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Thread: HO Railroad That Grows -- in N Scale

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    Default HO Railroad That Grows -- in N Scale

    I originally posted my first build description and photos in a separate thread on building the table, but decided I wanted a thread more appropriately aligned (titled) with the design I'm building, so I'm migrating my discussion from that thread to this one.

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...y-to-Lay-Track

    I haven't really gotten any further than where I was with that thread, but now I have all my tools, equipment, and supplies (I think) to actually begin laying the track. Also, I've decided to record my progress with video, so I launched a new YouTube channel where I'll regularly post updates on the build. The first video basically brings viewers up to speed on why I'm building this railroad, why I'm building it in N scale, the train set I'm going to run to begin, and the construction of the table.

    Now to get to the fun stuff, actually putting down some track!



    Cheers,
    Rich


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    I just need to give a shout out to jdetray for posting 7 years ago a link to XTrackCAD. What a terrific program!

    I figured I was going to have to eyeball my track layout using the scale drawing in the book, but after reading his helpful post about how he used the track laying CAD program to lay out his, uh, layout, I decided to check it out. The learning curve wasn't all that steep and the tutorials give you a good start on using it. Having worked with other open source programs like Gimp, I was pretty quickly able to figure out what I needed to do.

    Using the plan in the HO Railroad That Grows book, which shows exactly which pieces of track you need to put down where, I was able to fairly mimic it in N scale on XTrackCAD and then print it out. Now all I need to do is cut out the track sections, tape them together, and pin them to the track. Then I can mark where my roadbed needs to go and it's all downhill from there!

    Cheers,
    Rich

    IMG_1870.jpg

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    A little more progress. After using XTrackCAD to locate where the layout would be laid, I got the roadbed glued and tacked into place. Today I'll be laying and gluing the track itself.

    IMG_1887.jpg

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    Well, I just laid my first track and while not so difficult, it was not quite the breeze everyone on YouTube seems to make it look. I felt like I was doing five things at once and needed two more sets of hands. However, I got it down (I think) so now I'm just waiting for the caulk to dry to run a rail car over it and see what disaster awaits. Kudos to all of you who make it look effortless!

    IMG_1899.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernJerseyRR View Post
    so now I'm just waiting for the caulk to dry to run a rail car over it and see what disaster awaits.
    Naw, that doesn't look disastrous at all. And if there is something wrong, I bet you can work through it.

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    I wouldn't call tracklaying "effortless." It takes patience and attention to detail. Not difficult, but painstaking. Unless your name is @michaelrose55.

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    what a blast from the past. Think I have the first copy of that Plan from back in the fifties or early sixties.
    Will be following along for sure as almost built it a few times myself.
    rich
    www.rslaserkits.com

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    When I was a kid and first into trains my dad bought me that book! A real blast from the past!

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    John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation has an interesting "enhancement" to this particular layout. He gets the switches to the yard off the mainline, and transfers the turntable lead to the north side. You might want to check it out, it's early in the book.

    EDIT: I was wrong. John's enhancements to your pike is on page 13. The changes I noted above are from a Kalmbach plan book and appears at the end of the next chapter, and still has some good pointers that may be applicable to yours.
    Last edited by Stu; 7th Apr 2021 at 11:38 PM.
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    Happy for you, but I was hoping you'd keep the HO dimensions and track plan but lay down N scale track in its place. That would allow for some great wide curves and bigger scenery opportunities.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Quote Originally Posted by MetroRedLn View Post
    Happy for you, but I was hoping you'd keep the HO dimensions and track plan but lay down N scale track in its place. That would allow for some great wide curves and bigger scenery opportunities.
    That would've been cool, though TBH, if I had had the room I probably would've built in HO just because, but there's no room for that so I work with what I got.

    Cheers,
    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu View Post
    John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation has an interesting "enhancement" to this particular layout. He gets the switches to the yard off the mainline, and transfers the turntable lead to the north side. You might want to check it out, it's early in the book.

