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Author Topic: Starting An Outdoor Railroad  (Read 14284 times)
Plow_Bender


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« on: May 03, 2016, 11:28:41 PM »

Hey everyone,
Recently I've wanted to start on an outdoor railroad for my G scale trains.  What I'm planning to do is not going to be permanent (at least for the time being) as I plan to set it up this summer and take it down again in the fall.  My plans are to do a simple oval of track with a couple sidings in places.  The dimensions should be 68' x 32'.  I plan to use Bachmann brass track which will be placed on top of bricks.  As this project is still in the planning stage, I had a few questions I wanted to ask.

1. How many square feet is a 1/4 circle of Bachmann's 8' curves?
2. Is it ok to use Bachmann's 4' turnouts with stock that requires 8' radius curves?
3. Should 3' straights or 1' straights be used for this project?
4. Would a 1amp power supply be enough to power this railroad if only running 1 train?
5. Can the track be cleaned by hand, or would it be a good idea to invest in a track cleaning car?

Here are photos of the area I plan to set things up.  The yellow posts mark out the area for the track.  Please ignore my procrastination on lawn care.




Any helpful advice would be very much appreciated.

-Rusty
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"If you're absent during my struggle, don't expect to be present during my success..."
foureyes

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« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2016, 01:29:23 AM »

One quarter of a circle with an 8 foot radius has an area of .25(3.14.6 times (8 times Cool or approximately 59  feet.  Use 3 foot sections -- it's lots cheaper to use four joiners as opposed to eight!  I wouldn't use 4 foot radius if I planned to use long cars.  Either make bigger curves or use two axle cars.  AND NO "Big Boys."  The switches will need a short straight piece after the curved section at least as long as your longest cars to prevent the dreaded "ess curve."

I don't think 1 Amp will be near enough but if you must use one, plan to run jumpers to at least two other spots on your loop.

Don't waste money on a track cleaning car, unless you can get it REALLY cheap.  A lot of us use a drywall sander (I put Scotchbrite pads on mine to reduce scratching the rail) just walk around the layout.  You might put few drops of Dexron III automatic transmission fluid on the rails as you clean the track.
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Chuck N

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« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2016, 09:01:20 AM »

PB

You don't say what scale(s) are you planning to run?

If you are going to run 1:22.5/24 trains, Bachmann BIG HAULER, classic LGB narrow gauge, Delton, etc., 8' diameter will be fine.  If you want to run 1:20.3 (Bachmann Spectrum) or 1:29 (models representing standard gauge prototypes) you will need a minimum of 10' diameter.  These larger cars and engines will look a lot better on larger curves.  I run trains in all three of the above scales and I wish I had put in larger curves.  My mainline curves are 10' diamter.  The 1:29 engines and rolling stock have a lot of overhang.

Overhang of 1:29 engine and passenger car on 10' diameter curve.



The recommendation that we all make when helping beginners, is to use the largest diameter curve that will fit into the space.  You will not regret going big.  Our trains tend to grow bigger in all the sunshine and fresh air.


1. How many square feet is a 1/4 circle of Bachmann's 8' curves?

See Foureyes comment above.


2. Is it ok to use Bachmann's 4' turnouts with stock that requires 8' radius curves?

Do you mean diameter or radius? 

No.  I am using LGB 18000 switches (15' diameter) on my layout.  Rolling stock designed for 8' diameter curves will in all likely hood derail going through the 4' diameter switches.
 
3. Should 3' straights or 1' straights be used for this project?

Yes, the longer the better

4. Would a 1 amp power supply be enough to power this railroad if only running 1 train?

It all depends.  A small engine with one motor, no lights, smoke or sound pulling a short train will probably work.  I'd recommend a minimum of 5 amps, 10 would be better.

5. Can the track be cleaned by hand, or would it be a good idea to invest in a track cleaning car?

I second the previous post.  I have used a drywall sander with a green ScotchBrite pad for over 30 years.  It is easy to use, quick, and inexpensive,

Here are some pictures of my setup for track cleaning.  Pictures were taken on my temporary layout in Arizona.











