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Discussion Starter #1
Hi
I newbie here and this is my first message :)
I plan to do a HO layout for playing with my son I’d say “playing table”. About year ago I’ve built my first layout (HO, 120x200cm, analog), see picture.



Also we always use Mega blocks or Lego constructor in the game on this table. I.e. we loading “building materials” in one point and transport it to another point where building something etc.

Our old layout is not more enough ;) and I want to create new one with DCC, bigger little bit and little bit complicated. According my humble experience better width of the table for us is about 1 meter because usually we use only periphery for building something but not center. So in the center looks like “dead zone”. Of course it should be as long as possible but I limited by 3 meters. And this table must be able to fold or disassemble.
For the layout I plan to use Atlas, 18” radius (according width of the table) and #4 turnouts. It will be covered by Woodland scenics green grass vinyl mat. Minimally we need follows:
- At least one closed route (oval or 8)
- Yard
- Containers terminal (we have container crane)
- A place for small passenger station
- Traffic lights (dwarfs)
- Turntable with engine house
Below you can see my draft (two section layout)… It is only draft and not final version
Any suggestions are welcome!

 

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Bonjour and bienvenue! And now I'll switch to English, because while I speak (conversational) French rather well, I don't write it worth a damn.

That looks like a good start on your layout. I can't really tell the dimensions on your plan, but 3 meter width is going to be too much. Even at the low height for your son, you will only be able to reach in about a meter from each side (assuming you have access on all 4 sides). Since you appear to have used 18" curves there, I'm guessing the width is only about a meter, which will be fine.

I have three other comments which may help. First of all, I think you are wiser to build a layout in modules that can be disassembled rather than trying to deal with a fold-up version. Just be aware that you will need to have some way to remove the tracks that cross the gap, and reliably power them when they are installed. This won't be hard on the straight track, but the figure 8 will be tricky.

Secondly, the way you have drawn the figure 8, it contains a reversing loop, which will require special (though not particularly difficult) wiring and isolation to make it work.
When the time comes for building it, many people here can guide you through the process (just beware that if you DON'T wire it properly, the layout won't operate).

Finally, real container terminals generally operate on a "pull through" basis -- that is, the train heads in one side, gets loaded, and pulls out the opposite side without reversing. This speeds operations in a real terminal. You could achieve this by adding a turnout on the right side (which would require a corresponding extension of the left side and the figure 8 crossings) and putting your container terminal track right up to it. Even more realistic would be two or more tracks, giving you the opportunity to swap containers between trains, but you may not be able to fit that in.

Anyway, you're off to a good start in the Worlds Greatest Hobby. Enjoy!
 

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If you go to a folding table you will want to use a piano hinge
for stability and you'll need to use 'removable' track sections
where they cross the 'fold'. These would be take out when
you fold, and placed back in when you set up again. You might
need to have wiring the by passes the hinged area.

As CTvalley pointed out you have a reverse loop, as a matter of fact you
have three. Well, 4 if you count the
turntable, but those usually include polarity controls.

Nothing wrong with that, but you would need 3 DCC reverse
loop controllers to run your trains. Digitrax makes a 4 unit device that
also works as reverse loop controllers. This would be ideal for your
3 loops. There are several on Ebay now in the $60 range.
The 4th unit could be used on the turntable if the one
you get needs it.

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=digitrax+pm42

You would want insulated joiners to isolate the two top tracks
connecting the ends of the 'figure eight'.
You would also want insulated joiners to isolate the one bottom
track connecting also the ends of the 'figure eight'.

All of the isolated sections are fairly short so if you have
lighted passenger cars keep the train no longer than the
shortest 'isolated section'. The reason for this is how
the PM 42s operate. When a loco spans the insulated joiners
there is a short circuit. The PM 42 very quickly reverses the
track phase (polarity) to match the main sections and the loco moves
smoothly through without pause or blink of light. Then when
it reaches the other end the wheels again cause a short
again triggering the PM 42 to reverse phase again. Lighted
passenger cars and some metal wheel freight cars crossing
the first insulated joint at the same time the loco crosses the
2nd one would cause a short the PM 42 cannot overcome.

The wiring for this is very simple. The input to the PM 42 is
comes from your DCC track buss. You would feed each isolated
section with the output from 3 of the 4 units. That's it, and
the operation is totally automatic. You would follow the
directions as to wiring for the turntable and roundhouse tracks.

The yard would normally be part of the bottom isolated
section, but it also could be fed by the main DCC bus
after you use insulated joiners where it connects to
the bottom turnout. No special wiring or insulated
joiners needed for the crossing.

Otherwise, you have a very nice layout that offers good continuous
running and also switching.

With 18" curves you should limit your locos to 4 axle diesels or
very small steamers.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
but 3 meter width is going to be too much. Even at the low height for your son, you will only be able to reach in about a meter from each side (assuming you have access on all 4 sides). Since you appear to have used 18" curves there, I'm guessing the width is only about a meter, which will be fine.
Bonjour CTValleyRR,
No of course I meant 3m length and 1m width. I'd prefer length only 2.5m I think there will be not enough space. On the other hand longer layout seems more realistic for example in case transport something from "one corner to another".

...the train heads in one side, gets loaded, and pulls out the opposite side without reversing. ...
After several hours playing with "puzzles" I did version 2 (see pic)

Problem is that it is not enough place to create containers terminal close to real one. I hope it will be enough place for engine to go another line (I marked it in red). Unfortunately it will be place only for about one platform with containers (marked in green).


If you go to a folding table you will want to use a piano hinge for stability and you'll need to use 'removable' track sections where they cross the 'fold'.
Hi Don,
Do you mean like on the picture below

Can I avoid to use insertion tracks if I will use a hinge? Is there not enough precision? I marked all crossing path between section on my first picture in black, so I expect problems with 4 tracks in the middle.

... you would need 3 DCC reverse loop controllers to run your trains. Digitrax makes a 4 unit device that also works as reverse loop controllers. This would be ideal for your 3 loops.
I'm already really scared with DCC wiring especially for reverse loops. Of course I heard about it but never entered into details :eek:
I will step by step, slowly read about this and will see pictures, schemes etc because at present time it is kind of "Chinese script" for me... I understand DC but here AC as I understood etc...
With 18" curves you should limit your locos to 4 axle diesels or very small steamers.
Don
Yes, unfortunately I think that I have no big choice... may be in the future I will create another project with 22". Actually it is not question for layout but I thinking which 4 axle diesel to buy in the future, my dreams mostly connected with prices ;) ... Which is like "workhouse" in Canada or USA?

Actually I have million questions...
For example which thickness I need minimally? I have no idea about size of different electronic devices/ controllers etc. In my DC layout I used simple switch machines on the surface + snap controllers for traffic lights. By the way which switches I need to use with the turnouts and how traffic lights will be controlled?

P.S. I found that exact 1m of width is not enough in case a train will derail and for roads so width will be at least 1m and 7cm.
 

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Yes, the pictured removable track sections would, to me,
be the easiest to accomodate the fold. Those in the pics appear to be
used where two club modules abut. You have the 'fold' happening
right through 7 tracks. That is going to present some very
testy alignments. I would go with the removables, but make them
more attractive than shown in the pic.


DCC track is live at all times with a modified AC that powers
the locos thru on board decoders. Lights don't dim or
go off when you slow or stop a loco. It also carries the digital
information the decoders use to make the locos go, turn on and
off lights and, if you have it, control sound. That all sounds complex
but operation is as simple as using your TV remote. Press a button
for loco A. Move the speed control it goes and keeps going til you
stop it. Then push button for loco B, move the speed control and
you have both going, maybe in different directions because you
have those reverse loops that let you do that.

DCC wiring is way more simple than DC. There are no complicated
switches for power-pack control, and the reverse loop wiring
is just as simple. You have a 2 wire track buss that is fed modified AC
by the DCC controller. You have drops from the track connected to
that. The AR 1 is also fed by the 2 wire track buss. Then each of the 3 (or 4)
isolated sections gets a 2 wire track drop that goes to the output of
a unit on the AR 1. That's all there is to it. It's a fully automatic, hidden
under the table unit you never need work with again. Like DC, you
must maintain phasing (polarity), but you know how to do that.

Sometimes folks worry about DCC being complex after
they read some of the high tech jargon used by those with very large
layouts or a club. They need it, most of us don't.

Don
 

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Bonjour CTValleyRR,
No of course I meant 3m length and 1m width. I'd prefer length only 2.5m I think there will be not enough space. On the other hand longer layout seems more realistic for example in case transport something from "one corner to another".
All else being equal, the more space you can devote to it would be better.
After several hours playing with "puzzles" I did version 2 (see pic)

Problem is that it is not enough place to create containers terminal close to real one. I hope it will be enough place for engine to go another line (I marked it in red). Unfortunately it will be place only for about one platform with containers (marked in green).
Actually, that wasn't really what I was thinking. Leave the roundhouse where it was, and just insert a turnout into the center of the curve on the right side. This should (hopefully) allow you to connect that to your current container terminal track. Because the turnout would lengthen the right side, the other sides would have to be lengthened by a corresponding amount.

I'm already really scared with DCC wiring especially for reverse loops. Of course I heard about it but never entered into details :eek:
I will step by step, slowly read about this and will see pictures, schemes etc because at present time it is kind of "Chinese script" for me... I understand DC but here AC as I understood etc...
Don't be. Believe it or not, it is easier than wiring this same set up for DC. However, that was why I didn't get into the details just yet. We will ease you into this.

Yes, unfortunately I think that I have no big choice... may be in the future I will create another project with 22". Actually it is not question for layout but I thinking which 4 axle diesel to buy in the future, my dreams mostly connected with prices ;) ... Which is like "workhouse" in Canada or USA?

Actually I have million questions...
For example which thickness I need minimally? I have no idea about size of different electronic devices/ controllers etc. In my DC layout I used simple switch machines on the surface + snap controllers for traffic lights. By the way which switches I need to use with the turnouts and how traffic lights will be controlled?
Hmmm. There is a lot in there to tackle at once. I'm not familiar with "workhouse" -- maybe you mean Enginehouse or Roundhouse? Or perhaps one of your countrymen can clear that one up. As you probably guessed, how much you pay for a loco will determine how detailed and realistic it is. This doesn't apply to operating: the cheap engines generally run almost as well as the very expensive ones (sometimes better: my absolute best puller is a Walthers Trainman FA1 that cost me $40 US).

For the controllers, and signals (traffic lights), you do have several options. There is no reason why you can't use exactly the same setup at least initially. You can improve things as your skills and comfort with the system improve. We have an expression down here: "You can't eat an elephant in one bite." Get trains up and running on a nice layout first, then you can figure out how to remotely control turnouts, wire signals, and so forth. While it is easier to install switch machines as you install track, it isn't essential.

Take it slow, and be patient. There is lots of help here -- and we'll try not to overwhelm you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
... just insert a turnout into the center of the curve on the right side.
Do you mean to insert end of the containers terminal into right side of "8" (I marked it read, see pic)?

[/QUOTE]

I'm not familiar with "workhouse" --
Oh sorry... it my mistake I meant "workhorse" i.e. most widely used 4 axle engine in Canada or USA.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Project is updated!

I updated my project (see picture below):

So as you see I removed big yard and create small "mini-yard" with just two lines. Lower line capacity about 5 cars, upper about 3 but in contrast it more functionally because previous yard was fully "blind". In present mini-yard I can enter one side then engine can exit without problem.

Containers terminal still blind but train can enter by lower line leave about two platform (a crane will work with them) and then engine can exit by upper line.

The layout base consist two section but sections may be not same to avoid connection at the 60 degree cross. I not familiar may be I can use the 60 deg cross as removable part...
I did not decided yet will it fold or just disassemble.

Very important to me know thickness of the layout! No idea which devices I'll force to use for DCC. Of course as thin as possible is better for me.

Same question with switch machines... I think use switch machines which installed under layout but not on surface (as I used before). I used Atlas simple switch machines but I really don't liked them - their noise looks like short-circuit. And snap switches for traffic lights don't normally work with small electricity power.
Which switch machines do you using? I'll install it later but anyway I need to know aprox. what I will use.

Also I marked in green "building areas" by analysis of current games and expected dead zone may be I can add something other (by one blind line from left 8 figure. If you have an idea please tell me.
 

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If you are looking for a simpler solution, this layout can be done with just one “DCC reverse loop controller”. The “insulated joiners” are denoted by the Red-lines. The top two “insulated joiners” can be move toward the cross-over to suit your purposes. Operationally only one of the “insulated joiners” should have a power-unit across it at the same time.
Keep-It-Simple-Bob
 

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Yes, I agree with Bob. The move of the yard to the lower area complicated
the reverse controller problem. Each of the yard tracks would have been
a 'loop'.

By changing the isolated section to the crossing tracks as Bob has suggested
would be much simpler. There is a problem though.

My concern is that there are 4 paths into the isolated section making
likelyhood that two trains would try to use it at the same time. That
would result in a short circuit.

In spite of the simplicity, though,
I think it would would be better to again move the yard tracks
to the interior so they are not creating 'loops' and go back to my previous
solution to your reverse loops.

Don
 

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Do you mean to insert end of the containers terminal into right side of "8" (I marked it read, see pic)?



Oh sorry... it my mistake I meant "workhorse" i.e. most widely used 4 axle engine in Canada or USA.
Yes, I was thinking that if you put a turnout between the two red pieces, you could connect the container tracks across the loop.

The "workhorse" you refer to could be any of a dozen locos, depending on what era you choose to model. My advice? Since you're not going for any serious realism, is get one that you think looks cool. Keep it to 4 axles so you don't have any operating issues.
 

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I agree with Don and Bob. Go with the plan you had in post #4.

You seem very concerned with the thickness of your layout. Don't be. Under the table machines will work through anything up to about 7.6cm. I have made layouts with plywood, plywood with foam insulation boards on top, and foam insulation board on L girder joists. The last is my preferred method. It's strong and light, and if you place joists every 50 cm or so, it will be strong enough for kids to crawl on.

