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My Japan in NH with uni-track


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Okay so I could use some help with my layout...


It's moving along well but there are few areas which while functional, are not aesthetic. I'm not running DC. But given that I have 4 separate loops I can thus run 4 gains at once via 4 power supplies. I have freight, commuter, and bullet trains; mainly kato and tomix. The village with be lit via LED (question there on capacitors to avoid blowing LEDs with AC).


Picts coming asap...

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The main table is  3x9ft and the rail yard L is 2x5ft. Here are some picts... from 1/29/12 as it changes daily. Really I need help with the last picture area. It just looks awkward and unnatural. any ideas? -I was thinking about a mountain to break it up visually.... BUT I have 3 switches in the immediate area so I need access. maybe a partial mountain?






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I think the problem is that there is nothing but track there, and you have the controls at the end, so you're looking at it.  I'd suggest moving your operating position to the right side (facing the station) if you can, where the raised track will help hide the back two tracks.  A removable hillside at the "back" (from that viewing position) would hide the lower-level track and switches as well (and could be a good idea even if you move the operating position).  The downside is that this might also make it harder to operate since you won't be able to see the switches or the placement of trains near them.


It's hard to see, but it looks like the station double-track goes to a single track at the back and joins up with the stub track visible behind the rear set of buildings as you enter the station on the right side.  If that's so, another thing to consider is taking the track to single track at the left side of the station (using a switch rather than the V15 adapter at that end).  That effectively moves one of the two switches at the back out to where it's visible.  And it means you only need to think about the setting of one switch that's out of sight. I think that's also better operationally, as you now have a single track station on a loop (so running in either direction on the left/front track in the station makes sense) that joins a branch (back/right single track).

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You have a potential disaster at your rail yard entry/exit. One switch in the wrong position could have a derailment and trains going off the edge. I try to leave a few inches of space as a buffer. Keep a eye on it.




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Inobu... yeah I noticed that... I plan on putting up 1 inch tall of plexiglass along the rail yard edges asap... nothing derailed yet= caution/much luck....


btw... my rail yard is largely FUNCTION over form... Yes it has a bad ballast job and will have a lit control tower BUT nothing like the detail I hope to achieve for the main layout.... perhaps in my next layout I'll place the rail-yard bellow the main layout table... ugh here I go with a rail-yard relocation... asap.

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Mudkip Orange

I don't think it looks bad at all. You just have to scenic it with concrete/block walls instead of grass. Lots of urban railway intersections are that dense. Even some in the US

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I agree with Mudkip ... just keep on going ... that busy section is a nice contrast to other parts of the layout.





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UNDER the layout rail yard... Question-


What is the max grade I can run my trains at? (in order to transition from the above layout to the under table rain yard/train storage).


I set up a mock incline and so far it "feels like" 1in down for 6in distance.... is that nuts? I know my grades are 3% on the layout for function AND form.... but for strictly function????


From the top edge of the low portion of the layout to the bottom of the train table frame is 8inches... then what do I need? 24 more inches between rail yard and bottom of layout?


=8+24=32inches= 16ft of "ramp" (32inches down in 16ft of ramp?)




OOORRR soften the incline/raise up rail yard..? Say rail yard is 18 bellow table bottom... AND 1in down in 1.86ft decline....


so 18+8=26inches in say 14ft? 


Anyone's thought's?

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3-4% is usually the max before many trains start to have some issues of slipping or also getting your transitions from not being a big hump or dip which can cause running and coupling issues. folks get away with more with some trains.


if you want to do 26" vertical you will need like 72' of slope to get a 3% grade.  (26 x 0.03)/12


for a change of like a foot or more you might think about a helix, but dont know if you have room for that. folks have made them using unitram viaduct track. you can do it at about a 3% grade with them and get about 3" vertical rise per turn. one fast way is to use long threaded bolts that you can use to bolt on supports for the tracks every 3". other way is to make some wood strips with little blocks on them every 3" to fit in the little notch on the bottom side of the viaduct track and have these on each side of the viaduct. only issue with using viaduct track is that if something derails its a bit harder to get out the side because of the walls, so you could use plate track. taint cheap though as this costs like $40/turn and 26" would mean 9 turns or $360 in track...


you can do this with flex track and cut circles out of like 3/16" plywood to affix the track to, but that ends up costing some $$ as well and is a bit of work.


this is what most folks do to move trains vertically to staging areas or between a top and bottom layout.





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Well, this is interesting...I thought I was going to be the only one to say it looks pretty good...just needs some appropriate scenery (styrofoam and expanding foam always looks like a disaster, the sooner you can cover it up the happier you'll be!) as I think your overall track plan is actually pretty cool!


I have some similar challenges with my own layout...and the only way I can fix it is less track or more space (and neither one of those is an option)!  Of course, if you're looking for a more rural look, then you may want to consider removing a track or re-locating it.  But I like it!


