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Thread: GSRR 2X4 Layout

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    Default GSRR 2X4 Layout

    38 years ago I had an N-scale train layout. I spent most ofthe last 38 years racing RC Cars in my hobby time. That's where the MystRacing screen name came from. Though I also built wood ship models, plasticmodels, converted my milling machine to CNC and a few other things along the way.

    Recently I decided to get back into trains. Through the years I’ve been a casual model train guy. The interest was always there, but I’m a person who likes to build things, I’m not much for looking at them when they’re done. With the advent of DCC and computer control I have decided to jump back in because I still love to build things and I love playing with automation.

    Enough about me; I spent a lot of time trying to plan out what I wanted. Did a lot of reading and decided I should build a small test layout. I started with a 2’x4’ and thought I’d just throw something together to test some of the new to me products etc. Then I decided that was too small and went to a 36” x 80” door. Then decided if I was going that big I should just build a 5X10 or 4X8. I finally dropped back to the 2’ X 4’ test layout mostly to make mistakes on, so I can do it correctly when I build a bigger layout. Not to mention I didn’t want to get lost in an overwhelming project right off the bat,I clearly have a lot to learn.

    I did a lot of track planning and came up with the layout below. To give credit where it’s do the layout is basically the up and over dog bone plan from Mikes Small Track plans page. With a couple cross overs to create two reversing loops. I’m using Atlas Code 80 flex with Peco turnouts (mostly the short set track ones, ST-5, ST-6),and Peco turnout solenoids. The turnouts will be controlled by a CTI switchman module. Below is the basic criteria I used to come up with this plan.

    1. Needs to be complex enough to warrant computer control, so I can test the system and work on programming for signals etc.
    2. I wanted it to be small so it wouldn’t take forever to get something together.
    3. I wanted a grade change and tunnels, to test the sub terrain system.
    4. I want to build a pond and waterfall etc. to see if I like my water feature results.
    5. I also wanted enough turnouts to make a mess out of programming the thing to operate 5 or 6 locos at a time.
    6. I wanted at least one reversing section, I just can’t deal with not being able to turn the train around.
    7. The biggest loco I have is a SD9. I’m looking at the early 70’s for my time period. Seven of my locos are 4 axle GP20-GP35 style with mostly 40’ rolling stock so the tightcorners on this layout should be alright, the inner loops are 9.25” radius.
    8. I’m not a hardcore prototype guy but like to keep the illusion of reality, I don’t want a 90’s loco on a 70’s layout; however, if Southern Pacific never had a 120 Ton Crane I don’t care, they will on my layout.




    Because of the long term plans I have a super chief and 2 reversing boosters. I also bought the CTI train brain starter set and a couple expansion cards. Eventually they’ll end up on a more elaborate layout. I also got a little carried away and bought 9 locomotives and installed decoders in them and have enough rolling stock to cover the entire track on this little layout.
    I used anyrail to produce the layout above and then imported the picture into AutoCad and did an Acad drawing of the layout, this enabled me to print the layout on a piece of paper and then use it to transfer my riser layout to the plywood by making dots along the lines with a sharpie.






    Here was my first obvious mistake, I definitely did not needto raise the entire area 2”. ” would have been plenty. That decision was partly a mistake and partly because I bought a bunch of 2” risers when I was planning the door sized layout and decided I did not want to buy more for a smaller layout so I just used what I had. Here’s how it looked after I glued the risers and inclines down.



    The incline is a 3% grade, that’s the only way I could get over the other track in such a short area. The guy at the local hobby shop about had a heart attack when I told him I wanted a 3% incline set. He reacted so harsh I went home without it and setup a test section at 3%. All nine of my locos will pull 10 cars up a 3%. Point being, check your locos before believing they won’t pull more than a 2% grade.

    Next thing I did was add profile boards and cut and fit my tunnel entrances and bridge abutments. Then I added the wall by the upper tunnel and plastered the roadway in the tunnels.








    I glued on the foam road bed. Then added the track in tunnels over this last weekend.










    In closing my initial posting on this layout, I have a few thoughts on the sub-terrain system. It’s definitely much easier than traditional methods. The only drawback I’ve seen so far is cost. Coming from much more expensive hobbies, it doesn’t deter me much, but I could do the same layout with foam and cardboard for the price probably.

