I'm new to the hobby and am looking to put together one of the Atlas HO
layouts from one of their layout plans. I've been looking at various
resources and found that Code 83 track looks more realistic than Code 100.
Does anyone know if there are any issues with building one of the trackplans
with code 83 instead of code 100?
I'm sure I'll have LOTS more questions as I go.
Mechanically perhaps but code 83 looks one hell of a lot better. There no
prototype equivalent to code 100 except for perhaps a very very hundred
miles on the old PRR mainline.
But for the average model railway, code 83 is a far better choice as it
represents a far more common prototype rail size.
You also mention copying a plan from an Atlas track plan book. Not an 8 x 4
I hope? There are a lot better arrangements than 8x4, which is the size of
a mattress, way heavier and no where near as bendable. You also need at
least a space of 8 x 12, with a minimum 24 inches of clearance all around,
or if you put it against a wall, large areas become unreachable.
Home of the Great Eastern Railway
I was actually thinking about the Granite Gorge and Northern, its a 5x9
layout. I chose it because it has lots of things I thought would be fun
such as tunnel, bridges a small yard and potential for a turntable. It also
could run two trains continuously which would be nice as my 3 year old son
has just discovered the hobby as well and he likes to watch them at our
local train shop. Finally it was step by step from the benchwork to the
scenery which will help me quite a bit.
That said, I'm open to other options or recommendations if anyone can
suggest them. I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with flextrak yet but any
suggestions on product that I should be using or even a layout would be very
nice. I have lots of space - my 24 x 30 foot recroom doesn't house much
right now but I would like to be able to move the layout to a new house
we're planning on buying in the future.
Just keep in mind that a 5x9 with minimum 2ft access space all round
works out to 9x13 minimum space requirement.
And a 5x9 layout is not easy to move. It's possible to build it so that
it comes apart into smaller sections that are relatively easy to handle,
but it's easier to disassemble it, salvage what you can, and trash the
rest. Besides, it's likely that by that time you will have changed your
ideas about whst you really, really want in a layout.
Track is fairly easy to salvage if you don't ballast it. Sections such
as yards and passing sidings can often be reused as is - just fasten
them to the benchwork from underneath, so that you can easily get at the
screws that hold them in place. Structures are 100% salvageable so long
as you don't glue them down.
A good deal of wire can be reused. All electrical switches and power
packs can be reused. If you fasten everything from underneath, and use
screws and bolts instead of nails and glue, you can salvage all the
lumber in the benchwork, and reuse most of it on a new layout.
About the only thing that's hard to salvage is scenery as usually built.
However, if you build separate scenes on independent platforsm, they can
be salvaged and reused.
In the meantime, don't worry about moving. Just build your layout, let
your son do as much as possible to help you, and have fun. You should be
able to get Mom involved, too: a lot of women start out doing stuff like
houses and trees, and discover they'd much rather do rolling stock and
If built as shown using the 'cookie-cutter' method shown in the
Atlas track plan book, the Granite Gorge & Northern is made up of
two 4-1/2' x 5' sections bolted together. So, if necessary, it's
actually not that hard to move to another location. There are
other reasons, addressed elsewhere in this thread, NOT to use the
"as shown" benchwork though.
Flex track isn't so bad. I would recommend it in place of the 9inch
straights in the yards and long straight sections, until you get use to it
and are comfortable bending and cutting it.
With the code 83 flex, there are no nail holes in the surface of the tie.
You will have to turn it over and punch out the holes from the bottom. You
will also have to cut away the spikes from the first two ties so you can put
a rail joiner on.
Having built the Granite Gorge & Northern a while back, I offer A
WORD OF WARNING and a couple of suggestions.
WORD OF WARNING: I learned the hard way when constructing this
layout the size of "one by" dimensional lumber has changed since
that plan was first published. Todays 1"x3's" and 1"x4's" are not
as thick or as tall as they used to be. If you don't adjust for
that, you will discover when it's almost too late that vertical
clearances between tracks aren't what they should be.
Suggestion 1: Forget the 'cookie cutter' benchwork shown in the
plan. Build yourself some 'L-girder' benchwork sized for a 5'x9'
layout and use insulating foam to build the hills and valleys.
It's a bit more expensive, but if your not comfortable chopping
up sheet foam to build the ups and downs, just cover the whole
table top with the sheet stuff, and use the Woodland Scenics
riser system to do it.
Suggestion 2: Use flex track as much as possible. It makes for
much smoother transition curves than the mix of 22" and 18"
radius Snap-Track shown in the plan.
