Diary of a semi-beginner's layout

The layout size is determined: two 4x8 tables in an L shape.
The lumber has been purchased: enough to build one 4x8, while salvaging
another 4x8 from a 15 year old layout my kids lost interest in.
The terrain material has been selected: 2" pink styrofoam sheets,
stacked two deep on each table, with enough extra to make raised areas.
Most of the track has been purchased: I determined that I could not
create the track plan I wanted with Bachmann EZ-Track without excessive
surgery on most of the turnouts, so I reverted to Atlas Code-100 for its
univerality. I still need to decide on roadbed. I've used the tar-like
stuff before and liked it. Seems like a lot less work than cork.
The track plan is my own creation, using only scattered ideas from the
many books and magazines I consulted. Basically two parallel mainlines
around the perimeter of the L with crossovers and plenty of interior
sidings for switching and freight handling.
The model time frame will be 1952, so that I can plausibly run steam as
well as diesel and passenger in addition to freight. The locale will be
loosely based on middle Tennessee where I grew up. The line will be
L&N, although I still need to do some research on when all their various
mergers took place, i.e. when did they take over NC&StL, when did they
merge with SCL to become Family Lines, etc. If memory serves, the
latter took place around 1958-59 and puts it past my time period.
I am certain that I want DCC control, but I haven't decided on which one
yet. I know the Bachmann is out, because it is too limiting. I have
also heard ugly things about MRC's Prodigy. On the other hand. the
Prodidy Advance looks much better, but has no provision for running any
non-DCC locos. Otherwise, I like all it's features.
So...I am looking for suggestions on affordable DCC for a layout the
size I have described. I do not anticpate ever running more than 3
locos simultaneously and no bit of trackage should be more than 15 feet
from the power source. I definitely DO want to be able to operate the
turnouts via DCC.
One other query: I am looking for a model of a large urban passenger
station. I found the Walthers Union Station and really like it, but it
is too big for my space, being 19.5" long. It did look like the side
wings could be cut down to one large window on each side vs. the
standard 3, and that would reduce the size by 6" or so. I could live
with that, but before I buy one and start chopping, I wondered if anyone
knew of a similar but smaller structure I could use.
Reply to
Norman Morgan
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First rule of thumb, if there are 100 kits available, you will have to kitbash to get what you want.
No, I don't know of any. To get the small freight station I want, I have to kitbash two small ones, then when it looks right, scratch it out of wood. As they say, "one size fits none."
Greybeard
Reply to
Greybeard
I'm very satisfied with my Digitrax Zephyr. I suspect it will meet your needs. It lists in the US for $200, can be had for $160. See:
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Bill McC.
Reply to
Bill McCutcheon
Are you sure? If it meets the NMRA standards, it should run 1 analog loco on address 0.
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin"
Reply to
Mike Tennent
Mike Tennent wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@4ax.com:
As sure as I can be without physically trying it. I downloaded the user's manual for Prodigy Advance and it said no. Also the comparison chart on Tony's Trains web site comparing and number of low end units said the same thing.
Reply to
Norman Morgan
I thought I had remembered this correctly, but you made me question my recollection. (At my age, that doesn't take much.) So I looked it up on the MRC web site.
From downloadable MRC User's Manual for Prodidy Advance system:
"Note: The Prodigy Advance does not support NON-decoder equipped or analog locos. MRC?s earlier DCC systems do support running analog locos. However, running analog locos will dramatically slow the response time of your DCC system. Therefore, our new Prodigy Advance does not support this old feature."
Reply to
Norman Morgan
Thanks for the info. That's quite a surprise and something for folks to consider.
Could some of the DCC guru's chime in as to whether the NMRA dropped the analog compatibility requirement as part of the standard?
Mike Tennent "IronPenguin"
Reply to
Mike Tennent
Sounds like my layout. Except I only use one layer of 2" Pink foam. My trackplan is two separate 4x8s connected together, so things can run separately. A second level hosts a switching layout....
I use NCE DCC....
:D
Kennedy
Reply to
Kennedy (no longer not on The Haggis!)
That "giant sucking sound" was heard in the vicinity of my wallet this weekend.
