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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone, last year I took up the hobby again after a 25+ year hiatus! Without the financial and space constraints of my youth I pretty much splurged on every piece of track and accessory that I had wanted back then, quickly assembling a layout with four independent tracks, for all the family to use at once.

Problem is, it quickly got ‘old’! I am wedded to DC vs. DCC but the yard in the center is very difficult to access. The tracks are crammed together and the trains frequently clip one another.

Layout is currently 4x10 - I could expand to 4x14. I’d prefer not to make it wider because access to the back of the layout is sometimes problematic.

I’m willing to lose one of the independent circuits to have three more interesting loops, with hopefully a branch or siding close to the front of the layout, where I can control the points without too much trouble.

If anyone has any recommendations for a layout, I’d be grateful!
Thank you.
Urban design Track Railway Wheel Landscape
 

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Have you reviewed the many layout plans shown in
the two Threads above? But don't expect to find a
layout that is exactly what you want...rather, make
note of a certain section of layout that you like...and
maybe another that you think would be fun...then imagine
how you can put the ideas of others to work for you.

Your layout has more than enough ovals to have trains
run continuously. But after a while there isn't much fun
watching round and round...many of us design yards and
spur tracks serving rail freight shippers and receivers. You
can add hours of enjoyment shuttling cars here and there or
making up and breaking up trans.

I would also suggest..increase the width of your
benchwork to 5 feet...that makes possible wider radius
curves that enable you use run the moder large 6 wheel
truck locos and larger steamers.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Don, I did look at those threads and indeed my initial layout was based loosely on something I saw on SCARM…I think you are correct that if I want 3 or 4 continuous loops and a more interesting layout, I would have to expand the width.

I’m thinking perhaps of expanding width to 5 ft and instead of the backdrop, moving the layout away from the wall and utilizing a central scenic divider, allowing for some interest to be created with tunnels and breaking up the boring ovals to twist around the landscape…and perhaps having a terminus on one side to allow for more interesting operations (with a thru station on the other side). Still trying to keep things simple within the constraints of DC and a minimal number of manual turnouts.

Have you reviewed the many layout plans shown in
the two Threads above? But don't expect to find a
layout that is exactly what you want...rather, make
note of a certain section of layout that you like...and
maybe another that you think would be fun...then imagine
how you can put the ideas of others to work for you.

Your layout has more than enough ovals to have trains
run continuously. But after a while there isn't much fun
watching round and round...many of us design yards and
spur tracks serving rail freight shippers and receivers. You
can add hours of enjoyment shuttling cars here and there or
making up and breaking up trans.

I would also suggest..increase the width of your
benchwork to 5 feet...that makes possible wider radius
curves that enable you use run the moder large 6 wheel
truck locos and larger steamers.

Don
 

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Yes, I agree with Don that you have dine about as well as you can in that that space. Any changes you make are just going to be minor tweaks, not a significant change in operational characteristics unless you can break out of that box. If this really is a "family" thing, you should have a pretty good argument for getting more space. You will also need to change the shape a bit. As you've discovered 30" is about the maximum practical reach for an adult, correspondingly less for children.

Now, your other big problem is that it's time for a divorce. Your marriage to DC is holding you back. Consider this: with wiring little, if any, more complicated than you have now, you could connect all of those independent loops to a common bus and run them with ONE controller, or give each family member a separate throttle on the same system. You could then interconnect those loops, and gain some route variety as trains do laps. Yes, this will involve a significant expense (which doesn't seem to be an issue for you), and some effort to convert your locos to DCC (although, if they're of recent manufacture, they are probably DCC-ready, which takes a lot of the hassle out of converting). So I really think you ought to reconsider that choice given your situation.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I’ve probably reached close to the space limit - I could squeeze in another few square ft. What I might do is reconfigure the 40 sq ft I have differently…instead of a rectangle, maybe two 4x4 squares - with space on three sides - and a 4x2 section to bridge the gap. That would give me the same amount of space for track, and much easier access.

Thinking perhaps something like this, but without the bend through 90 degrees:


Sacrificing one independent DC line in order to have three more interesting routes.

I agree DCC is the way forward in the future…I’m also thinking off a Bluetooth control system such as the Hornby and Kato systems, although they wouldn’t change the functionality of the locomotives, it would help with operation of points/accessories and make the layout more usable.

