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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So for the past couple of years I pretty much completed a layout. The layout was more for practice than anything serious or long term. I wanted to see just how terrible my scenery would be. I wasn't as worried about running trains so I had tight curves. I just had a small section left and probably would have had to buy more stuff for it to complete. Well life took a turn and I'm going to be out of work until probably after Thanksgiving due to some hernias. So I'm going to home bored as heck. So my thought was to tear down my old layout and start on a layout that can handle all my trains and won't look like just a bunch of track on a cpl pieces of plywood or foam.
Hence arises my problem and what I've cone here for help on. I have tried scarm and I've tried any rail. I am not good with them since I'm always a visual person and always just set track and go from there to get what I want in the end. But I am wanting to have thus build be modular might be moving in a cpl years so ill be putting in connectors and such. I just could use some help planning. If someone could help me on the planning software part you would be my hero considering if it would be up to me on that end it would never go from program to building ..
I have a pretty big space to work on. My plan is to use peco turnouts with Atlas flextrack. I also have a bunch of atlas turnouts but really do not want them near the mainlines.
I would like to be able to run my passenger and container cars so I'm thinking bear minimum 24" curves.
I would like to have my atlas turntable and roundhouse if possible.

So if someone coukd help let me know.


Thanks
 

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Use a compass on drafting paper, and use a ruler, to draw out several possible plans. Then, mark off the borders of the modules you'd like to separate and to move. Use quick disconnect connectors between the modules for power. Use carriage bolts as alignment pins to hold the modules in alignment. Lay your roadbed across the joints, and sever them only once you must move for the first time. Remove the tracks, slice through the roadbed, disconnect the electrical, remove the carriage bolts, and you should be good to go. Any hard shell scenery that crosses those boundaries will also have to be severed, probably best with an old electric carving knife.

I don't know what 'a pretty big space to work on,' means. But the general wisdom in the hobby is to use the largest main-line curves you can afford in the space you have. For me, my least curvature on the entire railroad must be over 30" due to a Sunset Models HO scale Canadian Pacific 2-10-4 'Selkirk'. Your longer car passenger trains will run much better on such curves. This is especially true when you back them around curves if they have diaphragms.

This is just my own personal opinion based on four layouts: 24" curves are not even the minimum for what Walther's used to state was the minimum for their 'heavyweight' passenger cars with diaphragms. They were wrong by at least four inches if you wanted to back four of them coupled around curves.
 

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While I agree with mesenteria that you COULD use graph paper and drafting tools, using a CAD system is much faster and more accurate. You can draw the dimensions of your room and save it as a file, then start from that every time you try a new plan (or start with one of your other designs and modify that). As long as you don't save OVER the old file, you won't lose that version.

Anyrail and SCARM are very similar, especially considering that SCARM is a home-grown, reverse-engineered version of Anyrail anyhow. I have been using Anyrail for years, and may be able to help you get your arms around it (you will certainly have lots of free time), but at the end of the day, neither it nor any other software is going to design a layout FOR you. You have to do that. You will have to decide what the module dimensions are, and build them yourself within the software. You will need to decide on minimum curve radii, etc (although the software will tell you if you violate your set minimums).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
While I agree with mesenteria that you COULD use graph paper and drafting tools, using a CAD system is much faster and more accurate. You can draw the dimensions of your room and save it as a file, then start from that every time you try a new plan (or start with one of your other designs and modify that). As long as you don't save OVER the old file, you won't lose that version.

Anyrail and SCARM are very similar, especially considering that SCARM is a home-grown, reverse-engineered version of Anyrail anyhow. I have been using Anyrail for years, and may be able to help you get your arms around it (you will certainly have lots of free time), but at the end of the day, neither it nor any other software is going to design a layout FOR you. You have to do that. You will have to decide what the module dimensions are, and build them yourself within the software. You will need to decide on minimum curve radii, etc (although the software will tell you if you violate your set minimums).
Whenever I try to use these programs it's like my vision goes out the door lol. And trying to do elevation with them makes me want to pull my hair lol.
 

