Shelf Layout for TwinGirl

TwinDad Feb 8, 2011

  1. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    So after talking a bit about what she really enjoys about playing with my trains, TwinGirl and I settled on starting out with a simple Inglenook puzzle on a shelf as her first train layout. She really enjoys building and breaking up trains, and has limited space in her room.

    So, not really having dabbled in HO since I was a kid, I have a few questions...

    My calculations - based on Atlas Code 100 track, 50 scale foot cars and an 80 scale foot loco - show that I'll need about 6-1/2 linear feet to lay the track. I'll probably put it on an 8-foot shelf with an inch of foam on top.

    I'll probably wire this DC, since she'll only be operating one locomotive and we don't have the budget for a second DCC setup. Right now I'm thinking manual ground throws... but I may revisit that given the whole "reaching over/around cars on a shelf" thing...

    A few questions, in no particular order. I'm fairly familiar with the basic construction techniques, but not with some scale-specific issues...

    1) How much minimum space should I leave in the foreground? In N I would shoot for at least 2 inches, so I'm guessing... 4?

    2) Track spacing in the yard tracks? NMRA S-8 says 2-1/16" in yards... I'm thinking 2-1/4 or 2-1/2 to give her a little extra room?

    3) Track selection. Bulletproof operation is essential, since this will be a shelf on a wall operated by a 10-year-old. But she'd like it to look nice as well. In N, Kato has the rep for being bulletproof... is that still so on HO? Assuming reasonable care in installation, is the Code 83 stuff robust enough? She's not rough on her things at all.

    3b) Are the Kato turnouts compatible with Caboose (or similar) ground throws?

    That's all for now... I'm sure I'll have more questions later.

    I appreciate the advice, all!
     
  2. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'll probably wire this DC, since she'll only be operating one locomotive and we don't have the budget for a second DCC setup. Sounds like a sound plan on this one. You can always upgrade later

    Right now I'm thinking manual ground throws... but I may revisit that given the whole "reaching over/around cars on a shelf" thing...There are ways to have no motors and still not have to reach around the cars - Joe Fugate's door latch method, Bull Frogs http://www.handlaidtrack.com/BullFrog-Manual-Turnout-Control-s/2087.htm, and several others. Also, with say a Caboose Ind. 202s or 206s ground throw you can add a bit of wire to relocate the control to this side of the track. Have you looked at Peco they have built in springs so no additional control is required - you just slide the switch back and forth with a finger uncoupling pick etc. They are a solid performer as far as manufactured switches go. They are little pricey but if you were adding in the motor cost to control and get them on sale then then are better than a good deal

    1) How much minimum space should I leave in the foreground? In N I would shoot for at least 2 inches, so I'm guessing... 4? You'll be fine with 2"

    2) Track spacing in the yard tracks? NMRA S-8 says 2-1/16" in yards... I'm thinking 2-1/4 or 2-1/2 to give her a little extra room? Another smart move here I think but remember her finger aren't as big as ours

    3) Track selection. Bulletproof operation is essential, since this will be a shelf on a wall operated by a 10-year-old. But she'd like it to look nice as well. In N, Kato has the rep for being bulletproof... is that still so on HO? Assuming reasonable care in installation, is the Code 83 stuff robust enough? She's not rough on her things at all.
    For this layout you can use Atlas code 100 or 83. I think the 83 will look better and not give her any troubles. It's pretty solid, easy to use and the price vs quality of product should make you happy in either way of code 100 or 83.

    3b) Are the Kato turnouts compatible with Caboose (or similar) ground throws? I Can't help you here as I'm not familiar with Kato track

    I hopes this helps and good luck!

    Steve
     
  3. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Steve, thanks for the feedback.

    I'm familiar with the Peco switches in N scale. They have a good rep there. One additional plus would be that it would FORCE her to make sure there's no rollingstock fouling the switch when she throws it... :D

    Right now I'm leaning pretty heavily toward the Atlas track with Caboose throws... it'll give me an opportunity to teach her about laying roadbed and such, and all of the trackwork is available at my LHS.

    Now I just have to decide whether to tunnel the throw-wires for the Cabooses or flip the yard so that all the throws are on the near side of the ladder... :D
     
  4. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    OK, so, umm... continuing on... here's the track plan so far...

    It's obviously very simple. I did include a "dummy" crossing track to add some interest to the yard lead end. It's also an excuse for a tower to guard it. Dimensions are 16x96. I plan to laminate two layers of 1" extruded foam insulation, with an optional masonite or 1/4" plywood stiffener layer at the bottom. The whole thing will be supported by standard shelf brackets. I'll carve slots in the foam to route feeder wires, and I'm considering fascia mounting a simple DC throttle. Otherwise, I may have a small panel-mount plug and a wired handheld throttle.

