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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey everyone, I used to be solely and N scale modeler due to size restrictions but now I have more space so naturally I've been gravitating more and more towards Post War Lionel. I have amassed quite a collection in the last year or so and now I'm eager to get the layout off the floor so I can properly run and display my models.

The plan is to build a 5'x12' layout that is somewhat portable as the house we are currently in is not our forever home. I plan to have three 4'x5' sections that would add up to the 12' total length and each section be removable so it can be moved when needed. I don't plan on taking it to shows so it doesn't need to be rapidly assembled or disassembled, but if i make it easy to disassemble it will make thing much easier when we move.

The idea is to be able to run one or two trains together, have room for a small train storage yard, room for a small village, and some classic operating accessories. I also plan to use O-54 or O-42 curves on the outer mains as I feel O-31 sections with straights between look clunky when the train are running. This will allow me to run any Post War Lionel, and many newer trains should I ever want to.

Anyways, here are some ideas I've drawn up on AnyRail so far.

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Just IMHO here. The upper plan's inner loop train length may be limited by the crossover location. The lower plan would allow a longer train. Not sure what you will be using but the lower plan may have more room for accessories.
 

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Below the track plan is the platform, the structure. So my comments are directed there. Anything by 5' is an issue. I believe there 5' x X sheets somewhere, but I haven't been able to find them near me. Thus, lots of wasted "lumber" in 4 x 5 sections. Or, lots of extra lumber creating the underlying support. And lumber ain't cheap :) (yes I said "ain't")

I agonized over a similar issue. What I came up with is 51" x 8' platform(s). I recessed 4 x 8 sheets (ply, OSB, etc.) between the 2x4s on the long end. That gave me a 51" width. And that allowed three loops on the narrow 51" side. I'm not familiar with your space, but a 4 x 8 dogbone (12 x 4 plus the bone) is a more efficient way to utilize materials. See my post Here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Just IMHO here. The upper plan's inner loop train length may be limited by the crossover location. The lower plan would allow a longer train. Not sure what you will be using but the lower plan may have more room for accessories.
I do like the top layout a bit more but I do see what you mean. I mostly run postwar stuff so 10-15 car length trains are about the limit anyways until I find a nice GG-1 or Trainmaster. If I were to run a super long train I'd imagine it would be on the outer loop though but should I want to change directions that could pose an issue. I laid out the reversing crossover section and I should be able to get a 10-12 car length train through the reversing section no problem. I also like how its not a traditional oval so it breaks it up a bit and makes it feel a bit more 'real'.

Today I went to Menards and got some track to test out sizing of the larger loop and used one O-72 easement curve per side, then six O-54 sections in between to make a full half circle. This makes a circle with a diameter of about 56" which is perfect. The other plus is that the trains look very nice on the wider radius curves. Especially the larger diesels like the GP-7's

As for the benchwork, I'd like to stick with the 5' width as it will accommodate my O-54 curves. I suppose I could go up to 6' but that would be equally as wasteful. I'm sure I can find use for the extra ply for switch boards, transformer support, shelving, ECT. If nothing else I'll toss it in the back corner of my fathers woodshop for another day. It stinks it could end up costing a bit more, but I'm okay with that so long as it works out the way I hope it will.
 

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... As for the benchwork, I'd like to stick with the 5' width as it will accommodate my O-54 curves. I suppose I could go up to 6' but that would be equally as wasteful. I'm sure I can find use for the extra ply for switch boards, transformer support, shelving, ECT. If nothing else I'll toss it in the back corner of my fathers woodshop for another day. It stinks it could end up costing a bit more, but I'm okay with that so long as it works out the way I hope it will.
I see your from Ohio. Close to a Menards? They carry 7-layer 5 x 10 ply. The leftover 5 x ? remnant could com in handy in a future layout setting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I see your from Ohio. Close to a Menards? They carry 7-layer 5 x 10 ply. The leftover 5 x ? remnant could com in handy in a future layout setting.
I am relatively close to a Menards. 45 Minutes or so. I checked and they don't have any larger sheets in stock and they need to be special ordered. That's an option, but I'm not sure if that would cost extra due to the logistics.

Where do you find all the O turnouts? What radius will you use?
Well, I had originally planned on using the modern O-31 turnouts from Lionel but after some reading they seem to be very troublesome and unreliable. I'd still like to pick up a set just to try them but I probably wont go down that route. What I will probably do however is use No.22 switches that are cut down as seen in this thread: https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/topic/cutting-down-lionel-022-switches It would still be an O31 curve which all my Post War stuff would run on but could pose an issue if I wanted to run larger more scale like trains but if that were the case, they'd likely stay on the outer loop anyways.
 

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I am relatively close to a Menards. 45 Minutes or so. I checked and they don't have any larger sheets in stock and they need to be special ordered. That's an option, but I'm not sure if that would cost extra due to the logistics.
Does Menards have the free ship to store option as does HD and Lowes? Of course, you have to get them home and their even too wide for a full size pickup bed. Sometimes the sip to home shipping option is the best option.
 

