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Discussion Starter #1
Hello All

Many years ago I was given this really great DC HO layout, I really enjoyed the design as you had a switch box which would change the polarity on the different isolated sections of track.

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I have been thinking about building the same basic out, expanding it and adding different branch lines and industries for operations, all in N Scale and using DCC.

While I have been learning about DCC, I thought I would ask if a more experienced modeler would help me design and suggest the best DCC equipment and electronics to use.

Here is rendering I made of the basic layout.
540944


This will be my first layout that I'll be building from scratch, I do have the necessary electrical, wood working skills needed to tackle the project.

Thank you in advance.
 

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In your current layout, is that Roco, Fleischmann, or another brand of equipment?

The only system I have experience with is the NCE Powercab. It has served me well for almost two years without problems.

Your layout rendering reminds me of the helix found on one of the Rhätische Bahn in Switzerland:

 

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Discussion Starter #3
In your current layout, is that Roco, Fleischmann, or another brand of equipment?
Thanks for your reply, I don't have that layout anymore, So ill be starting from scratch. I do already have a SPROG 3 DCC Programmer, a DCC engine and some track that I have been learning and playing with.
 

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I have the Power Cab as well. It's a fine system. The track going across the bridge in the foreground creates a reversing loop, enabling the train to return in the opposite direction on the same track. You can get an auto reverser for it, but you'll have to isolate that track section electrically.
Welcome to the forum!
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Welcome to the forum!
Thank you, that is one of things I have been reading up on. On the DC layout you would need to constantly swap the polarity of the isolated track sections using 3 pole switches (I think there was 5 of them) in order to keep the train running. One of things I am not sure of is how many auto reverser's ill need in this layout, as well as which tracks need to be isolated and how to wire it all up.
 

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I think you have 2 reverse loops. Its a little bit hard to tell from the side view of your track layout. An overhead schematic would be easier to double check from. Its possible if you only run one train at a time that you could use just a single auto-reverser. I think it would be better to have 2 auto-reversing modules for flexibility.

One thing I would suggest is that you add a small yard with a minimum of 2 side tracks. This will allow you to have 2 or 3 trains on your layout at the same time that you can choose from to run on the layout. People often want a passenger train and a freight train, or maybe a diesel and steam locomotive. Having a couple side tracks will allow you to keep them stored on the layout without having to move them on and off the layout when you want to switch trains.

One other thing you should double check is the percent grades you have with this track plan. There are a couple places that look worrisome to me. I would look at the inner right side track that goes from the turnout up to the top of the bridge cross over. Also look at the moderate length section of track between the 2 turnouts on the front side of the layout. Most people try to keep their grades at less than 2.5%. If you run short trains, you can go steeper, but you should be aware of what grades you have on your layout.

As far as DCC equipment, there are a number of well regarded systems. I run Digitrax, which has worked well for me. NCE is also well regarded. I don't think you can go wrong with either of these. There other people that like other systems too. So its often a matter of personal taste and if the throttles feel "good" to you.

Hope this helps.
 

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Michael's picture would look great on your layout and looks like it would fit. Nice to have an actual picture to reference!
 

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I agree that we would really need to see an overhead view to really see how to wire any reverse loops. Nice thing about DCC is you don't have to be constantly playing with switches to handle these.

I share some concerns about the layout design. Not having scale reference, it's hard to tell, but i would be concerned both about the steepness of your slopes and the radius of some of your curves. It's possible to DRAW just about anything with layout planning software; having things run on it reliably is something else again. I would also be worried about having track so close to the edge of the layout. A slight bump in those areas, and your train takes the plunge of death to the floor.

As far as a DCC system goes, MRC, Digitrax, and NCE are all excellent. If using a touchscreen and smartphone or tablet as a throttle is more your thing, you might find the Roco z21 an attractive alternative. The only real differences you will find between these systems is the interface and how it feels in your hand. This is different for everyone, and it's hard to make a good judgement without trying them.
 

