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Author Topic: New Layout  (Read 9886 times)
Striker1945

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« on: June 10, 2014, 06:10:24 PM »

Hi all!

I've been an train lover all my life and have only dabbled in model railroading; essentially it has always been "playing with toy trains". However I am now moving to my first layout on a 4x8 board. Purpose is simply for practice.

What I've got currently:

Loco's:
NYC FTA
NYC FTB
NYC RS-3
PRR GG1
N&W Class J 611
An unletterd 2-8-4 which I plan to give N&W numbers and letters
PRR 2-6-2 Prairie

Rolling Stock:
x20 Cars of various roads and types
Of note is my C&O 250-Ton Crane which I plan to convert to NYC or PRR (still deciding)

Other:
DCC Dynamis System I received from a relative as a graduation gift. Not sure how wise it was of them, but hey I'll take it!

That being said I'll be getting my board and accouterments later this evening.
For now I wanted to ask a few questions which may seem stupid or silly, but hey I'm learning! =D

1) So I'll be using Nickel Silver E-Z Track, should I bother soldering all the rail joiners to increase the effectiveness of the DCC System?
2) I was going to run wiring to a few points on my layout to spread out the power distribution, I assume I should attach the wire to the rail joiners?
2a) On that note can I just buy copper wire from say a Home Depot or do you guys recommend using a specific brand or type of wire?
3) Do I need to block out this layout? I assume not because the engines running on it will be DCC.
4) I have seen other model railroaders use a few inches of foam board on top of their base board, is this recommended? (I was going to do so)
4a) Should I then glue my E-Z track to the board or nail it down? (Either way it will be permanent and I get that, again this is a practice layout)

That's about it for now. I hope I haven't come across as too much of a fool.

-Striker
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jonathan


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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2014, 07:26:24 PM »

Striker,
Opinions will vary.   Here's mine...

I wouldn't  solder right away. You may modify your track plan later on. Someday you'll have to solder to maintain the current flow.

I have soldered wire to joiners and it works fine.

A couple inches of foam is nice for sound deadening and negative elevation.

Ok I'm typing this on my smart phone.  It's starting to vex me. More later.

WELCOME!!!

Regards

Jonathan
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Catt

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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2014, 07:27:22 PM »

1) do not solder all of the joints as you will need some room for expansion of the various materials used in your track.

2) I would suggest however that you solder several pieces say like 3 pieces then just a unsoldered joiner connection 3 more pieces then do the same. While your doing this solder wires to the joiners at one end of the middle piece .Colour code your wires and make sure the colours go to the same rails completely around the layout

2a) you can buy your wire at a big box store or your LHS.Or if you can find some telephone wiring it can be stripped of it outer covering and give you a lifetime supply of feeder wires.You will want tom use heavier wire for your busline,you need to be sure and solder or somehow attach the correct colour wires to the proper bus wire.

3)For a layout this size blocking should not be needed.

4)By all means use the extruded Styrofoam insulation on your layout.2" will allow you enough space below track level forb rivers and gulleys.

4a) I use LOCTITE PRO LINE 300 to secure my track. The secret to using it successfully with a roadbed type track is to lay out your track the way you want it then use a marker to outline the outside edges of the road bed the put down several dabs of adhesive tall enough to be depressed when you put the track down. One more thing do not glue your turnouts down because there is a unwritten rule the glue used to hold down a turnout will get inside the turnout and gum up everything in there that moves.

One more thing,the above works for me,your mileage may differ.  Shocked

And one more thing,there is no such thing as a dumb question, only dummies who won't ask that question. Grin
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Doneldon

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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2014, 02:32:39 AM »

Striker-

What you'll get here, including from me, are opinions. As such, recognize that you'll need to assess the rendered advice and the apparent credibility of the person answering your post. We really should explain why we're giving you the opinion we are offering in order to help you decide what seems to make sense.

1. and 2. My policy is that my power never has to pass through more than one rail joint. Using three-foot flex track that means I can go as far as 12 feet between feeders. I do solder my feeders to my rail joiners and I use a tiny bit of conductive grease in each rail joiner to slow the inevitable oxidation which will eventually cause conduction problems. However, I've had no trouble with that for a number of years.

2a. You can use copper wire from wherever you find it at a reasonable cost. You will find that some of the least expensive wire is the multiple conductors in non-metallic sheathed cable, i.e., Romex. The problem with that is that, except for your power busses which carry power under your layout to feed the feeders and accessories, it's way to large and difficult to work with in most model applications. I find that a 14- or 16-gauge solid or stranded wire (I prefer stranded) is more than adequate on a modestly-sized layout. You might want to consider going to 12-gauge for really long runs or if you enlarge your pike or shift to a scale with larger equipment which draws more current. For feeders, most lighting (all LEDs and most incandescent) and wiring inside of trains, structures and signals, I use stranded copper because it is much easier to work with due to its greater flexibility. I never go smaller than 20- or 22-gauge for feeders. You can use just about anything for locos and passenger car lights because you are generally moving very little current very short distances. There are times when I go as small as 28-gauge stranded wire when things are very tight inside of a locomotive and the run is only a couple of inches.

3. No, you don't need to wire blocks when you are using DCC. You might want to do a few blocks anyway if you have some legacy DC equipment which you want to run but don't plan to convert to DCC soon or maybe ever. Blocks also offer easier trouble shooting on a DCC layout because you can focus in on a comparatively small area when you have a short, for example. However, most 4x8s have few enough locations for problems that there wouldn't be much advantage to wiring some blocks.

4. Two-inch extruded foam insulation makes an outstanding layout surface. It allows you to easily model below ground level, for example ditches and waterways, which can lend a degree of reality to a layout. You don't need to mount the foam on plywood or such like. Just build a lightweight but strong frame and use the foam for the flatlands. There are several good, inexpensive books at your LHS or at on line merchants which can explain how to do this. Foam insulation is really quite strong and rigid, at least when it's the two-inch material. Be sure to use pink or blue foam, not white. In addition to identifying your layout's gender, those foams are stronger and much easier to work with than white foam. You can also use extruded foam for terrain features. It can be sawn (messily) or shaped with long, sharp knives. Best of all are hot wire and hot blade tools.

4a. You can glue your track down with plastic-safe construction adhesive (e.g., Liquid Nails for Projects) or adhesive caulks. Just run a small bead down the centerline of your rights-of-way, spread it with a putty knife and lay your track. This technique and these materials will hold things together just fine yet be easy enough to undo that you'll be able to reuse most of your expensive track if you decide to change things around.

Do bring your track plans to us for some kibbitzing. You'll find that there are some real track plan wizards on this site and they'll be able to help you avoid some of the problems which can snare new modelers.

Welcome to the next stage of model railroading. I predict that you'll find it to be an ever-interesting and variety-filled hobby. Plus, there are lots of great people to meet.
                                                                         -- D
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jward


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« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2014, 08:36:53 AM »

striker,

i think you've done your research. you've asked some really good questions.

solder ing joints is a good idea, as is the addition of feeders. i do it all the time, but i solder feeder wires directly to the rails. i build my own track, including switches, from scratch so i have little experience with ez track,  but if you do solder your joints and feeders you'll have to be very careful not to melt the plastic roadbed. 

as far as block wiring, i am in favour of it for several reasons: first, it reduces power draw on your dcc system. unlike dc, even locomotives sitting on dc powered track are drawing power. this is especially true of sound equipped engines. parking them on tracks which can be electrically isolated from the rest of the layout lessens the current draw and can even eliminate the need for a booster in some cases.   two, having a series of blocks you can turn off will allow you to quickly isolate any trouble on the line without shutting down the entire railroad.    a third consideration is having the flexibility to use dc if you want or need to. say your dynamis goes on the blink. stuff happens, this is in o way a dig at bachmann. can still run your railroad until you can get it fixed or replaced. with block wiring, all you need to do to convert between systems is to pull one type of controller and replace it with another.

with regards to foam, i don't really use it because i make my own track and prefer something that holds spikes better, such as white pine. but i am not against the use of it in your case. more important is that you build a good sturdy foundation to support it. i would suggest using at least 1/2" plywood laid on a framework of 1x4s as a base, with your foam laid on top of that. unsupported plywood has a tendency to warp and sag over time. nothing spoils running a railroad faster than the derailments caused by warps and twists in the track caused by inadequate support.

one last thing is expansion and contraction. i have found that using stable materials minimizes this problem. i your case, using plastic snap together track on foam board should be good. i have also found that with block wiring usually the plastic insulating joints have enough play in them to take care of expansion. keep your blocks short, around 6-9 feet at their longest and you should be fine. if you are using one rail as a common return, without gaps, leave the joint on that rail across from the insulator unsoldered.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Striker1945

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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2014, 12:53:19 PM »

Thanks for the input so far!

I have two sections of 36" EZ track, I had planned to use them as part of my main stretches.
I've used Anyrail to make my track plan, how can I upload it to the forums?

Also this board will need to be mobile. I'm a grad student who will work on this while home, but my folks would like to be able to move the board into another room while I am not home. Is there anyway to create collapsible benchwork? If so can someone provide a diagram or point me to an article etc?


Thanks a million!
-Striker
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Striker1945

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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2014, 05:22:50 PM »

Here's a look at my track plan...


