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Thread: Need help converting track plan to N scale

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    Default Need help converting track plan to N scale

    So, in all of my searches through the interwebs, I finally came across a track plan that I would love to build in the future. I won't be able to actually begin this project for a while, but in the meantime I can plan and start collecting materials. But, without a track plan, which materials I need to collect will be a mystery. The layout that I would love to model is the Spokane, Pasco & Wallace, shown in "48 Top Notch Track Plans", and I believe it was in an earlier edition of a magazine as well.

    It contains many of the elements that I want in a layout, including plenty of scenery opportunities, switching, logging and mining industries, as well as a waterfront scene. Only problem is, it's in HO. So my question is how do I go about converting this to N scale with a track planning program? I mean, if it were built with sectional track it would be simpler, but it just gives me minimum radii and turnout numbers. I'm not asking which track planning software I should use, there is plenty of info on that. My question is simply how does one go about tackling a project like this? Where do I start?
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    The main peninsula is four feet wide, so it looks like the inner curve is about 18". If you've got the space for the HO layout (maybe a 10' x 10' corner?) I wouldn't convert it. Just reduce the spacing between parallel tracks and build it as is in HO scale. You'd have nice broad curves, bigger buildings, and more space for scenery.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    The scale of the track plan in the picture is irrelevant, don't let it confuse you. What is important is the "Plan" itself.

    Get yourself a "Track Plan Program", print the picture of the plan in the magazine and copy the plan using the N Scale Track of your choice; however, from the looks of the plan I'd use Flex Track.

    You more or less have two choices:

    1. Redraw the plan using the HO Benchwork dimensions which will retain the HO radii and give you excellent running in N Scale, OR

    2. Reduce the radii so you can reduce the size of the benchwork. For example, 18" radius in HO might equate to 15" radii in N Scale to achieve the same smooth running. The recommended minimum radius in HO is generally 15" while the generally recommended minimum radius in N Scale (for smooth running) might be 11".

    Personally, if you have the room, redraw the Plan using the HO benchwork dimensions. Doing so will open up the plan a bit and give you much more room to work with as well as radii that you will be able to run virtually anything on. It all comes down to the amount of space you have for the benchwork.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim R View Post
    The main peninsula is four feet wide, so it looks like the inner curve is about 18". If you've got the space for the HO layout (maybe a 10' x 10' corner?) I wouldn't convert it. Just reduce the spacing between parallel tracks and build it as is in HO scale. You'd have nice broad curves, bigger buildings, and more space for scenery.
    I'm with Tim if you have the room make it the HO size but use N scale track and spacing. I tell this to anyone that askes at shows Find a HO layout you like then build it that size in n scale. most layouts drawings have way too much track in my book anyway. And N scale is about space and scenery
    rich

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    Thanks all for the input. When I first saw the layout my initial thought was to do what you all have suggested and just build the benchwork for the HO layout and give myself more room by using N scale equipment. Unfortunately though, I don't think I'll have the room to do that. The space that I'm working in won't be much larger than about 10 x 10 at the most, and as much as I would love to have a layout room, I still have to have a bed in there somewhere for guests.

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    You maybe able to scale the HO benchwork down to N Scale and see how that goes OR base your layout on one part of the HO one.
    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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    In our small house (<1,100 sq ft) we have a quilt room and a library/computer room in addition to the master bedroom. Guests are relegated to our camper out in the yard. They have privacy, a bathroom, and a place to get away if needed. Trains are in a room in the barn.

    I would simply print out the plan, as Tony suggests. Once you figure out how big you want to make it, play with track planning software for a while. Planning is essential, so long as one doesn't overdo it and neglect to build a layout.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    If you really do need to resize things, then an HO plan reduced by a factor of 75% gives a pretty good N plan (the trusty old 4' x 8' becomes a 3' x 6', which could be built on a hollow-core door for instance). This particular plan, which takes up 11' x 11' in HO, would scale down to just over 8' x 8'... which may or may not be enough room to still fit a bed in your case. The 4' wide peninsula would become 3' wide, so the curves would be around 15" radius minimum, which is great for N. And where there are parallel yard sidings, you might find that you can fit one extra track in... or make use of that space for more generous scenery.

    Your mention of preserving a bedroom function for the space, though, makes me wonder whether you might really need to approach this as a design from scratch, perhaps using this as inspiration, but fitting things around an actual room plan with furnishings shown. A bed needs room not just for itself but also for a person to approach it and fling sheets around while changing it, space to flip the mattress, etc. There are probably other constraining factors, too, like a closet door that might swing into the room, or a closet door that can be removed so the closet space can counted among your railroad's real estate assets, that kind of thing. Is there any chance you can sketch up a measured room floor plan, so we can see whether a layout of this shape could work in it?

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    If you want a straight conversion to N scale, just divide the HO measurements by 2 on both the east-west / north-south dimensions.

    Example: an 18 inch radius in HO becomes a 9 inch radius in N (pretty tight by most standards).

