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Thanks for the advice, TF!

I would flip the bridges except there will be tracks underneath them. A main line and one spur on the East side of the river, and on the West, a main line and 2 spurs. Each main line was carefully planned to go under the center of one of the arches of the viaduct. There is 2" of height clearence above both edges of the tracks when the tracks are on a cork roadbed... But just used a ruler. I haven't bought a NMRA gauge yet. I can raise the height of the elevated track, and therefore the viaduct if I need to.

My plan is to get the ground level track laid first, but will hold off on final placement of the Spurs until I know the viaduct will provide sufficient clearance.

About the river... I was planning the water level to be as close to the wood table as possible. Ground level is currently 2" above that. The tugboats barely fit under the 2 ground level bridges as is, so I need to find a thin substrate. Perhaps the thin foam used under laminate flooring?
Jeff;

Having to clear those tracks below is a prototypical reason for using a through plate girder bridge, so your choice makes perfect sense.
The NMRA gauge can check more than wheel & track gauge, including minimal clearances, both vertical, and to either side. Two inches should work though.
I suggested putting the river level below the foam because you pointed out the tight vertical clearance between river, and bridge. I don't know what kind of table surface you will have under the foam sheet. In your photo, it looks like the river is already cut all the way through the foam and shows what appears to be a dining room table? Even if you plan to use a plywood-topped table, you could cut the riverbed through the plywood, & gain another 1/2" or so of clearance by attaching the Masonite to the bottom of the plywood. If your going to use open grid, you could get even more clearance.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
I got a bunch of modular desks for free. Each desk was made up of a 66"x30" work surface with a 66"x24" return. They were held together with flat metal brackets. I took 4 desks and, rather than assemble as an L, made 4 66"x54" tables and made an inverted U. I know it's not the best bench work, but it was free馃榾
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I have most of my Peco turnouts mated up with PL-10 switches and the leads are all soldered. I chose solid core 22 gauge wire for the turnout switch leads. Blue is common, Green is for the mainline route and Yellow is for the diverging route. For track power, I think I will use Black and Red, with 14 gauge bus and 22 gauge feeders. I'm going to test my wiring for the Auto Reversing module and the planned isolation joints. I really want to be sure I have the gaps and wiring perfect before I use an adhesive to lay down the track. I also want to be sure the bridges are all the proper level before gluing in the piers and abutments.

While I'm testing, I'm just going to actuate the points by hand to be sure it all runs well, which is fine because my CDU is still in transit.

I have about 1/4 of the track laid in the West.

My layout is attached. It's 11 feet wide by 10 feet deep with a 2 foot aisle in the open part of teh inverted U.

I know some of you will scoff at the symmetry and lack of yards/switching, but. I'm evoking the first rule of model railroading, LOL!

The green section is elevated 2.5 inches from the ground level. 3 bridges... 2 on ground level and a double bridge for the elevated section. The Ohio River will bisect the Eastern side (WV) and the Western side (OH).
 

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I have most of my Peco turnouts mated up with PL-10 switches and the leads are all soldered. I chose solid core 22 gauge wire for the turnout switch leads. Blue is common, Green is for the mainline route and Yellow is for the diverging route. For track power, I think I will use Black and Red, with 14 gauge bus and 22 gauge feeders. I'm going to test my wiring for the Auto Reversing module and the planned isolation joints. I really want to be sure I have the gaps and wiring perfect before I use an adhesive to lay down the track. I also want to be sure the bridges are all the proper level before gluing in the piers and abutments.

While I'm testing, I'm just going to actuate the points by hand to be sure it all runs well, which is fine because my CDU is still in transit.

I have about 1/4 of the track laid in the West.

My layout is attached. It's 11 feet wide by 10 feet deep with a 2 foot aisle in the open part of teh inverted U.

I know some of you will scoff at the symmetry and lack of yards/switching, but. I'm evoking the first rule of model railroading, LOL!

The green section is elevated 2.5 inches from the ground level. 3 bridges... 2 on ground level and a double bridge for the elevated section. The Ohio River will bisect the Eastern side (WV) and the Western side (OH).
Jeff:

"Hokey smokes Bullwinkle, that's a lot of track! Your track seems to run parallel to the edge of the layout in many places. Hopefully not close enough that trains can fall off the edge & hit the floor. o_O I don't know the scale of your plan, so I can't tell how close the track is to the edge, but it looks close. Another thing about running parallel to the table edge, and putting somewhat tight curves way out in the corners, instead of using that space for wider curves.
It tends to take away realism. Real railroads are seldom so symmetrical. There's a school of thought, which I agree with, that skewing the track, so that its not parallel, makes it look more real, and also opens up some interesting shapes for scenery.
I always shudder a bit when someone mentions "a two-foot aisle." To me that's not an aisle, its a narrow slot, for barely sliding sideways. Oh well, maybe you're skinny! All this is advice only, since you haven't actually glued anything down yet. However, I'm also a big fan of rule #1, so do what you like.馃槉

