my point-work. If I really can't get a perfect 228mm loop-around using flextrack then I can always fall back on using set-track as it is a standard radius, but the helix is not.
Speaking of the helix, I based my helix design on a prebuild helix kit sold by Model Railway Solutions. I believe I used the same gradient they had, but increased the height of each level (from 50mm to 60mm), so mine has a slightly larger radius. Their website is closed down because of COVID19 so I can not verify this. Your comment has caused me to do a few more sums and re-check my figures. I think the gradient of my outside track will be 2.6%. Perhaps I should go back to 50mm per level which would give me 2.1% gradient. To be honest I was anxious about how much clearance I needed between levels, as at the time I made that decision I did not have much experience of rolling stock at n-scale. I will put some serious thought into this, as I should be able to change this. The other thing I need to careful of is ensuring I have got enough clearance under the turntable  for a mechanism to motorise it.
For the benchwork, it is in two sections which will be large and difficult to move, but they will only need to be moved when I move house - I am not taking it to exhibitions. I have used pattern makers' dowels to align the benchwork, but am yet to lay track across the join and secure the rails - I am in several minds about the best way to do this (copper clad or brass screws?). I realise that this is essential to get right.
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2020, 12:35:31 AM »
@codepoet   For securing rail across board joints I prefer soldering to brass screws, I think wide chunks of copper-clad are ugly. Screws can be better disguised, and indeed with Peco code 55 rail they end up below the ballast.




Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2020, 09:55:04 AM »
I tried soldering the top of some screws I had lying around - filed the surface layer of it etc, but was not happy with how well it bonded on. I expect actual brass screws would be better. However I have decided to get some sleepers CNCed from copperclad. It is something a youtuber (OONeal) has started producing. See here: https://youtu.be/OK8vDQMK7JE?t=169 He is knocking me up a batch of 5 sleeper versions as I want to better separate the two screws I will use to secure them into my framework.
Of course it will not work perfectly as then will not account for the way that code55 recesses the rail into the sleeper, so the copper sleepers will be a bit lower than the plastic ones. But I might be able to get around that by cutting a goove for the rails. If it does not work I can always rip it all out and do something different!

Unrelated - I notice in your picture there seems to be some green oxidisation along the side of the rails where that have been soldered the the brass screws. Is that a common thing? What causes it?
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2020, 01:43:50 PM »
Unrelated - I notice in your picture there seems to be some green oxidisation along the side of the rails where that have been soldered the the brass screws. Is that a common thing? What causes it?


It's where I haven't cleaned the excess flux away, that's all.  It gets cleaned off before ballasting.

You mentioned CNC cut copper clad sleepers:  I have a couple of packs of these for Peco 55 but not tried them yet

http://www.mollehem.se/index.php/modultillbehoer/tieplates-detail



I'm assuming that to use these I'll need to grind off the lower part of the double-T rail section for about half in inch.

[PS] they come with a insulating gap down the middle (not shown in the photo)


Overall I think I still prefer using brass screws, it's easy to set the correct height as part of laying the track.  In the past in my fiddleyard I've been able to heat and melt the solder on old joints and twist the screw with pliers to make slight adjustments but that's never been necessary with any of my scenic trackwork over 24 years.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2020, 05:56:27 PM by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2020, 01:59:21 PM »
Yep, a few seconds with a dremel and/or a file to remove the lower part of the code 55 rail and they're good to go  :)








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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2020, 04:47:22 PM »
I had imagined needing to bury the rail in the sleepers, but that is so obvious - of course, just take to bottom section off the rail.

Code55 rail does seem so very different to that available of other gauges with the double bottom. I imagine that as a consequence code55 is stiffer than code80 / code100 / code75 as it has twice as much metal across the maximum width. I certainly find is to be very stiff, and a struggle to bend, but I am learning.

I do not have a dremel yet, but I can see that it will not be long now!!
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2020, 05:31:52 PM »
When curving code 80 it's very easy for the rails to rip themselves out of the chairs. Code 55 has arrows showing which way to bend it under the sleeper webbing.

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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2020, 05:53:04 PM »
The Peco code 55 "double T" section is clever.  It results in track which is stronger and actually easier to work with than code 80.  The embedded lower section means that the "chairs" on the inside faces are just representations and don't grip the rail at all, therefore the actual flange depth is deep enough to accommodate old "pizza cutter" wheels on models going back to the 1960s  (I still run some of them on my exhibition layout alongside today's models).  I've only ever come across one ancient pair of wheels that actually bottomed out on code 55 track, and they bottomed out on code 80 chairs too!

NPN mentioned the arrows underneath code 55 flexi track to indicate which way to curve, but to be honest I've happily curved the stuff to either side ever since I started using it in the 1990s, blissfully unaware of those arrows  :D  No problems at all.
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Re: A corner layout with hidden loop-around
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2020, 06:10:29 PM »
The Peco code 55 "double T" section is clever.  It results in track which is stronger and actually easier to work with than code 80.  The embedded lower section means that the "chairs" on the inside faces are just representations and don't grip the rail at all, therefore the actual flange depth is deep enough to accommodate old "pizza cutter" wheels on models going back to the 1960s  (I still run some of them on my exhibition layout alongside today's models).  I've only ever come across one ancient pair of wheels that actually bottomed out on code 55 track, and they bottomed out on code 80 chairs too!

NPN mentioned the arrows underneath code 55 flexi track to indicate which way to curve, but to be honest I've happily curved the stuff to either side ever since I started using it in the 1990s, blissfully unaware of those arrows  :D  No problems at all.
I have assumed that the thing about bending in the direction on the arrows is that it effectively limits your curves radius as there comes a point when the gap is fully closed. If you bend the other way, the gap opens up, instead and it is easier to put a tight link in it.
Documenting my progress on Naive-Gauge Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDXpXtVfVnTytUlEFr5raDw/

 

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