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Due to a motorcycle accident my model railroading has been put on hold. But was able to get down to my basement today and get measurements to get an idea how much lumber I will need. My drawings aren't to scale but the overall measurements are very close. First picture is measurements and second picture is a rough drawing of how I plan on running the track, walls are highlighted in black and the track is blue. I estimate a train will cover around 140 feet from start to finish. I will be running two tracks the full length and with the room I have most of my curves will probably be around 30" radius. I haven't decided what types of industries or buildings I will be using but will figure that out once I get the overall layout setup. I figured I will need around 10 4x8 sheets of plywood. There will be one full 4x8 sheet and the rest of the layout will range for 6" wide sections up to 3 foot wide sections. I will be running primarily Southern Pacific. My current layout is layed on the floor so excited to get it elevated. The biggest decision I haven't made up is the height I want it at. Hoping to get started on it by the end of the month.
 

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Great first effort. You know what you need to do to get dimensions accurate and to figure out radii. If you don't mind, I have some strong suggestions:

a. The real trains don't run in straight lines for long, not even on the prairies. Sure, they may for many miles at a time, but you don't have that luxury...or the room. So, your railroad has to scale in several ways, one of which is 'selective compression'. Your 140' in the real world works out to about 2.3 scale miles. So, you have to cram a lot of 'typical' railroad geometry in a small space. I say all this to warn you that long tangents along walls get boring. Very boring. Instead, wind a bit, plan to go over some gullies, meaning you'll need relief and contoured terrain, so you will also have grades and descents. Your plan has no depiction of elevation, which is understandable, but it does have a LOT OF tangent trackage. Widen the bench if you need to and run the tracks in shallow curves. When you go to take photos of your trains down at 'ground' level, they'll look so much better.

b. That blog in the centre-right, you should pinch that with a turnout at the upper right of the curve-tangent transition and run toward lower left and meet the left lower curve with another turnout. That will cause you a short unless you plan to neutralize it, but a 'reverser' will correct the phase fault for you where the loop closes back on itself at lower left. I feel this geometry is important for two reasons: you'll be able to reverse trains and run them in the opposite direction, thus reducing wear on the tire flanges on one side all the time, and you'll be able to run a turnout midway along the diagonal and maybe have one or two industries inside that blob.

Back to my first point: imagine a train running straight for many feet, say 25 feet or more. What would it look like by the time it had covered 12 feet, with your eyes down near track level? Nice, surely. But this is what you get if you fashion some shallow curves along those longer straights:

This was taken about 12 years ago on my second layout. The bench you see, with terrain, is about 13' long and three feet wide.

 

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Mesenteria is on a higher level than I, but his observations about the visual appeal of shallow curves versus an arrow straight shot is spot on the money.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
I agree about not having long straights. Once I start building the base I will adjust and expand where possible. I'm sure the track plans will change multiple times before I lay the track permanently. I plan on getting a rough layout built, once I know what kind of space I have I'll start adding in scenery. I'm sure some people would say to get a plan for everything then start building but one thing I enjoy about model railroading is building the track and making changes. Thanks for the advice and input.
 

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Great first effort. You know what you need to do to get dimensions accurate and to figure out radii. If you don't mind, I have some strong suggestions:

a. The real trains don't run in straight lines for long, not even on the prairies. Sure, they may for many miles at a time, but you don't have that luxury...or the room. So, your railroad has to scale in several ways, one of which is 'selective compression'. Your 140' in the real world works out to about 2.3 scale miles. So, you have to cram a lot of 'typical' railroad geometry in a small space. I say all this to warn you that long tangents along walls get boring. Very boring. Instead, wind a bit, plan to go over some gullies, meaning you'll need relief and contoured terrain, so you will also have grades and descents. Your plan has no depiction of elevation, which is understandable, but it does have a LOT OF tangent trackage. Widen the bench if you need to and run the tracks in shallow curves. When you go to take photos of your trains down at 'ground' level, they'll look so much better.

b. That blog in the centre-right, you should pinch that with a turnout at the upper right of the curve-tangent transition and run toward lower left and meet the left lower curve with another turnout. That will cause you a short unless you plan to neutralize it, but a 'reverser' will correct the phase fault for you where the loop closes back on itself at lower left. I feel this geometry is important for two reasons: you'll be able to reverse trains and run them in the opposite direction, thus reducing wear on the tire flanges on one side all the time, and you'll be able to run a turnout midway along the diagonal and maybe have one or two industries inside that blob.

Back to my first point: imagine a train running straight for many feet, say 25 feet or more. What would it look like by the time it had covered 12 feet, with your eyes down near track level? Nice, surely. But this is what you get if you fashion some shallow curves along those longer straights:

This was taken about 12 years ago on my second layout. The bench you see, with terrain, is about 13' long and three feet wide.

I am the newest of newbies, just getting started, but following things closely here. Doesn't the S-curve you show create problems? How do you avoid them?
 

