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Thread: New and need some advice on passenger car lengths

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    Default New and need some advice on passenger car lengths

    Hi-

    New to this forum and I apologize for the new-bee-ness nature of this multi-part question
    but can't find a definitive answer by searching online.

    Have very limited space for an N layout on a coffee table 32 x 52" but am determined
    to build one for my grandson this Christmas. Had built one for my daughter many many
    years ago that turned out great but it was specific to a square table now gone, as well as that layout.

    My plan is to build a base and also have a clasped lid for it for storage each year.
    It will just be a simple DC set up and not DCC. I'll be building a little control box
    with switches and lights etc.

    I have a track plan etc. that has a lot going on in the interior area but also a separate & simple outer loop.
    Using ATLAS CODE 80, the loop turns are (3) sections of 11 inch radius, 7.5 inches of straight, and then another (3) sections
    of 11 inch to complete the 180.

    The inner section will have tunnels, mountains with tighter 9.75 circles and short engines and rolling stock
    but for this outer loop, I'd like to have a great diesel and passenger cars. (preferably illuminated on the latter)

    MY QUESTION is how long should the engine and cars be for same given the dimensions mentioned. From reading
    throughout the net, my "guess" is to keep the passenger cars to 60' or shorter but not certain.

    WITH THAT SAID... '-)

    Could anyone suggest a great combination of diesel and cars that
    would ALSO feature (ideally) illuminated cars? (Used to have "O" Post-War Silver Bluff etc. series)
    OR, at least the better manufacturers to consider?

    I have limited memories of "better" N engines etc., but seem to recall I had (have) a MiniTrix(?)
    engine that ran quite well. I see ATLAS came out with a new set of 60' cars but again, I'm not sure
    if 60' is too long for loop described. I've never liked seeing passenger cars hanging a lot off turns.

    ANY thoughts, ideas, suggestions MOST APPRECIATED and I thank you
    for your time!

    Best regards, Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhp2000 View Post
    my "guess" is to keep the passenger cars to 60' or shorter but not certain
    Yes, your instincts are correct about the shorter passenger cars, Bob. They will look better and be less prone to derailments on sharp curves. An 11-inch radius curve is a bit more generous than 9.75 inches, but by keeping the passenger cars shorter, you increase the "fun" factor while reducing the "frustration" factor for your grandson.

    As far as equipment, the Atlas set you mention should meet the criteria.
    Paul Schmidt

    Southern Railway's Slate Fork Branch


    Proud member of the Milwaukee Road Historical Association and the Southern Railway Historical Association

    Check out Appalachian Railroad Modeling!

    Did l mention that I still like the SP&S?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Schmidt View Post
    Yes, your instincts are correct about the shorter passenger cars, Bob. They will look better and be less prone to derailments on sharp curves. An 11-inch radius curve is a bit more generous than 9.75 inches, but by keeping the passenger cars shorter, you increase the "fun" factor while reducing the "frustration" factor for your grandson.

    As far as equipment, the Atlas set you mention should meet the criteria.
    Many thanks for your tips Paul. Appreciated!

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    Yeah, what that guy ^ said.

    To add, stick with the shorter locomotives, e.g., GP-40 or similar length. An Atlas SD50 or SD60 might be too tight for 9-3/4. It you insist on running big honking locomotives on 9-3/4 tracks, go with Kato. Their locomotives are designed to run on 9-3/4 minimum, even their larger ones, but it'll look very funny!

    Since you are going passenger, a nice F unit from Kato would look nice.

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    RS units would be nice too, Atlas or Kato are both good (Kato better, but I have an older Atlas that runs really well). I'm used to seeing RS units pulling passenger excursions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    Yeah, what that guy ^ said.

    To add, stick with the shorter locomotives, e.g., GP-40 or similar length. An Atlas SD50 or SD60 might be too tight for 9-3/4. It you insist on running big honking locomotives on 9-3/4 tracks, go with Kato. Their locomotives are designed to run on 9-3/4 minimum, even their larger ones, but it'll look very funny!

