Jump to content

Our basement layout


scott

Recommended Posts

Hi there--I'm new here, and Bernard suggested that I start a thread here about the layout I'm about to build (with the help of a friend and my 6-year-old son). I'll be using a lot of Kato parts and a mix of Japanese and American trains (and eventually European, too, I hope).

 

Here's the trackplan--it's about 15 feet on the longest side, and is going to eat up a good chunk of our basement. That's pretty big for us, but I figured I might as well do something nice right away, rather than giving the kid a little loop he'd get bored with. (We took him to see someone's O-scale layout, which was just three nested rectangular loops. He loved the trains, but whispered in my ear, "Dad...how come they just go around in circles?"  :) ). So I cleaned out a workable part of the basement and designed this (fwiw):

 

[smg id=271]

 

Although I originally planned a point-to-point, double-mainline layout, the fact is that a six-year-old is going to want his trains (and I do have to remember this *is* his layout....) to run continuously when he wants them to. The red line is the "express line"--it uses 19"-radius curves, and will be for a 500 Shinkansen and (I hope) an Acela set, which my son really wants. The blue line will be for a mix of Amtrak and other passenger stuff (I should have said that we'll be using entirely passenger equipment), and uses 15-inch curves. The orange line is a point-to-point "local" line so that I can run EMUs and railcars.

 

The plan is to have a few ridges that split the layout up visually. The orange and blue lines will climb over the red line to the right of the station, and the blue line will stay 2" above the rest on the right side. The red line will stay pretty flat; the others might get more grades. However, I like Bernard's idea of eventually adding a yard for the red line on the left side, so we'll see how that meshes with the terrain plans.

 

The wood is all waiting in our basement, so with any luck construction will begin soon...

Link to post
Darren Jeffries

This looks a good plan. Welcome to JNS and I look forward to seeing the progress.

Link to post

Hi Scott - This looks like it is going to be a fun layout.

There is one concern I do have, the length of the layout is 15' which is a nice size but what is the width of it. My concern is with that corner on the west side (left on the plan) are you going to have enough room to access it, even with the hole in the center, when you start putting down track, build scenery or have to get to a derailment? If the layout is in the center of a room you might not have that problem but if it's built to the walls if could be a problem.

 

I agree with you about having a continuous running layout, kids want to see trains running, disappear into tunnels and come out of nowhere. And he will be the hit on his block with his friends.

 

Another suggestion besides the yard, since you have 3 independent lines, why not put either turnouts or a double crossover so that the trains can switch into other lines? You could do somewhere in the center of the layout at either the station area or the other side with a little re-designing.

 

As for the yard, if would be ideal to have it service all three lines. This can be done with either going into one main line and switching over to the other lines (see the above paragraph) or from the yard go into any of the main lines.

 

The Red line is going to level and the Orange & Blue lines will be elevated. So that means, on the East side (right) of the plan, they start out 2" elevated but will be at level ground when they come into the station in the center. My concern is the Blue line at the loop area, what will the grade have to be from that point to get level into the station? You might be fine, but lets check if you are giving yourself enough room and clearance to get to ground level before the station.

 

I know I've posed a lot of questions but it's fun to solve potential problems in the design phase. For me this is the fun part of model RRing. Scott thanks for starting this thread.

Link to post

Thanks!

 

Bernard - What the layout plan doesn't show is that there's just enough space to squeeze by between the wall and the layout on the left side. This is both to provide access to that side of the layout and to make sure that I can get to the water-shutoff valve for the house!

 

I'd love to have the lines interconnect, but since I can't really afford DCC right now, and want to keep the initial setup as simple as possible to avoid the project stalling, I was planning to stick with DC. (Also, most of the equipment I already have is not DCC-friendly.) I'm not sure how I could interconnect the lines with DC.

 

As for the slopes, I had to use 4% grades, but that was about the only way I could make it work. And I don't plan to be running long freight trains, so I think we'll be OK most of the time.

 

Good questions...

Link to post

The great thing about Unitrack is that you can set up your layout and see how things work out. I used flex track and that isn't an option.

 

Scott, when are you planning to start building your bench work?

Link to post

With any luck, we might be able to start this weekend. I have a friend who's a carpenter who's going to help out.

 

I also need to order all the track etc. pretty soon. I suppose we should consider DCC one more time, if there's a way to do it for a comparable price, but I'm leery of having to add decoders to my various pre-DCC engines.

Link to post
CaptOblivious

With any luck, we might be able to start this weekend. I have a friend who's a carpenter who's going to help out.

 

I also need to order all the track etc. pretty soon. I suppose we should consider DCC one more time, if there's a way to do it for a comparable price, but I'm leery of having to add decoders to my various pre-DCC engines.

 

I don't think that Bernard meant that you had to use DCC; he just thinks—as do I—that it would be handy if there were someplace where a train on one line could cross over onto another of the three lines. This way, your 500-series, for example, could run on the red, blue, and orange lines, without having to resort to picking the train up off the tracks. DCC not required! But a few more (possibly expensive) pieces of Unitrack are required.