I broke down and bought both a DCC system and a new loco with decoder and sound. I finally decided on the Digitrax Super Empire Builder set. There is a local guy who stocks them and is very knowledgeable: Roy Schnoor of Mt. Vernon Shops. He doesn't do much retail, concentrating on repairs and customization, inlcuding installing electronics in engines and rolling stock and custom painting and detailing. I was amazed by the quality of his work.
And I bought the Broadway Limited Premier Series E7A in L&N livery.
I want to go on record as saying that never have two products so greatly EXCEEDED my expectations. They are both an absolute delight to use! The Digitrax is so easy to use that I now feel foolish about approching the whole idea so timidly. And the loco is awesome. Even without the loose pieces being applied, the detail is incredible. And the sound just blows me away. I think the only sound they didn't capture was the engineer farting. They have every little nuance from startup to shutdown, including the opening and closing of the cab doors when the crew enters/exits.
Reply to
Norman Morgan
"Terry Flynn" wrote in news:cu97mc$b3r$ snipped-for-privacy@tomahawk.unsw.edu.au:
Obviously you have never been in my basement! We have been moving junk for three days and have only recovered about half as much space as I need for my 8x12 L-shaped table. I told my wife that if I had known how much hard physical work trains were going to be, I might have had second thoughts!
When you have an unfinished basement, everything that someone is tired of looking at winds up down there. I'm faced with 23 years accumulation of such stuff.
Reply to
Norman Morgan
Yep, sounds like me. Still piles of junk left to throw out before I can reclaim more space. Though my basement is finished.
Terry is right, though. I have enough space for an 11x22' layout; presuming I can clean the rest of the space out.
:D
Kennedy
Reply to
Kennedy (no longer not on The Haggis!)
Norman, Just wade into it and through it. That's about all you can do. I've got a 12 x18 area. The layout is around the walls with a large peninsula up the middle. A lot of stuff is in there with very little available space. So I built a 4" raised floor for a shelf under where the layout goes section by section. I got lots of boxes all the same size and as I progress I go through the stuff and pack it in the boxes, label them and toss out whatever I can. About half of the stuff is organized now and neatly stacked under the benchwork with the other half piled everywhere except the area I'm currently working in. Some stuff that can't fit in boxes has been piled under some bench work that was completed over a year ago. It still looks like a bomb went off in there. Its amazing how much junk I've gotten rid of and how much more there is to get rid of. And I can't even figure why we ever saved some of it. When I'm done the volume will be greatly condensed, orderly and hidden from sight. While doing this I've found some neat things like some brand new kitchen knifes packed away in a small wood box. They were made by my grandfather in his machine shop all engraved with the date 1918 except one and wrapped in newspaper dated 1922. They have now joined three others that are engraved the same that have been in continuous use. I also found one of my dads HO trolleys that must have been packed away since I was about 6 or 7 years old when we got a basement with a house on top and he decided to go back to O scale. My shed is a building that is 12 x 44. It's divided into a train room, a workshop and a storage area. You can hardly move in the storage section. Some of the junk is stuff my wife and I have piled up but most is junk my ancestors piled up. There is no telling what's in there along with some spiders and rats. But that's just the tip of the ice burg. When my mom passed away we cleaned out her house, basement and attic and crammed box after box where ever we could. In the shed, in the attic, in the back room, under the bed and same type of locations at our lake house and at my mother in laws. My folks did the same when my grandpa died. There were two house's on my grandparents farm, one was completely full of several hundred years of accumulation from basement to attic. There was also a lot in the barn, the tractor shed, in several corn cribs and a rooster house that were no longer used as well as in the main house. My parents got rid of a lot but didn't live long enough to get around to all of it. My wife and I may not either. Apparently my mothers family has been doing this ever since they came over here in the 1760's to steal land from the Indians. They seem to have all been fond of saving glassware, china, dented silverware, kitchen gadgets, pots and pans and broken tools. So was my mother even though she never saw some of it. So is my wife even though she hasn't even seen most of it. There's one box full of nothing but assorted salt dishes. I guess someone figured they might be handy if they ever quit making granulated salt. There was another full of handles for picks, axes and hammers. It goes on and on. One of these days its all going on Ebay and maybe I can get a little train money out of it. I'm sure there is some kind of market for useless old broken crap that can end up piled at some else's place. Who knows we might actually find something of real value that's still in one piece. At least no ones had to spend much on furniture for a few hundred years. Keep digging, who knows what you'll come up with in addition to more layout space. And be thankful its only 23 years worth and not 230. Bruce
Reply to
Bruce Favinger
Sounds like my 30'x15' "wreck room" (and about the same length of time, too). Our stuff, kids' outgrown toys, some parents' & grands' stuff. We should trade jpegs, have a contest for Worst Basement In North America ;-). Some Time In The Next Couple Of Years we're going to empty it out and finish it. Then the RR goes in a 12'x15' space at one end (plenty big in N-scale). That's a bit of a reduction from the Delusions Of Grandeur Railway I had been thinking of. Top three reasons are:
3. Want the rest of the space for other uses eg. set up the ping-pong table that hasn't been used in 20+ years.
2. Easy to close off the end of the room with an accordion wall, to keep out ping-pong balls, cats, dust etc.
But the most important reason is:
1. That's a size of layout I might have a chance of actually building, operating and maintaining.
-- Kizhe
Reply to
Lt. Kizhe Catson
"Lt. Kizhe Catson" wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com:
I like the idea of the accordion walls! I may adopt that one. As to the size, I picked what I felt was realistic for me. Note the "semi-beginner" in the subject. I dabbled at this 15-16 years ago, when the kids were small. Officially the trains belonged to my oldest (who turns 30 this year!). Their 4x8 has been collecting dust ever since they lost interest. So I am salvaging it and adding another table to make not exactly my first, but not exactly my second layout. We'll call it Version 1.5.
My track plan is home-grown with the aid of a great, free piece of software called XTrkCad. It is so much better than the free stuff from Atlas that is doesn't even justify comparison.
I'll have a double track mainline around the perimeter of both tables, for no better reason than the grandchildren and I like to just watch the trains run sometimes. And there will be plenty of internal sidings for all the switching scenarios you can stand. After all, this is more or less dedicated to the memory of my granddad who worked for the L&N from 1908 to 1963. He spent much of his career as a yard engineer, pushing way freights around Nashville.
Throw in growing up around railroads in Nashville, a life-long fascination with steam and memories of traveling by train myself, and you see why I am shooting for a time period around 1952 and featuring L&N equipment. I might have some NC&StL as well, since L&N acutally owned the controlling interest in that line after 1880, even though they didn't absorb the name until 1957, the same year they retired their last steamers. Southern isn't impossible, either. Their routes came through Nashville and their passenger rigs sure were pretty!
Once I start to make some visible progress on the layout, other than just the growing empty corner of my basement, I'll post some photos on the web page.
Reply to
Norman Morgan
Obviously you have never been in my basement! We have been moving junk for three days and have only recovered about half as much space as I need for my 8x12 L-shaped table. I told my wife that if I had known how much hard physical work trains were going to be, I might have had second thoughts! When you have an unfinished basement, everything that someone is tired of looking at winds up down there. I'm faced with 23 years accumulation of such stuff. ---------------------------------------------------- Back when we had a house with an unfinished basement, my wife always knew when I planned another layout because I would clean the basement and put all the accumulated "junk" on the curb for a special trash pickup! Ah, those were the days! Now we live in a condominium. And don't even ask about the aches and pains.
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad:
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History of N Scale:
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Railroad Bookstore:
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to 1,000 sites:
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Reply to
Bill
*** I like the idea of the accordion walls! I may adopt that one. *** ------------------------------------------------------ I wish they'd had accordian walls back in 1991 when I was building my present railroad! What'll they think of next!
Bill Bill's Railroad Empire N Scale Model Railroad:
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History of N Scale:
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Railroad Bookstore:
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to 1,000 sites:
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Reply to
Bill
What interests me is will they be implementing Terry Flynn's Aka the Thunder from Downunder standards ;-)
Reply to
Greg Rudd
Norman,
Concerning when various mergers took place. Check out this web page:
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Hope this helps.
Paul - "The CB&Q Guy" Modeling 1969 in HO.
Reply to
The CB&Q Guy

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