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We don't really know how severe they are from this rough sketch, but if you use a straight section as long as the longest expected car between curves it should be fine.

30" curves are going to push the track much farther from the wall than this sketch would lead one to believe.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
We don't really know how severe they are from this rough sketch, but if you use a straight section as long as the longest expected car between curves it should be fine.

30" curves are going to push the track much farther from the wall than this sketch would lead one to believe.
The curves are far from to scale. The main reason for the sketch was to get a ball park idea how much plywood I need. Basically I'm going to start by building the 4x8 bench and working out from there and then adjust my basic plan as I go and figure out how much I can expand. I'm not set on the 30" radius but don't want to go below 24". I wouldn't exactly say I'm going to just wing it but am not set to an exact plan and will decide as I go on what works best.
 

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You might want to consider rounding the corners of the basement walls out. That will reduce your reach when doing the scenery.

552456


552457
 

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Mesenteria is on a higher level than I, but his observations about the visual appeal of shallow curves versus an arrow straight shot is spot on the money.
And all the more so because you already have one straight line to deal with: the edge of the layout. Long straights that run parallel to the layout edge have near zero visual appeal. If all you're concerned about is operations, it's not such a big deal, but if you aspire to realism or that visual "wow" factor, use broad, sweeping curves.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
And all the more so because you already have one straight line to deal with: the edge of the layout. Long straights that run parallel to the layout edge have near zero visual appeal. If all you're concerned about is operations, it's not such a big deal, but if you aspire to realism or that visual "wow" factor, use broad, sweeping curves.
I'm thinking having a small town and a lake or river at some point along the longest straight that I can curve the track around should break things up. The width of that longest run will range from 1 to 3 feet wide so will have plenty of space to add scenery.
 

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Personally I like long straights. I think seeing a train stretched out and gliding through the scenery is pretty cool. The thing to remember is the only opinion that matters is yours, everything else people tell you is just a suggestion based on their personal likes.
 

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So first, yes, personal aesthetics matter, but the way the human eye perceives objects is important, too. Look at sculpture and architecture -- long straight lines are a rarity (why do most skyscrapers have some visual distraction from long, straight edges). But I don't mean to imply that you shouldn't do what appeals to you on your own layout.

But remember, we're not talking about chicanes or a slalom run; we mean broad, gradual curves of a few degrees variation, which would still achieve that "long, stretched out train" look while being more realistic and more visually appealing.
 
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I have relatively long straights and sweeping curves on my layout and they make a nice combination. Not as long as yours though. I'd be worried about running two tracks through that door. Figure you need about six inches per track (to make sure nothing falls on the floor from derailments) suddenly a 30" opening becomes 18" and 36 becomes 24. Unless you are skinny 24" is tight for not rubbing against anything. If you run one or both through the wall like you have elsewhere that might do it. If any of your aisles are less than 36" I'd reconsider those as well, having knocked stuff on the floor from the edge of 36" aisles I speak from experience.
 

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I am the newest of newbies, just getting started, but following things closely here. Doesn't the S-curve you show create problems? How do you avoid them?
Great question! You're reading and learning. The answer is this:

S-curves are everywhere. They're like grades on a railroad. The entire railroad is on a grade, even if it's just 0.01%. Most Class I railroads won't have a yard of any kind on grades exceeding about 0.15%. Those yards all have multiples of S-curves. The problem with such curves isn't that they ARE S-curves, it's what KIND of S-curve. The curves in my image are obviously sinuous, and are therefore properly called S-curves. But, they are sweeping, the kind one finds anywhere BUT the yard.....or, on our layouts. Out on the mains, prairie or mountain, the curves often come back-to-back, but their radii are in the 400' range, or about 50" on our layouts. Our couplers, and those on the prototype, have no problems, and stringlining is only a problem if light/empty cars are placed midway between a long cut of heavy hoppers or laden boxcars. If too-light rolling stock is place midway along a model train, on a 3% grade, and along a curve, there's an excellent chance the cars down the hill will lift the lighter car up and out of the gauge, causing a derailment. But that is easily corrected, and certainly should never obviate having nice sweeping S-curves on your model.

No, the dreaded S-curve that we avoid is one where switching is taking place, often right at turnouts, usually at a crossover or in a switching yard. Long passenger trains on our layouts going through #4.5 or some #5 turnouts at the leads of ladders will sometimes simply not make it through the geometry. You'll need shorter cars or longer turnouts, or a combination of both of those factors.

