Help a new guy starting out

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AmtrakFan

RRRAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
Roman,
Welcome to Model Railroad Forums. I would advise getting or having someone build a 4x8 Table to put your trains on.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
AmtrakFan said:
Roman,
Welcome to Model Railroad Forums. I would advise getting or having someone build a 4x8 Table to put your trains on.
Thanks. Me and my dad should be doing that this weekend.

In the meantime it looks like my layout will be build in 3 stages.
1. Assemble table and assemble the track, wires electrical. This is where I run out of money to buy rolling stock (maybe will get a couple boxcars) and end up running the BN trainset that I have, on the whole layout.
2. Build scenery from Lego. I have lots of Lego and have literally been playing with it since I was 3.
3. Buy rolling stock, with the layout hopefully functioning correctly by 2006.;)
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
After two days of thinking and mixing and matching I finally came up with my 4x8 layout. I know it seems confusing, but like I said before, I like switching.:p

If I was to purchase all this right now, it would knock out any future spending till next year! Hope fully I can get a lot of this stuff used at a model show.

Here's an explanation, all by color.

Black - the mainline aka the basic circle
Blue - from the mainline to the train station
Red - engine facility
Green - main yard
Yellow - industrial and spurs. Industrial areas have 15'' radius, whereas the mainline and others have 18''.

As you can see, a key feature is that trains can turn around going slowly through the industrial area.

There are two tight fits, but I think I can handle them.

Well, what do you think? How many blocks would you say this would devide into?

Thanks a lot guys for making what looks like one of the longest forum threads!
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
WOW complex! Same general layout of my Dad's future layout too! Great minds think alike hey? Cept he has 22" radius with MAYBE a few 18"s and 24"s. His is a loop, with a cross over, and an around the wall spur. Looks like you may have a fun time wiring that for DC. I think you could get away with something like 6-8 blocks? Anyone else?

*attached my dad's layout so you can see what I mean by it being close.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
WOW complex! Great minds think alike hey?
Thanks.

Looks like you may have a fun time wiring that for DC. I think you could get away with something like 6-8 blocks? Anyone else?
Considering the fact that DC allows to run multiple trains and mine is basically one huge piece I was thinkng of having maybe one block and two power sources? I don't want to do more then 4 blocks and it would be pretty hard to cut it up in my opinion.

On the bright side of things, the family has diguised and it looks like I'll be purchasing the layout right away, along with a switcher and a track cleaning car (40' boxcar). I guess it helps that the Canadian $ is pretty high and I've got a fairly generous scholarship to the university.:)

Some spend their money on cars, whereas I get a bike to go railfanning and spend the rest on trains.
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Sounds great! Hope to see progress reports when you begin construction. Good luck!

I hope to do the planning part of my dad's layout next month while I'm home, so that by Decemeber when I get home again, he should have the track layed out and everything ready for DCC installation, one I install that I can test run some trains for him...
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
Sounds great! Hope to see progress reports when you begin construction. Good luck!
Thanks again.

Now that I'm in the very final stages, I have even more questions:

If I'm going to have one DC block, do I still need plastic rail joiners, then how many?

How do insulators play into this? How many would you say I need?

As weird as this question is, is there a way to turn off engines so that they won't be effected by DC? At the depot I was hoping on having all my power stationed, how do I isolate it so that it doesn't start moving when DC comes on? Or is this where I need two blocks?
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
That would be the need for more then one block, otherwise, you'll have to remove the locomotive from the rails... One block would probly only need one insulator joint, and that woud be on the cross over to keep it from shorting out there.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
That would be the need for more then one block, otherwise, you'll have to remove the locomotive from the rails... One block would probly only need one insulator joint, and that woud be on the cross over to keep it from shorting out there.
I've been reading http://www.nmra.org/beginner/wiring.html but am still confused as to where you use two insulators and one.

I think I've solved the problem for the depo, I'll just disconnect it from the system with an insulator! Not a big hastle considering that it would look much worse empty then full of locos. I'm also considering using a similar "trick" for the main station sliding. If the train moves too far in, it'll be in offline territory, meaning it would stay there, and by moving a bit forward, it could run again!

As for insulators in general, how exactly do they work. I uderstand that if I place two pieces, there'll be no power getting through, even though the rails are still connected. But what happends if I place one piece? Also, do I need 4 pieces for the cross over or just two, maybe one?

