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Discussion Starter #1
New thread here of my layout rebuild, I'll update each day with pictures (the guys over on BenzWorld say "no pics then it didn't happen" LOL). I don't know everything about model railroading so if anyone has suggestions as I go along by all means post them here. After giving the trains one last run on the present configuration, I started yesterday by carefully packing up all vehicles, both rail and road. Today I gutted all the wiring from under the table and removed all the buildings, it looks kinda like a war zone now. After wetting down the track sections I carefully lifted each to disconnect and tossed them in a bucket of water to soak. I'll be scrubbing all the ballast and glue off so the track will be ready for recycle later. I've ordered the Kato V11 double track with concrete ties and it's also super-elevated (trains lean into the curves) and will re-use the present track. It's funny how fast a demolition can take after the construction took so long to do

Here is the neighborhood before
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And now
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Discussion Starter #4
This’ll be interesting, I’ll definitely be following this thread closely.
By all means yes. The general madness is to have the double track be elevated by higher terrain, it will vary a bit more than what's here now, some being ground level and some in gullies. I'll be getting and using at least 2 sheets of 2 inch pink or blue foam board to make the hills and valleys. Not exactly sure at this moment but in real life the ground isn't flat as a pancake (even Florida has some hills), so a model train shouldn't be all flat ground either
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Site was down yesterday for a bit. I got 90% of the track pulled and have given it a good scrubbing with an old toothbrush in hot water, will need to go over it with a scraper to get the glue off the bottom edge, this is Unitrack btw 😏. I know I'll catch some grief over this (one of those "don't try this at home" deals), after pulling the bottom plate of a turnout for a peek, replaced the cover and in the hot water the turnouts went for a soak ** AGAIN, you do this at your own peril **, I have some experience with electronics and these Kato turnouts are your basic coil and magnet actuated gizmos and as long as power was not applied until completely dry . . . . . Got the turnouts cleaned up AND COMPLETELY DRY INSIDE AND OUT 😎 and gave the mechanisms a test with a 9V battery, one leg of my double crossover wasn't working as it should (been having trouble with it from day one) and loosened the pivot screw 1/2 a turn - perfect operation (WOO HOO, it helps I guess to also be a wrench turner on my own cars including an antique Mercedes Benz). Now to turn my attention on the table and getting the in-tunnel track out

Pre-soaking track
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Scrub
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Rinse
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!/2 of double crossover innards
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With this last pic yall can see the inside of the Kato turnouts, the double crossover here is like 4 turnouts in one housing and draws 4 times the power (which still isn't much, a 9V battery operated it). Also seen are the copper frog switch contacts for power routing. The magnets for operation with the coil are in the black slide bar. If you take the cover off of yours be aware that the tiny actuating rods are easy to be dislodged, here they are hidden under the little square cap in the middle, the steel cover holds everything in place
 

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New thread here of my layout rebuild, I'll update each day with pictures (the guys over on BenzWorld say "no pics then it didn't happen" LOL). I don't know everything about model railroading so if anyone has suggestions as I go along by all means post them here. After giving the trains one last run on the present configuration, I started yesterday by carefully packing up all vehicles, both rail and road. Today I gutted all the wiring from under the table and removed all the buildings, it looks kinda like a war zone now. After wetting down the track sections I carefully lifted each to disconnect and tossed them in a bucket of water to soak. I'll be scrubbing all the ballast and glue off so the track will be ready for recycle later. I've ordered the Kato V11 double track with concrete ties and it's also super-elevated (trains lean into the curves) and will re-use the present track. It's funny how fast a demolition can take after the construction took so long to do

Here is the neighborhood before
View attachment 550415

And now
View attachment 550416
By all means yes. The general madness is to have the double track be elevated by higher terrain, it will vary a bit more than what's here now, some being ground level and some in gullies. I'll be getting and using at least 2 sheets of 2 inch pink or blue foam board to make the hills and valleys. Not exactly sure at this moment but in real life the ground isn't flat as a pancake (even Florida has some hills), so a model train shouldn't be all flat ground either
Wooky_Choo_Bacca;

If you think tear down isn't faster than building, make an elaborate house of cards and then open a window on a breezy day! 😄