1) Here I'll place an industrial complex of sorts. The outer siding will be for loading flatcars from a steel mill. The inner siding will be for ore cars which will off load their resources to be processed at said steel mill. Also the steel mill will break up the scene. (I hope)

2) Will be storage site for yard loco (NYC RS-3) as well as refueling point for other diesel loco's (NYC FTA & B)

3) Storage yard for cars. It's as simple as that. There will be a yard tower close to where the "yard lead" begins (used quotes because I wont have a real yard lead on this layout)

The main line should be large enough to break out my Class J every so often for fun. It will regularly host the 2-6-2 and 2-8-4 running some sort of mixed freight (possibly from the steel mill eh?)
I'll probably put in a railway company building in the area between the #2 and #3 sidings. That's all for now, let me know what you think!  Grin
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Doneldon

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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2014, 06:42:07 PM »

Striker-

Your track plan looks pretty good. I suggest, however, that you consider trading in the yard for industrial sidings. You can even add a couple off of the mainline.

Railroads have never been in the business of storing railcars. Indeed, unused cars are a major financial liability. Railcars only produce revenue when they are carrying something from point A to point B. Accordingly, a well run railroad has most of its rolling stock moving in revenue service most of the time.

Yards are used to sort cars and build trains as efficiently as possible to get the cars out of the yard, making room for incoming trains, and out to  customers so they can be loaded or unloaded and sent to their next destination. When railroads do need to store cars, which certainly does happen, they generally put them on unoccupied tracks someplace far out of the way.

A significant part of decisions about where to store cars is the tax climate in the various possible places. Some areas tax railroad property in such a way that stored cars incur taxes at high rates, much like personal property. Such sites would be avoided unless there is a truly compelling reason to put cars there, like pooling empty boxcars so they are convenient to areas where they can be quickly loaded when a huge grain harvest is expected. Railroads don't, however, store cars in expensively-built railyards in developed places where taxes are high.

Thus, eliminating a storage yard not only allows you to plan your pike up for more rewarding (my opinion) operations, it's also more prototypical.

I'm assuming that you plan a flat, tabletop layout without grades. That's a great idea for two reasons: First, grades are difficult to manage on small railroads. Secondly, it's a good idea for new modelers to master track construction on the flat before encountering the mechanical challenges presented by grades. There's a reason that railroad grades are called vertical curves; they introduce engineering challenges, and I don't mean issues for the guys sitting in engine cabs.

Thanks for keeping us in your loop.
                                                        -- D
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jward


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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2014, 08:48:11 PM »

i see one major design flaw to this plan. there is no way to get from the yard to the main tracks without backing up your train. try fli[ping that crossover from the yard to the main around to allow direct access to the yard. this means you'll also have to shift the crossover between the two mains to the right.

other than that, some minor tweaking to eliminate the s curves, such as swapping the locations of the two crossovers at the top of the plan, will give you something workable.

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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
ebtnut

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« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2014, 03:58:41 PM »

I'm going to assume that the track into industrial area 1 has a 15" curve.  Keep in mind that is a very sharp curve.  Your diesels will likely go around it, your steam locos, probably not.  You might consider that section of track as its own industrial line that interchanges with the rest of your railroad.  Obtain one of those great Bachmann 45-tonners to work it (a 44-tonner or the 0-6-0T would be fine too). 
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Striker1945

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« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2014, 09:26:43 PM »

ebtnut,
Gonna use an RS-3 to push and pull cars from the industrial area with the 15" curve. Will that work?

-Striker
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Doneldon

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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2014, 01:20:26 AM »

Gonna use an RS-3 to push and pull cars from the industrial area with the 15" curve. Will that work

Striker-

I seriously doubt it. Many four-wheel truck diesels can squeak by on 15" radius curves but the length of the RS-3 makes me wonder.

                                                                                                                                                                                         -- D
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 01:27:08 AM by Doneldon » Logged
ebtnut

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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2014, 11:36:38 AM »

Using the RS-3 may be OK, but going along with Doneldon I'd test it out ahead of time to be sure. 
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Striker1945

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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2014, 12:10:05 PM »

Okie dokie. I just setup some of my track on the floor to test it out and sadly it doesn't work all that well. The RS-3 never made it around the curve fully, derailed once and stalled a few other times. I think im going to redesign the inner area of the track plan. Any recommendations? I've got my board setup and would like to start laying track this weekend.
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Striker1945

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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2014, 11:39:23 PM »

Just wanted to post an update. The table is finished and I've setup a small layout to test track and such. Waiting on UPS to bring me my darned switches!!!

The finished table sand track. It is a bit higher than I'd like it. Gonna take it down a foot or so this weekend.


The table with track. Again a temporary setup until my new track gets here!


The table populated with some of my loco's. Decided to break out 611 specifically in honor of her current restoration status.


Close up of 611 because WHY NOT! =D


That's all for now. Gonna start landscaping and populating the board with buildings over the next few days. Will probably update this weekend!

-Striker
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