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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi everyone.

I’ve been doing model railroading on and off since the 80’s – HO up to this point in time. I recently retired and moved cross country to Southern Oregon. I had intended to build out an HO layout here, but after thinking things over, I decided that I’d get more fun per square foot with N, so that’s what I’m doing now.

For learning and practice I’ve started the Behr-Leigh-Fitz RR on a 2x4 foot table, using Kato Unitrack and based on a plan from the Kato web site. Building in two phases, the idea is to have enough spurs to do a little branch line/industrial switching. I’m not planning elaborate scenery – everything on the same level.

I found a pretty sturdy table online at Staples (free delivery) and I installed eight 12” x 12” x 1/2” self-adhesive cork squares (Amazon). I had already used AnyRail to plan a couple of notional HO layouts a few years ago, and in this case the software again proved that it is worth the price. I can’t tell you how many versions I’ve gone through.

The 2x4 ends up being a layout “breadboard”. I’m still playing with some spacing, the minimum length of straight track leading to a magnetic uncoupler, etc. I plan on building one or two structures, and 3D printing some things, just to get a feel what looks and functions right. I’m using Unitrack for the reliability and the nice range of track section dimensions/radii. The first thing I do with Unitrack is drill out a 1.5mm hole through the little starter sockets on the underside.

The tracks in the photo are spiked to the cork with 5/8” x 18 gauge nails. This makes adjustments and modifications easy. I use bulletin board push pins (they came with the cork) for initial layout and alignment. The main perimeter track for the 2’x4’layout is 11” radius, with 9 3/4” or 11” radius for spurs. There is a mix of #4 and #6 turnouts, with one #2 “Wye” turnout for locomotive/RDC storage. All the turnouts are wired to Kato switches.

Phase 2 will be a 3’ x 6’ layout with the outer track (12 3/8” radius) connected to the existing Phase 1 track by a double crossover. According to AnyRail, I’ve managed to make all of the rail section connections “clean”, except for one that might have a 2mm gap – which I can fudge. I’m thinking of more cork (24” x 36” x 1/2” sheets) over plywood.

I’ve picked up a few freight cars -- somewhat inspired by what I see rolling by on CORP downhill from me -- two each box cars, flats, tank cars, and covered hoppers. I picked up one Kato RCD-2, and another should arrive in a couple of days (RDCs are my railroad “kink”). The Walthers SW1200 I bought has been underwhelming. It growls/grinds on 11” radius curves and at switching speeds jumps ahead when it hits the straight. A Broadway Limited SW7 is arriving soon, which I hope will perform better. I may have spoiled myself with the Kato RDC -- smooth as silk. Even on DC you can crawl it along the track and gently roll on the throttle. The other evening it was pulling four cars around the track for a couple of hours without any fuss at all.

DCC has been ordered and the changeover of the Phase 1 layout will be easy. When I go to the larger layout, I’ll probably pick up a GP-38/40 locomotive for longer train service.


200523-BLF-LX100-032-w.jpg
 

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Very nice. I've been looking into Kato unitrack and appreciate what you've been able to do in smaller spaces. I was in HO for awhile but never really built a full layout for lack of space. This may work better.
 

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Hi everyone.

I’ve been doing model railroading on and off since the 80’s – HO up to this point in time. I recently retired and moved cross country to Southern Oregon. I had intended to build out an HO layout here, but after thinking things over, I decided that I’d get more fun per square foot with N, so that’s what I’m doing now.

For learning and practice I’ve started the Behr-Leigh-Fitz RR on a 2x4 foot table, using Kato Unitrack and based on a plan from the Kato web site. Building in two phases, the idea is to have enough spurs to do a little branch line/industrial switching. I’m not planning elaborate scenery – everything on the same level.

I found a pretty sturdy table online at Staples (free delivery) and I installed eight 12” x 12” x 1/2” self-adhesive cork squares (Amazon). I had already used AnyRail to plan a couple of notional HO layouts a few years ago, and in this case the software again proved that it is worth the price. I can’t tell you how many versions I’ve gone through.

The 2x4 ends up being a layout “breadboard”. I’m still playing with some spacing, the minimum length of straight track leading to a magnetic uncoupler, etc. I plan on building one or two structures, and 3D printing some things, just to get a feel what looks and functions right. I’m using Unitrack for the reliability and the nice range of track section dimensions/radii. The first thing I do with Unitrack is drill out a 1.5mm hole through the little starter sockets on the underside.

The tracks in the photo are spiked to the cork with 5/8” x 18 gauge nails. This makes adjustments and modifications easy. I use bulletin board push pins (they came with the cork) for initial layout and alignment. The main perimeter track for the 2’x4’layout is 11” radius, with 9 3/4” or 11” radius for spurs. There is a mix of #4 and #6 turnouts, with one #2 “Wye” turnout for locomotive/RDC storage. All the turnouts are wired to Kato switches.

