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Old 09-08-2019, 03:42 PM   #11
CTValleyRR
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Originally Posted by csm672 View Post
I agree with N being hard to see, but I can't figure out a way to get a yard with the Lionel. I really want to play with these things, not just watch them run in circles. Maybe I'll have to compromise and do that until I have a few kids move out!
Not really sure how you plan to do more than just watch if the track is above your head...
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Old 09-08-2019, 04:10 PM   #12
csm672
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My plan was to put the track above the tallest windows, which would be right around 7' high. I have a long hallway I can also use. If I could drop the yard down to about 4' I would have it made. Don't know if I could actually get this done with the space I have. Not sure what a maximum grade would be for N gauge. I'm still researching a lot of this and just thought somebody has probably been where I am now already. May just have to be a loop until I get a free bedroom. If that winds up being the case I'll go with the Lionel for sure!
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:05 PM   #13
gunrunnerjohn
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I think it's a big mistake to go with N for anything but a pretty controlled environment. For a ceiling train, clearly O-gauge makes a lot more sense, and the viewing distance you wouldn't even see N-scale trains. You're talking about long trains, if you run a long train in N-scale, the maximum grade is next to nothing, a couple of percent max for sure for any sizeable train.
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:25 PM   #14
JDaddy
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N scale would be great for an under glass coffee table layout.
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Old 09-08-2019, 10:29 PM   #15
Chaostrain
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After having an N scale layout I'll support the consensus, not good for ceiling/wall running. I'd definitely go with the O scale at least, G if you can.

As for cheap? If you have some patience you can watch craigslist and fb marketplace. There are other places too, I'm sure. I see a lot of stuff from really cheap to free. In HO I've come up with many hundreds of dollars worth of stuff for free and much more for practically free.
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:34 AM   #16
Lee Willis
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Every scale has advantages and disadvantages and none of them is better than the others: they are just different. N scale's disadvantages may be the trains are hard to see and even harder to work on, but on the other hand you can build a big "empire in a small space.

That said, as stated a ceiling layout with N gauge seems to me one concept where N gauge falls down. By their nature ceiling layouts put the trains where they are hard to see and I think an N gauge layout near the ceiling would not be satisfactory. Plus, a lot of the enjoyment of a layout is playing with the trains and that means you are always on a ladder when you want to be at "layout level" with a ceiling layout. Also, I've seen successful and unsuccessful ceiling layouts and I question whether a ceiling layout would "be comfortably compatible" with the lifestyle and living needs in a house with nine people living it it.

But I disagree with a recommendation to go with another scale. Among other things, N doesn't take much room (and you don't have much with seven kids) and it doesn't cost much (and I assume you are thinking about colledge expenses) but provides a lot of fun.

So I have what I think is a better suggest, based on experience. Thirty-five years ago, I was sort of where you are now, with kids at home, a crowded house and college expenses on the horizon. Then N was almost a salvation for me, it fit my needs then so well.
I had a fold-out layout that I build into a big desk. (You could also build it into a table or even as something that slides under a bed). I built a desk we used for, bills and such household stuff like that. It was supported on each side by two metal filing cabinets each about 30 inches high. One of the filing cabinets was for "desk stuff" and the other for "train stuf."

The desktop was a box I built from cabinet grade plywood, that hinged so that when closed, it was six feet wide and 33 inches deep and four inches thick. It hinged at the front: I would clear off the desktop (we kept one drawer empty so everything on the desktop just went in the top drawer when I cleared the desktop. The "desktop" would hinge at the front and I would open it as in the picture below and the "desktop would swing up and out and over, two legs would hind down from the sides, and it would become the front part of a 72 x 66 inch N-scale layout.

Because the "desktop" is actually a box fourinches deep made of 1/2 inch cabinet paywood, it is hollow inside with 3 inches of room for small N-gauge buildings and trees and such to stay on the layout (if attached) while folded up.

Desk layout fold out.jpg
Once unfolded, the layout is reasonably sized and at room level, you can "play" with the locos and rolling stock and work on the scenery and such.

It worked so well we built two more layouts. One was a five foot by 30 inch (folded) one that went under one of my son's bed when not being used, for his 60 by 60 inch layout (unfolded) N-Gauge layout. The other was a 36 inch by 30 inch (folded) one of heavier wood that we would send on the airplane as baggage with him to grandma's house so he'd have model trains there went he spent to summer with her.

There are many tiny details to get right, such as building it so when it hinges the tracks line up with no gap, but all of that is do-able, and straightforward. If you are interested in more details message me through the forum here and I will be glad to give you more on this.
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:26 PM   #17
Shdwdrgn
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You mentioned wanting to run the trains instead of letting them go around is circles... Have you looked at switching layouts done on a shelf? With N you could make a shelf a foot wide and the length of the room which would provide a lot of space for point-to-point operations. Another possibility is widening the shelf at each corner so you could add a loop, basically making a collapsed dogbone so you *could* still run a long train in circles.

For the coffee table idea, you could always get some 1/2" tempered glass so nobody would go crashing through it, or even have a lift-out section of heavy wood. Of course if (when) the table gets bumped it will knock cars off the track so you'll want to remove them when you're done running trains.

Regarding the transition from over-the-door down to a shelf level -- what you're looking for here is a helix (think of a coiled spring) that allows the train to go up and down at a shallow angle.

Just keep looking around, there's a ton of ideas and somebody has probably already done what you want.
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Old 09-09-2019, 06:23 PM   #18
csm672
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Well I agree with everyone so far. I would love to have a huge room where I could run my dads trans and more, but that is a decade or more away. I want to do yard operations, but I also just want some trains running the track. I agree, the N scale is small, but with my modeling I think yard operations would be the priority. I would love to do an O scale layout, but honestly I lean more towards the "Toy Train" aspect of O scale rather than the "Model Railroad" aspect. I love all the animated stuff Lionel and AF put out, but finances don't allow me to realize it. Or space. I was hoping I could do an N scale layout, but maybe I should look at HO scale. Would that be a good compromise? Maybe I just run Dad's trains around the ceiling and build a yard on a fold out shelf in the N scale stuff. I would really like to have an all in one setup though. Maybe I need to look into the Helix as Shdwdrgn suggested. I was just so excited my wife said OK that I was just jumping in head first. I want this to work, and work well. I want to enjoy it. I want to build it with my kids. Just this thread has shown me I have no idea what I'm doing, so I think I may need to read up on basic operational parameters of the different scales to find out what I need to go with, regardless of what I already own. I appreciate all the suggestions and ideas so far, but could I trouble you gentleman and ladies for any recommended reading, either in print or web based? I am very grateful thus far, and I'm confident I'm in the right place to figure this out. Thanks
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Old 09-09-2019, 07:13 PM   #19
Shdwdrgn
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I've seen HO done around the top of rooms, and it is certainly more visible. One thing you might want to keep in mind is keeping the train on the track when somebody slams the door that the train is currently traveling over. Unfortunately walls move. Some kind of guard rail would be required anyway or you might see a train taking a 7-foot dive to the floor.
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Old 09-12-2019, 06:27 PM   #20
Djsfantasi
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A helix would take up a lot of area. My suggestion is a train elevator.

It would require extra length in the room/hallway where it’s located. The concept is that you make a train in the yard and pull it onto the lead. The lead is mounted on hardware similar to a drawer slide.

When the train is on the lead, you manually lift the track and the train up to the height of the mainline. With bullet locks at both levels, the train simply proceeds out of the lead onto the mainline.

You could motorize the lift, but manual operation simplifies the system and will work well.
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