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Author Topic: Getting ready for first real layout  (Read 14732 times)
daxdog

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« on: January 15, 2011, 11:44:47 AM »

I am hoping to start ordering track this weekend for my first layout.  I am so excited, but I am not 100% clear on wiring.  Per someone's earlier recommendation to me, I bought the Atlas layout book (I purchased the Bachmann one first).  Track plan 206, "The Out-And-Back" is what most appeals to me with some modifications.

Modification (and question) #1.  I have both Bachmann DCC and DC controllers and I am hoping to use both with this layout because I have both styles of engines.  I assume that I will not need all those blocks of controllers and selectors because I will have at most 1 DC engine running on my layout along with my DCC engines.  Am I right in assuming that this will not be needed?

Question #2. This layout has a reversing loop in it.  Should I just isolate that section or do I need to use a Bachmann reversing loop?  Is this section going to present a problem if I am running a single DC locomotive?

Question #3.  I am planning on modifying the layout in a fairly significant way.  Rather than having the railyard and turntable where the plan has it, I want to have the track go underneath the layout in a big loop then come back out the front of the layout where I will put in a larger railyard and a switching section like the Bachmann "Time-saver" plan.  My question here is I have read to keep your grades at 4% or less.  Is this for realism or for function?  The area I think may have a greater than 4% grade would be hidden, so realism is not needed.

Here is my basic plan for this layout.  The red lines idicate that it is underneath the main tabletop.  The railyard would be in front of the rest of the table, slightly lower.  Thanks for all your comments and help.

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ACY


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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2011, 01:57:23 PM »

As a general rule of thumb, do not run DC locos on a DCC layout because you can accidentally forget about them and leave them on live track, which will ruin the loco, also running a DC loco on DCC for more than a couple hours will also not be good and cause problems like overheating and other "bad things". Although some DCC systems allow you to run one DC loco, it is a bad idea and should be avoided if possible. Having Bachmann DC controllers does not really help, it does not work as a booster to provide extra power, it just frees button 10 for another DCC loco.  For the reversing loop, you will want to use an automatic reversing module and you need to isolate the reversing section from the rest of the layout. I suggest if you want to run DC locos sometimes just run them without the DCC locos, but avoid the reversing section, and switch the DCC controller out with the DC controller temporarily.
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jward


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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2011, 04:42:39 PM »

here is my in depth ana;ysis of your plan......

layout ho-206 i could not find, but the same plan exists in one of my books as ho-20. my comments are based upon this layout plan, from the book, HO layouts for every space. the layout as shown in the plan book is for 4'x12'. to add the yard you want to this layout, you will probably want to widen the table to 5'..........

i would advise using the connectors atlas shows. follow the wiring plan as shown in the book. why? while you can just run one set of wires to power the track, the dc wiring plan shown adapted for dc will have two advantages. first, dcc locomotives create a power drain on your system, whether they are moving or not. sound equipped locomotives, especially, draw enough current to overwhelm some systems. if you are using ez command you only have 1 amp available. using the connectors, you can park locomotives in various sidings and turn the power to them off, thus reducing the drain on your system.

the second reason i would wire it as shown lies in the fact that a short can effectively cripple a dcc layout, if it is not divided into "power district" (this is a fancy term for what is known on a dc layout as "blocks").....if you get a short, you can quickly isolate that section of track by turning off switches. you then can look for the short in a small area of layout instead of the whole thing. and the rest of your layout can continue to run while you do this.....

i would also use the autoreverse unit in place of one of the "controllers" that atlas shows wired to the reverse loop. the controller does the same thing as the auto reverse unit, but manually. you have to remember to flip the switch as you are in the loop. the auto reverse unit does this for you automatically.

now, as to your planned modification of the existing plan. i find the concept is doable on about a 3% grade. before i describe this, a word about grades and why it is important to keep them under 4%.  first, grades will severely limit the pulling power of your locomotives. a table in the back of my copy of the above referenced book shows locomotives will pull approximately 1/6 on a 4% grade of what they'll pull on the level. for a 3% grade it's closer to 1/4. coming down the grade, you have problems with slack run in and the weight of the train possibly derailing cars in the middle and front of the train. the longer the train, and the sharper the curves, the more likely this is.

