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Agh yes I thought to curve the corners but the plan is to have mountains that go up to the corners. but I may still curve them. Do you think I need the plywood? Or just use the 2” foam?

OVERBUILT!?!!! I was worried it wasn't built enough lol.
It might be a tad "underbuilt" if you plan to run prototype, 12" to the foot scale, trains over it, but it will support any model trains from Z-scale up to live steam scales! Given the, shall we say "significantly robust" structure you have built, plywood is not necessary. A sheet of extruded foam 1"-2" thick will be fine as a layout base. You could do the mountain thing in one corner, but both? Won't that look a little too convenient? Maybe one corner could be a very tall building, instead of a mountain?

Or, better yet, curve the sky.

You can add the curves on top of the existing backdrops if that's easier. Use 1/8" MDF board instead of the (I think tempered, from the color) Masonite. MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) is available at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Sometimes called "hardboard."
It is porous, and warps very easily. Much more easily than tempered Masonite. You'll need two square pieces, the same height as your present backdrop. Before soaking them, sand the two sides that will mate to your Masonite panels at a 30-45 degree angle. This, when butted to the existing backdrop, will minimize the joint line between them. Adding some drywall mud can make the joint all but invisible. Warp the two "curved corner" MDF squares and clamp them into place while they are still wet. Use rope, full paint cans, clamps, or whatever, to hold them in the curved shape until they dry overnight. Then glue the joints, clamp again, and add the mud, and paint as needed.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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There's nothing overbuilt about using 1x4 for benchwork. It's been a standard for decades. It is very sturdy without the weight of 2x4, and yes, you can climb on it as many of us must do when laying track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
Too late!!! Lol. The wood was cheap enough. And yea I’m 280 lbs and just laid down on top of it. Lol. Wood work complete. Foam about to go on. Behind the layout at frame height there’s a metal C purlin that runs left to right. I picked the height based on that. Plan on getting some small clamps to clamp back to wall underneath.

As far as a mountain in both corners, your right. The plan is 2 big 2 level loops on the left. Through a tunnel in a mountain. The right side will be the industry side. A tall building would look good.
 

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There's nothing overbuilt about using 1x4 for benchwork. It's been a standard for decades. It is very sturdy without the weight of 2x4, and yes, you can climb on it as many of us must do when laying track.
MichaelE;

In my opinion, smaller lumber, formed into L-girders, would be a better option. Certainly people can use 2 x 4s and 1 x 4s to support a model train layout, but why do so. Its way more than is needed to support the model railroad, it makes the layout heavy, and the larger wood is even a little bit more expensive. You, like every other modeler, are free to disagree, and use whatever size wood you want.

Again in my opinion, model railroad benchwork should be designed with enough access that it is never necessary to climb up on top of it. (though 1x3 & 1x2 L-girder, and even the 1/4" Luan foam-filled box girder, shown below, are quite capable of supporting a grown man's weight.) Opinions vary, of course. I've heard of "old school" Lionel O-gage train clubs that commonly had their members clamber over the finished railroad to reach the many "gopher hole" control stations used for their "tower control" layout.
Climbing on top of a layout is not for me. As I'm disabled, I doubt that I even could climb on top of a layout & crawl around, even if I had a layout on which it was possible to crawl on.*
If climbing around on top of your railroad is good for you, have at it. Your railroad, your rules.


* My layout is 16" high and 16" deep, in most spots. (see photo 3 ) I'm 6'-6" and 290lbs, so I don't think I could fit on top of my railroad, and If I tried, the railroad would be destroyed and it wouldn't do me any good either! 😕

Traction Fan
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Updates. Installed the curved inner sections. Made them removable just incase it has to come apart. Braced the corners of backdrop. Working on the hardboard to curve the corners. Temporary power station installed. Got a train running on a loop and kids and I screwed around w the KATO track. The track you see is all recycled from old layout. We soaked and scrubbed all the ballast off. I took apart every turnout and cleaned it out and bench tested for switching, power, and rolling stock over it. We still have a 5 gallon bucket full of KATO track that’s soaking right now. What you see is probably not even a quarter of what we have. And I have 30 pieces of flex on the way...lol. Problably save KATO track for a staging yard or something. Anywho here’s some pics. Oh and also finally framed my door way out from big shop to add on.
 