    Important issue. eight feet is really long. So I'm also pondering cutting the layout at the 5 foot mark (just beyond the first turnout) and rigging a module-style fastening method (not sure exactly what) so that the layout can be broken apart and moved if necessary.

    Having consulted with the future railroad mogul, we need to support the following types of cars:

    • Tanks
    • Covered Hoppers
    • Coal hoppers
    Plus the usual assortment of boxcars, flats, gons, and random freight. But the above three are her favorite. So, I would like to add scenery to support those three if I can, without cluttering up the design. I'm considering mounting half of a grain elevator against the backdrop, served by the back-most yard track. Then maybe a fuel dealer and a team track along the foreground on the left side. Would appreciate some suggestions of specific kits, preferably not too challenging for a 10-year-old with help.

    Over to the right will be a small town with (required):

    • Bakery
    • Toy Store
    • Playground (with Cookie Monster on a swingset...)
    And of course we'll need a crossing tower for the crossing.

    The streets drawn in are just doodles, to give the idea of scenery. We'll solidfy on something better once buildings are chosen.

    Anybody know where I can get an HO scale Cookie Monster?

    As before, any comments or advice (particularly suggestions of appropriate kits) would be greatly appreciated!
     

    Attached Files:

  5. ratled

    ratled TrainBoard Supporter

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  6. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the tip, ratled. That definitely looks like a book worth picking up!
     
  7. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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  8. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hello TwinDad,
    I defected back to HO scale I think about two years ago now (my memory is starting to fade ...uh oh). In N scale I was a devoted follower of Kato products to include Unitrak. In HO I have debated the what track to use issue greatly. In my opinon there are three strikes against Kato track in HO. 1. Cost it is simply much more expensive than other options. 2. Limited track selection - Kato's primary focus is N scale with limited offerings available in HO. 3. Look of track - as in N scale non integrated roadbead track I think looks better. While Kato track can be made to look great it requires great effort to do so when compared to other track options.

    What I do like about Kato track is like in N scale the tunouts motor controls are built in the roadbed, bulletproof performance and ease of use overall. For my 9x12 office layout I was seriously considering kato track and if the price was more in line with other options I think I would still seriously considering using it because of the ease of instalation and use of their turnouts.

    Now I am debating between Atlas code 83 turnouts or Peco Code 83 turnouts. Peco is attractive to me as no ground throws are required and I have concerns with my layout's yard about reaching for the ground throws. But again, cost is an issue as the already stated, the Peco turnouts are close to Kato in regards to turnout pricing.

    My advice would be to investigate track offering from Atlas as they have a good price to performance ratio.

    One thing I forgot to ask is do you know roughly how many turnouts the layout will have? As in N scale, turnouts are what drive up the cost of track for a layout. On my modest 9x12 shelf layout the cost difference for between selecting Atlas track with ground throws and Kato track was $1300.00 cheaper using Atlas track....same layout design.
     
  9. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I posted my previous comment before I looked at the track plan (duh). Your current track plan only has two turnouts. So, the cost issue really is not that large of a concern based on that layout plan. More things to consider:

    1. Atlas or Peco sectional / flex track looks better for yard / industrial areas as compared to Kato track. Again, Kato track can be made to look great but there is a fair amount of effort required to do this and in the case of a yard or industial scene lots of ground to fill in to bring the surrounding terrain up to or close to track level.

    2. If reach to the turnouts is not a concern I would suggest Peco turnouts due to their good performance and simple use (no ground throw required).

    Keep us posted :)
     
  10. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the advice, mtaylor...

    I think I've pretty much settled on Atlas C83 with Caboose ground throws. I think using the ones with built in targets will help with her operating the puzzle, by making it easier to see which way the turnouts are thrown.
     
  11. mtaylor

    mtaylor Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Good choice (none of the options were bad....just preference). At my club most of the turnouts are Atlas with Caboose ground throws and they look good and operate well. I look forard to reading about the progess and operating sessions with TwinGirl in charge :)
     
  12. shortliner

    shortliner TrainBoard Member

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    TwinDad - You can make Inglenook layouts in various lengths 5:3:3 , 3:2:2 where these are the capacity of the sidings - an HO 40' car will take 6", a 50'car about 7.5" and locos (depending on type) about 4.5" -8" Remember that in addition you need a couple of inches or so beyond the turnout to prevent the cars from side-swiping each other. The tail track beyond the first turnout should hold a loco + the same number of cars that your shortest spur can hold. I suggest a good poke about on Carls site Micro/Small Layouts for Model Railroads, The Model Railways Shunting Puzzles Website or looking at RMweb.co.uk (You'll find me on there - mainly in the overseas modelling section)- you don't need to be a member to look, but you do to post. If you need any more answers, please ask
    Jack aka Shortliner
     
  13. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the tips, Jack!