i estimate you'll need to gain about 7" from the yard to the mainline. you will in effect have 3 levels, and minimum clearance between levels should be no less than 3". assuming the use of 1/2" plywood for the layout, you'll need to add this thickness to the 3" for a minimum of 3 1/2" total elevation gain between levels. note, the term level is used here to denote the places where one track crosses over another. in actuality, your track up from the yard should be on a nearly constant grade of 3%.....

the standard section of track, whether 18" radius, 22" radius, or 9" straight, are close enough in length to all be coinsidered 9" according to the table in the atlas book (page 47) at approximately a 3% grade it takes 12 sections to rise 3", or 1/4" rise pre section. given this, you'll need 28 sections to rise 7". my estimate shown you'll nhave 29 or 30 depending on how  exactly you lay out the grade. i would recommend the use of 22" radius curves for the lowest turn, 16 sections for a complete turn. you may wish to add a couple of straights to the back side of this turn to keep the grade down. that would be 16 sections or so, enough to give you clearance over your lowest level of the loop. i estimate another 13 sections of track from this level to where it connects to the mainline, for a total of 29 sections. if your final count is more than that, use the extra pieces to provide a transition at the top and bottom of the grade. your longer locomotives and cars will love you for it.

so, basically, your final count of track pieces should be whatever part of the atlas plan you use, plus whatever your yard at the bottom uses, plus 16 sections of 22" radius track.

as for construction, do yourself a favour and build the railroad from the bottom up. lay the lowest levels first, and fully test the track before you cover it over with the next level. it is very hard to correct flaws in the confines of a tunnel.. be sure to keep splices in your plywood away from the areas where one track crosses over another.and please, take some pictures and share your progress with us. this sounds like it's going to be a nice layout.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
daxdog

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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2011, 08:40:39 PM »

Thanks for the info. Would it be smarter to run 100% DCC on this system and not do any DC?  That seems to be a better option since I already have a couple of DCC engines and am considering converting another.
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ACY


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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2011, 08:46:56 PM »

Go all DCC because it will allow for better control and you will not jeopardize damaging any locos by leaving them on the track.
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jward


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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 08:51:08 PM »

i would say, run your dc locomotives but park them on sidings and turn them off when not in use. being on a limited budget myself, i can relate to eventually putting decoders in locomotives. i have a backlog of them now i need decoders for (but bachmann keeps coming out with new goodies....) so some of them have been run for years on dcc without decoders. just don't let them sit and buzz. try to keep them moving. my layout is much smaller than yours will be but i have grades similar to what you are planning, maybe a little worse with 4% on 18" r curves. my locomotives work hard, but so far they've been up to the task.

eventually you'll have decoders in all of them.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
seaisleRR

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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 09:58:45 PM »

Looks like a good like a good layout daxdog. I wish I had had the space to start w/ a layout that large. Should be a good one.
ACY is right. Be careful. I'm new to the complex layout parts too daxdog. But, I plan to convert my DC locos one day.

And, I can say from first hand, recent experience. Watch out for your grades. I have some on my new layout that push 4-5%.
The locos I have do ok with about 5-7 cars, but they do slow a little. And, I have been refining the trouble spots for some time to keep
the locos & cars from jumping. Get your layout benchwork and playwood down after all the figuring. Tack the track temporarily...
AND TEST. Refine. Test. Get it running smoothly before the roadbed goes on and you'll be a lot happier. Roadbed smooths out some
imperfections, but it won't fix all problems.  What is as important, if not more, is transitions from flat to slope or slope to flat,
especially on curves. Good luck!
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daxdog

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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2011, 08:09:17 AM »

Do I have to go to work today?

I got the wood for my first table last night.  I built the frame for the middle section and did all my cuts.  The rest of my track arrives tomorrow (keep your fingers crossed).  There is no way I am going to have my mind on the tasks at work today because I will be daydreaming about coming home and finishing the table.  I am taking pics of my progress, so hopefully I can get them posted when I am on a computer later today.
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daxdog

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« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2011, 12:12:47 PM »

Finished the table this morning before work.  It is very sturdy.  It is 4' x 14'.  The black track on either end are 22" curves.  I hope to get my foam underlayment this weekend even though I really won't have time until a week from Sunday to spend much time on it.


