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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've got a layout in SCARM that I really like, and I'm hoping to install it when some Atlas track I've ordered arrives.

The order included 11" radius curves but SCARM doesn't have 11" radius in Atlas N scale. Most of my layout in SCARM is with 9" radius [edit - 9-3/4"]. Obviously it's not going to be the same, because the curves and loops will be 20% larger, but I'm not sure about what to expect when I start connecting track.

Am I likely to be okay with a few adjustments, or is it likely I'll have to do a complete redesign after trying to put it together?

Obviously without seeing the layout there's no way for anyone to tell me for sure. I'm just asking about a general rule of thumb here.
 

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I suspect you'll find that it takes a lot of adjustments if you go with different radius track, that's a 20% difference!

Even though my track planning has the correct sizes, I found that when I actually started putting track down and checking fit, that many adjustments needed to be made. I can't even imagine how much adjustment it would have taken if my plan was 20% smaller than what I was actually building!

FWIW, that seems like a significant shortcoming in the track planning software, I fired up AnyRail and RR-Track, both include Atlas 11" radius N-scale track. I looked at code-80 track, code-65, and code-55 track. All had the proper sizes of track.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
that seems like a significant shortcoming in the track planning software, I fired up AnyRail and RR-Track, both include Atlas 11" radius N-scale track.
I agree! I'm not at all satisfied with SCARM, it doesn't do a few things like I think it should. Being new to all this I haven't gotten around to other software yet but it sounds like I should go ahead and look into AnyRail and RR-Track and see how they compare.

Thanks!
 

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You'll find that RR-Track, while being very capable, is much more difficult to learn than AnyRail. Of all the track planning software I've looked at, AnyRail is the easiest to jump in and start designing. The authors are also very responsive if you email them and point out something that's missing. I got them to add a whole family of missing O-gauge tubular track switches, I was surprised they jumped on it as fast as they did.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Which of those two is easiest to output from, whether to save an image of the track to post here, to print onto paper to have on the table while connecting track, or even to print full size (as I've seen some people do on a few videos but not something I'd need at all)?
 

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I bought AnyRail for my track planning software and I highly recommend it. It only runs on Windows, so if you have a Mac, you'll need Windows emulation software to use it. I've not had any issues with printing from it. I've printed my layout on letter size paper, poster size paper, and even at 1:1 scale for tracing on rolled paper (done at a FedEx store). Its also easy to export jpeg images for posting to the forum. It can also print out a parts list for the track pieces that you've used on your layout plan. If you use flex track, it also makes very nice smooth transitions and sweeping curves. It also does layers, so you can print any combination of layers, which I also found very useful for the various purposes I used it for (just track, building placement, landscape placement, benchwork, block/turnout/signal naming, etc.) Its been worth every penny.
 

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Your building a 16' x 3'?
I would just build a loop then add on, you can sort of follow the plan you made up on scarm with some improvising.

I never used any track programs, way back when, most track plans went down on paper.
Or in the mind of the builder.
There were no programs available at one time and many great model RR's were built.

Build the loop and run some trains. :)
 

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I've got a layout in SCARM that I really like, and I'm hoping to install it when some Atlas track I've ordered arrives.

The order included 11" radius curves but SCARM doesn't have 11" radius in Atlas N scale. Most of my layout in SCARM is with 9" radius. Obviously it's not going to be the same, because the curves and loops will be 20% larger, but I'm not sure about what to expect when I start connecting track.

Am I likely to be okay with a few adjustments, or is it likely I'll have to do a complete redesign after trying to put it together?

Obviously without seeing the layout there's no way for anyone to tell me for sure. I'm just asking about a general rule of thumb here.
You said SCARM had "9" radius". Atlas sectional track is 9-3/4"radius not 9". I don't know if that's your typo, or another problem with SCARM.
If it's SCARM's error, then things will get very ugly. If SCARM thinks almost 10" = 9" and doesn't have 11' radius at all, that will cause problems.

Traction Fan :cautious:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here's my plan, schematic only. There are two main loops which travel nearly all the way across the 16' surface. Opposite ends are elevated so they will cross over each other and not be as boring as this looks in the image.

There's also two transfer paths so a train can move back and forth between the loops as needed, or if I want to run two trains at the same time they can remain completely separated on the different loops.

And finally I will have two auto reversing loops within each loop so that I can change the direction that a train goes around the track. Each track will have only one AR loop but they're in opposite directions, so a train may have to switch loops in order to turn around and then switch back to the loop it was on.

I've drawn this out in SCARM but the actual layout looks nothing like this so it's much more difficult to follow, but that's what my thinking was when I first sketched it out on paper. I can post my layout here from one of the programs once I get one with the correct track radius'.

There will probably be a few spurs as well so I can park cars off the track. I'm not going to have a yard with multiple spurs at this time. The room offers the possibility for additional tables and if I expand someday I'll definitely have a working yard.

547652
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You said SCARM had "9" radius". Atlas sectional track is 9-3/4"radius not 9". I don't know if that's your typo, or another problem with SCARM.
If it's SCARM's error, then things will get very ugly. If SCARM thinks almost 10" = 9" and doesn't have 11' radius at all, that will cause problems.