Here are some photos of how I attempted to create something looking like real scenery out of some similar challenges, I hope these help:

Basic 'cut' through an urban area with brick walls:




A very congested area with track everywhere...what's not too visible is that one of my lines runs underneath all of these bridges and then goes into a tunnel to get on the outside of one of those lines.  A huge mess, but it worked out okay:


Bridges and Cross-Under by quinntopia, on Flickr


Here's the same spot, from the opposite angle....


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for a change of like a foot or more you might think about a helix, but dont know if you have room for that. folks have made them using unitram viaduct track. you can do it at about a 3% grade with them and get about 3" vertical rise per turn. one fast way is to use long threaded bolts that you can use to bolt on supports for the tracks every 3". other way is to make some wood strips with little blocks on them every 3" to fit in the little notch on the bottom side of the viaduct track and have these on each side of the viaduct. only issue with using viaduct track is that if something derails its a bit harder to get out the side because of the walls, so you could use plate track. taint cheap though as this costs like $40/turn and 26" would mean 9 turns or $360 in track...


Also, the one I'd seen done this way used the old non-banked viaduct track, which you can't get (from Kato anyway) anymore.  Doing it with the banked track might be problematic (which has me re-thinking my original plan to do one this way) as the trains would be leaning in towards the middle of the curve, and that would make long/heavy ones more prone to "clotheslining" (toppling over towards the middle of a curve).


Most Kato trains are rated for 4% grades.  If you run short trains you might be able to get away with considerably more, but test, test, test.  And keep in mind that some trains have rubber traction tires on driving wheels, and others don't.  Be sure you test with the worst case (heaviest train, weakest motor, metal wheels) and if you use a cleaning solution that leaves an oily residue (and many do), use that on your test track to ensure you're getting the worst traction. Also, if the grade has a curve, you won't be able to climb as steep a grade as if it's all straight, so test what you plan to build if you go for a heavy grade.


I'm planning to do a helix to storage, and my goal is to keep it under 3% (I'd like to do even less, but my radius is limited and clearance becomes an issue, as does the length of track (time spent in the helix) and cost.

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Martijn Meerts

Building a helix is an interesting experience, but I have to say, I'm not tempted to do it again. For my upcoming helix I'm seriously looking at using Tomix viaduct track (the non-banked stuff is still readily available as far as I know), or find a place that can build the wooden structure for me.


Right now, the only disadvantage I can think of with using Tomix track (or Unitrack for that matter) is that I need to solder more feeders as compared to flex track. You'll want your helix to have reliable power, because it's hard to fix anything once it's in place.

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thanks for the suggestions... I'm headed to the basement to do more testing...


Since my rail yard only fits (at most) a 8 car length train per siding... AND my freight locos are rather large.... I'll be using the weakest link (an eight car Shinkansen Nozomi) for the tests....


here goes...


I plan on 1/2 by 2inch wide boards (with side rails) for the inclines with standard uni-track... Also the curves will be on level plaines.



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one little idea we have been noodling on here with a new jrm mini layout concept is to have manual train transport track and do a sort of RORO sytem. this would be a piece of track (probably about 4' long to hold 7-8 car trains) mounted on a piece of wood like 2" wide and 1/2" thick. this would then have spot on the layout that it could be dropped into (probably with a little pin to lock the unit in precisely) so that the track would mate up with the end of a siding (coming out the end of a station passing siding probably.)


this would then let you drive trains onto the transport track, then lift it off and mate it to a yard elsewhere for storage. or as we are thinking for the mini layout (which would not have a yard, but only a couple of sidings to store trains) we would just have several of these transport tracks so you could be putting trains on/off the tracks on a side table while the layout is in use. we could also have extra transport track to just have them out of the table for display like we do in the big jrm layout yard, but this way it could easily be separate and does not require a big investment in space or money for points to create the yard ladder. we were looking for ways to keep the overall layout size down but still run larger 7-8 car trains on it and keep it as simple and compact as possible.


we could create a little U cover to fit over the train on the transport track so that if you did accidently tip it the train would not tumble off the track onto the floor, but maybe just derail. but if the U was designed right it could almost even prevent it from coming off the tracks, kind of like those german storage cases, but not pressure fit with foam (you can twirl those cases once closed).


i have heard of this being done on some euro point to point layouts to create a turntable for a small train in a small space.


only draw back is i think about 4' long would be the limit so 8 cars, but a 16 car train could be done and just broken into two.


going to fiddle with this soon and see how well it works.


ive been thinking of doing this for years as a way to display my trains at home. idea would be that these transport tracks would just then sit on nice wall rack as shelves. then have a plex box that would fit over the whole rack (like 4' wide by 3' high and like 3" deep) to keep it safe and dust free. could even do one 8' long for my full 16 car shinkansen sets and just have the trains on 2 4' transport tracks back to back with 8 cars each. i think these would make a quite stunning display. make the back panel a really rich cherry to make the trains pop and the racks to hold the transport tracks could be nice light colored dowels (and of course use a little pin on each to hold the transport track firmly in place on the dowel).


figured this would be easier than doing the multiple yard levels with either helixes between them or trying to do the elevator yard system where you could stack them and just lower the one you wanted at any one time into position with the layout.