    I'm going to use CTI's DCC block occupancy sensors for the three blocks of track I.ve installed here. The sensors attach to the wires under the table si I don't have to put sensors in the tunnels. I’ve already succeeded in operating my dcc locos from the computer via the CTI – Digitrax interface but haven’t messed with any of the sensors yet. I should test that out before I close up the tunnels. I also realized after I started laying the track that I should have painted the tunnel entrance areas black before I put the track down. At least I realized it before adding the roofs etc.
    Last edited by MystRacing; 12th Mar 2012 at 11:48 PM.
    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

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    My 2'x4' Layout - Here 2013 Shelf-ish Challenge 2 Square feet - Here

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    That looks really good for a 2x4 layout! You said you tested your engines up a 3% grade, but combining a tight curve and such a grade is another matter. Once you can, it might be good to test what you can haul up and around the bend. Then again, you're committed at this point, so maybe you'll just have to live within whatever limitations are imposed. Either shorter trains, or else multiple-engine consists.

    In model railroad terms, 3% is not that uncommon, I'm not sure why the hobby shop dude would have expressed such surprise. You'll probably start seeing marked differences between makes and models of engines, in terms of what can pull the best, and you may find that you have a need for traction enhancements like tires or Bullfrog Snot.

    For filling out the rest of the terrain, a $5 spray bottle of "Great Stuff" expanding foam sealer would do ya - if you're up for the adventure of squirting out stuff that's like whipped cream and not knowing exactly what shape it will end up as! It's easy to carve, though, easier than rigid foam, and the randomness when it expands can create neat scenic opportunities. Plus, it would fill in all the odd nooks and crannies you've got going on. It would need a topping coat of some kind of plaster or papier-mache, such as Sculptamold or my own preference of Cell-U-Clay mixed with drywall mud. Or, if you intend to go the plaster-soaked towels method I guess that could be applied over expanding foam, too. I prefer my "soft" plaster mix over expanding foam because it is easily controllable and can be reworked later by re-wetting it, and I can work in small batches; with hydrocal or other "hard" plasters, you've got to get the blend of water to plaster right, apply it all within a set time frame, and reworking it means replacing it.

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    nice looking layout for such a small space. John Armstrong has it in his book on track planning for realistic ops that a 4% grade is ok in a lot of instances in model rring. As stated above, curves introduce side thrust in all railroading including models so 3% might limit your train length. then again, on a 2x4 layout too long a train will only catch itself!
    Yours,

    Gene

    Turtle Creek Industrial RR

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    WP&P - Thanks for the idea on the "Great Stuff" I hadn't even considered that but I've used it for it's intended purpose. I think it would be a great way to go from where I am now. I had all that riser foam and wanted to use it but definately didn't really have a plan for filling it in. The lack of control may be just what I need. I'm a very technical guy and when I try to get artistic I've found the key is letting go of that desire to totally control the outcome.

    I figured with his layout I wouldn't be pulling more than 4 or 5 cars in a train. To me it looks kind of funny when the train is as long as the layout.
    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

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    My 2'x4' Layout - Here 2013 Shelf-ish Challenge 2 Square feet - Here

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    The "Great Stuff" is cheaper than I was thinking - I saw it at Meijer tonight while I was shopping for just under $3. As for the lack of control, be fully expecting to carve away quite a lot of it after it has had a full day to cure. It will come out very blobby, like the intestines that spilled out of Han Solo's poor Tauntan when he had to rescue Luke from the hard freeze on Hoth. But you just take an old steak knife to it and it cuts away easily; I basically just cut the tops off of each blob to get a more smooth slope. You can reuse the shavings by embedding them in the next spray application, but in your case with a layout this small you might not have more than one or two applications!

    Be sure that your tunnels, though, are completely enclosed with material that won't deform when the foam expands around it. If you want to make the top of a mountain removable for access, what you can do is just foam it all in, then slice through it with a long-enough knife, to get a perfect-fitting plug.

    If you must use a partial can and want to save the rest for later, it is feasible. What I've done is cut the included long nozzle back to just about one inch in length, and then use drinking straws collected from fast food visits to form a throw-away long nozzle. After the first application, leave the straw/nozzle on, but find something to plug it (I've just used a drywall screw since its shaft fits well inside the straw). The dregs of foam will cure in the nozzle, but not all the way back; where it cures near the end it will protect the uncured foam further back. That way, when it's time for the second application, you just remove the straw and replace it with a fresh straw, good to go.

