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Thread: N Scale Coffee Table Layout

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    Default N Scale Coffee Table Layout

    So, I'm new to the forum and getting back into creating a model railroad for the first time in 10 years or so. My wife would like me to convert our coffee table into the layout. Unfortunately the coffee table is a bit on the narrow side. The dimensions are 18.5" X 42". I realize that puts me inside the 9 3/4" standard turns. So my first question is for those who have done tighter than normal turns, do you have any lessons learned? Is there a radius that you wouldn't go less than? Is there a length of car you won't go bigger than for those tight turns?

    The other question is, does anyone have any layout ideas? I want to at least have a loop built into the layout so that we can turn it on and have it go round and round. I have no issues with running sidings or switches. I also have about 10" of vertical space (most likely about 8" remaining after the base board and the glass on top).

    By reading some of the posts on here, it sounds like people enjoy coming up with some new layouts, and so I am up for ideas.

    Thanks in advance for the help.

    Kobyra

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    What kind of locos will you be running?
    Long steamers will be challeged but some smaller diesels should be able to handle it.

    Search "n scale coffee table layouts" - images, and see what comes up. Are you a Model Railroader subscriber? They have bonus subscriber content with many track plans.

    Welcome and Good luck!
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    Are you stuck with that coffee table? No chance you could get a wider one?

    You might consider building a switching puzzle layout such as an Inglenook.
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    Hmm, even though the size is more suitable for a switching layout, I'd think that a coffee table layout needs to have some sort of continous running as most times you'd just want to enjoy the trains running around as you sip your coffee. ;-)

    You can do tighter turns, but that limits your equipment. It also depends on what you want to do. For example, if you want to do an urban scene, all the trolleys available in the market will happily go around those curves. If you want passenger trains rolling through scenery, you'd be limiting yourself to small steamers with the 40' long old-timer cars. As for freight, you'd want to stick with 40' cars and small steamers or 4-axle diesels. One thing that might look very nice is an iron-ore train winding through scenery. The ore hoppers are typically shorter than 40' and you'd be able to accommodate longer (more cars) trains.

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    Hmm, I've been playing around in XTrackCAD with those dimensions and if you put a loop, there's little else you can fit on a footprint that small. Maybe one spur.

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    Just to give you some ideas, here are two I came up with when I was playing around with the idea of having an office layout. One is a small coal loader, the other is a small rural station with an industry. Both of these were designed to be put up against the wall, so you can shift things around and make another scenic section in the back instead of having half the loop hidden.

    i3.jpg

    i4.jpg

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    I am accustomed to seeing coffee table layouts in which the layout is recessed into a space under a glass top. This means that there is some allowance required for the width of the frame. Is this how you are conceiving your layout, or are you just assuming it will be built on top of an existing coffee table surface? Is there any potential to exceed those dimensions by building some overhanging benchwork?

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    Kobyra,

    Here a plan and photo that fit your dimensions. This in not my design and I do not know the original designer.



    Dwyane Ward | Fairview, TX
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    Texas & Pacific - Bonham Division in N Scale

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    Welcome to the asylum!

    You'll get the best results the more you tell us. Many people are stuck in thinking no matter the size a layout must be designed as if it should fill a basement. Or that only a switching puzzle fits in a small space. But incredible layouts can be built in such a huge space as you've got. You can run more than most people believe. Kato tests their locos on a 8" radius. Please tell us what you want, the scenery to include and what parts of model railroading appeal to you. You building something, we spec for you, will never make you happy.

    A great place for inspiration is http://www.carendt.com/ Carl introduced and promoted model railroading in all scale in less than four square feet.

    My gallery is filled with plans and actual layouts that are huge and tiny. A streetcar layout my be a bit much as a first project. But there are lots of resources to create such a layout. My 1x2 Snowton and Garfield Ridge Streetcar Museum are currently wired for overhead power. The 2x4 Archer Heights layout is yet to get it's poles and wire but it fits inside a under bed storage container. In the Plans For Other Members album there are plans for all kinds of spaces.