    EDIT: I was wrong. John's enhancements to your pike is on page 13. The changes I noted above are from a Kalmbach plan book and appears at the end of the next chapter, and still has some good pointers that may be applicable to yours.
    I found a preview version of the book on Google Books, but couldn't find any reference to my layout. There did seem like a LOT of interesting yard layouts though, and the explanations seemed pretty in depth. Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernJerseyRR View Post
    Well, I just laid my first track and while not so difficult, it was not quite the breeze everyone on YouTube seems to make it look.
    HeHe The magic of editing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernJerseyRR View Post
    I found a preview version of the book on Google Books, but couldn't find any reference to my layout. There did seem like a LOT of interesting yard layouts though, and the explanations seemed pretty in depth. Thanks!

    Rich,

    Here are both of those track plan / comments from the book. I posted them in medium resize instead of small so you may be able to copy them and blow the m up better for you to read.

    Stu

    IMG_20210408_163805 (Medium).jpg

    IMG_20210408_163927 (Medium).jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu View Post
    Rich,

    Here are both of those track plan / comments from the book. I posted them in medium resize instead of small so you may be able to copy them and blow the m up better for you to read.

    Stu

    IMG_20210408_163805 (Medium).jpg

    IMG_20210408_163927 (Medium).jpg
    Very cool! Thanks! I've downloaded those images. There is definitely a lot going on there and it could be a great way to take the layout in the future. Thanks again!

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    I wired the track last night just to see how well the track was laid. Since I'm not using the Backmann EZ track that came with my set, I cut off the wired connector that came with the set so that I could solder it to my rails and get power to it using the DC controller that came with the set. It mostly ran ok.

    That tiny little truck at the front of the locomotive sure is a fiddly little thing. They supposed to be so loose and move around like that?

    However, I did find 3 spots where my soldering was less than admirable. I was so excited at getting the track down that I rushed the joinery and there were small gaps that would cause that truck to disengage at anything over a crawl. That bummed me out, so this morning I lifted the entire track off the bed (thank goodness silicone caulk is so forgiving!) disassembled my joinery and began resoldering everything.

    There were a few problems I discovered. First, there was one section where I had reversed the flex track so the part of the rail that moved was on the inside (I'm using Atlas track) whereas the rest of the layout was on the outside. That created problem two, because where those tracks joined was also on a curve, and I had tried to solder it on the curve. I've since seen instruction to have all the flex track go the same way and also solder joints that will be on a curve while they're straight. That's what I was doing this morning and so far all the joints seem much tighter and smoother.

    I still have one more section to do and I'm also going to resolder the power connection before I secure the track in place. What does everyone think of gluing versus nailing? Gluing was certainly easy using the caulk, but had it been pinned in place with nails it would have been even easier. I guess my question is, once I get to the ballasting part, will it matter one way or the other when I need to add track to the layout?

    Cheers,
    Rich

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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernJerseyRR View Post
    I guess my question is, once I get to the ballasting part, will it matter one way or the other when I need to add track to the layout?
    This is the proverbial question, isn't it? If you're a boater, it's like asking which anchor is best.

    When I built my layout in 1987, I followed the guidelines in the Atlas NINE book and nailed and ballasted. When I had to replace (at least, so far) two of my switches, I was glad I had done it this way, because it enabled me to remove adjacent trackage without damaging the roadbed.

    Others have differing opinions.

    Much depends on technique, as well.

    Your layout, your choice.
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    I have never glued track down and have never been able to understand why one would do so. Nail it down and when you ballast it, you can remove the nails if they bother you. Me? I leave them. They are barely noticeable and I am not photographing my track every day.

    Need to redo any section? Remove the nails and move the track. No mess with scraped off glue all over the place.

    The claims of bending ties with nails? Be careful.

    Doug
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    Big day on the railroad. Go all my track laid and secured (with nails!), wired it up, and sent the locomotive around to see if there were any issues. None! Ran like it was glass. Hooked up all the passenger cars to it and let it run for about 10 minutes to see. No hiccups developed so onto ballasting.

    I did have a moment of terror when one of the pistons(?) on my loco's wheels disengaged. Figuring out how to get it to go back in, and then where all the parts went after I disassembled the front end (of course I did, why not?!), was exciting. Took about 45 minutes but I got it together and now it runs smooth, so I'm excited. Obviously, the photo isn't very exciting, but it's a screen cap of the train in motion, pulling the three passenger cars. Like I said, it ran for 10 minutes without a single issue so I'm happy.

    IMG_1923.jpg

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    CONGRATULATIONS! And it is a fine looking train, too!

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