Also, are these the right kind? http://www.walthers.com/exec/search?category=&scale=H&manu=atlas&item=55&keywords=&instock=Q&split=30&Submit=Search

I've circled the insulator area, with the places I want to put them. The two power sources will be in the top two corners.

Speaking of power sources, do I need to give speed to the other one, or is it providing energy just by being connected to the wall outlet?
 
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jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
In DC it'll have to be on, if you're using it on the same track, for it to provide a 2nd power source. As for insulators, they're just railjoiners like the metal ones, except they're plastic and no current can flow through them. I'll let someone else answer in detail as I'm quite busy getting ready to decal right now.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
In DC it'll have to be on, if you're using it on the same track, for it to provide a 2nd power source.
By on do you mean plugged in? So they don't have to be set to a certain speed such as 20miles/hour?

As I'll let someone else answer in detail as I'm quite busy getting ready to decal right now.
Sounds fun, what are you decalling? (never mind, see it in the other thread).:)

In the meantime the questions just keep coming (sort of like the island of unfinished homework the teachers kept telling me about in school).

When connecting a power source, do you use this method: http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/150-845
or this method: http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/150-842
As I'm lost. Those two appear to be competing technologies as I understand.

As dum as this question is, do track pieces include rail joiners? Or do I have to buy those separately as well? Also, is the "manual switch part" that in real life you would turn with your hands, included ussually with a turnout?
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Russian said:
By on do you mean plugged in? So they don't have to be set to a certain speed such as 20miles/hour?
It'll be like, say ones on 10 the others on 10 it should, roughly equal out to 20 then... Although speeds and DC power levels are quite varying, but thats what it'll be like. NOW say, you have, one set to 0 and the other 10 then it'll go 10...


Russian said:
When connecting a power source, do you use this method: http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/150-845
or this method: http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/150-842
As I'm lost. Those two appear to be competing technologies as I understand.

As dum as this question is, do track pieces include rail joiners? Or do I have to buy those separately as well? Also, is the "manual switch part" that in real life you would turn with your hands, included ussually with a turnout?

I'd use option 2! As the terminal joiners on the othr one are quite, annoying... As for manual switches, yes you'll have to manualy move them, depending on the manufacurer (atlas manual yes, atlas customline just has the switch stand blocks). But going with customline the transfer into the switch will be much smoother.
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
jbaakko said:
It'll be like, say ones on 10 the others on 10 it should, roughly equal out to 20 then... Although speeds and DC power levels are quite varying, but thats what it'll be like. NOW say, you have, one set to 0 and the other 10 then it'll go 10...
I see. Basically like having two engines in the car. What I was thinking was that one power pack would be working, while the other one was a back-up in case the first one couldn't handle the load.

I'd use option 2!
That's what I was thinking. I already have the 1st option powerpack that came with the trainset. Now that I think about it it's quite a masterpiece, since its a:
power pack plugin
18'' Radius curve
Road crossing
Rerailer
all at the same time!

As for manual switches, yes you'll have to manualy move them, depending on the manufacurer (atlas manual yes, atlas customline just has the switch stand blocks). But going with customline the transfer into the switch will be much smoother.
Thanks for answering, but that's still not what I'm getting at. Are the turnouts as shown: http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/150-283 or is there the little stick you use to flip the switch with your fingers, i.e. is it and the rail joiners included?
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Sorry for the delay in getting these posted. Sometimes life gets in the way of the railroad.

Figure 1 shows the absolute basic wiring: a single block and a single cab.

Figure 2 shows the same track divided into two blocks and wired for two cabs. At this point you MUST build a control panel. Basically, the control panel is the place that holds the switches and wiring that sit between the controllers (power packs, or whatever you use to provide DC to your locos; don't get hung up on terminology) and the track. The funny blobs in the middle of the control panel are double pole double throw switches.

Figure 3 shows how a double pole double throw switch is wired to connect two controllers to one block. You need one DPDT switch for each block on your layout. If you decide to have three cabs you must install double pole triple throw switches (DP3T); for four cabs, it would be double pole quadruple (or quad) throw (DP4T). DPDT switches shift side to side (or up and down). Three or more throw switches are rotary. To learn more about switches, check out http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/components/switch.htm.