    I actually designed the track plan based on the information provided at the Model Railways Shunting Puzzles Website... it's set up to work as a 5:3:3 with 50 foot rolling stock and an 80 foot locomotive (she has a GP38 and likes modern equipment), plus clearance space around the turnouts. I also took the liberty of stretching it to a standard shelf length. It's a bit generous, but with a kid operating it, I wanted a little room for some sloppiness. Plus I extended the lead track and first yard track the full length of the shelf so that I can add another shelf later if I want, and convert the Inglenook into a double-track spur off a branch line. The stretching didn't really add enough track to allow cheating, unless she's using shorter cars.

    Arendt's site is one of my favorite places to poke around. The layouts featured there are fabulous.

    I'll be sure to check out the third site. That one is new to me.

    Edit: I just checked... with a SW7 and 40 foot boxcars, if I shift the crossing a couple of inches to the right, I can use it as the "yard limit"...

     
  14. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    I'm going to have to do some research on Inglenooks, but to get back to the basis in HO...

    Personally, I also think you're givng a biut much real-estate for "flop-Over" protection. Not thst it's a bad thing, but I don't think there's any part of the HO club I'm in where we give much more room than you are in N. If you'd like to use some of that land for something else, all you need is a pinch more than the height of the tallest car. And at that, you can go a bit shorter, if you give yourself a short lip (rolled plaster strip would do) on the top, like a ground berm, so that if a car does tip, it lands at an agle on only a single small point of contact versus it's whole side.

    Another poster recomendded putting Caboose throws on wires to move them out. It's a good idea, but you MUST make sure you get a rodust enough wire. Otherwise, the wire will bunch up under the track it's reaching past, and pop the caboose throw apart. Likewise, that switch needs to be fairly free-throwing, and if the switch is free, then the Caboose MUST assure it's closed so youdon't derail on a partially thrown switch. Ask me how many times NWR has had to refeed a Throw wire that bunched and fubared a switch. Not hard, but a pain in the butt.

    Beyond that, good luck,and congrats on converting another one to the Dark Side!
     
  15. Larry Hepker

    Larry Hepker TrainBoard Member

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    Feed that throw rod extension through a piece of brass or styrene tubing that is buried in a groove under the track and there is less chance of kinking. Airplane modelers use a control rod system of a tube inside of another tube for the same thing but s bigger diameter. I use some airplane control rods for linkage under the layout. There is a short passing siding where both turnouts, through linkage, are thrown by 1 machine.
     
  16. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    OK, a little bit of progress.

    First, I've changed the layout somewhat. It still contains an Inglenook, but it's slightly modified. I went and looked over Lance Mindheim's website, and on his blog he has an example layout he calls the "Skills Builder."

    [​IMG]

    It's 16" deep by 8 feet long.

    Got some foam today, and TwinGirl carved it up. I had to glue it for her. It's hard to manhandle a caulk gun full of Liquid Nails with only one functional 10-year-old hand.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It'll be a little bit before we make much more progress. I've got some brown paint for the base coat, and some ground cover we can start with, but we've got to acquire some track and so on...
     
  17. Stonewall

    Stonewall TrainBoard Member

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    Why on earth would you have an 80 scale foot loco on a 6 and a half foot shelf layout? Use a switch loco, and leave some room for a very short train. STEVE
     
  18. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    *I* wouldn't have an 80 scale foot loco on a 6-1/2 foot shelf. But...

    A) It's an 8-foot shelf
    B) The GP38 (only 60 scale feet - though I'm allowing for bigger) is the one SHE fell in love with at the train show and bought with her own allowance.
    C) It's HER layout... she can run whatever keeps her having fun playing with trains.

    Who am I to argue with a 10 year old kid spending her own money? If she was doing what *I* thought was best, she'd have an N scale around the walls dogbone... :D

    (No offense to my HO scale brethren... I'm secretly looking forward to this foray into a new, larger scale...)

    I have a Plymouth from my childhood that she will inherit as soon as we have track laid. I imagine in reality it will get more run time on the shelf than the Geep.
     
  19. Jon Grant

    Jon Grant TrainBoard Member

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    I hope Twingirl didn't put that Stanley knife straight through the the bedroom carpet when she was cutting the board.

    Jon
     
  20. Flashwave

    Flashwave TrainBoard Member

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    One for the "There's a Prototype for Everything", in the Mid-Size Trackplans under the NS plan, there is a story of them having to use 2 of those 80ft locos to switch. Admittedly because their shoving coal up a short, steep grade, but there's multiple switch moves to have to be made.
     

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