Link to post

Hi Pilotfish,

That is a pretty cool looking layout.

 

A few suggestions about getting Amtrak equipments.  The Acela Set does not work on curves less that 21 inches.  Trust me I have one dormant in my basement.  Also, other Bachmann equipments are just as disappointing as the Spectrum product for Amtrak.  Unless you are going to get Kato, Con-cor, or Atlas, do not touch Bachmann with a ten foot pole.

 

I am not doing this to disrespect Bachmann, I am doing this to save you frustration and money you have.  I wish someone would told me when I was new to n scale.

Link to post

I don't think that Bernard meant that you had to use DCC; he just thinks—as do I—that it would be handy if there were someplace where a train on one line could cross over onto another of the three lines. This way, your 500-series, for example, could run on the red, blue, and orange lines, without having to resort to picking the train up off the tracks. DCC not required! But a few more (possibly expensive) pieces of Unitrack are required.

 

Well, it sounds like a great idea to me, too. But how could it work with DC? Would it mean that the entire layout would be on one DC controller and only one train could run at a time? (As-is, I could run three trains at the same time, on separate lines.) I'd love to find a way to connect everything up.

 

(Pardon me for being slow, but I'm still trying to learn all this. I really appreciate all the advice and ideas).

 

--scott

Link to post

Hi Pilotfish,

That is a pretty cool looking layout.

 

Thanks! I can't wait to get it going...

 

A few suggestions about getting Amtrak equipments.  The Acela Set does not work on curves less that 21 inches.  Trust me I have one dormant in my basement.

 

Thanks for the warning--I mainly wanted to get one because the kid wants one, but I'd hate for it to give him problems. I'm not going to be able to go above 19"--the room's not big enough (unless I encircle the central stairs and furnace, which would make me very unpopular at home). Also, the next size up with Unitrack is 28", iirc.

 

Also, other Bachmann equipments are just as disappointing as the Spectrum product for Amtrak.  Unless you are going to get Kato, Con-cor, or Atlas, do not touch Bachmann with a ten foot pole.

 

So far, we don't have much Bachmann stuff, and the only important Bachmann item is a new set with an E60 and 3 Amfleet coaches. The rest of the Amtrak stuff is a mix of various brands, all used. We'll eventually weed out what doesn't work.

Link to post

No problem, we're all learning here. ;) The best way to find out is to ask questions.

 

As I see it, on your layout if you run DC, you can have 3 trains running at the same time on separate lines. But if you want to, you can interconnect all three lines with switches, then you can have the possibility or running a train on all three lines for a long run with the possibility of ending on the furthest line. You can then bring out other trains to take their place on there own individual lines. No matter what, from your plan you will need 3 DC transformers.

 

CaptO is right Kato switches aren't cheap though but they give you lots of options. Now if you want to have the option of running individual lines with interconnection, you will have to insulate the three lines. This means that when a train changes over to another line, it will be going onto another power source and you need to isolate those two sources. This is simply done by putting plastic (insulated) rail joiners at some point before or after a switch.

 

But this is something you can do at another time, as I said with Unitrack, you have the option of setting the track up and taking it apart and adding on before you make a permanent layout. It's your layout and the most important thing is to have fun! ;)

 

Alright that's a lot to absorb and I hope I explained it accurately.

Link to post

<light goes on> Ohhhh, now I get it--thanks! I even know why I was confused--I was  thinking that crossing an insulated gap would cause a short while the two powered trucks were on different power sources. But that was what I had read about reversing loops, where the polarity reverses.

 

So--is it just a matter of making sure that "forward" and "reverse" are the same directions on each line? And could this work with a double crossover as well as a regular switch?

Link to post
CaptOblivious

 

<light goes on> Ohhhh, now I get it--thanks! I even know why I was confused--I was  thinking that crossing an insulated gap would cause a short while the two powered trucks were on different power sources. But that was what I had read about reversing loops, where the polarity reverses.

 

So--is it just a matter of making sure that "forward" and "reverse" are the same directions on each line? And could this work with a double crossover as well as a regular switch?

 

Yep, that's the easy way, and the way I was first thinking about. But this might not be the route you want to take, since your son may not understand the importance of keeping the polarity matched during switching. You probably want something more reliable.

 

The slightly more difficult but more reliable way is to use something like the ubiquitous Atlas panel switches (e.g. the 210 DPDT: http://store.bluemountaintrains.com/servlet/-strse-110/Atlas-%23210-Twin/Detail ). You would pick one throttle as the "master" throttle, and the other two as secondary throttles. Let's color the throttles according to which track they control, and call the red throttle the master. Normally, red throttle controls red track, blue throttle controls blue track, orange throttle orange track. But, if you flip one of the switches, now the red throttle controls both red and blue. Reset the first switch, and flip the second, and now red controls red and orange. Flip both and red controls everything. (So you only need two switches total). Now, since these are double-pole double-throw switches, each switch can control two things simultaneously: you can interlock the turnouts with the panel switches, so that the turnouts only work when the proper panel switch is thrown.

