A newbie and a new N scale layout

I've had never entertained the thought that one day I might build my own layout but the day that I will actually start such a project is almost upon
me. I say me, I should say "us" because I have a wife who seems just as excited about it as me.
We have a spare box room set aside (not needed for anything and has, up until now, been the junkroom) and I have several track layout plans drawn up. I will be working in N scale and the total size will be (approx) 10ft long by 30 inches at it's widest (20-24 inches at the ends to allow for a radiator at one end and a door at the other). I will be going down the DCC route. I plan on this taking up many months if not years ( I am a bit of a perfectionist).
My first job is to build the baseboard but after that I have no idea which direction to go. There are so many options as to what track and other materials to use and by whom, how to contsruct the layout and which bits to do what first.
Can anyone recommend which manufacturers are best for what materials. I need advice as to what others find best even down to what the best make of PVA is to use.
Any pointers in any direction would be a great help. I have googled and googled and each time I get more and more bogged down with the amount of info out there and need help making my choices. I do not have a local railway model supplier to visit so I have rely on the internet for supplies and advice.
MC
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MC wrote:

Why not go the whole hog and start in 2mm? <http://www.2mm.org.uk
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Bruce Fletcher
Stronsay, Orkney UK
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wrote in message

Seems like a good idea. However, as I am new to rail modelling I do not want to run before i can walk especially as "off the shelf" engines and rolling stock need to be modified. Maybe it is easy, I do not know, but I am a bit fearful that I will be starting off in an elite area of modelling and find myself stranded a little.
How much different, in real terms, is 2mm from N scale? What are the major pros and cons?
MC
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MC wrote:

It looks right, especially wheel profiles. A bit like comparing ScaleFour with DoubleO. The 2mm Society website has lots of guidance
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Bruce Fletcher
Stronsay, Orkney UK
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Bruce Fletcher (remove dentures to reply) wrote:

Its mostly an attitude and approach. If you want to do "finescale" and "accuracy" its not massively harder than N. If you want to open boxes and lay the track out, then its not going to work.
I know people whose first model was a scratchbuilt 2mm loco mechanism. And others who started in N with plans to do "accuracy", and threw away pretty much all the N after a few months to repeat it all in 2FS standards.

Pros: Wheel and track appearance, running quality a lot better because the wheels run better through the turnouts. Huge range of rolling stock kits with lots of detail Small range of loco kits and loco chassis kits.
Cons: - if you want steam locos then you've a fair bit of work unless you're happy with Farish/Dapol with the wheel flanges tweaked. There are chassis kits for a few N bodies (a superb new one for the Dapol Ivatt tank), and a few loco kits which are in a totally different league to N; both price and detail, eg. http://www.2mm.org.uk/9F_gallery/index.htm - Diesels are easy, convert the N gauge ones. Currently there is a wheel reprofiling service, and drop-in wheelsets for diesels are in development. - Got to build your own track, but its now available in plastic kit form, including turnouts. Someone will build turnouts for you for a fee which isn't a lot more than Peco.

Who are "The 2mm Society" ? There is "The 2mm Scale Association", of which I'm the secretary and webmaster.
- Nigel
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Nigel Cliffe,
Webmaster at http://www.2mm.org.uk/
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"Bruce Fletcher (remove dentures to reply)" wrote

Just out of interest how many LARGE Scale4 layouts have you seen on the exhibition circuit?
John.
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John Turner wrote:

I've not attended any exhibitions in the last five years and it depends on what you mean by "large" but when we lived in Yorkshire I always made the effort to attend the ScaleForum exhibitions <http://www.scalefour.org/Shows where there were usually a few sizeable layouts.
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Bruce Fletcher
Stronsay, Orkney UK
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"Bruce Fletcher wrote

Done ScaleForum on numerous occasions and never seen what I would consider to be a large ScaleFour layout. They always seem to be of the 'Halifax Kings Cross size' and excellent though that is, I wouldn't consider it to be a large layout.
John.
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MC wrote:

Visit lots of layouts to find out whether you like control system A or control system B. Its a big investment. If you want any automation, think very carefully how it will be implemented, some systems are very cheap to add automation, others a right pain in the backside (and a few don't let you do it no matter how much money you throw at the problem).
Then, when picking a retailer for DCC systems, my rule of thumb is that they stock at least five different makers command stations and they know the differences between those maker's systems. Any less and they are not offering you a full range of options. This probably means travelling a fair distance to see a specialist.

Perfectionists do it to 2mm FS standards...