BTW, the black cage in the foreground is one of my 2 x-large dog crates for my 2 dobies.  They both fit underneat the table.  Not too many model train layouts have two full-size guard dogs!   Roll Eyes
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Joe Satnik


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« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2011, 01:49:19 PM »

Dear Daxdog,

Wow, such nice looking bench work.   Sorry I didn't suggest to you earlier to make it 5 feet wide and put it on casters. 

I see by your picture that your crossover track will make a turn around loop. 

I want to caution you about the electrical shorts that turn around loops cause. 

You will need to gap both rails in three places and add polarity reversing switches for DC block,  or an automatic reverser module for DCC.

If you want to get your crossover to match the width of your oval,

I suggest you download and use Anyrail.com (free for the first 50 track pieces and easy to learn) layout planning CAD program.

A single-crossover/turn-around-loop will only turn your train around in one direction. 

You will have to back up your train through the crossover to get it going in the original direction again.

Hope this helps.

Sincerely,

Joe Satnik

 
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If your loco is too heavy to lift, you'd better be able to ride in, on or behind it.
jward


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« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2011, 03:19:28 PM »

i am impressed. by making a good solid foundation for your layout, you've avoided the mistakes many of us did on the first layout. without a sturdy foundation, anything you do will be flimsy and subject to warps, twists and sags.

also. love the cage. my chocolate lab lives under my layout in a similar cage. i just wish i had as much room to work with as you.....
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
daxdog

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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2011, 03:58:57 PM »

The reason the track is in this pattern was because I was experimenting with a DCC autoreveser.  I bought one for $10 at a local hobby shop that was moving.  I was not sure at that point if I needed to match brands of autoreversers with controllers, but apparently not.

I am going to add a shelf just below the bottom lip of the top.  It will be 12"-18" wide and 12' long.  One end of it will be a railyard patterned after the Time Saver layout in the Bachmann layout book and the other end will be where my turntable will be with the 2 stall engine house.  I will probably have a section for a programming track as well down there.

I really debated getting casters for it, but I elected to just use sliders on the bottom.  It scoots pretty well at this point. 

I am about to go nuts here at work because FedEx ground just delivered a big box of track for me.  I am so ready to go home and connect up my layout.  Maybe no one will notice if I sneak out early.
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tford

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« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2011, 04:25:06 PM »

I pulled your picture off to my lap top so I could zoom in; is that all EZ track?
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daxdog

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« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2011, 04:57:44 PM »

I am using all EZ-Track NS except for on bridges and on the turntable.  They are Atlas and came with Atlas NS track.

Pictured is both the steel and NS track, but I will not be using any steel on my layout.  I will keep it to go around the Christmas tree, but the layout will be 100% NS.

Just an FYI - you get a 33% discount on EZ-Track at www.trainsetsonly.com which helps since it is expensive.  If you order over $200, you also get free shipping.  I ordered several hundred dollars worth of track which arrived today.  I saved over $200 by buying it online.  My local hobby shop guy told me that I bought it below his cost.
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daxdog

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« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2011, 07:17:41 PM »

I learned something important last night.  I was trying to assemble the Atlas "Out and Back" plan on my table using Bachmann EZ track. The turnouts are different lengths on the Bachmann EZ track from the Atlas Snap track. I finally adapted it enough to work. I also used the Bachmann TimeSaver layout as a guide for my rail yard.


I have had to change my original ideas up from my original plan in order to get things working right.  I wanted to drop the rail yard to a lower shelf off the front of the table, but to do it right I would need a 16"-18" deep shelf over 7' long.  That is just going to stick our too far to be practical.  I did add a short 12"d x24"w shelf on the front of the table for my controllers.  The controller on the right is the new Digitrax Zephyr xtra DCS51 DCC controller.  The controller on the left is an old MRC Railmaster 1300 DC controller.  I am just using it for power to the switches.  I may end up using the throttle for the powered turntable.  I was planning on making it a DCC turntable, but it will probably be simpler to just hook it up DC.

Here are my next steps for this table.  First, I must add a base layer of foam.  Then on the back side of the table near where the tape measure is currently sitting will be a mountain with a tunnel.  I also still need to add braces across the back and car shelves on the sides.  The table is very stable, but I don't think that you can make a table *too* sturdy.  The dogs agree since their cages are underneath the table now.
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