I've been invoking rule #1 myself recently. As far as I know from a lot of research, many photos, and seeing the actual station site, what I have done to the long retaining wall that bordered the station tracks, never really happened.
The model wall is about eight (real) feet long. That works out to 1280 scale feet, and due to space limitations, (don't we all love them! :confused:) my model wall is probably well short of actual scale length. That's a heck of a lot of dull, blank, concrete wall. I livened it up considerably by pretending that the Union Pacific sold advertising space on their wall. I added a bunch of vintage signs along the wall.

Since I model two eras, the 1920s, and the 1950s, I can change the era by changing the signs, and the automobiles. Those two things, along with skirt hemlines, are keys that show what decade it is. Most of the structures I've modeled were built before 1920, and are still standing today. The signs have a thin sheet steel backing, and there are magnets behind the wall. The signs, along with the autos, some of the female figures, and of course, some of the trains themselves, need to be changed to fit the era. The main difference in rolling stock is the arrival of diesel locomotives, and streamlined passenger cars. The electric, & steam, locomotives & a lot of the freight cars, served both eras.

Good Luck & have fun;

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
The outer loops will be going through tunnels at the south ends. I hope to somewhat obscure the loop that way.

It's n scale, and has 3 inches of space along the edges. I plan to build up the edges a bit to help keep any derailment on the table.

The wiring test passed, so I started soldering the joints this evening. Almost done with the Ohio side. It took me the better part of a day to put down the track with straight pins in order to test it.

I ran the train through the wye to be sure the AR module was working.

I stopped soldering joints when I burned my finger.馃槚

I'll pick up with soldering tomorrow evening when I get home from work.

I ended up ordering 12" 3/16" drill bits in order to run the feeders. It will be here tomorrow, so I also plan to start running permanent feeders. Right now, I just have temporary feeds.

It's coming together. My goal is to have the ground level track on both sides of the river done with trains running by Thanksgiving.

By the way, the soldering is a lot easier than I was anticipating. YouTube is my friend!
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
I'm getting good at soldering leads to the P-11 turnout switches. Did Seven switches for the WV side this evening, and finished the rail joiners on the Ohio Side. The Ohio side is ready for power feeders... I'm hoping to start that Wednesday. After the Ohio side is wired for power, I'll start laying track on the WV side.
 

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The outer loops will be going through tunnels at the south ends. I hope to somewhat obscure the loop that way.

It's n scale, and has 3 inches of space along the edges. I plan to build up the edges a bit to help keep any derailment on the table.

The wiring test passed, so I started soldering the joints this evening. Almost done with the Ohio side. It took me the better part of a day to put down the track with straight pins in order to test it.

I ran the train through the wye to be sure the AR module was working.

I stopped soldering joints when I burned my finger.馃槚

I'll pick up with soldering tomorrow evening when I get home from work.

I ended up ordering 12" 3/16" drill bits in order to run the feeders. It will be here tomorrow, so I also plan to start running permanent feeders. Right now, I just have temporary feeds.

It's coming together. My goal is to have the ground level track on both sides of the river done with trains running by Thanksgiving.

By the way, the soldering is a lot easier than I was anticipating. YouTube is my friend!


Jeff;

That all sounds good. Congratulations!

On the soldering injury, Never reach up from below the table and grab the wrong end of a hot soldering iron, then have molten solder drip down the inside of your arm, and try standing up & bash your head into the pointed end of a bunch of Atlas track nails! It hurts a lot, says the voice of stupid experience! 馃槙

I was under the impression you were using Kato Unitrack. I guess not, since you're soldering rail joiners.

Keep having fun!

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
Using Atlas Code 80 flex track (and a few sectional pieces like 90 degree crossings) and Peco Code 80 turnouts. The green colored section is up in a mountain, and will mostly be just a run around train with a couple spurs. The blue colored section is ground level and will include 4 tunnels to help obscure the fact that it's a giant oval on each side.

I was originally going to use Kato Unitrack, but decided against it in favor of the flex track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
More progress being made! Yesterday evening, I was able to devote time to more soldering on the Western side of the layout. I now have 7 of the 10 power feeders in place and soldered to the track. I'm using black and red 22awg solid core (pre tinned) wires for the power feeders. I needed to order extra long drill bits because I have 2" of foam on top of wooden tables whose tops are about 1.25" thick, so the bits I already had weren't long enough. The extra long bits were delivered yesterday, so I was able to run the wires down through the table, and get them soldered to the outside edge of the track.