    Since you are going passenger, a nice F unit from Kato would look nice.

    Kingmeow...thanks!

    HOWEVER...in this single outer loop there are (3) 11"in turns...then 7.5" straight...then (3) more 11's. No 9.75 sections.

    I'll look at the F from Kato. '-)

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    If you're going with F-units I'm very partial to Intermountain, they run super smooth and have a great warranty program in case someone has an 'oops'.
    Tim

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

    B&LE SD18 project
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    To All-

    Since I'm new here, my replies are
    slow to post. Just for the record in case
    one doesn't get through, my turns for the
    outer loop will be thee 11 turns, then 7.5 straight, then three more 11" turns.

    THANKS FOR ALL INPUT AND SUGGESTIONS!

    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhp2000 View Post
    Have very limited space for an N layout on a coffee table 32 x 52"
    That is a respectable size, at least in N scale. Not sure how old your grandson is, but make sure he can handle those pieces without difficulty. My grandson is 10, and I am giving him a layout similar in size (36"x42"), with a few turnouts for him to play with and 2 cab operation. He has outgrown the original flat square single track layout I built for him some 4 years ago. I hope it keeps him interested in model trains.
    N-joy!
    Tred - (USN-Ret.)
    Kansas City, KS
    (Sent using @ 1000Mbps)
    "No matter where you go, there you are!"

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    I agree with the shorter length cars. That being said, I had a Noch Colorado Western layout and was able to run a double headed Kato F7 with 12 super chief passengers reliably. Yes, there is overhang, and it was chasing it's tail, but it ran well. Kato is optimized for running on small radius curves. This also has about 4% grades, but two locos solve that. Kato track also helped.

    Trey

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    Thanks to all for your insight and suggestions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bhp2000 View Post
    Since I'm new here, my replies are
    slow to post
    It shouldn't be too long if you keep posting at this rate
    I typically check the site during my breaks at work, which would be about every 2-3 hours. Thank you for your patience.

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    bhp, no one has mentioned it, but you'll want truck mounted couplers, passenger or freight. Des Plains Hobbies/Centralia Car Shops makes really nice truck mounted passenger cars that have "magic wand" lighting and look good. They're not 60 footers, but I've run them thru 9 and 3/4 curves and number 4 turnouts without problems. I get the coffee table thing, but if there's a way you can raise the height to near eye level, it will increase the realism element and put you or your grand son on the layout rather than hovering over it airplane style. You won't go wrong with Atlas or Kato locos, but I agree with others, stay away from the jumbos. Have fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skull-48 View Post
    bhp, no one has mentioned it, but you'll want truck mounted couplers, passenger or freight. Des Plains Hobbies/Centralia Car Shops makes really nice truck mounted passenger cars that have "magic wand" lighting and look good. They're not 60 footers, but I've run them thru 9 and 3/4 curves and number 4 turnouts without problems. I get the coffee table thing, but if there's a way you can raise the height to near eye level, it will increase the realism element and put you or your grand son on the layout rather than hovering over it airplane style. You won't go wrong with Atlas or Kato locos, but I agree with others, stay away from the jumbos. Have fun.

    Thanks for the tips Skull and to all.
    When you say they're NOT 60 footers,
    any idea what they may be? I can look
    when I have some time though. No biggy.

    Yeah, the coffee table can work since most will
    be seated the majority of the time. I hear ya though.
    It's all about "space" and of course, wife-tolerance-level. '-)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tred View Post
    but make sure he can handle those pieces without difficulty
    Some solid advice, there. I don't wish to dampen enthusiasm, but not every 10-year-old boy's temperament is well-suited for N scale. But with Grandpa there, things will probably go just fine.
    Paul Schmidt

    Southern Railway's Slate Fork Branch


    Proud member of the Milwaukee Road Historical Association and the Southern Railway Historical Association

    Check out Appalachian Railroad Modeling!

    Did l mention that I still like the SP&S?

