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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Your First Railroad Part 2.

After deciding what you want in your model railroad, it is time to plan where exactly the trains will go and to double check that the space will work.  First measure out the space that you selected in part 1.  From here you can design the track plan of the layout. Modelers use track plans to determine where the track on the layout will run its course.  The track plan itself is a simple diagram showing the overall view of the layout and the track parts needed to build the plan.  There are two ways that modelers usually create track plans to build their layout.
The first method is my favorite, free hand draw where you want the track to go.  This is what experienced modelers use and I recommend any individual to at least try to create their own plan.  All you have to do is take a pen and paper and draw out a line representing the track.  See my post about track-planing at: http://jjwtrains.blogspot.com/2011/02/art-of-track-planning.html . There are a few things that anyone should know before attempting to draw:

  • Reverse loops and Wye's: 

If you are designing a three rail O scale layout you can have these with little trouble, Scale modelers for 2 rail track need to watch for these things.  Basically a reverse loop is used to turn a whole train around.  Although it works in real life, your train will short out because the tracks deliver power to the train, one rail is +, while the other is -, so when the two rails meet, the electricity shorts out because + meets-.  Picture a reverse loop like this: apiece of flex track is bent to form a lobe that connects to the diverging routes of a switch.

  • Spurs in same direction:

In this picture the switch is pointing "away" from the front of the train making it easier to switch cars.

This photo shows the front of the train "facing" the switch.  in order for cars to be switched, the engine will have to  run around to the other end somehow.
The one thing that a lot of people forget is that spurs that the train can simply back into are not nearly as challenging as a spur that the locomotive must run around the train in order to back cars into the spur. So try to make spurs go in opposite directions. note; Most plans that you get in books have this problem. However, if you like the look of one of those plans, just switch the direction of a few of the spurs (roughly half).

  • Clearance: 

This problem may not be so big because you can see it easily on the train layout during construction.  If you run into this problem, just move the obstruction a 1/2 inch or so. if a train is hitting a bridge as it is coming out of a curve, try to add a short straight section between the curve and the bridge.
if a bridge is too low and the train is hitting it as the train travels under the bridge, try to make the grade leading to the bridge a LITTLE steeper.  This makes the bridge higher and will allow the train under.  and don't worry about the grade, anything under 5% should be negotiable to most engines.

  • The track plan is only a reference:

Too many people get stuck into making the plan exact,  little changes will not hurt future plans in any way.

The second way to get a track plan is to look at one on the web or in a book. 101 track plans is great as well as magazines such as Model Railroader, and Classic Toy Trains. being aware of the same things as above, select a track plan and try to fit it as closely as possible into your given space. this is a very good option if one isn't good with paper.

After getting a plan made, be sure that it fits into the selected space.  make sure that the layout is not wider than three feet up against a wall and make sure that it is not wider that six on a peninsula.  Just make sure that  EVERY place on the layout is accessible. A train will eventually stop or derail in any place you can't reach.

So now that everything has been planned out, it is time to start building.

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