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    ...like the intestines that spilled out of Han Solo's poor Tauntan when he had to rescue Luke from the hard freeze on Hoth.
    Excellent Star Wars reference, WP&P.

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    That does look good for a 2X4. As for the grade, I wouldn't really worry about 4% - there are more than one example in real life railroads having 7% and more grade (Brusio Viaduct for example, I recently visited famous DHR in North East India where I traveled on similar steep grades). If pullin power is a problem, you can always double-head it! It actually looks cool!

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    Well I'm finally getting around to doing an update. These pics are already behind where I'm at now. At any rate.

    The next thing I did was paint the iniside of the tunnels black.



    I decided I needed to widen the canyon area near the face of the lower tunnel to get my planned creek along the side of the rail line. I cut the bridge crossing area on a skew. I've never seen a railroad bridge that was built on a skew. Makes me think the idea of scratch building a skewed bridge wouldn't really make sense. Fortunately there is a bridge here over the Colorado river that has skewed abutments. The bridge itself is squared on the ends but the abutment walls are skewed to match the river bank. So here's how I cut it.





    My next move was to cover the tunnels with foam. I have access on all three sides where the tunnels are.



    I then cut the stream into the foam along the side of the canyon area. You can see the pond area at the top and the stream to the lower waterfall.



    I filled in a lot of the areas with foam as much because I had it as any other reason. I'm not a pack rat type so anything I didn't use was going in the trash being as I wouldn't have need for more for at least 6 months. I don't live on a farm with a big barn so I can't keep everyting laying around just in case.



    I spent the rest of this day trimming and tweaking WS plaster walls and tunnel portals. I decided it would be best to just run the wall all the way fron the tunnel to the bridge.



    I added a culvert headwall to my lower pond area seen below.

    Last edited by MystRacing; 5th Apr 2012 at 10:15 AM.
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    The next morning I started doing plaster cloth. After giving alot of consideration to the idea of using the expanding foam I decided to just go with the newspaper because I was concerned about the foam collapsing my tunnels as it expanded. I didn't get pitures until I was partially done but this gets the idea.



    It took me about 4 hours to get 2 layers of the plaster cloth over everything. I'm really happy with how most of it turned out. I really like the tunnel entrances.



    Below are a couple overall views at the end of this day.


    It became clear to me in the process of laying the plaster cloth that I had a grade problem coming into my yard area. The bowl area on the bottom of the picture below is supposed to have spurs in it. I hope to get more pictures processed that show what I came up with for a solution.



    This picture shows how the stream and ponds come together. The idea is to make a rock wall across the front of the mountain and have the stream come off the top with a waterfall into and out of the upper pond and then another waterfall to the lower stream.

    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

    Those who say it can't be done should stay out of the way of those who are doing it.

    My 2'x4' Layout - Here 2013 Shelf-ish Challenge 2 Square feet - Here

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    Mystracing.
    So you don't have to do a lot of engine turning, do what I and the real guys do. Run two engines together rear to rear.
    Or even three since with DCC you will be able to match some of them. Especially with a PR3 and JMRI.
    That way they are always pointing in the correct direction. Only the crews have to change to what ever engine is in front.

    For model railroading the great advantage is that there is more electrical pickup and if one engine looses momentary electrical contact the other will pull or push it past the problem spot.

    Then if lose of electric contact starts to happen often, you will know it is time for a quick wheel cleaning.

    ---------- Post added 4th Apr 2012 at 04:33 PM ----------

    Oh, one more thing.
    The layout is looking good!
    http://s567.photobucket.com/albums/s...ice/?start=all
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    I know of at least one skewed bridge and one that is on a curve. both are thru girder types.
    Yours,

    Gene

    Turtle Creek Industrial RR

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    Lake - I like the idea of multiple engines but the layout is so small I'd have as many locos as cars. On my bigger layout I'm definately planning on doing that and I didn't think about the electrical advantage thanks.

    Gene - Thanks for telling me there is at least one skewed bridge in real life, thats enough for me to go ahead with one.
    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

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    Oh, what a difference a little plaster cloth makes. That is going to be one fine looking layout.

    I do like the way the ponds and waterfalls are working out, that will add some great visual interest.