    Most important of all let us know what kind of layout you want to make. the best thing is try doing the designs on your own and seeing what we say about them to make them better.

    We have several links to Track Planning Software here…
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/links/browselinks.php?c=9
    Some are even free!
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    Maybe consider a traction layout with Tomix track that has really tight radius. Run street cars and make a boxcab for switching some frieght cars.

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    Thanks to all of you for the quick responses!

    As for the vision I am going for. After looking through a bunch of websites for ideas, I think the valley/mountain with a small town is what appeals to me the most. I definately like the look of steam engines more than diesel, but I also realize that I am building in a confined location and would be willing to build something a little more modern. Most of my current rolling stock is lumber and coal related. Like I posted earlier, I am mainly insterested in a loop type layout. It can have some sidings and switches, but can mainly run in circles for hours on end. The other idea I had was to have a spur coming off the mainline right up to the edge so that I can have access to the cars without having to remove the glass top. Basically be able to load/unload the cars on the spur through a door on the side.

    This coffee table is the one I've got. I thought it would be doable if just a little narrow. It does have a recessed space underneath glass. So the vision is to have the train in the valley with an overall god's eye view. The dimensions that I posted earlier are the usable area for track and scenery. I took about a little for the benchwork and construction.

    While I was researching ideas, I came across http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthread.php?18077-Coffee-table-layout
    This is definately along the lines of what I am looking to do.
    Thanks again for all the help.

    James

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    Quote Originally Posted by kobyra View Post
    Thanks to all of you for the quick responses!
    While I was researching ideas, I came across http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthread.php?18077-Coffee-table-layout
    This is definately along the lines of what I am looking to do.
    Thanks again for all the help.
    James
    That is a nice looking layout with a bit more scenic interest. Hopefully, you can reduce the curve radius to fit your table.

    Here is a bit more inspiration. This is a flickr account of a very talented modeler, scratch builder and kitbasher:
    https://picasaweb.google.com/ErieChr...78126352684290
    It is 2X4 but could easily be reduced...
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler..............Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life..............Web-Folio

    Two inebriated tourists were walking upgrade along the tracks. One of them said, "This is is longest stairway I have ever been on." To this, the other replied, "It's not the stairs that bother me, it's the low banister."


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    If your really concerend about the space, perhaps the Kato Unitram sets could be a way to go... might not be your style but it certaintly fits!!!
    And welcome to the N"porium!!
    The destination is just the end, the journey, is what it is all about.

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    Although the plan is much larger than the space you've got . Look up Sandman007's layout plans and experiments. He tested several of the smaller steamers on tight radius curves. In my own tests I found that among switchers most have no problem with 140mm(5.5in) radius curves and the Atlas MP-15(rather modern) will handle 103mm(4in) curves. The NW2 is one of the earliest diesels. Sadly the Bachmann GE 44 and 70 ton locos can only handle 140mm curves. Their prototypes could handle 50 foot radius ones used in industrial yards.

    If you want a unique loco you can build a boxcab. These were the earliest diesels being sold in 1920s. They are an easy kitbash and many articles and posts have been written about the process. You can start with a newer switcher or Kato 11-105, 106, 107 chassis. The Kato chassis is designed to run on the 103mm curves. If you want a small backwater railroad the design is up to you. RandGust makes some really neat Teakettles and Critters that are well suited for small layouts.

    Check out this website for more information on Tomix track… http://www.trainweb.org/tomix The tight curves are the Mini Fine Track line. For tracks in streets the Wide Tram Track line is recommended. You can get it from Plaza Japan on eBay, Hobby Search Japan http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/rail/, www.BTtrains.com in the U.S.A. and soon from your local Walthers dealer.

    The smaller the loco and equipment, the larger the layout looks.
    Last edited by ChicagoNW; 21st Dec 2012 at 03:57 PM.
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