Your curves look awfully sharp in the photos. Do you plan to use broader curves on your next attempt?
You're right, the real ground is seldom as flat as, well, a train table! Even the midwestern prairies have some rolling humps to them, though as they say in Kansas, "It's flat enough to see tomorrow's train coming today!"
Speaking of train tables, they are inherently limiting, in terms of possible track patterns, and often look unrealistic. Some folks don't care about that, and others do. Have you considered going long, skinny, and more real railroad shaped, with a narrower, but longer, shelf type layout, or a scenic divider down the middle of the table? Either can disguise that "round-and-round the little train goes" look that most table layouts have. All the preceding are suggestions, not commandments. Good Luck & Have Fun with whatever you choose to build.

regards;
Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The curves on the layout I had were 12 1/2 and 13 1/4 45 degree curves. A train shop guy told me that the loco / train set I have should go no smaller than 12 inch curves. The V6 outer loop set I bought has 13 1/4 curves. I can get up to 18 inchers and them not run off the table, I'll look into those. I have a fixed income and is why I designed the next with what I already have plus the super_elevated double that's otw. The double track I've ordered has 15 and 16 1/4 curves. I don't want to have a bunch of track (curves) not being used, would anyone here want to buy used Unitrack with the tighter curves for shorter cars and locos ? that way I could justify ordering the wider. I've had no derails unless it was due to Godzilla's wayward hand (me reaching for something). I mentioned rebuilding the table and narrowing it from 4 to 3 ft wide and got "The Look", This is in a room that we otherwise don't use and I'll be adding 4 ft on one end to make it an "L" table with casters so that if I need to get to the back side I can. I'll still work on the narrowing of the table, (covert, black ops construction). I asked for suggestions so your ideas aren't thought of as being "you GOTTA do it THIS way or you'll be black-listed" LOL. Wondering what / how I could do the split / divider

I've almost got the table back down to a "clean slate", pics to come
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Traction Fan, I just did a look at the planned new layout design, tried fitting it onto a 3 ft wide table and it just does fit, the coming double track that is. No room for the outside single track loop around. Here is the new layout design done with AnyRail

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The Town will be divided betwixt the lower loop and next to the Industrial Park. The shown bridges may end up just being a tunnel and may shorten the lower loop a little to make enough room for a lakefront and campground, we'll see
 

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Traction Fan, I just did a look at the planned new layout design, tried fitting it onto a 3 ft wide table and it just does fit, the coming double track that is. No room for the outside single track loop around. Here is the new layout design done with AnyRail

View attachment 550535

The Town will be divided betwixt the lower loop and next to the Industrial Park. The shown bridges may end up just being a tunnel and may shorten the lower loop a little to make enough room for a lakefront and campground, we'll see
Wooky_Choo_Bacca;

The curves on both your old layout, and your new design, have straight track between two ninety degree curves at the end corners of the table. Nothing evil about that, but if you eliminated those short sections of straight track and instead had a continuous one hundred and eighty degree curve, the radius could be larger, and still fit on the table.

I think you may be misunderstanding my suggestion for "going long and skinny." I didn't mean that you should narrow your table down from 4' to 3', (Though that's fine if it's what you want ) My idea was to get away from the "rectangular blob" table altogether, and go to a narrow shelf layout along some walls. The advantages of this, besides being shaped like a real railroad, are easy access to all the track, and not filling any of the center of the room, leaving it free for other activities. Of course I don't know the layout of your house, or anything else about your individual situation, so what works very well for me (a shelf layout) may not work at all for you. You can see my layout's track plan in the "Layout design section", in the thread "Here are the layouts of some forum members." My layout is attached to two of the walls of my garage.

Maybe you, or your local representative from the estrogen supremacy league (aka wife) may not want to stop using a table. If that's the case, dividing the table into two "skinny" scenes is simply a matter of building a view block down the middle of the long dimension of the table. It can also curve, and continue onto the new 'L'-shaped addition.
This view block can be a double-sided backdrop, or a range of hills. Anything that prevents you from seeing both sides of the loop of track at once. Then, instead of going in all-too-obvious circles, a train enters one scene, like a town, and then exits the other end of that scene. This looks much like the real world, where a train enters one end of town, drops off & picks up any cars as needed, and then continues its run to the "next station". (actually the other side of the view block)
The view blocks on my layout are backdrops that hide the return track. The backdrops are removeable to allow access to that rear track when needed. With a shelf layout bolted to a wall, I can't just walk around to the other side of the layout, like you table-based lifeforms can. In the first photo, the backdrop (not painted yet) is the curved white panel at the right side. There is another track concealed behind it, which is "the other side of my track loop." The second photo shows what a fully painted backdrop looks like.