Plywood. The proper birch stuff which is layers of light and dark throughout. Not the rubbish birch-faced stuff from 99% of DIY sheds and timber yards, which is a layer of birch and then some random red stuff and filler in the middle. Then build a light weight box structure which ensures nothing can sag or warp; numerous books outline the approach. You'll use a lot of 6mm thickness and some 12mm.
Build the baseboards so you can dismantle and lift them. You never know if you might need to move the layout.

Those who don't use 2mm FS seem to use lots of Peco track.
- Nigel
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Nigel Cliffe,
Webmaster at http://www.2mm.org.uk/
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What is A or B?... more confusion.

I am a perfectionist but only within my means :o)

It will be a semi permanent installation. However, I want it as light as possible just in case I do indeed have to move it if necessary All timbers must be lightweight to a degree.
MC
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MC wrote:

Nothing in particular, just two random names for two random control system makers.
Seriously, you need to compare lots of options. I've used most makers systems and have my own preferences and opinions, but the thing which is very striking is how many owners say their system is the "best" when I think they mean its "the system I've learned how to use, so it works for me". So, ask the owners what is good about their system and what they find tricky and requires a long time reading the instruction manual each time they try to do it (or their mate down the road who understands the system better).
- Nigel
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It might be worth having a look at the Brilliant Baseboard range before committing yourself to any other baseboard methods. Have a look at http://www.brilliant-baseboards.co.uk /
Whether or not you are considering modelling American it may still be worth joining the NMRA British Region as there are several retailers offering discounts to members.
Brilliant Baseboards offer 10% off their range A&H models offer 20% off all the Lenz DCC equipment and 10% off the rest of their (mainly British) range.
Plus there are other who offer various discounts. have a look at http://www.nmrabr.org.uk/ then click on Member Discounts to see what's on offer.
The NMRA is not just about American Modelling. There are many members who are able to provide proficient, knowledgeable advice and are only too happy to share it. With the 6 magazines you get it's worth every penny of the 23 annual subscriptions (but then I would say that - just look at my signature lines below <grin> )
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Mike Hughes
Marketing Co-ordinator NMRA British Region
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I would start be reading Hisorical Railway Modelling by David Jenkinson. There are no answers but it will get you thinking of basics such as :-what type of layout you want - branch, terminus, roundy roundy. Emphasis on scenery or operation. What period to model and how closely you wish to stick to it. Of course its steam and not diesel. Then if you wish to get things right in terms of how real railways ran read the modeller series by Bob Essery. At some time get a PECO catalogue, that shows the various components that are available - ok only in their range.
By now you could have a good idea on track and scenery plan, at which point you will redesign the baseboards. Now ready to build and lay track you can ask specific questions for techniques, alternately visit shows and or go to a heritage railway and buy a set of modelling magazines from previous years at a considerably reduced price.
DCC system - big question. However a DC controller is very handy to have (simple guagemaster), buy cheap but reliable loco plus few coaches/wagons to test the track without complications. Controller will still be useful to run in DC locos with the intention of adding chips later.
Establish relationship with good supplier that wont sell you things you dont need and will anser the odd question. Yep strongly recommend John Turner http://www.53amodels.co.uk /
Finally dont be afraid to make mistakes, do not get stuck because you arent sure if its going to be 'right' - its yours to please you so it must be right.
Cheers, Simon
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May I suggest that you buy these Peco How to Guides and track plans as they will give you some inspiration and basic advice to get you started.
http://www.ehattons.com/stocklist/ProdList.aspx?ManID5&PrTyID '&ScID=8
Hattons sell some of them, but any decent model railway shop should also have them in stock. Also the most important advice I always give to beginners is to not ballast your track until you have spent at least 6 months playing with the layout, as I guarantee that you will want to change it just after you have glued down the ballast. Oh and make sure that you use water soluble PVA for the ballasting!
Fred X
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Just to add to my other post. Membership of the NMRA also entitles you to free use of the NMRA library - you just have to pay the return postage. Ideal for someone who wants to be able to access all these books without having to spend lots of money up front.
Another NMRA British region benefit
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Mike Hughes
Marketing Co-ordinator NMRA British Region
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wrote:

Agreed. I took up modelling in "N" gauge a couple of years ago and found those guides very useful. The other thing I did was to download a copy of XTrkCAD which allowed me to "experiment" with draft layouts on screen and refining the design before trying it with the track.
Its also worth considering joining the "N" Gauge Society. The handbook issued when you join covers all of the basics and the bi-monthly journal is a mine of useful information with something for both steam and diesel era modellers. The Society's shop and its own kits are also useful and fill a few gaps which the RTR ranges do not cover.
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