Phase 2 will be a 3’ x 6’ layout with the outer track (12 3/8” radius) connected to the existing Phase 1 track by a double crossover. According to AnyRail, I’ve managed to make all of the rail section connections “clean”, except for one that might have a 2mm gap – which I can fudge. I’m thinking of more cork (24” x 36” x 1/2” sheets) over plywood.

I’ve picked up a few freight cars -- somewhat inspired by what I see rolling by on CORP downhill from me -- two each box cars, flats, tank cars, and covered hoppers. I picked up one Kato RCD-2, and another should arrive in a couple of days (RDCs are my railroad “kink”). The Walthers SW1200 I bought has been underwhelming. It growls/grinds on 11” radius curves and at switching speeds jumps ahead when it hits the straight. A Broadway Limited SW7 is arriving soon, which I hope will perform better. I may have spoiled myself with the Kato RDC -- smooth as silk. Even on DC you can crawl it along the track and gently roll on the throttle. The other evening it was pulling four cars around the track for a couple of hours without any fuss at all.

DCC has been ordered and the changeover of the Phase 1 layout will be easy. When I go to the larger layout, I’ll probably pick up a GP-38/40 locomotive for longer train service.


View attachment 543072
LJClark;

Welcome to the forum!
It looks, and sounds, like you have things well in hand. Nice little layout you have going there. I am a long time N-scaler. I model part of the Milwaukee Road's trackage in the Seattle area. My centerpiece structure is Seattle Union Station. My largely scratchbuilt model is shown below.
Kato locomotives, and passenger trains, are great. A few of their locomotive don't do well on tight radius curves. I had to rip out 12" radius curves and go to 16" as a minimum radius because my Kato 2-8-2 Mikados would not stay on tighter curves reliably. Smaller steam and diesel units should work well on your tighter curves. Kato makes/made a very nice RS-3, & RS-1. You might try one of those as a switcher/road locomotive. They run very smoothly and quietly. The Kato F-units, at least the older DC ones I have, are good smooth runners, but noisy compared to the other Kato locomotives. I have not used Kato Unitrack, but I hear nothing but good about it. My favorite track is Micro Engineering's code 55 flex track, due to it's very realistic appearance .

Again Welcome;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Very nice. I've been looking into Kato unitrack and appreciate what you've been able to do in smaller spaces. I was in HO for awhile but never really built a full layout for lack of space. This may work better.
If you'd like, I can post a couple of PDFs of the track plans that show the individual sections with their part numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
And since no plan survives contact...

One thing that bugged me about my earlier Phase 2 layout (36" x 72") -- from the original post here -- was that I only had one relatively short siding off the main line. Stretching the layout to 36" x 80" (hollow core door) didn't add that much to the siding, and really wasn't worth the overall size increase.

This is where the AnyRail software works so well. In a few minutes I did a little re-routing and made a two-track switching yard. That eliminated 2 turnouts, gave me a lot more storage, improved switching functionality, and I now have #6 turnouts on the entire main line. And not that Unitrack is difficult to work with, but this layout will be easier to snap together.

For Phase 2 my operating position moves to the other side of the layout (top in the plan) and will be convenient for HOG (Hand of God) coupling/uncoupling.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi everyone.

... I picked up one Kato RCD-2, and another should arrive in a couple of days (RDCs are my railroad “kink”). The Walthers SW1200 I bought has been underwhelming. It growls/grinds on 11” radius curves and at switching speeds jumps ahead when it hits the straight. A Broadway Limited SW7 is arriving soon, which I hope will perform better. I may have spoiled myself with the Kato RDC -- smooth as silk. Even on DC you can crawl it along the track and gently roll on the throttle. The other evening it was pulling four cars around the track for a couple of hours without any fuss at all.

DCC has been ordered and the changeover of the Phase 1 layout will be easy. When I go to the larger layout, I’ll probably pick up a GP-38/40 locomotive for longer train service.
Well, the BLI SW7 is tons better than the Walthers SW1200. No grinding on my tightest curves and generally smoother. It was a shock when I put it on the DC track and that speaker lit off. What an annoyance! Luckily the DCC controller arrived the next day and I could get the volume turned down significantly. The stock SW7 is like a race horse and I loaded a speed table that runs from 6 to 90 instead of the default 0-255. Much more realistic performance for a yard switcher.

Installing DCC into the RDC was a bit of a learning curve. I managed to break off both tabs of both center pins on the bottom of the seat tray, deal with slipping brass trips, the motor contacts, and a better way to mount the interior light. Again, much faster with the default settings, so a slower speed table for the RDC too. It looks pretty cool running around the track in a dark room.

The second RDC should be coming in from Canada, and several structures are on their way.
 
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