=>I seriously want to get all of my stuff out of boxes and set up a layout =>but I think it would be smart to plan it all out on paper first so that I =>have something to go by and to make sure it is going to "work"I found =>software provided by Atlas called RightTrack Freeware V5.0, so I have been =>using this to plot everything out. I want to make a siding like there are =>in real life but I cant seem to get it.I simply can not get the siding to =>run paralel to the main line. It either ends up Slowly creeping toward the =>mainline, or slowly away... How would I make it run paralel. I don't want =>to use flex track but If I have to I guess I will. I know the type of =>switch matters so I have Atlas Snap switches. I also have all sorts of =>track even if I dont have it, it is in the software library so that I can =>plan it out and order it from atlas. Would someone please tell me what I am =>doing wrong. The closest thing I have found is a #6 switch, 6"straight, 1 =>1/4" Straight, 1/3 18" raidus, 1 1/2" straight. but the siding ends up =>creeping toward the main line! GRRRR PLEASE HELP!
Now you know why Atlas trackplanning software is "free." :-) When connecting a a turnout to the side track, you must put in a short curve - but I've found that even though Atlas short curve pieces are supposed to fit, they don't. Hence the "creep." This is true when you actually join the track sections together, BTW - there's just enough error to add up. It's only because you can fudge the joints a bit that the whole mess works out.
My advice: Don't sweat it - as long as the track plan is pretty close, you can build it. If you know where the beginnings and ends of the sidings are, you needn't worry about the track in between - you can even --gasp!-- draw it by hand on the printout. What's more, the plan and realitty will be somewhat different things, no matter how careful you are in drawing it up. I don't know of anyone who has built a layout as planned - there are always adjustmenst, sometimes major ones, as the building progresses. The plan is a guide, really.
That being said, some dimensions hsould be drawn as accurately as you can. They are: a) curve radius, and end of curves where the straight joins the curve b) track spacing (2" on straight, more on snap-track curves) c) distance of track from edge of layout - I recoemmnd 4" minimum d) distance of track from trackside objects such as buildings - I recommen
If your track has been in boxes for some time, it's probably brass track - if so, junk it, it will oxidise rapidly and you will have to clean it just about every time you want to run trains. (It's no longer made by Atlas, anyhow).
As for sectional track: avoid it if at all possible. Flex track, despite the fiddly business of joints of curves, is much better. But once you've mastered curved joints, flex is a breeze. The joints in snap-track are sources of mysterious electrical gaps, they increase the probability that wheels will pick rails, etc. If you do use it, make sure that all rail joiners fit tightly, that there are no gaps between the ends of the rails, and so on. BTW, even if the software tells you what pieces you need, you will find that you need others. Track comes in packages of 4 or 6 pieces, so order enough to cover. A few extra pieces won't cost you enough to worry about - and you may find that a stub-siding to an industry can be extended. If necessary, you can cut an extra piece to fit exactly.
Turnouts: Snaptrack turnouts are built to match the curves, but they don't fit exactly on the straight side - you will need an assortment of straight bits to make things come out right. I recommmend #6 turnouts instead - much more reliable operation, and better looking, too.
I _strongly_ recommend that you buy one of the books that describes building a complete layout. Such a book will answer questions you don't realise you should ask. It will also give you lots of good ideas about overall layout design.
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor)