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Thread: Back into N-Scale and new to Forum - Layout design plans

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    Default Back into N-Scale and new to Forum - Layout design plans

    Sorry for the long post... Especially since it is my first... After having spent a good deal of time reading through track plan reviews, I tried to answer as many questions as I could think of up front

    Below is the track plan I have designed in 3rd Planit for review, thoughs, and opinions please. Along with a lengthy description of notes I have put down for both myself and this post.

    Since I am still under moderation, I cannot post an image that I am aware of. This is a link to the image on my DropBox account, hopefully you can access it (anyone with the link should be able to).

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/jr8t8wxnw9...06400.jpg?dl=0

    Freelance design to be a modern depiction in the Appalachia foothills of Virginia.

    To determine direction, I will use the real North/South for the railroad as it sits in my home. South will be at the top, and North at the bottom.

    Room size is 18’ x 17.5’ – Each Square is 1’

    N Scale Layout

    NS on the black double line

    CSX on the blue single line – This line has two reversing sections

    My goals for the layout are to:
    Watch trains run and railfan the layout.
    Do some operations. I do not know if it will actually become ops sessions yet or not. I do not belong to any local clubs, and not sure I have the time to join right now. Outside of the layout, I still work fulltime, have a family, enjoy boating during the season, like to fly drones and aerial videography when I can, travel, etc.
    Work on scenery on an on-going basis. I may never complete it 100% before we move from this home? That is OK though, I will have a “next” home to retire in.
    Work on what I will call the technical side, working, DCC, maybe signals at some point, etc., again, on-going.
    Enjoy it with friends and family.
    I went back and forth on the NS line being a double vs single with passing sidings. As I said, I like to just watch/railfan the layout, and double main gives a better visual of trains approaching and passing.

    Then, I thought about it operationally (and to free up a tab bit more real estate) to go with single and passing sidings. When I did this, I determined it was not a signifagant “gain” in real estate over the double.

    I then went on-line and searched for comparisons of pros/cons to each. I had seen a number of comments saying you can do both, so that is what I did. If I want to operate with passing sidings, I will “close off” sections of one of the mains, therefore creating passing sidings. This gives me the best of both worlds then.

    Main line’s will be:
    Kato Unitrack (I already have about 80% of what is needed for this from past smaller layouts (and a plan to build this a number of years ago, where I loaded up on Unitrack at the time).
    All turnouts will be #6, including 5 (already have these) Kato double crossovers. These will be the only connected remote controlled turnouts on the layout.
    In visible area I have stuck to mainly (there may be a few very small areas that have a slight bit less) 15” or greater diameter.
    In a few areas to make the curves work, I will utilize Atlas code 80 flex.
    The East side NS tracks along the wall will be at an elevation of 4” above the yard area to the West, with a 2% grade to get there along the curve at the Northwest area of the layout.
    The South end of the NS line will be on a 1% to 2% grade back down to yard level curving around the Southwest area of the layout.
    The CSX line will have 2 opposing reverse loops, one on the peninsula area, and the other in the Northwest tunnel area.
    It will climb a 2% grade on the West end of the Peninsula to cross over the tracks it approaches, then climb back down the same grade with the NS lines back around under itself.
    The NS line will have a 2 track (not huge by any means) staging area in the tunnel in the Northeast corner. Not as long as I would like, but at least I was able to put a few tracks in to have some. I am not interested at this time to do a multi-deck to build a large staging area. Perhaps in my next home (which will ultimately be retirement home, have another 5 to 7 years where I am now to get my daughter through college) I will do multi-deck.
    Red track is all in tunnels – I put tunnels in all three corners for under bench access and to break up the “continuous” loop look the best I can.
    The Northeast tunnel area will be behind the backdrop, allowing me more room to work in that area.
    The tunnels will have the tightest (but very manageable operationally) curves anywhere from 12 13/32” to 15” to maximize visible areas of the layout.
    Joint ownership of the yard for interchange between the two (local to where I live, they co-own the Norfolk and Portsmouth Beltline which has a small to medium yard along the Elizabeth river in Chesapeake/Norfolk, VA). I always see locos from both parked at this yard.

