We're thinking about n gauge but not sure of certain basics. Plan to use PECO streamline code 80, mostly flexitrak, steam and diesel from Bachmann and dapol. Whats recommended minimum radius for semicircle, minimum distance between tracks and maximum slope.
All sensible suggestions and humorous comments welcome.
Why not use their code 55 which is Code 80 with the foot hidden in the sleeper moulding. Minimum radius is about 200mm as 15"/380mm is for OO. However, where OO looks silly on
380mm radius, N looks ridiculous because you can see a larger percentage of the layout. Minimum distance between tracks can be scale or far apart, or whatever works for the minimum radius you choose. Steepest gradient again will depend on what you are running, but don't expect to be able to match OO gradients because the locos don't have proportional weight nor do the motors have equivalent torque. Rolling resistance will be a higher proportion to the weight of the train.
I don't run N gauge but do have HOe. (like OO9) I always make sure the N gauge donor locos operate well before fitting HO bodies with lots of weight on the chassis. The locos run soooo much better with heavy white metal bodies and wagons ditto with heavier plasticard bodies.
Radius: Commercial sectional N gauge track generally comes in 9-1/4" radius, or thereabouts. That's too sharp IMO. Go with at least 11" (still very sharp), and if you have the room, go with 15" or better. If you are building the N scale layout in the same space as you could build an OO one, go with OO radii: 18" or larger.
Track spacing: Are you going for looks? If so, by all means go with scale spacing, which will be around 22mm, depending on the protype and era you are modelling. For functionality in the fiddle yard, space the tracks at least 30mm apart, else you'll have trouble fiddling the wagons on adjacent tracks.
Grade (slope): basically the same as for any scale, ie, a maximum of around 1 in 30. I would go with 1 in 50 or better, however.
Warning: N scale is much less forgiving of small variations in track levels than HO or OO. The roadbed is crucial. Be obsessive about achieving smooth, non-twisting roadbed, with no bumps or dips.
If you are going for a minimal layout, a card table (30" to 36" square) is enough room for an amazing amount of detail. Every home has room for a card table. ;-) Here's a great site about very small layouts:
Thanks, enough info to get going. Starting with board about 3'6" by 4', he wants continous run (me too) so 2 track outer loop, small station with at least one through line, modest goods for bit of shunting. All on the level with electro points. Fiddle might be an addon section. Then I want some kind of raised local branch, might be roundy, come out of tunnel, might join other line at station, might do lots of things but I may not be allowed to. It's the tots layout but he wants to retain running rights for his diesels on mine.
Use code 55. It's the same rail height but embedded in the sleeper base to give a finer appearance. The flexitrack is more robust than code 80 due to this design.
Modern locos are very nice looking. BachFar kettles come with alternative scale pony trucks but if you fit them they will not negotiate the smallest (9") radius curves. D & E outline now often have working light. Expect to pay a similar price to the equivalent OO loco.
Many locos are now "DCC ready". Some of the older Farish are harder to convert but not impossible.
*Always* insist on a test run in the shop before buying, or buy from a reputable mail order dealer, esp. with BachFar tender drive kettles. There are few cases of the free runnning loco chassis binding and skidding along the track (my own Jubilee does it sometimes).
Less is more. N gives you a chance to model a more scale track layout. Don't be tempted to cram a lot of track into whatever space you have, just because you can.
You're welcome. Re: double track circle: if you plan on running carriages, or modern dioesel such as 66s, widen the track spacing. Do a bit of testing. Depending on the radius, you may have to space around
30mm to prevent side-swiping.
Are you going to charge the tot for running rights? ;-)
Thanks again. Says he don't want any carriages so will use 30mm ready. Testing would be a luxury, he wants it up and running now, he says dont bother with points cos takes too long, but then wants sidings - suggested he can take a flying leap, not the locos. Trouble is fellow at exhibition last week said it only took him a month to build complete layout - quite good one too although would prefer bit more track myself.
Not till he's got independent means of support :-)
If you are planning to use tight-ish curves it might be better to use Setrack rather than use flexi-track as it's easier to fix it at a constant radius and Peco do sell Setrack curves with a radius as large as 13". Having said that I run Dapol and Farish stock on 9" curves without any problems, although I wouldn't use curves that tight on a gradient.
As to the optimum track spacing, I'd suggest using a Peco track gauge.