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Discussion Starter #1
It started about 3 months ago. I have an 80s arcade in my home with about 20 authentic 80s arcade games and a few pinball machines...and I wanted a 'ceiling train'. -You know, just to add a little 'pizzazz' to the room as a conversation piece. I had no intention of becoming a 'model railroader'. At the time I actually thought that was possible, though I now know that it is not...:laugh:

The THENS...

Now, at first it was going to be a simple layout with a single HO-scale train circling the room in one direction on a single 1X4, but then I realized that would get old really quick, so I decided to double the layout to have tracks running in each direction. THEN I learned about DCC and all its capabilities. That is when a million other possibilities entered my head. I bought a couple of Bachmann HO-Scale #6 crossovers so the trains could go on either track. THEN I learned that EZ track isn't so 'easy' because it requires a lot of forethought to turn at just the right place on a 1x8 board running a foot from the ceiling. THEN I learned that the number of rail joints that I'll have to deal with may be trouble on a ceiling layout. THEN I learned that some of the cars I was buying would not really handle the 18' turns I had planned anyway, so I'm working those out to be 22' now. THEN I decided to add a turnout into the next room, where it will run along a wall and enter the arcade again about 8 feet down the track...

So, in a little over two months, I have about a MILLION sections of N/S EZ track (wish I'd went with an alternative but I'm kinda stuck with the EZ at this point. Still, I have a lot of varying lengths so I think I can pull it off. I've also got 7 engines (bought a DC engine, learned about DCC, bought 2 DCC engines, learned about DCC Sound, bought 4 DCC with sound (Paragon2 and Tsunami) engines...long convoluted story). I now have over 300 rolling stock from Bachmann, Athearn, Mantua and Walthers. I started off with a basic Bachmann set, but then I realized the engines in these sets were of a lower quality and that fact alone may mean more derailures. -No biggee on a 4X8 layout but a PITA on a 8-foot-tall ceiling train riding above 400+ pound video game machines that don't move very easily. THEN I learned that I was going to need to run wires to many places on the track. Fortunately, that wont be too much of a factor. As this is a ceiling train, the wires won't be visible running along the inside wall. THEN I learned that my particular DCC controller was not particularly adept (It's the Bachmann EZ command), so I....

...I stopped there. I realized that the learning curve was too steep. I didn't want to buy anything else. I decided that the best way to continue was to just begin building the shelving...I was going in so many directions. I've bought a ton of wood, a table saw, a mitre saw, a jig saw and a router. This project that was supposed to be a simple $500 project is now well into the $3000 range. Wow!

Sounds pretty funny, but it's typical of me to tackle too much at once with too little knowledge. I've never been one to tip-toe in to the water. I jump in over my head. Don't know why , but that's always been me...

Lessons learned:

Make a plan and stick with it.
Learn before you burn (cash).
Seek assistance from experienced people beforehand.

I am an amatuer astronomer and I have a large telescope. I've been in that hobby for 25 years. I always shake my head when a noobie shows up to his first viewing with a telescope worthy of a small observatory - without knowing the first thing about focal ratios, telescope designs, aperture, etc. I now realize that I did exactly the same thing when it comes to model railroading. I should have just spent some time on these forums and going to local clubs. I guess I just thought I could do it on my own without becoming a railroader, but as I said, that is a near-impossibility with the size of the layout I've planned. :eek:

The positives:

Lots of nice new toys and tools!
I work in electronics. I can solder well and I'm a decent woodworker. (I restore circuit boards and build cabinets for 30-year-old video games, after all).
I've now got no shortage of engines and rolling stock...
Realism isn't a concern. Don't need balast, fake trees and grass when the train is 8 feet in the air (though I think I'll end up adding some buildings in the corners if there is room for it later).

Hope you're not laughing too hard. :laugh:
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
hey there and welcome. laughing probably not, but you certainly did not approach this project in most efficient manner. but it sounds like you already realized where you went wrong. the only way from here is up.

how about some pictures of your setup?
The setup is yet to be realized. - In the process of building the corners and anchoring supports. I did come across some plans online that gave me some insight into the way things should line-up. At least I'm not the first to approach this type of project. I'm using kiln-baked wood as moisture causes warping that can lead to mis-alignment later. Corners are special plywood. It costs more, but will alleviate some future headaches.

You know, 'efficiency' and economies of scale are not my forte. I typically use a nuke when a hand grenade would do. Fortunately, it usually turns into a win rather than a loss. I had a 'high-risk' job in the military (retired two years ago). I'm single and since I've no wife or kids, I have all my money and no veto vote in the house. I'm always scheming. I race motorcycles, play drums in a band, fly and have a whole-house man-cave. I'm climbing Mt. Rainier next month, so you see, I'm a risk-taker, not a planner and I'm a jack-of-all-trades (master of none). However things turn out, I always have an interesting story...:D

I'm sure this will be interesting. :rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah, this will be my second 'big' mountain. I climbed Mt. baker a couple of years ago. At 44, it takes 2 years to recover from the soreness. Haha! Next year, I'm planning on going for a 'real' mountain. -Denali.