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Too late to beat up on you. My major concern is I don't believe you will be able to reach the tracks in the corners without climbing on the table or using a skyhook harness to fly over it. 30" from the table edge is about maximum reach distance. Putting it inside a mountain as well is sure to result in major downtime. Railroading Murphy's law says that most derails, shorts and dirty track will ocur on the least accessible track.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
I feel ya on that, it’s not for certain if there will be a mountain or just a cliff side. So possibly no tunnel. Also i plan on doin the scenery in the corners first. I’ve been on top of this table on the ends. And corners. I just set a scrap piece of foam down and it doesn’t damage the table top foam. I had to get back there for backdrop bracing. Also I don’t plan on the turns going the deep into the corner. It’s just what I have right now with the KATO track. Most of layout will be flex track. Kids already want a staging yard against the window lol. We have enough scrap wood and foam left over to do it, not to mention track. May build It to where it can be removed easily so we can work on it at the kitchen table or sumn. Prolly use manual turnouts for it
 

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OK then let me throw out a couple other observations/ suggestions then: Not burying the track in the corners and using larger radius curves are good ideas, but there will still need to be reach access for day to day maintenance: track cleaning, retrieving trains that decide to jump the track, general dusting, etc. Switching to flex track is also a good idea, especially if you combine it with good planning software to create accurate track plans with known radius turns with easements (easements are very important for realistic operation vs toy train look of sectional track and reducing derailments). Easements are where the radius of a turn increases as it transitions into a straight or reverse curve. Easements are everywhere: highways, train tracks in real life, think of how the entrance and exit ramps of an interstate change radius. Without easements the train and passengers would get a "whip" effect throwing them, and anything not attached, across the car at the transition. This whip effect is used on ammusement rides like roller coasters, wild mouse and whip rides. You can mechanically draw easements into full size track plans the old school way by using a long flexible thin rod or stick, stopping the track centerlines short of the junction. Holding a section of one end of the rod along the centerline of the straight section, and curving the rest until it smoothly aligns with the centerline of the curve, and tracing the easement path, but today's software can do it for you as well as warning you if you plan too tight a radius for your equipment, determine slopes of hills, vertical clearance at crossovers, increasing separations of parallel curves so equipment doesn't collide when passing, and many other useful functions. I use and recommend Xtrackcad, it's free, runs on all platforms except phones, popular so help from the developers and users is very available, and you can print out full sized trackplans you can trace or build over. The learning curve is fairly easy to grasp. Get the kids involved it's like learning a video game to them! (disclaimer: I have no connection to this software other than a very satisfied user) You can even plan with accurate drawings of you sectional track and/or combine with flex track if you want, altho I'd save the sectional track for your staging yard.
Back to your layout: You can build tunnels and mountains as long as you cut hidden access holes in your baseboard large enough to see and reach everything inside from underneath,and/ or build lift out cover sections.
Finally for now, just in a quick review of your track plan you don't seem to have any way to reverse the travel direction of a train or engine. You want to have at least one reverse loop for that purpose otherwise you may end up with a boring layout or no way to reach certain tracks, a dead end or box canyon effect. You don't want to back trains for any distance, that's a sure way to cause derailments.
Yard design, staging or classification is a whole topic in itself, Do you homework on that. Remember staging yards are not storage yards. Almost my entire lower level is dedicated to my staging yard, and I redesigned that arrangement even more than the upper level.
 

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if I have one reversing loop. Wouldn’t I need a 2nd one somewhere?
Generally speaking yes, no way to get back to the original direction without a second loop.
Unless you have a passing siding and want to uncouple the power and have some way to turn it.