Back to how many cabs you should have on your layout. The real question to answer is: How many people will be running trains on the layout AT THE SAME TIME? Looking at your track plan, I would divide the railroad into 7 blocks. At that level, you could keep 3 people busy operating: two engineers running trains and one dispatcher. When you're by yourself, you just set all controls (block switches) to cab 1 and you don't have to worry about conflicting train orders. For a 4 x 8 layout, I wouldn't recommend going beyond 3 cabs. There just isn't enough room for that many people to be operating.

Kevin
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
Are you suggesting then that the turnout doesn't normally have the piece you use to throw the switch? So I would need to buy those separately? (in case I'm lacking proper terminology, I'm talking about this yellow thing:
Yes, these need to be purchased separately. Or don't need to be purchased if you install switch machines.

Considering the fact that DC allows to run multiple trains and mine is basically one huge piece I was thinking of having maybe one block and two power sources?
Sorry. Can't be done that way. To be able to run two trains, you need a minimum of two blocks. Three trains require three blocks, and so on.

I don't want to do more then 4 blocks and it would be pretty hard to cut it up in my opinion.
As soon as I figure out how, I'll show you how to divide the track plan into 7 blocks.

How do insulators play into this? How many would you say I need?
Insulated rail joiners are used at the end (beginning) of each block to ensure that the rails don't accidentally contact each other. 14.

As weird as this question is, is there a way to turn off engines so that they won't be effected by DC? At the depot I was hoping on having all my power stationed, how do I isolate it so that it doesn't start moving when DC comes on? Or is this where I need two blocks?
As always, there are several ways to handle this. One way would be to install a "kill switch" for the track in front of the depot. A sort of "non-block" solution. Or it could be wired as part of a larger block, or as its own block. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

am still confused as to where you use two insulators and one.
Save yourself a lot of confusion and troubles. Always use two insulated rail joiners.

I think I've solved the problem for the depot, I'll just disconnect it from the system with an insulator! Not a big hassle considering that it would look much worse empty then full of locos. I'm also considering using a similar "trick" for the main station sliding. If the train moves too far in, it'll be in offline territory, meaning it would stay there, and by moving a bit forward, it could run again!
This is exactly what I was talking about when I suggested using a kill switch. In essence, you're just turning off all power to a specific section of track. Locos in that section will just sit there until you turn the power back on. And no hand manipulation is required.

if you're using it on the same track, for it to provide a 2nd power source
You need to avoid, at all costs, connecting two controllers to the same track at the same time. Bad things will happen.

Are the turnouts as shown: or is there the little stick you use to flip the switch with your fingers, i.e. is it and the rail joiners included?
1) The turnouts are just as shown. The are designed so you can either add a switch machine (http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/800-6000) or a ground throw (http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/97-101 or http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/97-204).
2) Rail joiners are sometimes included, sometimes not, depending on the track. But they aren't expensive, so buy a pack anyway.

Kevin
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Red Oak & Western said:
Sorry for the delay in getting these posted. Sometimes life gets in the way of the railroad.
I know what you mean. I was answering e-mails and heard a train horn, so I dropped everything and ran outside to take some pictures. Five units in total on the CBNS shortline, GP40u leading, followed by a SD45-2, a GP38-2 and two more SD45-2's...

Oh wait, that is the RR! I'll be getting to work in about two weeks, still a "summer vocation" for me.
Glad you're back, I aprecite it.

power packs, or whatever you use to provide DC to your locos
I don't think there's anything else I could use. Solar panels maybe?:p

Figure 3 shows how a double pole double throw switch is wired to connect two controllers to one block. You need one DPDT switch for each block on your layout. If you decide to have three cabs you must install double pole triple throw switches (DP3T); for four cabs, it would be double pole quadruple (or quad) throw (DP4T). DPDT switches shift side to side (or up and down). Three or more throw switches are rotary. To learn more about switches, check out http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/components/switch.htm.
That's why I'm going to stay with one block, way less complicated and perfect for what I want to do with it.

The real question to answer is: How many people will be running trains on the layout AT THE SAME TIME?
I think it'll be just me. I don't mind sharing, there's just not many people around these parts. I don't even know if there are any railfans in town.:(

Red Oak & Western said:
Yes, these need to be purchased separately. Or don't need to be purchased if you install switch machines.
I see now, I'm going to go all manual. Always enjoyed the sight of a crewman jujumping off the last boxcar to switch the switch.

Sorry. Can't be done that way. To be able to run two trains, you need a minimum of two blocks. Three trains require three blocks, and so on.
I understand that. But if I have two trains on opposite sides of the layout, I could still control both of them at the same time with one power pack?

