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Old 01-07-2020, 09:35 PM   #1
m3nate
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Setting up my first table (Questions)

Hi everyone,

New user here. I did some quick searching in the s scale forum and didn't find exactly what I was looking for and was hoping that I wouldn't get roasted terribly for posting here.

My son has grown to love model trains (he will be 4 soon) and I have gotten into the hobby along with him. It all started with my mom's 1950's American flyer train set when he was 2 and now I have started a train table for him (well I guess im loving it too).

The table is a 54" by 72" rectangle. I've ordered grass mat and some landscaping/road painting supplies. I have a basic track layout in mind that i will draw up and post here for feedback (would love to hear what you all think).

I have 2 main questions that I'd like to get some help on:

1. Any tips/tricks for the beginner as I build the layout? Things I should think about that I am likely not?

2. What track/roadbed should I use for the layout? I have a decent amount of standard american flyer track, but no turnouts yet.

Thank you in advance,
- Nate
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:32 AM   #2
prrfan
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Location: Knoxville, TN
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Scales Modeled: HO
Hello m3nate and welcome to the forum.
I model HO but my first trains were American Flyer. S scale is really fun, with a lot of different working accessories kids love. (And adults too!)

There are many good references for starting layouts. The S scale forum on here has some of the best American Flyer people in the country. They can answer virtually any question you would have. And please don’t think for a second that anyone here would roast you. We’ll all be glad to help anyway we can.

I would suggest you keep it simple at first and just enjoy the experience with your boy. My fondest memories of my dad were when we built our Flyer layout together and setting up a loop around the Christmas tree.
Have fun and keep us posted.
Dan
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Old 01-08-2020, 06:15 AM   #3
prrfan
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Scales Modeled: HO
The book in my previous post (and other editions) is still available on Amazon and eBay.
It’s old, and won’t have any of the technology in use today. Other folks can suggest more modern references.
I just remember it capturing the imagination of an enthralled 7 year old back in the day.
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:36 AM   #4
DonR
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Here are some thoughts for the benchwork that
you might consider.

Go light. Use 1X3 lumber for the frame. Make
L shape legs with the 1X3s. Screw it all together.
Bolt the legs in the corners. You would likely need
a crossbrace at the mid point. You will likely have
need to do some wiring under the table. Measure
your height sitting as you would, add 3 or 4 inches
to that as the height of the table.

Use 1/4" plywood for the top. 2 or 3" foam atop the
plywood helps control train noise

Provide a 'shelf' on the fascia to hold Transformers
and any controls. Attach a switched power
strip under table behind the 'shelf'. Use only one
cord to wall outlet. Be sure
to have a POWER ON indicator light that is easily seen.

The track will likely be near the edge of your table.
You might consider clear plexiglas 'fences' at curves and
any turnouts on the edge. Little hands are likely to
run up the speed and the plexiglas will be there to
protect the trains from fatal floor crashes.


Don
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:05 PM   #5
Tom_C
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Join Date: Jan 2016
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Posts: 764
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Take a look in the sticky threads at the top of each forum, particularly the Beginner Q&A forum. There's a lot of good info in those stickies that may be of use.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:15 PM   #6
Dennis461
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Welcome to the forum.
Start looking for closet space, you will soon catch the buying fever and own more stuff than fits on the table!
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Old 01-13-2020, 04:13 PM   #7
m3nate
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Posts: 5
Thank you all for the help thus far! I have built a lip into the design to try and keep things on the board, and am definitely seeing the need for closet space in my future.

Now on to track!
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Old 01-13-2020, 08:03 PM   #8
traction fan
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West Welcome aboard!

Quote:
Originally Posted by m3nate View Post
Hi everyone,

New user here. I did some quick searching in the s scale forum and didn't find exactly what I was looking for and was hoping that I wouldn't get roasted terribly for posting here.

My son has grown to love model trains (he will be 4 soon) and I have gotten into the hobby along with him. It all started with my mom's 1950's American flyer train set when he was 2 and now I have started a train table for him (well I guess im loving it too).

The table is a 54" by 72" rectangle. I've ordered grass mat and some landscaping/road painting supplies. I have a basic track layout in mind that i will draw up and post here for feedback (would love to hear what you all think).

I have 2 main questions that I'd like to get some help on:

1. Any tips/tricks for the beginner as I build the layout? Things I should think about that I am likely not?

2. What track/roadbed should I use for the layout? I have a decent amount of standard american flyer track, but no turnouts yet.

Thank you in advance,
- Nate

Nate;

Welcome to the forum!

First, you won't get roasted here on the model train forum. We don't operate that way. In fact we are in the process of expelling a jerk who does operate that way!

Second, this "Beginner's Q&A" section is specifically designed as a place for new people to ask questions, so you are quite correct to post here.