I used 3/32 bits that are 12" long, and drilled down between the ties on the outside edge of the track. Soldering was much simpler than I was anticipating. I've never done any soldering before this past few days when I have been soldering these feeder wires, and also have been soldering leads onto the turnout switches.

I checked for continuity at each feeder, just to be sure I did it correctly. The best part, is that you really have to look for them in order to see the feeders, so they are somewhat obscured, which I like. I did melt a few ties here and there, but the integrity of the rails are OK.

I hope to get the reverse loop and the remaining 3 power feeders wired tonight. Then over the weekend, I plan to run the power bus and make all the connections under the table, I have about a dozen or so terminal blocks ready for that task. My power feeders are somewhat clustered around turnouts, so the terminal strips will come in handy for sure. The longest run of 22awg wire will be about 18" from the bus.

For the power bus, I have both 14 and 18 gauge stranded wire on hand. Which would you use? I'm leaning toward 14awg, but I'm also thinking that may be over kill. I guess as long as the thicker wire connects to the terminal blocks OK, I should go ahead and use the thicker wire because it will have less resistance, correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Here's a visual of my N scale DCC layout for reference.

It's a fictitious area of the Ohio River, somewhere along the Ohio/West Virginia border. Both sets of grandparents were from that area, and I have fond memories of watching trains and barge traffic there as a kid.

Anyway, the green colored track is ground level. The river will be sunken. The blue track is elevated (in the mountains). Please don't get hung up on the geometry/symmetry... It's the way I like it.

I'm focusing on the West side first. All the ground level track has been laid with rail connections soldered. The only ones I didn't solder are the ones with the rubber isolation joiners... I didn't want to melt them. The plan is to get the ground level al set.. run rains for a while to be sure everything works, then start East side ground level (I've already laid the cork there, and have holes carved out for the PL10s to be buried under the turnouts. I also need to start focusing on laying the ground level bridges.

The red dots are power feeders for the main line. The blue dots are power feeders from an AR module. Blue lines indicate isolation gaps.
Rectangle Slope Font Parallel Pattern
 

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More progress being made! Yesterday evening, I was able to devote time to more soldering on the Western side of the layout. I now have 7 of the 10 power feeders in place and soldered to the track. I'm using black and red 22awg solid core (pre tinned) wires for the power feeders. I needed to order extra long drill bits because I have 2" of foam on top of wooden tables whose tops are about 1.25" thick, so the bits I already had weren't long enough. The extra long bits were delivered yesterday, so I was able to run the wires down through the table, and get them soldered to the outside edge of the track.

I used 3/32 bits that are 12" long, and drilled down between the ties on the outside edge of the track. Soldering was much simpler than I was anticipating. I've never done any soldering before this past few days when I have been soldering these feeder wires, and also have been soldering leads onto the turnout switches.

I checked for continuity at each feeder, just to be sure I did it correctly. The best part, is that you really have to look for them in order to see the feeders, so they are somewhat obscured, which I like. I did melt a few ties here and there, but the integrity of the rails are OK.

I hope to get the reverse loop and the remaining 3 power feeders wired tonight. Then over the weekend, I plan to run the power bus and make all the connections under the table, I have about a dozen or so terminal blocks ready for that task. My power feeders are somewhat clustered around turnouts, so the terminal strips will come in handy for sure. The longest run of 22awg wire will be about 18" from the bus.

For the power bus, I have both 14 and 18 gauge stranded wire on hand. Which would you use? I'm leaning toward 14awg, but I'm also thinking that may be over kill. I guess as long as the thicker wire connects to the terminal blocks OK, I should go ahead and use the thicker wire because it will have less resistance, correct?

Jeff;

Yes, you're right, the bigger the wire, the less resistance. My favorite prototype, The Milwaukee Road, used two 4/0 contact wires on its catenary. Each one was solid copper about 3/4" thick. Of course they were not using DCC, but rather DC. 3000 volts at 3000 amps of DC! This would be just a bit high for your model railroad though ! 馃槃
If you have enough 14ga. wire on hand, I'd go ahead and use that, though either 14 or 18 would work. 14ga. wire is not "overkill" it is commonly used for bus wires. On a relatively small layout, the wire gauge will be less important, since the bus wires won't be all that long.

Congrats on your soldering success. You can prevent tie melting by using heat sinks. Attach an alligator clip to the rail on either side of the place you are going to solder the feed wire. Or you can simply wet two paper towels with cold water and drape them across the track on either side of the point you will solder.
Those partially melted ties may have gotten the rails slightly out of gauge. Check this with an NMRA gauge when you can. If the rails need adjustment, you can heat the rail slightly with your soldering iron, and move it sideways by heating the plastic "spikes" that hold the rail to the ties.
If your feeder wires are not noticeable now, you can make them practically disappear by painting the rails. This also helps the track look more realistic.