I hope I have answered you comprehensively. S-curves, as a genus of curve, is not a problem per se. It's where you place them and how short and divergent the angles are that the turnouts make them, or the rail curves make them. As someone answered earlier, just make darned good 'n sure your longest frames will transition through the geometry you propose. Mock it up temporarily and run coupled cars through them, both trailing and while being shoved from the rear. Passenger cars with diaphragms over their couplers are a LOT poorer at tracking when being shoved, bunching up the slack between them and compressing the diaphragms that much more. Beware!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I have relatively long straights and sweeping curves on my layout and they make a nice combination. Not as long as yours though. I'd be worried about running two tracks through that door. Figure you need about six inches per track (to make sure nothing falls on the floor from derailments) suddenly a 30" opening becomes 18" and 36 becomes 24. Unless you are skinny 24" is tight for not rubbing against anything. If you run one or both through the wall like you have elsewhere that might do it. If any of your aisles are less than 36" I'd reconsider those as well, having knocked stuff on the floor from the edge of 36" aisles I speak from experience.
I certainly am concerned with running both sets of track through the doorway but want to avoid cutting holes in that room for a few reasons. I plan on going as narrow as possible with the track at the doorway and use plexiglass on the edge incase of a derailments. I don't plan on having much for operations in that room so I wont be in and out constantly. My bigger concern is how the curves will work out since that will be my tightest section. Also good point about not getting to narrow on the rest of the layout.
 

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Due to a motorcycle accident my model railroading has been put on hold. But was able to get down to my basement today and get measurements to get an idea how much lumber I will need. My drawings aren't to scale but the overall measurements are very close. First picture is measurements and second picture is a rough drawing of how I plan on running the track, walls are highlighted in black and the track is blue. I estimate a train will cover around 140 feet from start to finish. I will be running two tracks the full length and with the room I have most of my curves will probably be around 30" radius. I haven't decided what types of industries or buildings I will be using but will figure that out once I get the overall layout setup. I figured I will need around 10 4x8 sheets of plywood. There will be one full 4x8 sheet and the rest of the layout will range for 6" wide sections up to 3 foot wide sections. I will be running primarily Southern Pacific. My current layout is layed on the floor so excited to get it elevated. The biggest decision I haven't made up is the height I want it at. Hoping to get started on it by the end of the month.
Bonz85;

As for your layout height decision, I strongly recommend setting the height of your layout where you can operate from a rolling office chair, perhaps at, or just below, your seated eye level. You will be much more comfortable, and if old age, or another accident, make standing for long periods impractical you will still be able to enjoy your railroad. With the layout mounted low like this, simply standing up will let you reach the back of even a 36" deep section easily.

Speaking of sections, I also strongly recommend building your layout in small sections. 2' x 4' is a good practical size. Four such sections, bolted together, can make up your 4' x 8' tables, and will be infinitely easier to move if you ever have to change houses. They will also let you do traditionally (and in my personal opinion stupidly) "under the table" drudgery tasks, like layout wiring, and mounting switch machines, the much easier way, with the section upside down on a workbench and you sitting down instead of crawling under the layout and working overhead, which is ten times harder. :mad:
All sections don't need to be the same size. For instance on your 36" deep sections obviously it would be silly to make a 2' x 4' section and graft a 1' x 4' section onto the back of it. There's no reason it couldn't be one 3' x 4' section, or whatever size you want. I would avoid 8' long sections though. They don't fit through doors, around corners, up steps, or even onto workbenches, as easily as shorter sections do.

The files below have more information on several model railroad subjects. While you already have a good basic idea of what you want, looking through them might help with some ideas that you can incorporate into your own layout, if you choose to.

God Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Bonz85;

As for your layout height decision, I strongly recommend setting the height of your layout where you can operate from a rolling office chair, perhaps at, or just below, your seated eye level. You will be much more comfortable, and if old age, or another accident, make standing for long periods impractical you will still be able to enjoy your railroad. With the layout mounted low like this, simply standing up will let you reach the back of even a 36" deep section easily.

Speaking of sections, I also strongly recommend building your layout in small sections. 2' x 4' is a good practical size. Four such sections, bolted together, can make up your 4' x 8' tables, and will be infinitely easier to move if you ever have to change houses. They will also let you do traditionally (and in my personal opinion stupidly) "under the table" drudgery tasks, like layout wiring, and mounting switch machines, the much easier way, with the section upside down on a workbench and you sitting down instead of crawling under the layout and working overhead, which is ten times harder. :mad:
All sections don't need to be the same size. For instance on your 36" deep sections obviously it would be silly to make a 2' x 4' section and graft a 1' x 4' section onto the back of it. There's no reason it couldn't be one 3' x 4' section, or whatever size you want. I would avoid 8' long sections though. They don't fit through doors, around corners, up steps, or even onto workbenches, as easily as shorter sections do.

The files below have more information on several model railroad subjects. While you already have a good basic idea of what you want, looking through them might help with some ideas that you can incorporate into your own layout, if you choose to.

God Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
Great points on building it in smaller sections. I was planning on making it do where disassembly would be possible buy hadn't thought about doing it in smaller sections. It will have to be somewhat easily to disassemble in the area where my furnace and water heater are for when those need maintenance or replacement. I was thinking if I get a drafting chair I could have the track at a comfortable working height and still sit as much as I want. Thanks for the input.
 
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