Now, you mentioned that you were building this layout for a young lad of not quite four to operate, or at least look at closely. For him to do that the layout will need to be low, and/or you will need to construct some sort of step/platform for him to stand on/run along. (I have a four year old grandson, so I know they don't stand still! )

Low enough for him could mean "Oh my aching back!" for you, so I'm going to suggest making the layout/table at a height where you can sit in a rolling office chair, and he can stand, either on the floor, or on the step/platform, depending on his height.
You also mentioned "table", and "grass mat." Those words conjure up an image in my mind, of a very basic, not very realistic, "toy train setup" affair, And I want to say that's perfectly OK!
You will see photos on this forum of both that kind of layout, and of some others that look more realistic. Both are good. Neither is "bad." My early HO-scale layout had a flat table, and grass mats too.
My current one is intended to represent, as closely as practical in my limited space, a real railroad (The Milwaukee Road) in a real place (Seattle Wash.) at a real time (the 1920s) (see photos)
There's over fifty years experience between the two layouts. The one I'm going to build for my grandson will not be as elaborate, or anything like as fragile, as the one I'm building for myself, parts of which are shown in the photos. My grandson would destroy my model railroad like godzilla destroyed Tokyo!

Besides not being as tall as a grown up, a little kid doesn't have the same arm reach as a grown person either. So either the table should be accessible from all four sides, including a surrounding step/platform, Or the whole table idea might not be as viable as a narrow shelf running along a wall, or two, or four.
Light, but strong, benchwork, bolted to the wall(s); like the example in section 3&4 of my "How to build a better first layout" series, would be within easy reach and yet reasonably child resistant. I will also admit, that I'm a N-scale modeler (formerly HO, and way back Lionel and Marx) While I know a good deal about model railroading in general, I don't know diddly-squat about American flyer. The files I'm sending to you have been sent many times, to many new model railroaders, who asked for advice. The information in them can be adapted to any scale of model trains, but none of it is specific to S-scale American Flyer trains.

If you decide to read any of these then I would suggest starting with the top file, with the somewhat less than fantastically imaginative title of, "Where do I start".
It starts with a very general bunch of basic decisions for you to make, about what kind of layout you prefer to build. Gradually it will move you along to some more specific decisions, at least one of which, "Which scale do you want to use?" you have obviously already made. S-scale A/F.
From there on it gets a little more specific and you are free to accept, or reject, any and all parts based on your particular goal of building a kid's layout, that can, and will be enjoyed by at least one adult too.

American Flyer turnouts may be as different from N-scale HO-scale ones as Lionel three rail. O-gage one are, or not. So the "All about turnouts" file may "turn out" ( I love awful puns!)
to be, "all about" turnouts you will never use. I include it just in case there are close similarities. What do I know? I'm just an N-scaler!

Good luck. Have Fun. And feel free to ask questions.

Traction Fan

WHERE DO I START rev 4.pdf

1 How to build a better first layout.pdf

2 How to build a better first layout.pdf

3 & 4 How to build a better first layout.pdf

5 How to build a better first layout.pdf

6 How to build a better first layout.pdf

All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf

MODEL RAILROADING ON A BUDGET.pdf

Model Railroad Terminology 3.pdf

Paintbrush Pine Trees.pdf

Black River town view.JPG

trees & train 3.JPG

tug closeup sharp focus.JPG

Wooden road bridge at Black River Junction.jpg

Garrison creek trestle good view.JPG

Allentown covered bridge.jpg
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Last edited by traction fan; 01-20-2020 at 12:04 PM..
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:38 PM   #9
AmFlyer
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Nate, I have been a lifelong Gilbert AF collector operator. I have also built layouts in HO and N gauge. A sketch of the track plan would allow more specific help. Based on the layout size and your other comments I recommend you use original Gilbert track. It is cheap, plentiful and high quality. I also recommend you use Gilbert turnouts. They are simple to wire, reliable and easy to find. Make sure you get the controllers with them. Gilbert turnouts are also power routing, they can be set so the divergent leg is only powered when the turnout is thrown that way. Great for sidings and passing tracks.
For roadbed use the original Gilbert rubber roadbed (or the repro from R Johnson.) it is easy to find and not expensive.
Almost all Gilbert engines have series universal motors so they can be operated with either AC or DC track power, but not with an HO power pack because the VA rating of most HO packs are inadequate (too low) to run the AF engines. A few Gilbert engines were made with DC only motors. Some will have a DC after the number (334DC) but most will not. Only some 4-8-4 Northerns and 0-8-0 switchers were made with DC motors. So engines marked 332 and 342 can have either kind of motor, just look at the field and you can tell.
Assemble some track and test run the engines to get a feel for it. Just make sure the track pins are clean and tight.
You likely have a lot more questions, if you post them in the S gauge section we will see them sooner. There are a number of differences between AF and Lionel. Some key ones are 2 rails vs three, turnouts are not track powered and turnouts do not have an auto derailing feature. The turnouts do have a power routing capability.
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