Keep up the good work;

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
So, I have one joint with a slight kink that needs fixed. Not too bad given that what I've laid so far is about 2 miles of track. It's on a curve, obviously.

I assume I'll need to remove the solder, or heat it back up to break the seam. Any advice for un-kinking a joint that has already been soldered?
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
OK, so I did a bit of research on this and I believe this will be my plan of attack:

Background: I have a 12" radius curve with a soldered joint in the curve. Apparently, I either soldered the track with a kink in it, or a kink developed after I soldered it while bending the track to the curve. This is causing the leading edge of the front truck to derail occasionally. I checked the track with a NMRA gauge, and the track is in gauge, but I see a slight kink at the joint... which is soldered.

I'm going to try to apply perpendicular pressure to the track on either side of the joint while I heat up the solder to "release" the joint and see if I can "straighten out" the kink... Then re-solder the joint... let it cool completely and see how that works.

If that doesn't work, I'll end up cutting out the entire curve, and use a new piece of track for the curve such that the seams are on the straight sections leading into the curve.

Anybody have any other ideas?
 

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OK, so I did a bit of research on this and I believe this will be my plan of attack:

Background: I have a 12" radius curve with a soldered joint in the curve. Apparently, I either soldered the track with a kink in it, or a kink developed after I soldered it while bending the track to the curve. This is causing the leading edge of the front truck to derail occasionally. I checked the track with a NMRA gauge, and the track is in gauge, but I see a slight kink at the joint... which is soldered.

I'm going to try to apply perpendicular pressure to the track on either side of the joint while I heat up the solder to "release" the joint and see if I can "straighten out" the kink... Then re-solder the joint... let it cool completely and see how that works.

If that doesn't work, I'll end up cutting out the entire curve, and use a new piece of track for the curve such that the seams are on the straight sections leading into the curve.

Anybody have any other ideas?
Is your 12" radius curve made of flex track, or fixed sectional track that is not designed to bend? If its flex track, first you can avoid kinks by doing your soldering with the two pieces of flex track still straight. Then bend them to the desired shape.
To repair the kink you have obviously you need to unsolder the joint. A "solder sucker" tool, or solder absorbing metal braid can be handy for this.
If I understand what you're saying, you intend to pull the two rail ends that form the kink directly away from each other, tug-of-war style.
When I need to disconnect soldered pieces of either flex, or sectional, track, I alternately heat one rail's joint and bend the track sections a bit in the direction that pulls those two rails away from each other. Then I do the same routine on the joint in the opposite rail. They need to be worked gradually until one of the rails comes completely free of its rail joiner.

Another possibility would be to use one of the metal track gauges made by Ribbon Rail. These metal gauges are made to fit a particular radius curve in a particular scale. Using a 12" radius gauge, you may be able to heat the rails just enough to form them into a smooth, kink free, curve around the gauge.

Good Luck;

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
I got it fixed!!!

Yes it is a curve where 2 pieces of flex track joined. I did solder it before laying the curve, but I must have somehow soldered a slight kink into it.

I ended up un-pinning the track (its held to the cork/foam with straight pins) and used some larger t-pins to hold the track so the joint would straighten up when I heated the solder back up.

Once the joint started to heat up, I could see the track straighten out. I repositioned the t-pins to get the joint perfectly straight, then added more flux and resoldered the joint.

I let it cool down, then pinned it all back into the curve and now the train sails right around the curve perfectly!
 

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I got it fixed!!!

Yes it is a curve where 2 pieces of flex track joined. I did solder it before laying the curve, but I must have somehow soldered a slight kink into it.

I ended up un-pinning the track (its held to the cork/foam with straight pins) and used some larger t-pins to hold the track so the joint would straighten up when I heated the solder back up.

Once the joint started to heat up, I could see the track straighten out. I repositioned the t-pins to get the joint perfectly straight, then added more flux and resoldered the joint.

I let it cool down, then pinned it all back into the curve and now the train sails right around the curve perfectly!
Jeff;

Good for you! (y) If you haven't already done so, when you can, check that area with an NMRA gauge and make sure the rails are set the right distance from each other. Not too loose & not too tight.

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
I was perplexed by a short in the isolated section. It was just fine before I started soldering joints. Turned out I used too much heat when I soldered pieces onto a turnout, and ended up fusing the wires that run current through the frog. So that created a short.

So I yanked out the buggered turnout and replaced it with one I had on hand for the elevated sections since I won't be ready to lay those for quite some time.

All good now. I have started laying track on the West Virginia side. Progress!
 
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