Yes, I agree with Don that you have dine about as well as you can in that that space. Any changes you make are just going to be minor tweaks, not a significant change in operational characteristics unless you can break out of that box. If this really is a "family" thing, you should have a pretty good argument for getting more space. You will also need to change the shape a bit. As you've discovered 30" is about the maximum practical reach for an adult, correspondingly less for children.

Now, your other big problem is that it's time for a divorce. Your marriage to DC is holding you back. Consider this: with wiring little, if any, more complicated than you have now, you could connect all of those independent loops to a common bus and run them with ONE controller, or give each family member a separate throttle on the same system. You could then interconnect those loops, and gain some route variety as trains do laps. Yes, this will involve a significant expense (which doesn't seem to be an issue for you), and some effort to convert your locos to DCC (although, if they're of recent manufacture, they are probably DCC-ready, which takes a lot of the hassle out of converting). So I really think you ought to reconsider that choice given your situation.
 

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I'm a British OO fan, myself. Are you in the UK? Many Brits have extreme space issues, so that you have been able to expand to a $ x 10 is rather good. Regrettably, even the best scenicked layouts get old watching trains chase their tales.
Now, a question: you say "wedded to DC vs. DCC," does that mean you are a DC man, through and through, as I, or the other way around? I presume the former.

I'm to offer a radical notion: diamonds. You have two and half circuits fitted into your available space. This is a quintessential aspect of British OO; that modelers achieve a maximal use of limited space. Additionally, you have the passenger services well represented, another iconic feature of British model rail. Americans, if you will note, don't do that so much. Passenger trains are more a decoration than a substantive feature of the pike.

Back to diamonds: contrive, if you will, a diamond crossing with that nifty feeder track tot he yard, that essentially fouls the main. Or, better yet, have the two mains intersect each other twice over, on overlapped ovals. Now you will be challenged, alone or with family operators, to maintain separation of competing rail lines.

Which train gets priority at a diamond meet? The express over the local? The local over the goods? The mixed over the goods? You can add in a randomized, shuffle the deck, set of "orders." Stop at the terminus every fifth lap, maintain a schedule of the mixed daily that has to perform ten laps, stopping at six halts, before making its way to the terminus, but it has to do all this within a ten minute time frame, not exceed prototypical meandering speed, and give way to trains of higher priority at the diamonds.

I call this method "Rolling Operations," as opposed to more conventional operations of making and braking goods trains in fiddle yards. The buffer bars and sturdy NEM couplers of British stock prevent damage for the very occasional bump. I don't go out of my way to crash trains, but it can happen, and do it once, and see if you do it again; you will learn to keep one hand on the emergency stop.

Below is a video demonstrating Rolling Operations on my layout, "Henley:"


It is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea.
 

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How about this. There are two towns at either "end" of your layout. The first is manufacturing, industrial... The second is a shipping, harbor. Your freight trains go between them for various reasons you imagine perhaps backed up by layout items. In the middle is a passenger link to some distant big city. The towns also send short passenger trains here. And the freight goes through from time to time. Further big city rail line appears at other times. But the big city is "off the board" unless you have room. You'll need some parking spots on the layout (possibly hidden in tunnels) to hold various trains at various times. Or some easy way to "de-board" a train for such purposes and "re-board" it on its scheduled appearance. Or whenever you see fit to run it through.

I've never done this but have been thinking about it for awhile. I got the idea from Marklin of Sweden.
 

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I agree wholeheartedly, divorce the DC and embrace DCC. My NCE powercab system comes all self contained in one box slightly larger than a shoebox and can be had for < 200.00 brand new. Plug it together and run two wires to the layout and you are ready to run trains. HO locos are not very difficult to fit with DCC decoders nor are they very expensive at about 30.00 a pop. Most recent major manufacturer's locomotives are plug and play drop in installationsand even the one's that aren't only require some insulating tape and a bit of soldering. Find a club in your area, there is usually someone willing to show you the ropes or do it for a few bucks or a pack of cold ones or there are plenty of how to youtube videos. Extra throttles are easily picked up new or used on ebay or online and added to the NCE system, also plug and play. Soon you can be running multiple trains on the same track because with DCC you control the trains, not the track.
 

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Probably not. He hasn't been back since he posted response #5 above, 6 months ago.
Yikes ! Thanks for this ! If I'd noticed the dates 12/3 and 12/4/21 I'd never have even posted my lengthy post #11...
And due to this insight I am going to retract #11 now, the OP having shown no gratitude to so many for too long a time now..
Let him keep running his surely 'gotten old '... " 'race track' Layout " .
 
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