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Bigfoot21075 Aug 15, 2022

  1. Bigfoot21075

    Bigfoot21075 TrainBoard Member

    Hi Everyone,

    I think I have the layout I wish in SCARM (THANKS for all of the help - I truly appreciate the motivation and encouragement as well). I am building and HO layout it is 5' by 11.5', with a 3' by 2' bump out. I am building it in 3 modules so when I retire in 10 years I can take it with me. I KNOW 5' is a big ask for reach, but to get most of what I want, it needs to be that size. Not ideal, but it is what it is. Good thing I am tall!

    I am having trouble with track selection. I LOVE the look of Micro Engineering weathered flex track. I have read Peco turnouts are the way to go. When I was designing my N scale I used Kato Unitrack in SCARM, the turnouts are 100% self contained. Peco uses something mounted under the table I think, correct?

    Do I want code 83 track or code 70 track. Is there an advantage of one over the other? I know code 55 and be iffy on some cars and loco's.

    How tricky is the to make work?

    If my turnouts end up on risers or thick foam is that a problem?

    Does PECO make a turnout that simply works out of the box like Kato turnouts with no changes?

    What about roadbed. I know some of you craftsmen whip out your saber saws and hand cut everything, I would like to avoid that. Homabed comes pre shaped which I think will help me keep my curves at the correct radius but I doubt you can stick pins in it to hold down flex track so how do you get around that?

    Is it true that cork and foam simply don't last very long? I read somewhere it was 10 years and it was deteriorating!

    I plan on a double bus line (14 gauge) running around each module connected with deans connectors or the like. 1 bus for DCC track power, another for DC accessories like lights, little motors and other stuff. Does that sound right?

    I am sorry for the newbie questions! I am ready to start my bench work, I will also put it ion folding legs with casters so I can reach all parts of the table. Now i am tinking I need a solid surface of Luan or plywood with foam on top of that so I have something to screw switch machines to.

    I KNOW this is an ambitious project to say the least, I also know that my space of 11.5' by 9 (open to a larger area on the 11.5' section) feet is certainly less than ideal, but I think it can work.

    THANKS AGIN, I appreciate the advice and tips.


    PS I got out to the shed this weekend and dug up the old trains from my wife's family, there was a few pieces of rolling stock and 3 HO locomotives from the 70's all in boxes. But most of it was larger American Flyer stuff with this amazingly cool transformer that you snap in these metal handles to operate. VERY COOL. it will be a nice set of wall art. One funny note, I ordered a Bachman HO Train set so I would have something I could run to test track and then convert to DCC later to use. In that kit was a silver Southern Hopper type car. When I was going through the stuff from the shed I found the IDENTICAL one in my boxes! Funny, it has not seen the light of day since 1976 (the year of the newspaper in the box) and here it is still in a train set!
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2022
    Mike VE2TRV likes this.
  2. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

    I don't believe Peco offers a turnout that will throw electrically and I'm not sure if HO versions are "snap switches" like N scale which will hold the direction you set........I'm currently working on an N scale layout and Atlas code 55 turnouts just flop back and forth till you attach some sort of throwing system. If you want to throw the turnouts from a control panel you will need under table machines . Having thick foam does complicate that.......you need longer throws to reach up thru the extra foam and if your machine is designed around a 2 inch throw and you increase that to 4 inches, the movement at the end of the bar doubles

    As far as roadbed, I like cork......it's relatively cheap, easy to form for curves and such, and works well to anchor track to. I avoid foam like the plague. It's hard to form for curves, doesn't hold track nails, and if you do use track nails it's hard get consistent tension on the track and it WILL deteriorate . I've never had any issues with cork as far as deterioration.......it DOES get dry over time and gets a little brittle, but once it's down on the layout it's fine. You'll only notice the drying if you have a piece of it laying around loose......I have a couple of pieces laying around that are probably 20 years old, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them, although they aren't quite as flexible as a new piece.

    As far as track goes, it depends on what your layout is. The lower the gauge number the lighter weight the rail would be........you wouldn't find the smaller gauges in use under a high speed passenger train or heavy freight train, and you wouldn't find the heavy stuff on a seldom used siding. RRs generally tried to save money and used the lightest rail that was safe. Some people use a mix just like the RRs. I'm not that familiar with HO track, but if it was me, I'd decide what turnouts you want and then go with the track gauge that matches. There's not a lot available in some of the gauges and they really only come into play if you are hand laying your track.

    Your wiring plan is correct.

    Good Luck and keep us updated.
    Mike VE2TRV likes this.
  3. Bigfoot21075

    Bigfoot21075 TrainBoard Member

    THANKS - GREAT response. I ordered 7 boxes of Micro Engineering code 83 weathered track. I went with 83 as it seems to be the absolute most reliable to not cause issues like code 55 or the like. The part I am not really looking forward to is building the bench work, but I will make it in 3 pieces, a 5x11.5, a 5x3.5, and a 2x3 for the bump out. I plan on putting it on castors so I can access all sides of it and I will make the legs foldable in case I ever have to move it. I now understand that the Kato N Scale unitrack switches are not normal and that most have under mounted switch machines.

    I think I can build my modules, lay my track and mark the switch positions then lay the tables on their sides to mount the switch machines. I have to go back and look but I think my updated layout design has 15 switches so it will not be cheap or easy :)
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
    Mike VE2TRV likes this.

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