As far as what machine, Tortoise by Circuitron, or servos from Tam Valley Depot would be my recommendation. Others swear by Peco. All of them work fine. Prepare to pay about S15 US per turnout.
 

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And one other piece of advice. While I know you have a boy who is probably very eager to get his upgrade, take your time, have fun (and involve him in the building process), and above all, don't be afraid to make a mistake. Remember, no time, effort, or expense is wasted if you use the experience wisely.
 

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If you are looking for a simpler solution, this “#4 post” layout can also be done with just one “DCC reverse loop controller”. The “insulated joiners” are denoted by the Red-lines. Operationally only one of the “insulated joiners” should have a power-unit across it at the same time.
Keep-It-Simple-Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I agree with Don and Bob. Go with the plan you had in post #4.
If you are looking for a simpler solution, this “#4 post” layout can also be done with just one “DCC reverse loop controller”.
OK. I corrected little bit my project (I marked isolation by red short lines):


You seem very concerned with the thickness of your layout.
Yes I really concerned. At the first I have not lot of space to keep it when it is disassembled or folded and second I will build a frame with plywood on top before working with tracks etc. I'd like that all things (switch machines etc) will be defended in the future when I install them. But to rebuild the frame will be very difficult.

... plywood with foam insulation boards on top, and foam insulation board on L girder joists. The last is my preferred method.
Why you use plywood with foam insulation boards not just plywood? Can you show me any pictures of it?

As far as what machine, Tortoise by Circuitron, or servos from Tam Valley Depot would be my recommendation. Others swear by Peco. All of them work fine. Prepare to pay about S15 US per turnout.
Such information is very very important for me because I'm not familiar with switch machines, switches, controllers etc.

Actually I done my first project (picture in first post) with 18" curves and 15" switches because I didn't know anything about it. Hmm but 4 axes engine and 6 axes coach running without problems.
 

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I have a great deal of respect for Bob. He has shown us that he knows
DCC circuitry very well. However, on this layout, I have to
disagree. While making the center X of the 'figure eight' as
the one reverse loop, simplifies the wiring, the isolated
section has 4 entry paths. If more than one
train is run on this layout there will be constant short circuits
due to two locos crossing insulated joiners at the same time.

Don
 

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Don,
The phase ?“constant”? short circuits sounds a bit strong to me.

In my experience a DCC short (assuming the typical DCC controller with its “short-protection”) is preferable to a collision at the cross-over. Note that all 4 reverse-loop entrances/exits are to/from the crossover track section and that this layout is also for the “kids”.
Bob
 

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So, let's go back to the original purpose of the layout for a minute. I use foam insulating panels because they are easy to carve into terrain, especially if you want water features below the level of your track. Foam on plywood gives you something to carve into. If you use L-girder joists, the foam is strong enough without the plywood. My layout has hills, streams, rivers, even a bit of ocean, all of which lie below the level of the track, thus foam is necessary.

I believe you are thinking of a perfectly flat table, in which case you do not need to worry about terrain. My primary thought for you is going to be weight. I need help to maneuver a 4x8 sheet of plywood around. I can easily lift a 2x8 foam panel with one hand. Joists and foam panels will weigh about 1/3 as much as plywood.

Really, though, this layout is not going to disappear. Whether you use a frame and plywood, girders and foam, etc. it's going to be more than 5cm in thickness, but probably less than 10. Folded or propped up against a wall, it's going to be fairly thin in proportion to the room size, no matter what.

Perhaps I am wrong, but it seems like anything on the top of the layout, except the track, is going to be taken off when the layout is stored. Switch machines will generally protrude about 3cm from the bottom; either your frame or the joists will be sufficient to protect them.

Three things you might want to do to help your knowledge of the hobby: purchase an issue or two of Model Railroader magazine. Look at the advertising, too. Download a couple of issues of Model Railroad Hobbyist from the internet and read them; again, the advertising is also useful. As far as I know, these two publications are only available in English. You can also either visit the website of William K. Walthers Co., (www.walthers.com) or pick up a copy of their Reference Book (the size of a small city's phone directory). Walthers is the largest distributor of model railroad supplies in North America, and you will get thousands of ideas just from seeing what is available.
 

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Bob

If there's only going to be one train running then your scheme would
work fine.

But if 2 trains are running, likely they'll be chasing each other on the
figure 8. Usually 2 trains on a layout will be at opposite ends and
running approximately the same speed. So the space between them
stays nearly constant.

That being the case, when train 1 crosses INTO the 'X' it flips the
reverse controller and is likely going to span the EXIT about the
time that train 2 crosses INTO the 'X' and again trips the reverse
controller...but wait train 1 loco is also tripping it. That is where
the short occurs. Follow 2 trains around the layout and you'll
see what I mean.

Don
 

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deyneko,
I should have added that you can move the “insulated joiners” in toward the cross-over to fit your particular way(s) of operating your trains.
Bob
 
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