HCD layout pros and cons?

SP&S #750 Mar 15, 2014

  1. MVW

    MVW E-Mail Bounces

    That's the solution I chose. Makes the most sense if you want a layout that's portable, durable and expandable.

  2. TrCO

    TrCO TrainBoard Member

    When I moved I stuck mine in the back of a Ford Edge. Easy as could be lol. Did it by myself too. Heavy and not portable? Don't think so.
  3. Kisatchie

    Kisatchie TrainBoard Member


    Hmm... I would think the
    doorknob would get in
    the way...
    crclass likes this.
  4. North Bank Road

    North Bank Road TrainBoard Member

    I started my second layout with Ntrak modules and kept expanding. Fre-mo was not around then in those days. It worked for me and I benefited from the association with the other Ntrakers in our group. I learned much then. No internet forums around then either! I eventually sold it all to start my home layout.

    As far as I can see ANY method to get one's layout started is better than nothing. So give HCD a try. I would avoid the flat top and use layered foam though. Realistic scenery still can be achieved.

    I still want to get back into module modeling. It was pretty fun!

    Rick, ex- Columbia River N Scale
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Ha ha. What happens if you lose the key, and cannot unlock the layout?
  6. Mike C

    Mike C TrainBoard Member

    Instead of using an actual hollow core door, just think of making a layout about the size of a door. Mine is 3' x 8' and is made totally out of foam. Not using a solid piece of wood underneath will allow you to do any type of scenery both above AND below track level. The other benefit is weight. I doubt my layout weighs more than 100 lbs. Probably less. 2" foam is very strong and rigid and will not sag as long as its supported about every 3'. Just a few ideas.....Mike
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    How do you store it? I ask, as I have a sheet of 2", which was on edge against the wall, not quite completely vertical. After a few months, it developed a "cup" type warp, the long way down that sheet..
  8. bman

    bman TrainBoard Member

    I've downsized to an apartment and ditched the basement layout and started a hollow core door one. Built it on top of 2 book shelves. Those el cheapo ones made of glued sawdust. They were on sale. Got the height I desired over the folding legs and gave me a place to store my collection of books. The only negative was for me was space. It had to be in a corner and it was hard for me to get to the back due to mobility issues I deal with. I disliked reaching over it all the time. I've since replaced it with another design, plus gotten a larger space for a longer run as I've gotten a 2 bedroom apt in the complex where I live over the 1 bedroom I had when I first got here. But I was happy with it. As far as track. Use what you wish. I don't think it matters what track you use as long as your happy with it.
  9. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    My Take

    If - A person

    • Just wants to get trains running
    • Will not be doing lots of wiring
    • Will not be adding legs - could use saw horses or cabinets or ?
    • Will likely add 2"s to 4"s of foam - for depths of scenery
    • Is happy with both the physical and psychological size restraints
    A Hollow Core Door will likely meet their needs
    If a person

    • Is willing to take the time building the bench-work
    • Wants to drop wires more easily and frequently such as for multi-train opperation
    • Intends to adding legs - which requires quite a bit more work though they could still use the saw horses / cabinets approach with open bench-work.
    • Wants greater flexibility in scenery - Um, not a huge factor given what folks can do with foam.
    • Wants greater flexibility in dimensions - Especially if they are in a constrained space
    • Can plan, cut, and screw together his bench work - Not everyone can
    Open framework construction is likely to be a better option
    • HCD - Just want to keep it, "Cheap, Easy and Quick"
    • Open Framework - Open to a more challenge and greater flexibility

    I've never built on an HCD but I certainly have done a LOT of bench-work in my life. In high school I had access to a radial arm saw. The past 10 years it has all been with hand saws and just a bit of help.
  10. robert3985

    robert3985 TrainBoard Member

    Hahaha. Sure you can, just call a locksmith! :D

    Bob Gilmore
  11. SP&S #750

    SP&S #750 TrainBoard Member

  12. Primavw

    Primavw TrainBoard Member

    I'm not sure what you mean by some of these?

    I have been working on my HCD since October and still have not completed trackwork. As others and myself mentioned before: HCD's are great for portability. Honestly I think that is the biggest factor which you seem to have omitted. Also, my HCD has legs? I'm not sure what you mean by psychological constraints? If you mean being able to see the entire layout at one time, a scenic divider is a remedy for that. Physical constraints would be the dimensions of the door, and these dimensions are reasonably long and wide for a decent layout. I personally think the HCD if perfect for an N scale layout because it allows for reasonably large curve radii and tends to be lighter and cheaper than a sheet of Plywood. Also, my trackplan calls for quite a bit of wiring, which I am almost done with. I also plan on wiring street lights, interior lights, and possibly signals. While building a basement empire with HCD's would be just plain silly, I think they fill the "starter layout" and "apartment layout" niches quite nicely.