But for now Rainier will be awesome. Really clears your head to spend 6 days in the middle of nowhere taking in some fresh air. I need to get out of DC before I flip out! It should be awesome! I'll take lots of pics!
 

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Red Shift, welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your story---I'm sure everyone enjoyed it. If you haven't done so already, can I suggest you get some software to do your layout with? You'll find it makes things a lot simpler. I tried Anyrail and really like it; you can get a free demo at http://www.anyrail.com/index_en.html. There's an axiom on this site: "If Reckers can do it, ANYONE can do it!" So if I can use Anyrail, it has to be an user-friendly product. Nope, I'm not associated with them---just a happy user.

So...at what point are you going to incorporate the helix that sends the train through the ceiling to cross the attic and descend on a second one in another room?:D
 

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This is an example of what I call the "Iotta's." I have a 1969 Ford F250 Camper Special that is another hobby of mine. I have become very cautious about working on it because when I have one project going, inevitably I find more things that "Iotta" do while I have it apart that far anyway!
People have been known to wind up with their vehicle stripped all the way down to the frame because of the Iotta's!
So sit back and enjoy the forums while you make a written plan!:thumbsup:
 

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How do you see an HO layout that is near the ceiling, particularly with more than one track?

At a Kaiser Permanenti (sp?) medical center some years ago I saw the near-ceiling mounted layout they had in the waiting room. It was O-gauge or larger and had a single loop around the room. Ceiling was higher than 8', of course. At that height and with that scale, one could see it pretty clearly. Kids liked it, even though it was a pretty simple loop.
 

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Hey Red...I wouldn't worry about the blunders...that is how we all learn! I am sure all of us have made those mistakes at times...I know I have! If in the end you have something you are proud of and enjoy using, then the lottery will have been won! I like the idea of a shelf layout way up high like that, even if it is a little harder to get to!

Hang in there...every day we learn a little something more! We may lose some battles, but we gotta try to win the WAR!

Chad
 

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Keep Harry Chapin's words in mind when you get frustrated: "That's a thought for keeping, if I could: it's got to be the going, not the getting there, that's good." When it stops being fun, drop it until it feels like fun again.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
How do you see an HO layout that is near the ceiling, particularly with more than one track?

At a Kaiser Permanenti (sp?) medical center some years ago I saw the near-ceiling mounted layout they had in the waiting room. It was O-gauge or larger and had a single loop around the room. Ceiling was higher than 8', of course. At that height and with that scale, one could see it pretty clearly. Kids liked it, even though it was a pretty simple loop.

I thought about that pretty early on. The key is to have the shelves not too high. In my case, this installation is going to be just above the door frame. I've set up small shelves with an engine at different points within the room at that height and the only viewing problems I encountered were when I was less than 3 feet from the track (nearly beneath the trains). the view is excellent on the opposite side of the room. In fact, from my 'walk-around' test, the trains should be viewable 1/2 to 3/4 of the time from almost any angle. The problems will be worse for someone shorter, but that's their problem. LOL! IMO, viewing problems can be had in almost any large layout.

Later, I thought of placing small villages in each of the corners, and placing a small camera on the front of the trains so I could see the rolling view from a monitor. -But that's not even on my radar scope right now.
 

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Keeping the shelf narrow will also help. Of course, you could just mount the track to plexiglass strips and have the entire train seem to be floating in the air....:D
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
The shelf is 7 1/4 inches in width on the straights, which is about as narrow as I can go without the nearest train not being perilously close to the edge and the cars bumping into each other as trains pass each other in the corners. At a minimum track width of a little over 4 inches in the straights (2 HO-scale tracks), there is only going to be about an 1.5-inch clearance on either side, so there's not much room to play with. Although I'm using EZ track, I'm also laying down some corkboard to cut down on the sound and raise the profile. The trains should be over 1/2 inch taller as a result, aiding visibility. The one problem I can see with that is that a derailure could result in a massive tumble, but I'm not planning on running them at high speed. I've thought about using a shelf guardrail like this as a means of protection:

http://www.kitchensource.com/kitchen-backsplash/ha-1039.htm

There are also less expensive options too. The above is just for example. I could simply use the decorative brass posts and run some wire the length of the boards. I've found these posts at Home Depot for $3.00 for a dozen.

I've heard from others who've done similar projects that trains 'raining off a tall track' are highly unusual anyway and are much over-rated in their actual rate of occurrence. A model railroader that I spoke to recently said that he's run a similar setup for 17 years and has never had a train fall from a tall shelf. I figure that as long as I keep the tracks smooth and consistent, don't attempt to break speed records and use the 22' corners, I should be OK. -But I'm still paranoid, so I'll probably still opt for a guardrail of some sort. I can just see my new $300 Athearn landing right on the 30' monitor of one of my game systems. :mad:
 

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Wood is cheaper, but I always go first class when I'm spending someone else's money. :D
 

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Clear plastic? Where would you hide the wires? :p

I don't see any problem with trains falling off the shelf because if they derail, they would tend to fall towards the wall.
 
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