New Layout Questions-Advice, Please.

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dank

New Member
I am about to immerse myself in my first model railroad sine the '70's. I have been reading quite a bit about DCC, so I have purchased an NCE Powerhouse Pro and an additional throttle. I will go with the Atlas Code 83 Flex Track and Peco small radius turnouts. All but one of the turnouts will be manually operated. The rail will sit atop cork roadbed. The layout will have two mainline loops, a reverse loop and two sidings with bumpers. There will be two places on the layout where crossovers will be used. With all of that being said:

1. Do I need to use plastic rail joiners at any point in the layout? What are these plastic rail joiners for? Specifically, where are they placed? On which rail are they inserted?

2.I will need an auto reverser for the reverse loop, correct?

3.How many feeders are required around the layout? Is there a formula, i.e., every four feet, or do they go before and after each turnout, crossover, etc.?

4. The entire railroad will sit on top of 3/4" plywood. I have read a number of posts on the forums where people are actually covering the entire table with a sheet of foam, or they are using MDF instead of Plywood. Why? Can cork roadbed be nailed through the foam to the table, or is it better to glue the roadbed to the foam?
 

Steve B

Firefighter
Hello Dank, i can't speak for DCC as i'm a DC dinosaure, i glue cork roadbed down to foam with "liquid nails" when i am happy it's smooth i put mors liquid nails on top and smear it out with a spreader nice and smooth then lay the flextrack on to this, you can pin it as a temparary measure, i put weights on at regular intervals to hold it down till it's set overnight. This method holds the track SOLID,
Oh before i forget, Welcome back to the hobby, i hope you enjoy yourself
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
Dan,

I'll try to answer your questions in order, as best as I can. Remember that free advice is usually worth exactly what you pay for it:D , IOW, my way may not necessarily be the "best" way but it works good enough for me.

dank said:
1. Do I need to use plastic rail joiners at any point in the layout? What are these plastic rail joiners for? Specifically, where are they placed?
At a minimum, you will need them at each entrance to the reversing loop. They insulate the rails electrically, unlike the metal joiners.
On which rail are they inserted?
Both rails.

2.I will need an auto reverser for the reverse loop, correct?
You'll need some type of reverser. Automatic is certainly easier to use.

3.How many feeders are required around the layout? Is there a formula, i.e., every four feet, or do they go before and after each turnout, crossover, etc.?
There is no 'official' formula for feeder spacing. My goal is to have a feeder to each piece of rail that is not soldered [at the connectors] to an adjoining power-fed rail section. My feeders average out to ~4-5 feet apart. I deliberately leave some joints un-soldered with a tiny gap, to accommodate expansion or contraction of the rail from temp/humidity variations.

4. The entire railroad will sit on top of 3/4" plywood. I have read a number of posts on the forums where people are actually covering the entire table with a sheet of foam, or they are using MDF instead of Plywood. Why?
MDF is easier to carve into scenic formations (esp. river beds), at least that is why I use it.
Can cork roadbed be nailed through the foam to the table, or is it better to glue the roadbed to the foam?
Gluing is much easier. But it's also harder to relocate if you change your mind.

Joe Fugate ["jfugate"] has done an excellent series of clinics on track laying and wiring, you might want to check those out as well. Good luck!
 
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SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
Dan,

I've been thinking about your layout and I have been wondering about a couple things. First of all, will what you propose fit on a 4 x 8. There are some good free track design programns that will keep you honest. If it won't work, you want to know before you make an investment.

Second, with all that track, where are you going to put you buildings and scenery. You may not have thought of this before, but simply running trains in circles without purpose will eventually bore people. The railroad needs a purose. I would suggest delaying construction until you know what the purpose of your railroad is. A good place to start is, John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation.

A good short essay to consider would be Byron Henderson, a professional layout designer's, "Why Waste Space on a 4 x 8." http://www.modelrail.us/id28.html

By the way, I built a 4 x 8 and wish I had this information before I started.
 

dank

New Member
Gentlemen: Thank you all for the good advice; it will definitely help.
Chip, I am actually usind an Atlas plan, and it appears to leave a good amount of space for little humans!
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
dank said:
Chip, I am actually usind an Atlas plan, and it appears to leave a good amount of space for little humans!
Remember a railroad will end costing $50-100 square foot and take up to 50 hours a square foot to build. IT makes sense to think about it and plan a little. Atlas plans have one purpose and that is to sell Atlas products. Typically, they 50 years old in their concepts. They give a place for trains to run around but give little in terms of running a model railroad.

Take some time, determine where your interests lie, and build in that direction. Do you want to run trains in circles? How many minutes can you do that at 6 times a minute before you get bored? Without planning in something that interests you, prefereably something that really motivates you, you will most likely either give up or start over before you get too far. The better you plan now, the less money yu0 waste.
 




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