    Also, I think I saw a few other posts about benchwork strength... well my HCD holds my weight, although I don't really climb atop my layout on a daily basis, so I'm not sure where the concern is here.

    Also, with FreeMoN being a possibility for "portable" layouts, I believe M.C. Fujiwara even mentioned setup and teardown is unreasonably long just to run some trains for an hour or two.
  13. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    Primavw and folks,
    Speed / ease of track laying - Oooops, I'm busted. I was thinking Unitrak. Don't ask me why. I don't know. :) Yes, any form of track could be used with an HCD.
    Portability - Yes, I agree that is an excellent feature of an HCD but I believe it would be possible to create an open frame with similar structural integrity though it could take more work.
    Psychological constraints - When some, (not everyone), looks at an exact space it is harder to think beyond the edges. If they instead look at an area of the room they might draw up a different plan.
    Plywood? No thank you. I feel it is too heavy and not needed.
    Wiring - Could you and anyone else share how they are running wires? Do you bury it in the foam?
    Starter and Apartment - Yes, I fully agree they would fill this need quite well.
    FreMoN - I'm just not qualified to talk about it.

    Hope this helps.
  14. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    To me, HCD is just a glorified basement ping pong table, but sized for n scale. You're still probably just building a loop. Roundy round layout on it.
    My first nscale layout was 1/4 ply with 2" of foam. Feeding wiring through that was hell. I can only imagine the pain of fishing through a hollow space. IND forget about under table switch machines. Though peco will work well. They aren't. Very big. That first layout of mine was 2x8 with a shrunk down ho plan on it. Not horrible, but not worth running mainline freights on.

    Given that, I think any benchwork that makes it easier to get folks up and running should be considered a good. More important than any flaws. Building opengrid spline roadbed may be objectively better. But any benchwork is better than no layout.
  15. YoHo

    YoHo TrainBoard Supporter

    Lots of typos there and can't seem to edit. What I get for phone posting from the airport.
  16. SP&S #750

    SP&S #750 TrainBoard Member

    As much as I'd love a massive shelf layout with plenty of running and switching, I have to work within the space constraints. Yes it will be a roundy round, it'll only be my second legitimate layout. Since my original 2 x 4 layout was very nice to have other than the glaring tracklaying flaws and newbie skills, I'd figure I'd expand upon it and re use it. I'd like to use this HCD as a testing ground to expand my skills in scenery, electronics(like working signals), operations(while basic, they'll suffice), and ultimately switching to DCC(which I've already started). An HCD may benefit me far more than a permanent island or massive shelf layout for the time being, and I'm getting tired of not having a layout and anything to do.
  17. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    The last layout plan I posted in another thread here features the hollow core door.

    1st positive feature is that they are light, 2nd is that they easily fit in the back of the average pick-up or van. 3rd is that post are already the width that is manageable from 24 to 36 inches wide. Big issue is support and mine will be properly spaced old kitchen counter base units. Additional strength will come from laminated foam for the terrain features.

    On the issue of wiring I plan for my wiring to be minimal with all turnouts manual and a few power wires here and there for track power so for methe use of about three or four hollow core doors will work and in the long run be cheaper.
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    This is what too many seem unable to comprehend. We do not all have the free time, the same amount of discretionary money, nor a vast vacant space available. Just because one person does, is no guarantee the next person is in your same situation.

    An HCD is not harmful to your enjoyment, not a waste of time or effort, in fact is quite the opposite. It's your choice, go with what works best for you, have fun, and perhaps another day in the future, an enormous empire will be a possibility. Virtually all of us began small, and took it from that point. Even the great or famous such as John Allen began with what was essentially a simple "roundy-round."
  19. SP&S #750

    SP&S #750 TrainBoard Member

    hmmmm, I also have some spare wheels from the thing I use to store my models in so I could make it easy to roll around as the office will be getting a new floor.
  20. casmmr

    casmmr TrainBoard Member

    In reading everything in this thread, I have come to the conclusion that you either LOVE the HCD or HATE the HCD. Each to his/her own. I use 2 HCD in an "L" to put my t-trak modules on. I rearrange the modules 2-3 times a year. I have over 50 completed t-trak modules, so I like to change things around every now and then. Is this good for everyone? NO, but, it meets my needs and uses my available space. Let's remember that model railroading is fun and there is no one way to do things. Craig

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