Keep asking questions.

Chuck
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 09:50:29 AM by Chuck N » Logged
Plow_Bender


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« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2016, 10:17:37 AM »

Good morning,
A lot of what I have in my large scale collection is mainly Bachmann Big Haulers stock, Thomas & Friends, and 1:20.3 Spectrum models.  Pretty much everything I have works on 4' diameter curves, but 8' would be the better option considering not everything I have can work on anything smaller.  Personally I'd like to stick with Bachmann's 8' diameter brass track for this railroad.

The only thing I've noticed when pricing 3' straights vs. 1' straights, is the cost is pretty high on 3'.  When doing the math of what I need, 56 pieces of 3' are required which comes to a total of $1,729.  Now with 1' straights, I need 168 pieces (12 per box) which comes to a total of $1,357.  Personally I feel that 1' straights are the way to go even if I've got to take a little extra time to join everything together.

In reply to Chuck's question on turnouts, I'm referring to using Bachmann's 30 degree 4' diameter turnouts.  I can see foureyes has mentioned that straight(s) will need added to the turnout for larger models.

I'm going to say that a 1 amp power supply isn't going to be enough to power this size of a railroad after reading Chuck's post.  Some of my engines are small, but all my big hauler and Spectrum models have lights, sound, smoke, ETC.  I'm pretty sure all that would be sure to cause problems if trying to run a model on a 1 amp power supply.

In terms of cleaning the track, a ScotchBrite sounds way better than going out and buying a track cleaning car.  In the past I have used a paper towel with rubbing alcohol, but on a railroad that's 32' x 68, that's going to take some time.

Thoughts?

-Rusty
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Chuck N

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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2016, 10:50:48 AM »

Rusty

Working on 4' diameter curves and running on them for a long time are two very different things.  The tight 4' diameter curves add a lot of friction to the wheels.  This causes wear on the track, motor and gears.  In my opinion those curves are ideal for very short trains under a Christmas tree once a year.  Regular use will shorten the life of the engines and the track.

A friend of mine has a layout that contains a loop or 4' diameter curves, surrounded by loops with larger diameters.  He has to replace his curves every couple of years, because the wheels on the engine slowly grind down the railhead.  Metal wheels on the cars will add to the removal of rail. If you run  cars with plastic wheels, the flanges will gradually be worn away.

Here is a picture of his track.  Notice the inside edge of the rail head in inside the top of the rail joiner.



My mainline is about 90' long,  It take about a minute to polish the track with the drywall sander and green ScotchBrite pad.

Chuck
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Chuck N

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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2016, 10:52:14 AM »

Rusty


Working on 4' diameter curves and running on them for a long time are two very different things.  The tight 4' diameter curves add a lot of friction to the wheels.  This causes wear on the track, motor and gears.  In my opinion those curves are ideal for very short trains under a Christmas tree once a year.  Regular use will shorten the life of the engines and the track.

A friend of mine has a layout that contains a loop or 4' diameter curves, surrounded by loops with larger diameters.  He has to replace his curves every couple of years, because the wheels on the engine slowly grind down the railhead.  Metal wheels on the cars will add to the removal of rail. If you run  cars with plastic wheels, the flanges will gradually be worn away.

Here is a picture of his track.  Notice the inside edge of the rail head in inside the top of the rail joiner.  With time the gauge becomes to large and the rolling stock drops down between the rails.



My mainline is about 90' long,  It take about a minute to polish the track with the drywall sander and green ScotchBrite pad.

Chuck

Sorry, I made a  change to the original post, and rather than saving it, it got posted a second time.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 10:54:30 AM by Chuck N » Logged
Chuck N

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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2016, 11:04:19 AM »

Rusty

If you doubt that engine wheels can't grind brass rail, here is a picture of a section of track that had an engine stuck on it for a while before the owner noticed that the train wasn't moving.



Chuck
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Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2016, 12:00:51 PM »

Rusty,

You will forever regret going with 1 foot sections.  Over time and with the normal weather effects, the large number of joints will give you so much trouble electrically you will want to leave the hobby!!  In just a few years time on my original track powered railroad I had to use rail clamps on most of my joints just to keep electrical continuity.  Tracking down electrical problems and figuring out which joint(s) are causing the problem is miserable work.  Don't do 1 foot pieces.  Rail clamps are expensive, and would be a huge cost for every foot.   I strongly recommend rail clamps at every joint to avoid misery later.  Mother nature is very tough on rail joints.

 I also strongly recommend going with 5 foot radius (10 ft diameter) curves, and wide radius switches. You will never regret going wider.  Going with 4 foot radius curves was one of the biggest regrets I had, and I eventually rebuilt my entire railroad with wider curves and switches at considerable expense.

Definitely go with a higher Amp power supply, and be safe and use a Ground fault outlet when using it.

Loco Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
JerryB

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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2016, 02:46:22 PM »

Like Bill advised, going with 1' sections sets you up for a great deal of frustration and unhappiness. Doubly so when you are planning to use track power.

Even the longer sections are subject to loss of electrical contact in the great outdoors. That is the disadvantage of slip joiners. You will eventually find that you need to equip your track with some type of rail clamps to solve the contact problems. Whether you use rail clamps now, or add them as contact problems occur, you only need 1/3 the number of clamps for the longer sections.

I use quite a bit of 4' radius (NOT diameter) curves and turnouts, but my RR is based on logging, mining and construction, with short passenger cars. I use short wheelbase or geared locomotives (Shays, Heisler and small diesels). If you plan to run long wheelbase locomotives and equipment as in mainline steam and long passenger cars, you should definitely use the largest radius curves you can fit in.

Happy RRing,

Jerry
« Last Edit: May 04, 2016, 02:48:45 PM by JerryB » Logged

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Plow_Bender


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« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2016, 01:28:28 PM »

Alright everyone, here's what I've come up with.  I'd be very happy to hear your thoughts.

The biggest locomotives I'll be running are the Bachmann 4-6-0 and (if by some big chance of luck I actually get one) the Bachmann Two-Truck Climax.  Along the lines of rolling stock, my biggest pieces are the Jackson Sharp coaches and the 1:20:3 long caboose.  Now that being the case, I'm planning to go with Bachmann 8' diameter (or 4' radius) curves.  Now since Bachmann doesn't have turnouts any larger than 4' diameter, I need to find some elsewhere.  Any ideas?

After reading Bill and Jerry's posts, I'm out on the 1' sections.  I'm definitely going with the 3' sections instead, but because of the price and considering the layout I want to build will only be temporary (for this year at least), I think I'm going to go with making the setup about 45' x 32' to save on having to buy several more 3' sections.  I'm still looking at about $1,000 worth of track, but I think I can work with that.

As long as I've got something decent size to run trains on for the summer, that'll pretty much make me happy.  Hopefully next year I can get something set up that can be used year round.

-Rusty
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JerryB

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« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2016, 03:14:46 PM »

IMO, good decisions.

A pretty good match for turnouts is the LGB 16000, what LGB terms R3. Very close to 4' radius and available in manual and (electric) remote control. I use the manual ones with Bachmann's large scale switch stand. I also have some with pneumatic switch machines where I can't easily reach them. I have completely avoided electrical systems, except for building lighting. I use a commercial low voltage timer controlled system for that.

The 16000 LGB manual turnouts seem to be out of stock at the places I looked, but several say new stock due in 2nd quarter 2016. Hopefully that will meet your needs, or someone will give you some other ideas.

