Layout Design Tips Needed

I have just about finished converting my loft so I will be able to start making the baseboards then build the layout but I am confused by the
sequence to take.Should I design the layout in detail first then design the baseboards around the layout or design the baseboards the design the layout to suit the baseboards. I have 11ft x 11ft 6ins but I am limited to a max board width( in a single board) to about 2ft 6ins wide to get it through the loft hatch. Length is less critical. The layout is to be built with getting it out at some future time in mind, therefore I assume that joints in the board must coincide with plain track. I have been sketching layouts with a template tool but now need to do a detailed layout with Peco full size templates but should I do this to a preferred layout then plan where the joins should be or vice versa. My next query concerns how to fix the track at the board joints. The layout will only ever be moved once (if at all) so do I need to put down the copper laminate and solder the track (as in an exhibition layout) or can I just pin the track close to the joins then only cut when I need to. I will presumably need to solder wires at the construction stage in anticipation of a move later. I also intend to use DCC so do I need to electrically connect rail to rail by a wire at any board joints or can I connect each rail to the bus (if that makes sense). One final question, bearing in mind this is only ever likely to be moved once, can I cut the rails square to the track the protect any overhang during a move or should a cut be coincident with the edge of the board. I am thinking that if I only pin the track by the sleepers then I would need to cut as parallel to the sleepers as possible.
Thanks
Kevin
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On Mon, 1 Dec 2003 20:00:02 -0000, "Kevin Rayner"
Kevin,

If there are restrictions on baseboard shapes or dimensions, then you should design your layout to suit the baseboards which you can fit in the space available. By all means, do a lot of sketching of ideas to get a feel for the layout which you would want, but do the final design on the baseboard plan.

You can put pointwork across joins if you really have to, but you have to keep the join clear of the crossing and the switch blades - i.e. in between the crossing and the heel of the switch and leaving a fair margin between these items. If the layout is going to be virtually permanent with the possibility of one or two moves in its life, then you could consider laying pointwork over joins such that any such points can be easily lifted and replaced when the layout is in its new situation. For example, if you are using a method of ballasting which glues the track firmly to the baseboard, then change your methods for the points across joins so that the glue doesn't hold the points so firmly and will allow a point to be lifted with little damage to it or the surrounding track.

You're probably better incorporating as much joint infrastructure as you can at the initial building of the layout. Cutting tracks or adding wiring to a fully sceniced layout can be a pig of a job if you don't want to do damage to what's surrounding the joins. Instead of using PCB strip, you could look at using small brass countersunk woodscrews, which are screwed close to the baseboard edge under the rails on each side of a join. The screws can be screwed in until they are the correct height for the rail to sit on, then the rails can be soldered to them, and the rails then cut after the soldering. The one consideration for this method is that the edges of the baseboards should be capable of accepting small woodscrews and holding them firmly.
There's also the basic way of cutting the tracks at the joins and using rail joiners to keep them aligned. When you want to split the boards, just slide the joiners back on the rails to free the ends. This method only works well with straight track or pre-bent track. Flex track in a curve over a join will tend to dog leg at the join and using PCB or brass screws would be better in that situation.
If you're cutting the track at joins then you will have to ensure that every piece of rail has a decent feed from a bus or an adjacent piece of rail. If you don't cut the rails at the joins at the start, then you could have an interesting time chasing poor feeds around the rebuilt layout after a move :-)

Sod's Law says that any slight projection of a rail at a baseboard end is going to snag on something when the boards are being moved and cause a fair bit of damage. It's best to cut the rails flush to the baseboard ends to minimise this possibility. To give further protection, you can stick strips of cardboard on the ends of the baseboards to protect the rail ends during shipment.
Jim.
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On Mon, 01 Dec 2003 23:34:45 +0000, Jim Guthrie wrote:
=>If there are restrictions on baseboard shapes or dimensions, then you =>should design your layout to suit the baseboards which you can fit in =>the space available.
Agreed.
But don't think of baseboards as "boards" -- it's just a substructure on which to mount the roadbed and track. If you use open frame methods, your "boards" can be any width you like. Just don't make them too wide, as reaching across more than a couple of feet or so to rerail a train or set a building in place etc can be a real PITA.
Just as important is the space needed by you -- you do need to move around the layout, and I presume there will be a friend or two playing trains with you, er, pardon me, helping you operate the line. So aisle space must be wide enough to accommodate present and future girth , and should allow space in a few critical spots to permit two people to pass each other in comfort. In the space you have, that may be a consideration depending on where the loft entrance is - you will need about 24" or more clear space all round the that pesky hole in the floor. That in turn may well limit the space available for the railroad.
HTH
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor) <just one w and plain ca for correct address>
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On Mon, 1 Dec 2003 20:00:02 -0000, Kevin Rayner wrote:
=>The layout is to be built with getting it out at some future time in =>mind, therefore I assume that joints in the board must coincide with plain =>track.
I wouldn't worry about this. Most people find that their first layout is not as ideal as they envisioned, and a move is an ideal excuse to start over. In fact, many people tear down and start over before they have finished their first layout -- and their second, third... :-)
With a bit of forethought, important stuff like buildings and track can be mae with future salvage in mind. If you use the open frame method, whole station or yard track-formations can be salvaged, too, since they will be mounted on subroadbed that is supported on the frame by short vertical pieces of wood ("risers"), and can easily be unfastened.
Wolf Kirchmeir ................................. If you didn't want to go to Chicago, why did you get on this train? (Garrison Keillor) <just one w and plain ca for correct address>
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