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Jeff, what you are describing reminds of those round storage/moving units we once spoke about here.


Or maybe you can make a train elevator... ^^

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hmm well here we are so far... is this nuts???? 6inches in 8ft? what grade is that?


-curve is on level area. -testing says its doable. still nuts?


this is my semi mockup. with 1 of 3-4 8ft long declining plaines. again finished project will have rails to prevent shinkansenacide.


ps. the word of day is: shinkansenacide


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thats a 6.25% grade. you will also have to deal with the level to grade transitions. longer cars hate these the most and couplers (especially rapidos) tend to come apart on them. the more the grade the harder to get a gentle and even transition, especially with segmented track.


you might get trains up there, but i fear you will hear a lot of spinning wheels. one of our club members had a grade of 4-5%. he could get trains up it pretty well, but it needed some speed and the wheels were squealing something bad. he is deaf so he never noticed it! but he did loose a couple of traction tires and im sure it also put some wear on the power cars.



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You know you could rotate those pictures by 90° before posting them right?  :cheesy


my mac air auto rotates images from my iPhone... so until I post them... they are correctly aligned.. =not sure how to fix end result seen in my forum posts... sorry



I'm kinda stuck with this grade here as I need to clear the table with one ramp... after this ramp all lower inclines can/will be more gradual... but here I'm kinda stuck... Just had an idea


whats the grade on 5 inches in 12 ft length?  I just had a construction idea....

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Hey no problem, it's just not very practical and comfortable to look at them like that. And that doesn't help to understand what's going on. I don't know with Mac but with PCs you can rotate pictures on the fly by the viewer and it will automatically save them like that. Maybe you need to open those in a picture software (like photoshop or something lighter) first and rotate them there.

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btw... thanks again for all the feedback so far... this forum is awesome... I'll be back here later this eve for sure but off to Home depot for more supplies now

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That sounds nice! :)


Another idea, take your pictures in a panoramic format so you won't have to find a way to rotate them! Should make your life easier.

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Jeff, what you are describing reminds of those round storage/moving units we once spoke about here.


Or maybe you can make a train elevator... ^^


are you thinking those are the big revolvers, where you have a big ferris wheel of tubes with tracks and you can just rotate in the train you want. problem with those is all those bloody gimbals you need! at least 2 for each train. and the tubes are not cheap.


ive been looking for clear plastic tubes for trains (preferably square) that are a decent price to do the transport track with so you could run them into a track in the tube and place the tube on the wall display rack. there is a commercial system out there that does this (they also do the clamshell case for a train track as well), but these are horribly expensive. i have found nothing that is suitable at an affordable price. there is nice plex square tubing that can be used, but its $5 per foot so $20 for a 7/8 car train. there is thinner tentile tubing (like they use for packaging) but its a bit thin for long term use i think and it only comes in round at the size that would be needed for trains and a track. round then means you need to attach a base to keep it from rolling... while $20 per train does not sound too bad, when you multiply that by over 100 trains, ouch... one option for the tubing is florescent tube protectors. the industrial long, large dia light protectors are pretty thick walled i have heard and are about 2" ID and 60" long and run about $10, but they are round.


ive also seen the elevator with like 4 yards that move up/down to match the one you want to the layout. you could probably do 4 at 10" apart and move the whole thing up down together. trying to create a mechanism that would let you move each level individually would be a nightmare. still going to be a big think to move a set of 4 yards like that up and down, quite a bit of engineering required. thats why i like the transport track idea as its really easy to put them where ever you have space for them. ive noodled on a few ideas of how to have a bunch on a shelf or table stacked up against each other and easily lift one out, but its going to have to be something i sit down and play with at size i think to see how it all works out well.


i really do want to try the idea of the transport track. i think it has some thing there thats pretty simple and versatile. imagine a wall covered with your trains on little shelves floating there! wow! my design partner and i have talked over the years about seeing if the japanese embassy would be into doing a small exhibit on japanese trains. part photo show, part educational on the mechanics and history, maybe a micro layout with hyper detailing, and part could just be displays of models in nice cases like this. when framed well these trains really look lovely and their design meshes so well with doing a very simple and light wood japanese treatment. would be stunning.





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I would say, if you don't want it to be transparent you can always use those carton "boxes/rolls" that one can buy to store papers. They come round or square with round angles with white plastic leads to close the both sides. They are quite inexpensive. Don't know how to describe those better but I'm sure you know what I mean.

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