Good luck & Happy RRing,

Jerry
« Last Edit: May 05, 2016, 03:16:22 PM by JerryB » Logged

Sequoia Pacific RR in 1:20 / 70.6mm
Boonville Light & Power Co. in 1:20 / 45mm
Navarro Engineering & Construction Co. in 1:20 / 32mm
NMRA Life Member #3370
Member: Bay Area Electric Railway Association
Member: Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources
Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #11 on: May 05, 2016, 05:57:17 PM »

Since you need larger than 4 foot radius switches.  There are the Aristo Craft "Wide Radius Switches" basically 5 foot radius.  They are back in stock  Google "Polk's Generation Next" they are in stock at $86, but you can get them at RLD Hobbies for about $51.  http://rldhobbies.com/art30380.aspx .  They work fine with the Bachmann track you have.

Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
Plow_Bender


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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2016, 08:17:31 PM »

Hey again,
The project seems to be coming along.  Slowly, but I am making progress.  Just received my 8' curves today for $124 delivered to my door.  Not a bad price, and I'm also currently looking at 3' straights I found for $159 for a pack of 12.  No word on the turnouts yet.

I did want to ask a question about the trains I'll be running.  Do I need to be worried about the sun fading the paint?  As most people probably do, I won't be leaving the trains outside 24/7 and will be taking them in during the night.  My big fear though is that over time running them outside that the sun might fade the paint.  Anyone out there that can help answer my question on this issue?

-Rusty
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Chuck N

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« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2016, 08:43:48 PM »

Some manufacturers cars may fade faster than others.  So I have heard.  Since my layout is mostly in the shade I haven't worried about it.  The only exposure problems have been hail.  I had $1000 worth of damage to my train in Lakewood, Co, many years ago.  Bring them in after running, you should be fine.  Just don't leave them out in the sun when you are not running for days

Chuck

Caboose (Delton) and coach (LGB) after a hail storm.



Where do you live?  Your regional climate will effect everything.  If we knew where you are located, we could offer better advice.  Arizona effects things differently than Maine.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2016, 10:42:33 PM by Chuck N » Logged
Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947


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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2016, 05:33:47 PM »

HI,

Left out over time they will definitely fade, but if run for say 36 weekends and put away they will last much longer, but not forever.  I have had a brand of track(not Bachmann) where the sun destroyed the ties after 12 years in service.  They must not have bee treated very well to resist the sun.   It seemed to affect only two boxes of track, and the other track of the same brand was just fine.  I built a 10 x 12 shed and ran the trains thru a hole to the inside where I put in a storage yard.  I also had a workbench and used it to store my buildings during the winter.  All my plastic buildings (even the expensive one)faded within 7 years, even with bringing them in over winter.  My scratch built wooden buildings painted with outdoor paint and assembled with Titebond III glue lasted 12 yrars before repainting.  Buildings and black painted roil;ling stock was more likely to get soft in high heat (above 95 degrees). flatcars would sag in the middle, thin plastic flat black roofs would curl up.  I painted roofs light gray and it helped a lot.  Not only hail, but a walnut falling from 30 feet or higher will definitely damage plastic if hit in a vulnerable spot, like reefer roof hatch, roof walk end or caboose end overhang.  One year on my Son's layout, hail did over $25000 damage to his home and wrecked the buildings,and many of the plastic ties.  Luckily, insurance did cover everything, even his track damage, and building damage. The trains were all inside.

Start to think like a real railroad,  maintenance , drainage, keeping track level and true, fighting flood, washouts, wind etc is important to having great operating sessions.  A club member once had me over to see what was wrong with his 4-6-0 and other steamers because they were derailing all the time.  He was having no trouble with his F7 diesels.  One look at the track and I new immediately the problem was not the steam locomotives but the poorly maintained track.  Not only did the track undulate, but it was not level from side to side.  Not level from side to side on straight is bad enough, but totally deadly on curves for a steamer, even with blind center drivers.  The tighter the curves the greater the problem.  Diesels with their short wheel base trucks are more tolerant to bad track.  Mother nature can really dish it out at times.

Enough for now!!

Loco Bill
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Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway Missouri Western Railway
Semi Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
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