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Like for instance im on anyrail right now trying to make a outline like ctv suggested. How do I know the length? I don't see any option for grids and no guage to know how long your line.
When I first started with AnyRail, I watched a bunch of instructional videos on YouTube.
This guy has a 40+ video series on it. Steam Powered Radio
The first few were enough to get me started.
 

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Like for instance im on anyrail right now trying to make a outline like ctv suggested. How do I know the length? I don't see any option for grids and no guage to know how long your line.
You set your grid option when you open a new file. If you can't tell from your grid how long a line is, you can add a ruler (right click on it to set its length). In any event, the object description in the lower right corner of the window will tell you how long your line is.

I can't solve the vision problem (although I wear cheaters when using a computer), but you can zoom the view to 1:1 scale. If you can't see that, see an ophthalmologist.

Elevation is extremely simple. Right click on a point, select "set height", and you're done. If you want a slope, set the height at the two end points (and then lock it), then use <Shift+Click> to select all of the pieces that will be part of the incline (you can also just drag a box around it, but that's tricky if you have a lot of track in the same area), right click any of the pieces and select "smooth slope". It takes longer to describe than to do.

The bottom line is that there is a learning curve, and if you're not familiar with basic CAD concepts, that steepens the curve somewhat. Rather than just jumping and trying to start designing, spend some time acquainting yourself with the interface and the various commands. Watch or read some tutorials. And above all, understand that the software can do pretty much any task necessary to get your design down on paper just the way you want it, so approach everything by saying, "How do I...?" not "I can't...." You'll get the hang of it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
You set your grid option when you open a new file. If you can't tell from your grid how long a line is, you can add a ruler (right click on it to set its length). In any event, the object description in the lower right corner of the window will tell you how long your line is.

I can't solve the vision problem (although I wear cheaters when using a computer), but you can zoom the view to 1:1 scale. If you can't see that, see an ophthalmologist.

Elevation is extremely simple. Right click on a point, select "set height", and you're done. If you want a slope, set the height at the two end points (and then lock it), then use <Shift+Click> to select all of the pieces that will be part of the incline (you can also just drag a box around it, but that's tricky if you have a lot of track in the same area), right click any of the pieces and select "smooth slope". It takes longer to describe than to do.

The bottom line is that there is a learning curve, and if you're not familiar with basic CAD concepts, that steepens the curve somewhat. Rather than just jumping and trying to start designing, spend some time acquainting yourself with the interface and the various commands. Watch or read some tutorials. And above all, understand that the software can do pretty much any task necessary to get your design down on paper just the way you want it, so approach everything by saying, "How do I...?" not "I can't...." You'll get the hang of it.

It's a few reason. My eyesight is good however on a comp monitor I can't read anything lol. I use windows magnifier.
The biggest thing atm is sitting there is painfull with my hernias (Have 3)
Then I am also kinda impatient which doesn't help
 

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It's a few reason. My eyesight is good however on a comp monitor I can't read anything lol. I use windows magnifier.
The biggest thing atm is sitting there is painfull with my hernias (Have 3)
Then I am also kinda impatient which doesn't help
The impatience you must fix, or you'll never learn. Steadily working through things is the best way to succeed! I find the old-fashioned solution, reading glasses with blue light filtering coating, to be much kmore effective than Windows magnifier.

I just had my 3rd hernia repair operation in February, bringing my total hernias repaired up to 4. Unlike you, mine did not significantly affect my ability to do desk work, only to be up and active.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The impatience you must fix, or you'll never learn. Steadily working through things is the best way to succeed! I find the old-fashioned solution, reading glasses with blue light filtering coating, to be much kmore effective than Windows magnifier.

I just had my 3rd hernia repair operation in February, bringing my total hernias repaired up to 4. Unlike you, mine did not significantly affect my ability to do desk work, only to be up and active.

Ya it's affecting me maybe because it's all 3 at once? Dunno these are my first. It's kinda weird the pain seems to move around like it picks one one day and the next needs a new flavor lol.