As soon as I figure out how, I'll show you how to divide the track plan into 7 blocks.
Please don't try that. It's pretty confusing and complex as it is.:eek: All I can add to it now is underground warehouse switching.

Insulated rail joiners are used at the end (beginning) of each block to ensure that the rails don't accidentally contact each other.
So my crossover in the middle would require four of them then? I guess I can make it "unstable ground" or something like that, where the locomotives are too heavy to run, but the cars are just fine.

Save yourself a lot of confusion and troubles. Always use two insulated rail joiners.
Good thing they come in a large package.

And no hand manipulation is required.
But if the depo area receives power, all the locos will be moving! Thus I think it'll be better for all of it to be always dead.

You need to avoid, at all costs, connecting two controllers to the same track at the same time. Bad things will happen.
Thanks a lot for that one, as I was going to get two power packs on the same block. So what does happen? Fire?

1) The turnouts are just as shown. The are designed so you can either add a switch machine (http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/800-6000) or a ground throw (http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/97-101 or http://www.walthers.com/exec/productinfo/97-204).
Yes, a ground throw was what I was refering to.

2) Rail joiners are sometimes included, sometimes not, depending on the track. But they aren't expensive, so buy a pack anyway.
Sounds like a good idea.

Looks like I'm ready for ordering now. After all the planning that should be easy.

Still got to pick up supplies to build that table though.
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
It's time to head off to bed, I'm on the early shift tomorrow, but here are a couple of quick things.

But if I have two trains on opposite sides of the layout, I could still control both of them at the same time with one power pack?
Not successfully.

So what does happen? Fire?
Fire is an actual possibility, but not likely. Most likely, just blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers in the power supplies.

So my crossover in the middle would require four of them then?
Actually, if you're not dividing the layout into blocks, the answer is No, it would require none.

Still got to pick up supplies to build that table though.
When you pickup the supplies to build your table, buy 4 "leg levelers". The kind that are threaded and have a plastic or metal insert that installs in the leg. While it seems like a minor detail, having a level table really makes operating easier. And if you pick up "construction grade" lumber, known as SPF, be sure to let it sit in your layout room for at least a week to dry out before you try to use it. SPF lumber is sold with a moisture content of between 15% and 20%. It needs to get to 7% to 9% to be stable inside your home. If you use it before it has dried, it can (and probably will) warp way out of shape, ruining your table. And just screw the top to the frame, don't glue it. At some point you may need to remove the top to repair the base and if its glued ….

Finally, I hate to be the one to tell you, but based on your track plan, you'll have to add some complex wiring due to a "reverse loop" (where the yellow track connects from the blue track to the black track). If you simply apply power to the rails, there will be an immediate short.

You might also want to consider eliminating the first (from the right along the black track at the top) yellow switch and track. Use the space to put industries or facilities along the blue track. While I think of it, before you actually start laying track, try placing mock-ups of your structures in place and see if there is enough room for them. A common mistake beginners (and some not so beginners) make is to put in so much track, there is no room for the industries the track is intended to service.

Can the tracks be labeled using RTS? If so, could you number the switches? It would make it easier to refer to specific pieces of track in your layout design.

Kevin
W1KLJ
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
Red Oak & Western said:
Finally, I hate to be the one to tell you, but based on your track plan, you'll have to add some complex wiring due to a "reverse loop" (where the yellow track connects from the blue track to the black track). If you simply apply power to the rails, there will be an immediate short.
That's why I'm planning on isolating that piece with 4 insulators!

Use the space to put industries or facilities along the blue track.
That is primarily a storage track, that'll be the back of the train station with a 2nd floor parking lot.

A common mistake beginners (and some not so beginners) make is to put in so much track, there is no room for the industries the track is intended to service.
I know, but my scenery is going to be built from Lego, thus I'll be able to make quite a bit of various things. Also a front of one business will be the back of another business on the other side etc.

Can the tracks be labeled using RTS? If so, could you number the switches? It would make it easier to refer to specific pieces of track in your layout design.
I don't know how to do that, you could try going by squares, for instance industrial switch at 2U1R
 

Russian

Saskatoon railfan
It's official, I'm a modeler now.

Today I went out and bought the first piece of the layout - a table! Should be assembling it tommorrow. I find it's price oddly low. It cost as much as an Athern locomotive! Come on!:D I'll put my oval on it and go from there.
 




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