Traction Fan :cautious:
It was me summarizing, not really a typo nor an error with SCARM.
 

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using the 'right track' library in ANY computer layout program will reduce the deviance induced by the program to the final layout, just sayin'
 

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A layout the size and complexity you propose cries out for FLEX track. It comes in 3 foot sections
that you can cut and bend to comp[ly with your track plan. Additionally, it eliminates the many
joiners required for sectional track which improves electrical conductivity. And it would likely
cost less than the sectional system.

The 'reverse loops' that you propose are rather short. It is generally thought that any
such isolated section should be longer than the longest lighted passenger train. The reason
being that your train should not be spanning the entry and exit insulated joints at the same time. That
could result in a short circuit.

Also, you must be careful when wireiing the two main loops to avoid a short circuit. I assume
you will be DCC, however, I'll use
DC polarity to illustrate how to do it. The OUTSIDE rail of the top loop should be POSITIVE.
When your train moves to the lower loop, you would have that positive polarity follow, thus
making the INSIDE rail of the lower loop POSITIVE. No insulated joiners required.
To do otherwise you would require 2 additional reverse loop controllers.

To better understand, draw your layout using RED pencil for the Outside rail and
BLACK pencil for the inside rail of the TOP loop and reverse for the bottom. You
would see that RED never meets Black, thus no short circuit.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the long post, a lot of great tips here!

A layout the size and complexity you propose cries out for FLEX track. It comes in 3 foot sections that you can cut and bend to comp[ly with your track plan. Additionally, it eliminates the many joiners required for sectional track which improves electrical conductivity. And it would likely cost less than the sectional system.
Good thinking! But I have LOTS of flex track already (30 pieces), just waiting on the curved pieces I ordered online to arrive.

The 'reverse loops' that you propose are rather short. It is generally thought that any such isolated section should be longer than the longest lighted passenger train. The reason being that your train should not be spanning the entry and exit insulated joints at the same time. That could result in a short circuit.
Also a great thing to point out. But as I said that sketch is only schematic so you wouldn't be able to tell actual length of the loops from that. I'll try and post an image of the SCARM design when I get home tonight. The reverse loops on that are very long, which makes it difficult to see what they actually are on the design. This will make it more fun to watch the train go around as well as keep the loops long enough to avoid short circuits if I should get any cars that require power.

Also, you must be careful when wireiing the two main loops to avoid a short circuit. I assume you will be DCC, however, I'll use DC polarity to illustrate how to do it. The OUTSIDE rail of the top loop should be POSITIVE. When your train moves to the lower loop, you would have that positive polarity follow, thus making the INSIDE rail of the lower loop POSITIVE. No insulated joiners required. To do otherwise you would require 2 additional reverse loop controllers.
You are correct to assume DCC. I should have mentioned that. As of yet I don't have the Automatic Reverse controllers to put into the system but I'll definitely need two of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Here's the SCARM export JPG. As I said, it's hard to tell by looking at this what lines are the transfers, which are the reverse loops, and which are part of the large loops. Also, there are two spurs here that are not shown on the schematic above.

Feel free to criticize, make helpful suggestions, or anything else. It's a first attempt and I'm sure there's plenty of room for improvement. You guys probably see problems here that I wouldn't realize is an issue until I get it installed and something wasn't working well.

547657
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm new here and can't tell. Is that a criticism, as in train layouts which use a lot of track aren't preferred, or are you just being funny?
 

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I'm new here and can't tell. Is that a criticism, as in train layouts which use a lot of track aren't preferred, or are you just being funny?
Trying to be funny
I am sure it is just an attempt of humor.

It will be a busy RR once built. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just making sure. I did ask for criticism so I wouldn't have been upset. Mostly I was making sure that I wasn't trying to do too much.

A lot of times people new to a hobby will try and do what they think they'll like at first but people who have been doing it for a long time know better. Astronomy comes to mind, people buying a telescope who have never owned one before may think that getting the most magnification is better when in fact there are other things far more important to consider, such as light gathering power that a bigger diameter offers.

In this case I didn't want to have a boring oval with a few spurs, or a figure 8 with a yard. The layouts I've most enjoyed watching in train museums and stores had multiple trains going on multiple tracks, crossing over each other, and long enough so you can watch a train for a while before it completes a circuit. So that's what I was trying to come up with here. I'm starting slow with just two main loops for two trains but there is space available in my hobby room to expand the table for more track someday.
 

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I'm new here and can't tell. Is that a criticism, as in train layouts which use a lot of track aren't preferred, or are you just being funny?
Just a joke, I like lots of track, allows you to run lots of trains. :) I'm building this, I like track. ;)

547689
 

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I am sure he will confirm what I said.

I always advise to build the table with an expansion in mind.
It seems like a lot will build the table then right away expand it anyway.
If you have the room use it from the get go, then you will not have to expand? :)
Even if you don't use the extra room right away it will be there installed and waiting for rail.
Like I said a lot expand right after they get done with what they made.

But that is me, it is your RR and you can do what you want.
 
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