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    Eye-level is a big thing for sure, we had the neighbor's little guy over here a few weeks ago while messing with my dad's G-scale stuff on the floor. He absolutely HAD to get down to watch the train from "trackside", and of course all kids forget they have anything above their eyes so he made contact a few times as the locomotive passed. Just something to be mindful of when planning for kiddos.
    Tim

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

    B&LE SD18 project
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    B&LE SD38AC build
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    Resin T-1 build

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    Quote Originally Posted by Celidude View Post
    Eye-level is a big thing for sure, we had the neighbor's little guy over here a few weeks ago while messing with my dad's G-scale stuff on the floor. He absolutely HAD to get down to watch the train from "trackside", and of course all kids forget they have anything above their eyes so he made contact a few times as the locomotive passed. Just something to be mindful of when planning for kiddos.
    Gents-

    Comments on grandson duly noted and I agree.

    The primary purpose of this layout is for Christmas
    memory building. He's still quite young now but even
    if I can get his attention for 5 minutes I'd be thrilled.

    Thing is, every year he'll "see" the trains at Gramp's house.
    He'll get used to seeing them each year and even "expect" to see them
    as did I with my father's, and my friend's fathers endeavors.
    Ah yes, and I "remember" them all so well and do so fondly.

    Each year I plan on adding something new. Anything from an accessory, or train or whatever
    to point out to him. If he actually takes more than a casual interest, I'll go out of my way to teach him things and tell stories
    about 'em. etc. etc. etc. When he gets a little older, and if he's willing, I'll make it
    an annual event of he and I going out to find a new "cool" thing to add, buy or build for the layout.
    Who knows, maybe a road trip to a train show or something.

    Eventually, he'll lose interest to girls or some new tech craze or whatever, but he'll remember
    the trains at Christmas and perhaps years down the road maybe realize that something
    just seems to be "missing" at his house on Christmas.

    At that point, he'll start posting questions on forums like these. '-)


    - b

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    Ah, so it's a Pavlov's Dogs angle

    Kidding aside that's a great way to instill the love of the hobby. I was fortunate (unfortunate?) enough to be a bit of a nerd and spent a lot of time nearing graduation still tinkering with my trains. I grew up with them only being at my grandparent's house so I played with them every time I went. Eventually I got my own but it was still something I looked forward to when we'd visit.
    After graduating in '05 I went into the Air Force and lost interest in pretty much everything except my car, at one point there was a huge railroad museum near my apartment but I never went, it wasn't until I went Reserves, came home and rediscovered my old trains that I got back into it. I found that I finally had the time, money, and access to so much more information (thanks NSN!) that I could really do more with what I had. (Just one kid's story about growing up with trains)

    The idea of it to be an every Christmas thing is great because it will be something constant, especially when adding the incentive to add or improve every year, and it'll be something that will be on the mind more than just once a year. I know I try to make a spectacle with mine for my club's show every December and so far so good, I don't know a day where I'm not thinking of another idea.

    I'm sure we're all waiting to see how your idea comes together and looking forward to how it develops and evolves!
    Tim

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

    B&LE SD18 project
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    I'm with the others when it comes to engines, you can't go wrong with Kato engines. I'd also go with an F7 engine and perhaps some 6o' Harriman Passenger cars.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Wombat - Yep, seems like Kato F7's seem to be a fave. Will check out Harriman Passenger cars. Thanks!

    Celidude - Yep, Pavlov's Dog angle for sure.

    What's funny, is that I had done an N layout
    years ago on a big square coffee table.
    The plan was to create something with my daughter but that lasted for a day or two
    and I had to finish the rest off across two weeks.

    Anyway, she was about 8 or so at the time and was kinda into it
    but not as much as I had hoped. However, I did catch her lying on the couch a few times doing
    nothing but watching the trains go round.

    FAST FORWARD some 20 years to just this past Christmas...

    "Hey Dad, you should put one of those little trains up again some time."
    "Remember that one with the mountains?" "That was really cool." '-)

    Cel- Your story sounds great as well. Nice!


    And so it goes...



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