Magic
 

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Typically yes, but it may be possible to route traffic into it from each direction, I'd have to play with that idea. My layout actually has 3, they can be part of a layout section, doesn't need to be a dedicated single balloon track. The most common reverse loop is simply a diagonal connection across an oval. You can also use a Y reverse and/or a turntable to reverse just the loco.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
I can hide a loop in the future staging yard. And design another one into the current layout. I’m learning about easement curves now. I did a scale drawing of one on some graph paper, not to bad. But I have a question. How do you do an easement when the two joining tracks are not 90 or 180 degrees to each other ? Like if the 2 tracks are 30 degrees or something. Just let the flex track do it’s thing?
 

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I can hide a loop in the future staging yard. And design another one into the current layout. I’m learning about easement curves now. I did a scale drawing of one on some graph paper, not to bad. But I have a question. How do you do an easement when the two joining tracks are not 90 or 180 degrees to each other ? Like if the 2 tracks are 30 degrees or something. Just let the flex track do it’s thing?
Absolutely. That's one way to do it. And a pretty good way, to boot.

Is it possible to have a yard inside a reverse loop? Dead end tracks .
Yes to that, too. Probably more common for passenger terminals. But certainly doable for any yard.
 

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Here is my lower level staging and reverse loop #1. #2, 3 are on upper level. Remember a reverse loop must be long enough to completely hold your longest train.
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Absolutely. That's one way to do it. And a pretty good way, to boot.


Yes to that, too. Probably more common for passenger terminals. But certainly doable for any yard.
Is it possible to have a yard inside a reverse loop? Dead end tracks .
nsmustang555ol;

Yes, it is possible to have stub-ended yard tracks inside a reverse loop. However, that arrangement is very uncommon on real railroads.

There are three ways of turning railroad equipment.


1) What was, & still is, the most common way of turning locomotives, and/or trains, are "wyes."
A "wye" is a triangular arrangement of three tracks, connected by three turnouts. It lets a locomotive, or in the case of some large wyes, entire trains, perform the same "K-turn" maneuver that you might use to turn your car around on a narrow street. I suggest you look at including a wye at the entrance to your yard. Besides making it possible to turn trains around, it will also let trains easily arrive from, or depart in, either direction.

2) What we modelers call "reversing loops" the prototype folks call "balloon tracks." They are used in certain particular situations, but the large amount of expensive real estate needed to hold them makes them quite uncommon. As Mixed Freight mentioned, some large, busy, passenger terminals had balloon tracks as an easy way to turn an entire train at once.
Another place a balloon track might be used is in areas with heavy snowfall. A balloon track lets a snowplow, and the locomotives pushing it, turn around without backing up. Turning on a wye requires at least two back up maneuvers, where the plow might get stuck. Balloon tracks are hardly ever used to turn entire freight trains as turning the entire train is unnecessary in their normal operations.

3) Turntables, and their accompanying roundhouses, were a fixture of the steam era, and were one means of turning a locomotive & its tender, or certain particular passenger train cars, like observation cars, diners, and RPO express cars. In the last 50 years or so, turntables and roundhouses have been gradually disappearing from the railroad scene. Many diesels can be run in either direction, and those with a definite front end can be reversed on a wye. Diesels don't require anything like the amount of maintenance and supporting infrastructure, or work force, that steam locomotives did, which was the main reason they replaced steam. Their shops are typically rectangular structures so the need for roundhouses has disappeared too, along with turntables.

Good Luck & Have Fun with whatever you choose;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I was thinking that the yard and reverse loop wasn’t going to be “scenic” more of a hidden way to turn around and let the kiddos put trains together without disrupting the layout. Also, the want a separate controller for yard.
 

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Here is the my main level track plan with structures, roads and scenics removed, Reverse loop #2 should be easy to find, reverse loop #3 is more hidden in the industrial trackage in Franklin. I personally prefer reverse loops over wyes or turntables as they allow for continuous running, and when partially hidden or disguised, they can provide for a "surprise" appearance of a train traveling in an unexpected location and/or direction.
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