Anyways I'm starting to get the program and how to do it. Is there anyway to number your squares on the x and y access?
Plus you said when u click on the lines it will give the length? Don't see that anywhere
 

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Whenever you "select" a piece, the program gives you info about the piece you selected. It's in a small ribbon toward the bottom left. For example, if you select a curve piece, it will give the part number, the radius and degree of curvature along with length.

You can also select a stretch of many pieces, and it will give you overall length. It took me a while to figure out how to use flex pieces, but it came with practice and watching Youtube videos.
 

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I build modular benchwork, but not modular scenery. My brother has an excellent “1 man job” type design, so 1 person can disassemble a huge layout no problem. I didn’t follow his method exactly due to the shape of my layout. But regardless, here is a vid of how & why he did his benchwork.

As for track design… I’m also a very hands on, visual type myself. I come up with a basic mainline & operation concept in my mind. Jot it down only roughly for reference. And that’s where I always start with track laying anyway. As for spur lengths, TO location, etc, I sorta shoehorn that in in a way that functions well. Maybe a TO needs to be 5 inches down the mainline or up, but it goes where it needs to in order to function. Example being if I need to fit two 86’ hi-cubes on the spur, plus uncoupling magnet space and clearance, I’d rather figure all that out first person & not guesstimate on a computer screen.
Following a plan down to the half inch of placement doesn’t leave much elbow room for when you need to make adjustments. Like aisles, elbow room is essential IMO. I know where industries will be, how many spurs each gets… but if a double spur will have a LH or RH turnout, a #4, #5, #6 or whatever I keep those determinations loose & fluid. Spur length & TO size are more important than precisely where the TO will be. Hence, shoehorn it where it works best.
This is also why I prefer (and often suggest) securing track temporarily and giving things a good month of test operations & hem/haw time. Better to decided changes are needed when things are just tacked/taped down. It takes longer, but somebody said something about anything worth doing…
So I vote for just a rough idea of track placement & tweak the finer decisions of it as you go however needed.

If you ever saw my track plan on The Seventies Salvation and thought it looks like childish chicken scratch; that’s on purpose.
My previous N layout was meticulously planned on old Atlas software (RTS? I think it was called). I ended up with a lot of problems, only partly due to the plan being Atlas track & my using Kato, there were other problems too getting Kato track to match the plan down to the 1/8th inch correct placement. So I do it a better way (for me) now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Whenever you "select" a piece, the program gives you info about the piece you selected. It's in a small ribbon toward the bottom left. For example, if you select a curve piece, it will give the part number, the radius and degree of curvature along with length.

You can also select a stretch of many pieces, and it will give you overall length. It took me a while to figure out how to use flex pieces, but it came with practice and watching Youtube videos.

I'm getting it but I'm getting stumped on how to make a enjoyable layout yet still be correct in the real world. I don't want a big oval that goes round and round yet I do want it continues so roundabouts on the ends.
 

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You could design it as sort of a horse shoe shape, with one “leg” of the horse shoe longer & curving around somewhat as an industry lead/branch line type thing… and have a connection back to the mainline off of that to hide that a loop exists.
 

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I'm getting it but I'm getting stumped on how to make a enjoyable layout yet still be correct in the real world. I don't want a big oval that goes round and round yet I do want it continues so roundabouts on the ends.
Model railroading is all about compromises. A mile in the real world (5280 feet) is still 60'+ in HO scale. Nobody has the room necessary to model a railroad of any kind of length accurately. So we use selective compression and visual disruption. Selective compression is just what it sounds like: you pretend things (the distance between towns, for example) are larger or smaller than what is represented by the true scale distance on your layout. Similarly with time; by running your trains more slowly and using a "fast clock" it appears to take your train several hours to transit the layout, when it really only takes a short time.

Visual disruption is the technique of making sure that you can't see parts of your train in two different settings at the same time. So you use structures or landscape features to break up larger areas of the layout, or install a double-sided backdrop (sometimes called a "view block") down the center of a peninsula. Or, by using a U shape to your layout, you make sure that you can't see your entire layout without moving or turning.