 

I know this is complex, but I can work up a wiring diagram for you later today that should make it clear, if someone else doesn't beat me to it ;)

Link to post

Yep, that's the easy way, and the way I was first thinking about. But this might be the route you want to take, since your son may not understand the importance of keeping the polarity matched during switching. You probably want something more reliable.

 

OK--I was assuming you'd have to set it up so the polarity *couldn't* be mismatched, but perhaps that's naive. :)

 

Now, since these are double-pole double-throw switches, each switch can control two things simultaneously: you can interlock the turnouts with the panel switches, so that the turnouts only work when the proper panel switch is thrown.

 

I know this is complex, but I can work up a wiring diagram for you later today that should make it clear, if someone else doesn't beat me to it ;)

 

"It has baffles and channels--it would take a scientist to explain, and I'm from the humanities."

  -- Joel Hodgson, MST3K

Link to post
CaptOblivious

OK--I was assuming you'd have to set it up so the polarity *couldn't* be mismatched, but perhaps that's naive. :)

 

No, that's not really possible, sadly. It's not possible to force the polarity switches on the throttle to match: Curious hands can always flip just one switch! Which ends in disaster.

 

"It has baffles and channels--it would take a scientist to explain, and I'm from the humanities."

  -- Joel Hodgson, MST3K

 

You are not allowed to hide behind the veil of the humanities! For I too am from the humanities :D  I'm a philosopher by trade.

I think a diagram would help you see what I mean a lot.

 

A Note: I was mistaken about needing a DPDT (double-pole double-throw) switch, you need a 4PDT (4-pole double-throw) switch. These are still very cheap and easy to use! 4-pole means that the switch can work 4 lines simultaneously. Which is good, because track requires two lines (one + and one -) and the switch also requires 2 lines (one to close and one to throw). The double-throw just means there are two positions for the switch. A triple-throw switch has three, and a single-throw has two, but one is "disconnected".

 

In the top diagram, the 4PDT switch is set so that the red throttle controls both red and blue tracks, and the turnout is "activated". In the bottom diagram, the 4PDT switch is set so that the red throttle controls the red track, the blue the blue track, and the turnout is "inactivated". The only source of unreliability is that if the switch is left "thrown", you could get the polarity mismatch we are trying to avoid…so you still have to be careful, but it is at least harder for curious hands to do damage this way.

 

I hope this helps you visualize what I was trying to describe.

 

Finally, to control a crossover, which has four leads coming out of it instead of two, you need a 6PDT switch…

masterthrottle.png

Link to post

This may be hard to believe, but I think I actually understand that diagram.  :)

 

I didn't get it until I realized that all four portions of the switch changed their binary option at the same time.

 

Thanks very much for doing that--I really appreciate the help, and I'm going to keep that diagram for future use.

 

Edit--just came up with a question. Does the red throttle need to have two DC outputs?

Link to post
CaptOblivious

This may be hard to believe, but I think I actually understand that diagram.  :)

 

I didn't get it until I realized that all four portions of the switch changed their binary option at the same time.

 

Thanks very much for doing that--I really appreciate the help, and I'm going to keep that diagram for future use.

 

Edit--just came up with a question. Does the red throttle need to have two DC outputs?

 

No. You can split the one output into two. If you are using the Kato throttles, Kato makes a special splitter cable; indeed, it comes in a three-way version, which is what you'll need to control all three lines from the red throttle. Kato part no. 24-827 “3-Way Extension Cord, 35"” is all you'll need.

Link to post
CaptOblivious

This may be hard to believe, but I think I actually understand that diagram.  :)

 

I didn't get it until I realized that all four portions of the switch changed their binary option at the same time.

 

Thanks very much for doing that--I really appreciate the help, and I'm going to keep that diagram for future use.

 

I believe it! A diagram can go a long way to make a complex idea simple. In this case, the idea isn't actually so complex, but it is hard to communicate in words. And, you're welcome: That's why I'm here!

 

Since we're both Mac users, if you have OmniGraffle, I can send you the file I used to make that image, which is a little clearer.

Link to post

Kato part no. 24-827 “3-Way Extension Cord, 35"” is all you'll need.

 

Oh--OK, I wondered what those were for.

 

Since we're both Mac users, if you have OmniGraffle, I can send you the file I used to make that image, which is a little clearer.

 

Thans, but I don't have that program, and it looks like it needs 10.5; I'm working with 10.3. I think the image is clear enough for me to work with.

Link to post

I knew CaptO would be able to explain it better, he even has diagrams ;)

(I have diagrams too, but I do mine on an Etch-O-Sketch.  ;D ;D)

Link to post

It's great--if the system crashes, you can just pick it up and shake it. I wish I could do that with the Windows thing I have to use at work....

Link to post

LOL and you even had a diagram for that too.  :D :D

The good thing about an Etch-O-Sketch is you don't need tech support. ;D

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...