Nursery planning help

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rookhappy

Guest
This is my first post and I will tell you that I am a complete newbie to model railroading.
I am posting because I am working on my son's nursery and the theme is trains. Getting to
the point I want to build a track that goes completely around his room, about 1 1/2 feet from
the ceiling and that is electrically controlled by a switch in the wall. These are the areas
that I need help in:

1.) What size train/track would you recommend for such a project? (Cost is also a concern -
plus could you post links to websites if possible)
2.) What angle do I need to take around each corner of the room - how gradual of a turn do I make?
3.) I am going to wire this directly into a switch from the electricity coming into my house so what
equipment do I need to interface the electricity to the track?

Thanks in advance for your help! :)
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Hi rookhappy, thanks for joining in and welcome to the forums. Gee don't think I'll be too much help on this but who knows if we get a discussion going.
Wow! 18" from the ceiling that's kind of high, especially if something causes a derailment and a train takes a trip to the floor, you might want to consider this. The first size that comes to my mind is "O" gauge, it would be large enough to see and appreciate at that height, but cost might be a factor to consider. In my opinion the larger gauges like O and G are heavier so they are more stable, and forgiving on the trackage in regards to derailments. Just a thought from me who knows little :D so I hope someone who knows a bit about larger gauges comes along. Guess we should establish the gauge size to use first, the other questions are not too difficult to answer.
Cheers Willis
 
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R

rookhappy

Guest
Thanks for the welcome and the reply! I too was thinking that "O" gauge would probably be the size to go with. I did not consider derailment - and definitely should! Thanks for bringing that to my attention. My initial hope was that the train would be moving slow enough that this would not be an issue, however I will need to implement some sort of safety mechanism just in case...maybe a railing or something? Hopefully it won't detract from the train too much.

Also, the 18 inches from the ceiling is up for debate...just sounded like a good distance from the ceiling to view the train.
 

Lady_Railfan

House Mother, Cheerleader
First, let me add my "welcome aboard." I've considered running a train around the room also, but haven't done too much research because I've concentrated lately on getting my outdoor layout running. But here are some things to consider:

I'll begin with your third question. You'll need a transformer to change the "house" power to DC. The transformer can be hidden somewhere on the layout (in a small building, for instance), probably in a corner behind the curve in the track.

The curves in the corners will be determined by the scale of the train you're going to run. For example, the minimum radius is much smaller for N scale than for the larger trains. But N scale is pretty tiny, and would be hard to see from the floor. As Willis suggested, O or G trains would work well because of their size and stability. Minimum radius to take these trains around a corner is 24 inches.

Unless you have very high ceilings, you will need to mount your track less than 1-1/2 feet from the ceiling, because the door and window openings in a room with 8-foot ceilings are only about 15 inches below the ceiling. You need to allow room for shades or curtain rods, unless you mount those inside the window frame.

Besides the 'net, you can find railroad modeling books and magazines at your local library or bookstore. Many of the modeling magazines contain ads for just the kind of layout you're considering. You'll get lots of ideas just from looking at those ads.

Feel free to ask questions. There are some modeling experts and artists here who love to share their experiences. Happy modeling! :)
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
because the door and window openings
Uh! Huh! forgot about that one, hope there are no door slammers in your house, the kind that shake the walls. :D
Cheers Willis
 
R

rookhappy

Guest
Great advice about the door and window openings...I too completely forgot about that. I guess now I am wondering about the electrical connection from the transformer to the track - how is it made? Can I make it in just one spot on the track or do I have to run wire to several different spots? Also, what is a good brand to use for the track/train? I have heard of atlas, however I don't need something terribly fancy. Even the track doesn't need to 'look' great since no one will see it, of course it needs to be of good quality though.

Also, when you say a 24 inch radius does that mean that in the corners I will be running the train on a quarter circle of a radius of 24 inches?

I think I am getting a pretty good understanding of the work involved - could you also post some good internet sites to price/purchase this equipment?

Oh, one more thing - what type of train do you recommend? I was thinking about an engine and two cars?
 

Lady_Railfan

House Mother, Cheerleader
...does that mean that in the corners I will be running the train on a quarter circle of a radius of 24 inches?
Exactly. However, I've found that you can fudge a little and make that radius tighter, especially if you buy short locos and cars.

My train is battery-powered, so I don't know much about wiring for track power. But I'm sure someone else will be along shortly to answer that.

As for Internet sites, just scroll to the top of the page where you'll find "Model RR Links" on the far left side of the second menu bar. You'll find "everything you ever wanted to know" about modeling. :)
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
1) Before we get too far into a discussion on wiring your track, we need to know how good an electrician you are. Are you both knowledgeable about and comfortable with working on 120 VAC wiring? I am assuming from your 1st post that you want to install a standard wall switch, the kind that controls ceiling lights, wall outlets, etc. To do that, you would need to tap into the rooms AC, either at the room light switch or above a wall outlet. You would then need to cut-in a switch box, install the switch, and run romex to the location where you will mount your power supply, and add a 120 VAC outlet. The power supply cannot be installed in the wall, that would be a violation of the NEC (no enclosed low voltage transformers). You will also need to think about some form of startup control -- if you apply the full speed (however slow) voltage all at once, the train will lurch forward. Hard on the engine and a possible source of derailments.