My layout does have a big oval, but it's well disguised. Making trains stop to drop and deliver cargos and / or passengers is what really adds to the sense of realism. It doesn't really matter whether the train actually goes around in a big circle. In real life, a train would be turned on a Y or a turntable before making a return journey. I don't have that kind of space, so I just let the return loop "turn" the train for me. Besides, sometimes I like to kick back and just watch the trains run. You can also build a so-called "point-to-point" layout, in which each end is a large yard, often hidden, and even sometimes on a different level or in another room. Then your trains start at one end, transit the layout (making pickups and set outs along the way), and ends up at the opposite end. Between operating sessions, you reset those trains to be ready for the trip back.

At the end of the day, it's more more about visual and operational interest that engages the operator, rather than avoiding a big loop or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Model railroading is all about compromises. A mile in the real world (5280 feet) is still 60'+ in HO scale. Nobody has the room necessary to model a railroad of any kind of length accurately. So we use selective compression and visual disruption. Selective compression is just what it sounds like: you pretend things (the distance between towns, for example) are larger or smaller than what is represented by the true scale distance on your layout. Similarly with time; by running your trains more slowly and using a "fast clock" it appears to take your train several hours to transit the layout, when it really only takes a short time.

Visual disruption is the technique of making sure that you can't see parts of your train in two different settings at the same time. So you use structures or landscape features to break up larger areas of the layout, or install a double-sided backdrop (sometimes called a "view block") down the center of a peninsula. Or, by using a U shape to your layout, you make sure that you can't see your entire layout without moving or turning.

My layout does have a big oval, but it's well disguised. Making trains stop to drop and deliver cargos and / or passengers is what really adds to the sense of realism. It doesn't really matter whether the train actually goes around in a big circle. In real life, a train would be turned on a Y or a turntable before making a return journey. I don't have that kind of space, so I just let the return loop "turn" the train for me. Besides, sometimes I like to kick back and just watch the trains run. You can also build a so-called "point-to-point" layout, in which each end is a large yard, often hidden, and even sometimes on a different level or in another room. Then your trains start at one end, transit the layout (making pickups and set outs along the way), and ends up at the opposite end. Between operating sessions, you reset those trains to be ready for the trip back.

At the end of the day, it's more more about visual and operational interest that engages the operator, rather than avoiding a big loop or not.
When I said more real I was more referring to every turnout making sense and to keep away from the stuffing track on the layout to see how much I can place lol.

I'm getting close to having it done. One side the main is circling a city which wouldvmake sense. The other is a roundabout around a tt and roundhouse along with a yard. Gotta try to visualize what it will look like because it is going a lil further than I was going to take it.
Gotta get a liscense in anyrail to do much more tho and the bills atm are low due to this....
 

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You can cheat with the free version by "glueing" a few key pieces between sections. Then you can save half the layout at a time with the glued pieces being common to both halves.

Hope that made sense.

But then, Anyrail is a good program and is worth the small price!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
You can cheat with the free version by "glueing" a few key pieces between sections. Then you can save half the layout at a time with the glued pieces being common to both halves.

Hope that made sense.

But then, Anyrail is a good program and is worth the small price!

Tried did not work. They must have patched that one. I'll probably get it either this week or next. My work has a week grace period before fmla kicks in which left me nothing but credit cards and I had just cams back from vacation and bought myself a 3d printer so funds are tight.....
 

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At the end of the day, I would get the license. It's worth it to get new updates as they are released (track libraries ans user generated objects are updated all the time.

Meanwhile, the fix that Jeff suggested does work. Do as much of your design as you can under the 50 (I think) object limit. I work with my track "glued" all the time, so that a new piece of flextrack can't "relay" what I've already placed, or so an errant mouse click doesn't drag my layout all over. Anyway, when you've done as much as you can, SAVE the file with a descriptive name (lower left, for instance). Then disconnect the pieces at the ends of your track, glue them in place, and delete the rest of the track. Immediately save with a new name (upper left, for instance), and continue working until you hit the object cap again. Repeat as necessary until you have completed your design. You can overlay printouts of each section to get a sense of the whole. Just remember that any change that affects the fixed end piece in one file has to be duplicated in the other(s).
 
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