As far as budget, yeah I understand that, and don't we all. I know Unitrack is excellent, just from the dozens of happy members who use it. However, it is also the most expensive type of track on the market. If you were to switch to flex track and cork or foam, roadbed, you might save some money in the long run. Particularly if you could buy the track used on eBay. As for selling your used unitrack, try putting photos of what you want to sell in the "For sale member-to-member section" and/or on eBay.

Good Luck and Have Fun building your new layout;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
"local representative from the estrogen supremacy league (aka wife)" LMAO, I like that. I tried again today to "splain the idea of rebuilding the table to 3 ft X 8ft. Doing that and with the 4ft X 3ft addition I could reach all of the track from one side and it would be up against 2 walls with the 3rd wall having the windows of the front of the house (I don't know the room measurements LOL) I see what you mean about the square with rounded corners look. Let me hit the design again and see what I can come up with. She mention cutting a notch in the table for the control panel, which wouldn't work

Gonna add some here then it's time to crash for the night. I took the suggestion about wider curves and came up with a backup diagram that I wouldn't have to change the dimensions of the table. Gonna do some checking on a couple things before deciding which way to go, I'm committed on the double track that's coming (committed, no, not an escaped nut case here, never played one on TV either 😜🤪😲🥴 LOL, been accused of it though). On the budget aspect, yeah fixed income here and don't want to be taken as being snobby or whatever but I tend to check out 9 ways to last Monday night before dropping a penny on anything and rather than buy something "iffy" and not be happy with it (or have to fix something a second time) I get what I find as the best. In this case I got what I consider the best track but goofed on the size perhaps BUT it's what came with the starter set and the variation set later. Gonna coin a phrase here LOL, call this the "Benz Syndrome" that I got from owning my hot rod, it came to me as a good car but over time some needed repairs and upgrades plus recommendations of enthusiasts with the same model of car I got the mentality of "the best or nothing". This came into play with my trains too. Anyway, here is a potential track diagram and my "Banker's Hot Rod"

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The oil stains are from my truck 😎
550556
 

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Discussion Starter #12
TF, I took a look at your layout posted here, nice and I see what you mean by "skinny". I don't have that kind of room to play in (if only I had a basement with a concrete floor, the possibilities . . . . . . . ) As it is I have room for the mentioned 8X8X4 L shaped table. I measured the room and if I pushed it I could barely fit a 7X8X10X3 U shaped but not gonna do that extreme

Today's update: Cleaning the glue off the bottom side of the track, won't be using that glue on the next track laying, instead I'll get a tube of clear silicon tub caulk. Still waiting for the ordered double track. Does anyone else hate when ordering something that's "in stock" and then you have to wait, and wait, while it comes in from various warehouses to be packed and shipped ?
 

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TF, I took a look at your layout posted here, nice and I see what you mean by "skinny". I don't have that kind of room to play in (if only I had a basement with a concrete floor, the possibilities . . . . . . . ) As it is I have room for the mentioned 8X8X4 L shaped table. I measured the room and if I pushed it I could barely fit a 7X8X10X3 U shaped but not gonna do that extreme

Today's update: Cleaning the glue off the bottom side of the track, won't be using that glue on the next track laying, instead I'll get a tube of clear silicon tub caulk. Still waiting for the ordered double track. Does anyone else hate when ordering something that's "in stock" and then you have to wait, and wait, while it comes in from various warehouses to be packed and shipped ?
WCB;

The only reason I have "that kind of room" is because my house has an attached "two car" garage. (My garage seldom houses one car, let alone two!)
Basement? What's a basement? I live in California. Houses here don't have basements.
Your room situation is what it is. You can't just have your construction company custom build you an entire new building for your model railroad to live in. (Loral Joiner, a Texas millionaire, did just that. Then he filed it with an O-scale railroad and lots of brass O-scale locomotives. It must be nice to have that kind of hobby budget available!)

I also have the advantage of working with N-scale, rather than HO. My layout's minimum curve radius is 16" which is a bit tight for all but the shortest HO-scale equipment to run on, but generous for N-scale.

The point I was trying to make about "skinny" has less to do with benchwork depth, than it does with "scene depth".
Because our turnback curves require a lot of depth, we tend to make the entire layout equally deep .This inevitably results in "rectangular blob" type train tables. I had several of those through the years, and decided to get away from them. If you look again at my track plan, you will see that most of my layout is only 16" deep, and even then the visible scene is more like 14" deep, since the backdrop-concealed return track fills the rear 2".
The mainline only runs through any given scene once. The return tracks needed for continuous running are in another scene, or concealed behind backdrops, so you never really see a train loop around an oval, simply because you can't see both sides of the oval at once. I do have deeper sections at the ends to accommodate the deep turnback curves needed for continuous running. However, the loops are also divided into separate scenes. This is more realistic looking than any fully-exposed oval, or figure eight, track plan can ever hope to be.
If you look at your local real railroad track, it's not likely to be an oval, much less a figure eight. It's most likely a straight line, or gentle curve, running from horizon to view block. This is where the "skinny scene" idea comes into play on a model railroad. We need to fool the eye into seeing something like what the real railroad looks like.

Try this experiment. Lay a loop of track on the table. Run a train on it, and watch the train go around a few times. Then put a big flattened cardboard box down the middle of the loop. Now you can't see that the train is running in circles. Instead, you see a train running, in one direction, through a scene of limited depth. Next time you see a real train run by, you should notice that, in terms of it's travel pattern, it behaves much like the way your model train did.
Of course you may want the background of your model scene to look more realistic than a cardboard box! Try it with the box painted sky blue, and a few white clouds dabbed on with a foam paint brush. Looks pretty good doesn't it.

As for getting glue off the bottom of your track, try this. Spray WD-40 on the track and use an old toothbrush to scrub the glue off. When the glue is off, wipe the track with a rag soaked with alcohol, to remove the WD-40. The combination of WD-40, followed by alcohol, will remove just about anything.

Regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yeah TF, my "no hassle castle" is a two story on a slab and I also have a two car garage but it houses my hot rod when I'm not driving it along with a yard tractor and stuff shelves. If I were a millionaire (or even a thousandaire) I'd have built a dedicated train house out back and fitted it with A/C and heat LOL.

Because of the limited space I have it's the roundy-round I'll have to live with and is the main reason I chose the N Scale vs HO. The splitting scene is something I'll have to look into for sure though I know this might not look completely real but that's ok too, it's something I can work on over time. Thanks for the suggestions, I've got a clean slate to start work with now
 

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Yeah TF, my "no hassle castle" is a two story on a slab and I also have a two car garage but it houses my hot rod when I'm not driving it along with a yard tractor and stuff shelves. If I were a millionaire (or even a thousandaire) I'd have built a dedicated train house out back and fitted it with A/C and heat LOL.

Because of the limited space I have it's the roundy-round I'll have to live with and is the main reason I chose the N Scale vs HO. The splitting scene is something I'll have to look into for sure though I know this might not look completely real but that's ok too, it's something I can work on over time. Thanks for the suggestions, I've got a clean slate to start work with now
WCB;

I didn't remember that you were using N-scale. Sorry I falsely accused you of being one of those "grotesquely oversized HO train guys!" 😄 😄 😄

While I said that my garage seldom houses a car, that's mostly because it has a section of my layout, that I'm working on, sitting atop a rolling platform, his & hers workbenches, my "geezer tricycle", her bicycle, his & hers sanders on rolling cabinets, a lathe & a drill press on a rolling cart, a band saw, a table saw, and many other accouterments of suburban life, in it.
Despite all this, it is still possible to park my wife's SUV, or my manly minivan in there, I just have to move things around, hence the rational for putting casters under everything.