    The yard will have:
    Plan to buy all Peco code 55 flex and medium (#6 equivalent) turnouts.
    5 – 3’8” classification tracks (total of 18’4”)
    A 6’ 8” and 6’ 3” Arrival/Departure tracks
    Run Around at the West end
    The North end has a RIP Track between the run around and Engine facility
    Engine facility at the North end.
    The North end drill/yard lead dead ends.
    The South end drill/yard lead merges into the CSX line. This is the only in/out access for this line due to the yard design and where the arrival/departure tracks are located in the yard. It does go straight out to one of the reverse loops too. For the most part, the plan is to use the South end yard lead to work the yard.
    I made sure the Arrival/Departure tracks do not interfere with yard work.
    The Peninsula will be mainly industrial area.
    Total of 3 (2 on the West side and 1 on the East Side) Storage/Yard tracks totaling 13’8”.
    To help with cost, I will make use of Atlas code 80 sectional track I have, #6 Turnouts I have, and #4 turnouts I have. (this can be changed if needed in the future)
    Use Caboose Industries throws.


    All sidings use existing Atlas #4’s that I have to help with cost of new track needed. They are branched off the mains with Kato #6’s though.

    With time restrictions and wanting to get a start, I plan on utilizing Siever’s for my benchwork. I have the ability to do my own (this space was actually filled with an O Scale layout (sold all of it at the end of the 2000’s) benchwork, just lacking the time and location to do so now. They have been very responsive and helpful on what I will need.

    Most of the benchwork will be 30” deep by 48” wide. The Peninsula will be 36” wide. This will enable easier dismantling of the layout when it is time to move, which will be inevitable at some point. I am not concerned with trackage (i.e. turnouts) that may cross over sections, the way they will be in place will allow to loosen one end (with enough space to pull apart) and then remove the track over the “joint areas”.

    I plan to put ¼” ply with 2” foam board on top (leaving the tunnel areas open). For grades, I plan on using Woodland Scenics risers. There are some timesavers I will use that may cost a little more, i.e. the foam top vs cookie cutter approach to the benchwork, but time will be at a premium at times for me.


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    Welcome to the best N scale forum on the internet, @VAJeff!

    Looks as if you have a well thought-out layout plan. It being in the Appalachians especially caught my eye.

    There are no dumb questions here (although the answers you get could be fraught with risk!). We're typically a friendly bunch.

    A large woodland creature will be by shortly to explain some of the, er, finer points. How's your photography?
    Paul Schmidt

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    Looks like a lot of thought has already gone into it. My first impression is "that is one big layout for N scale". Certainly big enough for both mainline roundy round and switching.

    I got a bit lost following the CSX line and figuring out what the interchange(s) with NS look like.

    Only suggestion is increase the width of the central peninsula, but leave it empty for now. Later you can add more switching industries if you want.

    With layouts this size its easy to get stuck facing some massive go-forward task that you don't like, at which point your interest may flag. I'd suggest doing all the benchwork, then get the NS mainline running with turnouts to nowhere. After that add and finish each area or feature (such as the NS yard or CSX main) in turn.

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    FWIW, I opened the track plan easily - so the link is good.
    And welcome, as a new member myself, its good to have company.
    They will promote you to Junior member fairly quickly, so you can post photos. I'm looking forward to seeing them
    Charles P

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    Thank you for the responses thus far!

    Paul, my wife is the photographer with some nice equipment. I will plan on doing a photo progress (and maybe video) of the layout as I am working on it.

    NTheBasement, thanks for the suggestions. I will see if I can stretch the peninsula to 48" from 36". Only concern I may have is being able to reach some areas against the wall. I use 30" radius circles in one of the layers of the software that I will "unhide" when I want to check for reach. If I can make it work, I will widen it.

    Your plan for going about building and laying track work is what I do plan on doing. Get one of the two mains of the NS line complete and tested, then the other NS Main, then the CSX Main. From there it will be adding in the other areas. I agree, I do not want to get overwhelmed during the process, one bite at a time

    There is not really an interchange track for NS and CSX, they will interchange cars a the yard with each other. That will be the only place both lines have in common.

    Charles, thanks for confirming you were easily able to open the track plan.

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    My initial feeling was that this might be too much track and not enough scenic context, but as I start to look at it in more detail I can see that there are opportunities for scenes that don't feel cluttered. Still, I think you could afford to get more of the track away from the edges, to create more foreground or background as the case may be. For instance, the peninsula at 36" wide could easily have 4" to 6" of foreground scenery added on to each side. Track that is running up against the wall at the top of the plan could maybe shift 2" to 3" downward, so that there is room for a first row of trees in front of a painted backdrop.