    TrainCat sells a skewed through-truss bridge. I have a Flickr photo set of bridges in this area that includes a couple of different RR bridges set on an angle... including a ballasted deck girder and an open deck girder.
    Check out the CH&FR Blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed (@CHFRRailroad)
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    I decided to go ahead and lay out the roadbed for my track. I had a couple issues when I was doing this. The first was my plaster job was a little rough, I was able to take care of that pretty easily with some sandpaper. I did that job outside to keep the dust out of the garage. The other was on my grade transitions were to harsh coming into the center area. I built up the left side of the bowl area to make the grade transistion fron the mainline reasonable.






    Next up was molding some plaster rocks. I used the woodland scenics lightweight hydrocal and thier rubber molds for the rocks. It sure makes it easy.



    I got a little carried away and threw some washes on some of the rock before I was done putting the rock up. I also spent a day off building and weathering my wreck train. I just set it on the layout for a couple photos the track isn't layed yet.






    Last night I finished glueing my rocks on where I wanted the rock walls. Next I'll need to paint the new rocks to match the others.



    In this picture you can see on the dark tunnel entrance on the left side the big white area. The more experienced will probably recognize that as a glue smear that kept the plaster from taking the color in the paint wash. I have way more of this than I had hoped on the lower walls. I'm planning on getting the airbrush out in the next couple days and attempting to fix that.



    A closeup of the upper wall



    And here's an overall view of how it sits now.

    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

    Those who say it can't be done should stay out of the way of those who are doing it.

    My 2'x4' Layout - Here 2013 Shelf-ish Challenge 2 Square feet - Here

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    Well I just finished up in the garage. I first finished washing the rock walls on my layout. I used the woodland scenics instructions and thier washes (Yellow Ocre, Burnt Umber, Raw Umber and Black) then took my airbrush and sprayed some Polyscale dirt in the gaps where the washes didn't do the job I would hope. Here's the upper wall.



    I then repainted the tunnel entrances and walls with the airbrush. I didn't like the yellow or the gray above all that much and needed something to cover the glue so I went with polyscale paints. I used a combination of white, then dirt, then lark dark gray, then used oily black for the dark areas above the tunnel. They really blend in more than I wanted but I like them better than the washes. I'll probably go back t the washes on my next layout but I'll try using the Burnt ocre more and not use the rock gray that I used on the lower tunnels. I'll also be more careful with the glue around the plaster.



    A picture from the lower level.



    Here's the lower tunnel entrance past the lower waterfall.

    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

    Those who say it can't be done should stay out of the way of those who are doing it.

    My 2'x4' Layout - Here 2013 Shelf-ish Challenge 2 Square feet - Here

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    Looks pretty awesome so far, I like the wrecker train too.

    Keep up the good work!
    Tim

    Shoot for the stars, anything less and your selling yourself short...

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    I got some track layed out this weekend. Friday I decided to make sure I could get the computer to operate a turnout, so the fun ensued.

    I decided to use Peco turnout motors because I was using peco switches. I've since decided servo's are probably a better solution but I already have the dual relay machines so off I wen't

    The first thing I did was attach the turnout to the motor. I do really like how easy it is to attach these. I cut the extra tab off the outside of the switch motor so I could do scenery over the top of it.







    I wired the gray wire to the common. With the CTI System it's actually the positive side. I wen't with Blue and Purple for the signals. I set the switches so the purple will follow the main line.



    Next I set up my electronics to operate a switch. I think it would be hard to find a more complicated way to turn a relay on, but hey it was fun.



    I then tested operating two turnouts at the same time for the crossovers. With the CTI system the trainbrain handles this operation perfectly.



    This is a photo of installing the front crossover with the feeders. I decided to use the rail joiners for the feeders. In the tunnels I soldered direct to the track which is a real pain with flex track on a curve. To be honest I think if I do another small layout with tight curves i'll just use sectional track. The flex is a bit of a challenge on tight curves, and almost every section on this layout has to be cut.



    And here's the installed crossover.



    Here's a closeup of the hole required for a top down installation, it should be pretty easy to fill this in.




    And a picture of how far I got today. This is pretty tedious work with 8 turnouts on a 2X4 layout. It is getting easier with th experience of course.

    Attached Images Attached Images
    Jodie - CEO East Creek Branch.

    Those who say it can't be done should stay out of the way of those who are doing it.

    My 2'x4' Layout - Here 2013 Shelf-ish Challenge 2 Square feet - Here

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    looking good,comming together real nice.

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    You are doing some really nice work, thanks for keeping us updated.

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    I love the rock wall looks really good
    Chad

    Chadsworth, A BN & Monon Railroad - http://www.nscale.net/forums/album.php?albumid=445


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