Since your loop around the room won't have any switches (turnouts), you can simply connect the DC feed wires to the rails in one location to supply the entire loop. That part is pretty simple. Just be sure you have good electrical connections at each rail joint.

2) Depending on the size of the room (a typical bedroom?), I would recommend a small engine, such as a 4-4-0 or an SW1500, two or three freight cars, and a caboose. This would make a nice consist, but still be cost effective. I feel, for your use, O would be better than G, considering the height of the ceilings, size of the room, etc. Remember, G is approximately twice as big as O.

Kevin
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
Hello! Welcome to the forums!

You might find it much easier to simple set the train control on a stand in the corner of the room and avoid the light switch altogether. Either way you're really only flipping one switch, but by having a controller with easy access you'll be able to control the speed (make smooth starts) as well as reverse the train if you ever have any problems, without climbing up to the shelf level.

I have several MRC Sound & Power 7000 power packs that are nice for the price. You can also press a button and add train sounds (steam or diesel) to the experience :) It's simple, but it's probably all you would need for a simple loop around the room.

I don't handle much O or G gauge stuff, so I can't really reccomend any equipment there.
 
R

rookhappy

Guest
Are you both knowledgeable about and comfortable with working on 120 VAC wiring?
Yes and yes...this is one part of the job that I can handle. The only part that I did not follow was 'romex'? Could you explain exactly what type of wire this is.

You will also need to think about some form of startup control
What about a dimmer switch?

I have several MRC Sound & Power 7000 power packs that are nice for the price.
I appreciate the information but I was hoping to keep the entire project around $100. Is this wishful thinking? I need about 45 feet of track, plus the train. The electrical I could do myself if necessary - what voltage do these trains run on - 12V?
 

sushob

Entrepreneurial Teen
Unfortunatley $100 doesn't stretch very far in today's world, as we all know very well. Not to be pessimistic, but you may spend $100+ just building the shelf :rolleyes:

As the others have said, you have to have a transformer/power pack/controller (whatever you want to call it) hooked to train track. The transformer just plugs into the wall, and converts the house current into 'train current.' You may find it easier to just rig an outlet in the corner of the room to be controlled by a light switch, and then just leave the controller (in the on position) plugged into it (you could hide it behind the track in a corner of the room as you said before). When you flip the light switch on, the controller receives power and the train moves...theoretically anyways. I'm sure that method probably isn't easy on the controller (or the train; the train will lurch forward due to the sudden power up, versus a normal situation where you slowly increase the speed).

The easiest, cheapest, and probably most proper way to do this would simply be to build a little shelf on the wall and set the controller (power pack, throttle, transformer; again, whatever you want to call it) on. You can easily run the two wires you need to connect to the track up to track level, and you can then make smooth starts and adjust speed, etc. from 'ground level.' If you want to be able to turn the train off easily at night (after your son falls asleep listening to the train), I would suggest a variation of the outlet idea. Have the controller (which is easily accessable) plugged into an outlet that is controlled by a light switch next to the door...flip the switch, it kills the power. Next time just twist the controller knob back to 'stopped,' flip the light switch on, then slowly increase the train speed to the desired setting. I think this is kinda the best of both worlds--you can make smooth starts and have easy access to the controls, but you can still shut it off with the flip of a light switch if needed. This method would also avoid too much hard wiring through the walls, and shouldn't be in violation of any electrical codes.
 
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Red Oak & Western

Active Member
The only part that I did not follow was 'romex'?
Romex is the most common type of 120/220 VAC cable. It consists of three or four wires (in some special cases more) enclosed in a plastic sheath. In comes in "interior" and "direct bury" grades, as well as several sizes, depending on the current handling requirements. It is referred to by a pair of numbers such as 14/2, 12/2, 10/3, etc. The first number is the size of the conductor, the second is the number of conductors: here's where it gets confusing. 14/2 cable actually has three wires, one 14 gauge conductor, black, for the neutral, or return, wire; a second 14 gauge conductor, white, for the hot wire; and a third 14 gauge conductor, paper wrapped bare copper, for the ground wire. A ground wire is always present in the cable, so it is not included in the wire count. The /3 cable has two uses: for two way switches (where you can turn the lights on or off from two different locations) and for 220 VAC 3 phase wiring. The other type of AC cable is BX, or armor sheathed. Its conductors are covered by a spiral wound metal sheath (a real pain to work with!). I should say that Romex is a trade name, but is pretty much used as a generic description, like Kleenex.

What about a dimmer switch?
A dimmer switch would work, IF you build your own power supply. It could be as simple as a transformer, a diode bridge, and a capacitor. And some kind of housing to put them in.

The trains run on a "nominal" 12 VDC, but at a full 12 V, most locomotives run way too fast. For a nice easy trip around the room, you're probably looking at around 5 or 6 volts to the track.

Is this wishful thinking?
Yes.

Atlas flex track (highly recommended over sectional track) lists at $10.95 per section. It sells at discount for about $8.50 per section. You'll need 14 or 15 sections, so you're already at $120. Then you need the shelving and its supports and some kind of roadbed -- cork or homasote. And the cost of the components to wire in the dimmer switch. And then the locomotive and cars. As for the power supply, I've got tons of parts in my junk box and would be happy to send you the necessary components if you decide the project is a go.

Kevin
 




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