    The track on the peninsula seems to be a bit of a missed opportunity, though, as it is all of the same "kind" which implies that this is one singular industrial customer. That might be intentional, in which case I offer kudos for granting such a realistic piece of real estate to a signature industry. However, the opportunity I see would be to lose some of the spurs (to one side or the other of the diagonal reversing track), and let the track on one side of the peninsula feel like simple mainline through the wilderness. A stretch of track with no turnouts (unless maybe you work in a passing siding) not only gives you a place dedicated to scenery, but it also helps psychologically to build in the feel of distance. It actually takes your train some amount of time to get to the next activity zone. A view block (which in Appalachia could just be a dense wall of trees) would make it so that the two halves of the peninsula feel like two different places. The way the track works now, it feels like one big place to me.

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    All I can say is WOW! If I had a basement!! I would design something like this! Plus once you get started I can't wait to see some photos!!

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    Thank you all for the input and compliments. NTheBasement and WP&P, both of you have great points on the peninsula, so I did some measurements and reworked what I can fit there size wise to be able to still reach the south wall too. The benchwork outline really fits along the Sievers benchwork templates ( I will custom a few corners where track is outside the benchwork lines).

    I was able to make most of the peninsula 4' wide (keeping a small part at 3'), and also able to narrow the benchwork to 2' along part of the south wall, and this still leaves everything within reach. And it opened up some more real estate to do some modifications.

    WP&P, I agree, there was "missed opportunity" on the peninsula. Wanting to maintain the two reverse loops on the CSX line, I actually put that reverse loop all in tunnel in the peninsula, allowing for more scenery and industry spurs not dictated by the "cross through" of the loop. Part of the mainline will also run through this tunnel, further opening up more space for scenery and the arrangement of those spurs. Doing all of this leaves me with the same amount of industrial spires (roughly 7 I believe) to add in industrial points for spotting cars (variety of different types). Also to your point, I have now opened up about 3 1/2 top 4' of the north end of the peninsula for more scenery. May be town, wooded, or a combination of both.

    Also, the suggestion of moving the track in a little along the south wall is a good one as well. I was able to tighten the hidden tunnel curves to gain a little more space between track and backdrop. Curves are still a radius that anything I have seen N-Scale wise will still be able to perform as required. I also added a "curve out" to this as well to scene in more of a mountain start behind the track, giving the track a reason to curve around.

    WP&P, your initial view about scenery opportunities was a concern of mine as I was designing. In a 2 D perspective, the track (with roadbed) in a zoomed out view looks more crowded than it really is. When I looked at it in 3D in the software, it is more open in the areas I want it to be. I intend on each end having a town above the tunneled areas of track, and now one on the peninsula as well. The whole backdrop of the south wall will be going out to the mountains, and will not have much in the way of spurs or structures. This will wrap around the south east corner as well, and then open up to more "industrial" area around the yard and east wall. I plan on using building flats along the wall by the east NS double track, and will probably have it enter the tunnel side at the north utilizing a highway overpass to keep the "city/industry" feel going on that section.

    MoPac, in southeast Virginia, we are not afforded the opportunity to have basements (that is unless we want them to be a swimming hole in our homes)... This layout will actually be in our room over our garage.

    Again, thank you everyone for the valuable input and compliments. I have spent a lot of time in design on this and reading what needs to go into the design.

    Here is a link to the updated layout with the changes I have mentioned.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/uav7tv5fu8...06400.jpg?dl=0

    Layout 15-1 Wider 3200.jpg

    It looks like I can upload photos now too

    Thanks,

    Jeff

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    Here are some views with the tunnel track hidden. I feel this makes it look a little less "cluttered" in areas to more easily envision what will actually be visible. Oh, and I also showed my "structures" layer in this as well.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/xirj2k4u6w...idden.jpg?dl=0

    Layout 15-1 Wider Peninsula 3200 Tunnels hidden.jpg

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    I'm going to pick a nit here. I see several locations where you've planned for diamond crossovers. Railroads eschew those except in space-challenged terminals. They add more to maintenance, especially frogs that must be inspected and frequently repaired. Mainline traffic beats diamonds and frogs (swing-nose frogs excepted) to pieces, sometimes literally so.

    Diamonds on a mainline are typically only found where one railroad crosses another at grade -- and the junior railroad pays for the maintenance.