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Depending on what you end up doing , it may not be needed to cut the switches. Try it first without cutting, if it dosen't meet your needs then modify it. No need to change it if it looks good to you and is functional. I have sceen that thread before and was going to do the same thing. But in the end had the room not to do it. Depending on the stuff you run the old school switches may be perfect. I have some bigger stuff that will go through the switch, but not a complete curve. I think you will be ok. And as you said, bigger stuff can always go on the outer track. So your covered.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My biggest reason to cut down the switches was to keep the parallel tracks closer together so its a bit more realistic, and gives me more room overall. I'm not going for all out realism, but in the yard area it would look much nicer if the tracks were closer together rather than using a No.22 turnout and a O-31 section. Another thought is to use modern Lionel O-42 turnouts but they have a pretty large footprint.

I've also started down a rabbit hole of various other brands of O scale track. Some quite pricey. Are there any other brands of turnouts that play nicely with traditional tubular track?
 

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My biggest reason to cut down the switches was to keep the parallel tracks closer together so its a bit more realistic, and gives me more room overall. I'm not going for all out realism, but in the yard area it would look much nicer if the tracks were closer together rather than using a No.22 turnout and a O-31 section. Another thought is to use modern Lionel O-42 turnouts but they have a pretty large footprint.

I've also started down a rabbit hole of various other brands of O scale track. Some quite pricey. Are there any other brands of turnouts that play nicely with traditional tubular track?
Nice track and a large switch selection suggests Gargraves track and switches or Ross switches. That combo has the most options for switches and a good looking track. It's in the higher price ranges but just one cost of many. Have you recently priced lumber? :)

Are you a "Build it and done" type of guy or do like to keep working/improving your layout. If it's the latter, may I suggest you just get the one loop going. Then add the second loop, or a yard as funds permit.

And there's lots of experts here on that combo (not me) so you'll have that resource. IIRC, the early Gargraves switches had an issue; fixed in later versions (the used market).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I imagine what will probably happen is I'll make a good start on the table and get a nice loop going to run some trains while I stock up track sections in the meantime. Then, eventually nail down an actual layout. The benchwork is what I should be focusing on, but I always like to think of the end goal too.
 

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I imagine what will probably happen is I'll make a good start on the table and get a nice loop going to run some trains while I stock up track sections in the meantime. Then, eventually nail down an actual layout. The benchwork is what I should be focusing on, but I always like to think of the end goal too.
If you go back to my post # 3 about the construction of the platform (go to the link for pics), that's about a cheap as you can do it and it looks pretty good. Going thru bin of the 2 x 4s to pick out some nice ones for the edges; 2x3" underneath to support your sheet sections. And you can rip the extra excess sheet for the extra foot to make a 5' wide platform. About the only waste is the 2 x 3s being cut 5' long. Heck if you go 12 x 6, you'll have even less waste and mor real-estate for the same amount of wood ( two 4 x 8 sheets, two 12' 2x4s, a 10' 2x4, and eight 2 x 3s.

Here's the screws I used to attached the 2 x 3s to minimize obtrusive heads: small head will sit flush like a finishing screw; close color match to pine board, and a positive star drive with an included bit. With a decent variable speed drill, you can consistently set the depth . ($15 bucks for screw's - it adds up quick).

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for the input on the bench work. My biggest issue is still the possibility for disassembly in the future. My original thought was to basically build a cradle held together with bolts, then have three 4’x5’ sections that would sit into the cradle to make the table itself. I’d rather build it somewhat portable now so I don’t have to take a saw to it in the future.

I have a few of the old Atlas HO track plan books and I like the way they do the bench work in those with mostly 1”x3” and 1”x4” finished boards. Growing up I had a table my father and o built with something like 2”x6”s and 4”x4” legs and it’s an absolute behemoth. I still don’t know how we ever got it down the basement steps. I have a drawing I made up in CAD a few weeks ago and I’ll have to upload that in the morning.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Here is a rough draw up of my table idea(s) I made a few weeks ago. The table would be made from 1"x6", 1"x4", and 1"x3" finished boards and would be split at the 6' centerline for ease of transport. I plan to have cross braces on each end of the table as well, but thats just not in the drawing.

As for the table sections themselves, I was thinking about building a frame for the Ply to sit on then have a ply lip that overlaps each edge by 1" so the framing of the section would slide into the cradle while the ply would sit flush on top. Then, use four bolts per section to hold it all in place. I'm sure that 4 bolts and a ply lip would be enough to hold the sections, but I dont know if I'd have issues over time with the ply warping or sagging from the weight.

I'm also no wizard at CAD so the dimensions and views are likely a bit off, but the idea is there at least.


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Your on the the right track (pun) with your design. If stairs are involved in getting the frame work out of the house and, you have no help in doing so then consider building the frame in three parts. 4’x5’ each. 1/4” bolts/washers/nuts are plenty sturdy per section. 1”x4” for joists at 16” OC will stop any plywood sag.
Paint to seal everything! Both sides, inside and out. Especially the cut ends. That stops warpage. This way, you wont need a bazillion screws to hold the deck to the frame either. 15 per section is more than fine.
 
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