Suggestion 3: If you use foam instead of the plywood
'cookie-cutter' top, some simple modifications allow the number
of bridge piers to be reduced by using either the Atlas 18"
Curved Cord Bridge, or Walthers Single Track Truss Bridge to
cross the yard tracks on the side near the double track
crossings. The modifications to the substructure aren't so simple
using the plywood top.
I find this a little hard to believe: so far as I know, the nominal
sizes of lumber have been fixed since at least the 1950s and haven't
changed. (It's been a *very* long time since a 1x2 was actually 1"x2".
They are that size before they go through the planing mill to get
dressed on all 4 sides.)
God willing, the many crimes of the Bush Administration
will eventually be printed in a nice leatherbound,
Somewhere about 20 years ago, they dropped the finished size of lumber.
This also affected hardwoods that normally get cut on only two sides.
I think that it came about from the inclusion of the inital saw cut that
made the lumber in the size of the lumber.
Why do penguins walk so far to get to their nesting grounds?
Because they can't drive?
All I know is I built the GG&N in the 90's, using the dimensions
from a copy of the Atlas book printed in the 60's or 70's (Don't
remember exactly, I was a teenager at the time I bought it).
Almost everything, the vertical track clearances in particular,
came out roughly an 1/8th of an inch short of what it was
supposed to be using wood purchased in the 90's. Particularly the
vertical clearances between tracks.
When I started checking, I discovered all of the 1x's I used
measured out slightly smaller than what was shown in the plan. I
asked about this at the lumber yard where I got the wood. I was
told there had been a slight change to the size of dimensional
lumber between the time I purchased the book and when I purchased
the lumber. I had, and still have, no reason to disbelieve them
as the wood did in fact measure out smaller than the plan shows.
When I checked the current edition of that track plan book
against my old one, the dimensions shown are identical. Hence my
warning, based on my experience using todays dimensional lumber.
Yes it has changed and it was sometime in the mid 1950's or maybe a little
later. I remember helping my dad with some construction work and the 2x4's
were in fact 1 3/4" x 3 3/4" now they are 1 1/2" x 3 1/2"
Don't confuse me with the facts - my mind is made up.
If you get a minute please check out my home page.
Flextrack in the long haul is a lot easier to use, and much more reliable,
than sectional pieces - you have a lot fewer joiners to kink up the track.
Just remember that just because you can bend the track a certain amount,
that doesn't mean you can run your trains over it! if at all possible,
stick to 24 inch radius curves at the tightest. *
* PV something like badgers--something like lizards--and something
Roger a lot of the C&O mainline was close to code 100. The C&O used
very heavy rail. They even laid trolley track in a heavy rail from
Phoebus to Buckroe so that heavyweight excursion trains could run
tourists down from Richmond to Buckroe Beach.
Roger T. wrote:
"Code" is a model railroad way of describing the size of the rail. Code
is actually the height of the rail (from web to head) in thousands of an
inch. Code 100 rail is 0.1 " high, code 83 rail is 0.083" high. Code
100 is overscale (bigger than it should be) for HO. Code 83 is closer
to scale for HO although still quite large. Starting a new layout, I
would go with code 83, it looks nicer, and everything will run just fine
on it, at least anything made within the last 25 years or so.
There are some real old models and some stuff from Europe with really
deep wheel flanges that derails on code 83 'cause the deep flanges
strike the tops of the ties. But I wouldn't worry about it. You are
starting up from scratch, you don't have 50 year old legacy rolling
stock like some of us do, and anything you buy now a days will run just
fine on code 83 rail.
US HO makers adopted a wheel standard called RP25 (NMRA recommended
practice number 25) way way back, sometime in the 1960's. RP25 wheels
have relatively shallow flanges and run well on code 83, and everything
made in the US has had RP25 wheels for a long long time now. The
European makers did not adopt RP25 until later, thinking that deep
flanges helped keep the train on the track when running on the living
room carpet around the Christmas tree.
So, press on with code 83. Our club layout is all code 83 (or smaller)
and every thing I own runs just fine on it.
Once you get something running, you can brush paint the sides of the
rail rust brown, leaving the rail head shiny. This is more realistic
than a bright-all-over nickel silver rail, and mades the rail look
smaller and closer to scale.
Better yet, if you have an airbrush (and let's face it: you should!),
you can paint the sides of the rail with it. I do this to both the ties
and rail sides: first I shoot the ties with a darkish brown color,
aiming straight down, then I get the sides of the rails with a lighter,
more rusty-looking color. I use acrylic craft paints (Delta Ceramcoat)
which are a hell of a lot cheaper (and come in more colors) than
Official Model Railroad Paints, am not extremely careful, and end up
with great-looking track. When done, just wipe the excess off the top of
the rail; I use a piece of illustration board as a scraper.
God willing, the many crimes of the Bush Administration
will eventually be printed in a nice leatherbound,
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