    I also like the other suggestions to build it to HO dimensions. If you don't have that much space, scale it down as much as you need to.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Rowan View Post
    If you want a straight conversion to N scale, just divide the HO measurements by 2 on both the east-west / north-south
    Not to nitpick, Gary, but I'd actually use 55 percent, which rounds up from 54.375 percent (87 160). And that gets closer to the correct proportion of 18-inch minimum radius to 9.75 inches, which is Atlas sectional track minimum radius.

    @Osiris, seems like a good time here to pass on a nugget I gleaned from the former managing editor of Model Railroader magazine: "Layout designers propose; layout builders dispose." Don't feel you have to slavishly follow a track plan down to the nibs! Make it yours!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WP&P View Post
    makes me wonder whether you might really need to approach this as a design from scratch, perhaps using this as inspiration, but fitting things around an actual room plan with furnishings shown
    The more thought I put into this the more I realize that it's not the overall shape of the layout that appeals to me as much as what it contains. The mine, the logging operation, the waterfront, the ample opportunities for operations...I need to spend some time with a tape measure and grid paper and see if I can come up with a homemade plan that I can incorporate all of those aspects into. I may end up with a shelf style point to point that may be far more entertaining to run and have less of a footprint to boot. Thanks for the advice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Osiris View Post
    The more thought I put into this the more I realize that it's not the overall shape of the layout that appeals to me as much as what it contains. The mine, the logging operation, the waterfront, the ample opportunities for operations...I need to spend some time with a tape measure and grid paper and see if I can come up with a homemade plan that I can incorporate all of those aspects into. I may end up with a shelf style point to point that may be far more entertaining to run and have less of a footprint to boot.
    So given that, I highly recommend the book "Track Planning for Realistic Operations" by John Armstrong. It has a little about how real railroads work, and some great background, tips and approaches for designing a model one. Well worth the ~$20 it will cost you, in my opinion.

    One of the things you will find in that book is the idea of "givens" and "druthers." Givens are physical limitations (it has to fit in a 10x10 room with a bed in there somewhere, the closet door is over here, etc) as well as those critical features the layout must have. Druthers are things you want, but they aren't as critical. Every layout has to make trade offs, and you may have to sacrifice some of the druthers.

    Also, look at your minimum radius, turnout size, and grade. That depends a lot on what you want to do with your layout. In very broad, hand wave terms, 11" is a pretty standard minimum radius and 2% a maximum grade in N scale. However, there are exceptions. You may well be able to use less than 11" radius track for logging or mining track if you are only using small locos and short rolling stock. Conversely, if you are using long locos, big steam, or passenger equipment or other long rolling stock you may well want more than 11" as a minimum.

    How steep the grade is will effect how much your locos can pull up it... more so in N scale than in HO. The reason for that is the idea that a loco's pulling power mostly depends on it's weight, and math... an N scale loco is about 1/2 as long, but if you dredge up memories of geometry class, its volume is about 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/8 as much. It's weight is linked to volume. That's an approximation (and of course the real weight depends on what that volume is filled with, which varies), but that's the general idea. The reason I'm rambling about that is you may see grades in an HO plan that work just fine in HO, but would be challenging in N.

    Good luck with your planning, and keep posting questions and ideas. There are lots of folks here who can help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OTFan View Post
    I highly recommend the book "Track Planning for Realistic Operations" by John Armstrong.
    @Osiris

    Moose second this recommendation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by OTFan View Post
    I highly recommend the book "Track Planning for Realistic Operations"
    Ditto, best investment you can make on your layout.

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    I would concur with "Track Planning for Realistic Operation."

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    Quote Originally Posted by OTFan View Post
    So given that, I highly recommend the book "Track Planning for Realistic Operations" by John Armstrong.
    It's on it's way from Amazon. I'll give it a read and start work on some ideas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Osiris View Post
    So, in all of my searches through the interwebs, I finally came across a track plan that I would love to build in the future. I won't be able to actually begin this project for a while, but in the meantime I can plan and start collecting materials. But, without a track plan, which materials I need to collect will be a mystery. The layout that I would love to model is the Spokane, Pasco & Wallace, shown in "48 Top Notch Track Plans", and I believe it was in an earlier edition of a magazine as well.

    It contains many of the elements that I want in a layout, including plenty of scenery opportunities, switching, logging and mining industries, as well as a waterfront scene. Only problem is, it's in HO. So my question is how do I go about converting this to N scale with a track planning program? I mean, if it were built with sectional track it would be simpler, but it just gives me minimum radii and turnout numbers. I'm not asking which track planning software I should use, there is plenty of info on that. My question is simply how does one go about tackling a project like this? Where do I start?

    What I would do is scan the track plan and then import it into AnyRail, scale it to the correct size, and then lay the "track" over the top.

    best

    Scott
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    Osiris.bit.bmpHere is the plan in N scale with a few common sense changes. The plan is drawn in Xtrac. You will have access problems in the upper right corner if you put it up against the wall. That curve is also under the elevated track area, you need access. You could put the right edge against the wall but leave enough room for access around the left edge to have access on the top edge.

    Have fun, Mark

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    Let's see if I can get the Xtrk file attached. That worked. You will need to download XtrackCAD to view it, it is a free download.

    Have fun, Mark

    Osiris.xtc

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