    Since you have the space, I'd opt for the far more common four-switch (left-hand crossover/right-hand crossover) control points.
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    Paul, thanks for the input. I do agree with your nit.

    Yes, there are five of the Kato Double Crossovers on the NS line of the layout. I am using a lot of Kato, and I actually already have five of these to use (bought a while back). They are #6, and keep the track spacing better than opposing Kato #6's do. I understand that they are not used too often in the prototype, but for my purposes they will work, and prevent the cost of new switches.

    They also allow me to alter how I can use the NS as a "single main" when I want to utilize the 2nd track as passing sidings.

    In addition to the changes made above, I have added an interchange track to a local road that will terminate in the tunnel. Saw a video (Youtube Ron's Trains N Things) hat utilizing a interchange to "no where" on the layout allows for being able to have another place to spot cars that may not even serve industries on the layout 100% or at all. A way to "legitimize" the rolling stock that you just like the looks of.

    Layout 15-1 Wider Peninsula 3200 with water.jpg

    Layout 15-1 Wider Peninsula 3200 with water tunnels hidden.jpg

    Thanks,

    Jeff
    Last edited by VAJeff; 19th Jan 2020 at 10:46 AM. Reason: Update a little info

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    Yet another redesign to the peninsula... Thank you for all of the input, it has pushed me to rethink things I feel for the better.

    I was not crazy about the way I had "crammed all the industry into the top part of the peninsula. I have rearranged it so that it comes down the west side of the peninsula, I will put a road with town going through (also will have an intersecting road coming in from the east end), and i rearranged how the reverse loop works underneath.

    I have there pics, one is with tunnels hidden and showing structures, another is no structures and showing tunnel track, and last is a 3d view. On the 3D view, please ignore that some terrain blocks water or covers some track, 3rd Planet terrain editing is not the easiest to work with.

    Layout 15-3 Redesign industry area 3D View.jpg
    Layout 15-3 Redesign industry area 1600 no tunnel.jpgLayout 15-3 Redesign industry area 1600 showing tunnel.jpg

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    Bench work ordered from Sievers today, this will be a time saver for me, at a little extra expense. Should be here next week, plan on clearing out my room over the garage this weekend... Plan on ordering the remaining track I need for the three lines. I will order and do the yard last I think.

    Now I need to start working on:
    how to cut down the plywood and foam board most efficiently
    power districts for DCC
    where I will insulate sections
    plan for potential signals at some time in the future
    how I plan on doing the backdrop
    lighting and how I will place that

    First priority will be to get the lines in one by one, and ensure that all runs fine or if I will need to rework any areas.

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    I would suggest going with track lighting. It is easy to install and even easier to reconfigure. Combined with LED smart-bulbs, you can create theater style lighting.
    Use what you know about the world to model…
    Learn from modeling what you don't know about the real world.



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    Quote Originally Posted by VAJeff View Post
    plan for potential signals at some time in the future
    I'm wondering, do you mean planning for which manufacturers' off-the-shelf system (Atlas, et al) you'll use, or planning for where you will locate signals?

    I would have definitely included the latter as a key aspect in designing my track plan, not as an afterthought.
    Paul Schmidt

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    A little of the where, but more the potential system. Not sure if I will ever get to that on this layout or the next when we move one day to what will most likely be our final home...

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    Thank you. I will look into the track lighting. Easy install is a big plus ��.

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    Work has started! Not sure how fast or slow I will go, all depends on work and other weekend things that come up. The Sievers bench work goes together pretty easily. I made a few alterations here and there to make it work like I need to...

    Ordered all the foam board and 1/4" ply on-line at Home Depot, and just went to pick it up. I was hoping they would cut the foam down, but the guy working said he is not allowed to. I bought one sheet last week to test a few things, and that guy cut it for me... I am not sure if they are aloud too or not, could be the kid just did not want to cut all of the foam board down.

    Anyway, it feels good to be started. The room was not 100% ready (emptied of items not needed in the room), so now I have to shift some stuff around to open up floor space to do the benchwork on the other side of the room.

    Also a few pics of the layout I built about 10 years ago to fit in some built in bookshelves in my family room... This one will slowly be dismantled for it's usable items.

    IMG_0864.jpg

    IMG_0866.jpg

    IMG_0889.jpg

    IMG_0893.jpg

    IMG_0894.jpg

    IMG_0895.jpg

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