The actual layout has a top shelf, and several shelves underneath it to hold the "stuff" that we all acquire as we go through life. Since I absolutely hate searching for things, all my stuff is in alphabetized bin boxes on the shelves under the layout. The table saw, lathe, and drill press, all fit under the wider part of the layout ("Seattle" and "the harbor") at the right side of the diagram. The left side "blob" (aka "Black River", "Cape Ripiculous" , and "Garrison creek trestle") has three rolling carts of trains & scenery materials under it. The available floor space is used for multiple purposes. My collection of train books & magazines, a TV, VCR, DVD player, etc. are on the top shelf, the railroad occupies the next two shelves down, and there are general storage shelves, or roll around carts under the railroad. Lumber is stored in an overhead rack, which is high enough to clear a parked vehicle and frustrate me when I reach for a board.

My reason for this long, & quite boring, description of my garage is to show that it's possible to fit a shelf layout into a garage, and still have room for a workshop, storage, and even actually parking a vehicle, if you really organize things, and make them moveable on casters. I don't know if you would be able to, or even have the slightest interest in, doing the same thing to your garage, and there's no reason you should unless you choose to. I just offer it up as another possibility for you to mull on.
If you stick with a conventionally-shaped train table, and divide it into separate scenes with a backdrop, will you be able to get to the scene on the other side of the table?

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #16
While I AM an "oversized" guy, (HOPING not grotesquely 😲), mine I consider a counter-weight to keep me from tipping over backwards 😁 PLUS being a dual fuel individual with me shiny solar panel up top with what's left of me long locks and beard (hence the moniker "Wooky"). Yeah, present table (and the addition will) has casters so I'll be able to attack any side by putting it in the middle of the room and back into the corner when everything is OK

Yeah, N Scale (was thinking that was clear, oh well, it tis now 👍) The garage is out as a train room as I installed shelves down both sides and across the back for storage of the stuff we ALL collect over time plus stuff that when the world gets out of the present "crisis" a complete and working Volvo sterndrive to be sold. Also taking up room is a workbench (I turn my own wrenches on everything I own when they need fissin' (repaired) as well as a slew of spare parts for me hot rod, I bought another Coupe' and robbed the glass, body panels (just in case) as well as some rare Euro parts not found on American versions

My Digitrax decoder came back today and STILL (GGGRRRRR) the controller says the program track is empty. It's NOT the loco chassis because swapping out decoders the fault follows the card. Wondering if I'm doing something wrong, maybe tape down the troublesome decoder to the chassis, yes Capton tape is in place where the instructions say to put it
 

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While I AM an "oversized" guy, (HOPING not grotesquely 😲), mine I consider a counter-weight to keep me from tipping over backwards 😁 PLUS being a dual fuel individual with me shiny solar panel up top with what's left of me long locks and beard (hence the moniker "Wooky"). Yeah, present table (and the addition will) has casters so I'll be able to attack any side by putting it in the middle of the room and back into the corner when everything is OK

Yeah, N Scale (was thinking that was clear, oh well, it tis now 👍) The garage is out as a train room as I installed shelves down both sides and across the back for storage of the stuff we ALL collect over time plus stuff that when the world gets out of the present "crisis" a complete and working Volvo sterndrive to be sold. Also taking up room is a workbench (I turn my own wrenches on everything I own when they need fissin' (repaired) as well as a slew of spare parts for me hot rod, I bought another Coupe' and robbed the glass, body panels (just in case) as well as some rare Euro parts not found on American versions

My Digitrax decoder came back today and STILL (GGGRRRRR) the controller says the program track is empty. It's NOT the loco chassis because swapping out decoders the fault follows the card. Wondering if I'm doing something wrong, maybe tape down the troublesome decoder to the chassis, yes Capton tape is in place where the instructions say to put it

WCB:

As far as my scale confusion, I probably mixed you up with one of the many others I respond to. That, and I get more senile by the day! Yes, I had no sooner typed that "oversized" comment than I realized it could be misinterpreted to refer to the "guys" instead of the "trains". (At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it! 😄) Actually I'm quite oversized myself an have a "solar panel" on my head & a beard too.
Understood about the garage. In train terms, that's too bad, but obviously you're having fun with other things out there. Can't knock that. It's good that you can roll your table out into the middle of the room. That frees you up to do the "split it into separate scenes" thing, should you choose to.
On the DCC frustration front, have you measured the resistance of the copper motor contacts to the frame with a multimeter? That would prove, or disprove the "maybe shorting to the frame" theory. I'm not a big fan of those "drop in" decoders with plates that are supposed to line up perfectly with the motor brushes or some points on the circuit board. I prefer solder connections. More work, but more reliable.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #18
No worries about the "oversized", I KNOW I have a shelf out front 😎, it runs in the family. Yeah having fun with my "Rail Empire", I got a loop of my new double track set up for the moment. I have a couple of things to get (casters and foam boards) and then start of the table expansion. I was thinking about the visual barrier down the center that you mentioned, a "mountain" and perhaps a cardboard "sky" along the ridge and putting the Town and residentials on the mountain keeping the train(s) at the lower elevations, still will be two different heights for tracks, and for now I'll "run what I brung" track-wise. The long sweeping curves do look good but for now I'll use what's on hand. The larger curves would / will be on the outer edge so I'll leave that open for possibilities later

On the DDC woes, It's been fingered out, the front of the decoder wasn't making good contact / ground on the frame. I wedged a piece of the dense foam from the loco case up under the front edge and problem solved, it's now programmed and running. I'll foam the other for insurance even though it's been running. The E5A is still running good after soldering the board with wires to the pick-up rails and motor contacts to the board, Thanks Mike Fifer
 

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No worries about the "oversized", I KNOW I have a shelf out front 😎, it runs in the family. Yeah having fun with my "Rail Empire", I got a loop of my new double track set up for the moment. I have a couple of things to get (casters and foam boards) and then start of the table expansion. I was thinking about the visual barrier down the center that you mentioned, a "mountain" and perhaps a cardboard "sky" along the ridge and putting the Town and residentials on the mountain keeping the train(s) at the lower elevations, still will be two different heights for tracks, and for now I'll "run what I brung" track-wise. The long sweeping curves do look good but for now I'll use what's on hand. The larger curves would / will be on the outer edge so I'll leave that open for possibilities later

On the DDC woes, It's been fingered out, the front of the decoder wasn't making good contact / ground on the frame. I wedged a piece of the dense foam from the loco case up under the front edge and problem solved, it's now programmed and running. I'll foam the other for insurance even though it's been running. The E5A is still running good after soldering the board with wires to the pick-up rails and motor contacts to the board, Thanks Mike Fifer
WCB;

Whatever works for you. What I had in mind was two stations, and towns. One on either side of the view block. That way the train can actually travel from one town to another. Variations on the idea are an industry on one side, and a consumer of that industry's product on the other. Coal mine/power plant, logging, sawmill, etc.

If your layout is mounted high enough, then a range of hills down the center will serve as a view block. My old club did that on their layout, and it was very effective. The only requirement is to not be able to see over whatever view block you decide on using.
If you make a sky backdrop, I'd recommend something more durable that cardboard. The cardboard box idea was only intended as a temporary experiment, to let you see the idea in action. I use a semi-flexible plastic panel material from home depot for my removeable backdrops. Masonite or MDF would work too.

Very glad to hear your DCC problem is fixed. If it were me, I'd solder a wire to the foil on the decoder and screw the other end of the wire to the frame. I believe in "preventive pessimism" on things like that. Especially if they have put me through a troubleshooting nightmare like you've been through.

regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yeah, aggravating as hell when you have brand new and brand new and have problems getting it / them to work like they're 'posed to do. The contact points are thisclose together and about * that big, in the pic it's at the far right of the frame just behind the cab notch where the board fits, a dot of solder if I have any more problems with it

On the (p)layout I was just saying cardboard as an example, would def use something a bit more rugged / durable. The backside of the table (the two 8 ft lengths) could be the "hidden from" without putting a tunnel and make that side rock cliffs or similar, that would eliminate the need for a block panel. I GOTTA have a place for the still LOL. I'm figuring that the double track with concrete ties would be the "new modern express" built higher while the "older" wood tie track line would serve it and run around it (I know real trains would have just upgraded using the same real estate or abandoned and is why we have so many walking / biking trails on old train roadbeds. Right now the main industries will be a petrol tank farm, a rail / trucking warehouse, and loco shop but I'll have room for more once the addition is added
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