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The layout picture is not exactly clear to me so I could be mistaken, but there does not seem to be any reverse loops in the track plan. I think i see only 2 turnouts and these
appear to simply change the 'route' of the train. To be certain of this I have drawn the
track plan out using red for right rail, black for left. That appears to verify that there
is no reverse loop. If the way I see your track plan is correct, you would simply need to run a track bus from your controller with drops from it to the track every 6 feet or so. No blocks required.

I wouild agree with others, however, that the layout needs several spur tracks
and perhaps a yard to make possible switching operations and the storage
of locos and cars. A couple of passing sidings would make it possible to
run 2 trains at the same time, train A going clockwise, train B going counter
clockwise...an operation made possible by DCC.

I was unfamiliar with the SPROGG DCC programmer. It appears to be all you need to
run your DCC locos...that is, if the controller lets you select which loco you want to run.
The product description is not all that clear:


Don
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Hi All

Thanks for all your feedback so far.

Here is a top view of the layout. I intend to expand on this adding sidings, industries and a staging area but this could be considered the "main line" run. I need to still purchase a license for the software so that I can add more track. I am still learning the software, but Ill be sure to check the gradients of the track and adjust the board size as needed to safely accommodate and operate everything.
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After looking at pricing, I think I will just use the SPROGG DCC programmer to run the layout using JMRI and train controller on a android phone. Ill purchase SBOOST modules to use for the auto-reverse sections.
 

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Hello All

Many years ago I was given this really great DC HO layout, I really enjoyed the design as you had a switch box which would change the polarity on the different isolated sections of track.

View attachment 540942

I have been thinking about building the same basic out, expanding it and adding different branch lines and industries for operations, all in N Scale and using DCC.

While I have been learning about DCC, I thought I would ask if a more experienced modeler would help me design and suggest the best DCC equipment and electronics to use.

Here is rendering I made of the basic layout.
View attachment 540944

This will be my first layout that I'll be building from scratch, I do have the necessary electrical, wood working skills needed to tackle the project.

Thank you in advance.
steamboy;

Welcome to the forum! The files attached below are some I wrote for new modelers building their first layout. They may help you with yours, though none are specifically about the layout you have planned. You may still find them helpful in terms of general information.

Good Luck & Have Fun

Traction Fan 😊
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Wow, thank you very much for sharing this information, I will check it out!

steamboy;

Welcome to the forum! The files attached below are some I wrote for new modelers building their first layout. They may help you with yours, though none are specifically about the layout you have planned. You may still find them helpful in terms of general information.

Good Luck & Have Fun

Traction Fan 😊
 

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Wow, thank you very much for sharing this information, I will check it out!
Steamboy

You clarified the track layout and as Flyboy has said, you do indeed require
TWO reverse loop controllers, one for each isolated section.

You would need to use insulated joiners (or gaps) as follows:

Between the Right leg of the Right inside loop and the lower RIGHT turnout.
Between the Left leg of the Right inside loop and the lower LEFT turnout.

Between the Upper left turnout and the Left loop.

The result is that you will have two very nice long isolated sections that
would allow you to run longer trains.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks you Don for your reply, Ill draw up the electrical diagram / isolation points and post them once I have completed the rest of the design.

Still play around with idea's but this is what I have at the moment.
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Would be interested to see common layouts for small/basic Industry/switching yards?

I would like to run trains (small 0-4-0 steam engines or similar) that are 3 or 4 coaches long with a schedule to drop off and pick up coaches at different industries with a maximum of two trains at time (maybe a passenger express service for a 3rd person), I think that would reasonable for a layout of this size ?
 

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I have a few comments on your new track plan. First, you've gone from a fairly simple layout to something that is fairly complex. With that complexity comes expense. Turnouts are pretty expensive relative to straight track, so you've probably at least tripled the track cost of your original plan. Not sure if you've realized this or not. If expense isn't a problem, then you can disregard this comment.

Will you be able to walk around the entire layout? If not, having a partition between your yard and the rest of the track isn't going to work well.

In my experience, backing a train up through curves and turnouts isn't nearly as reliable as pulling that same train in a forward direction. Your new yard has a turntable to turn a locomotive, but you don't have any way to get a lead engine around its trailing cars once its entered the yard. You could add a couple of turnouts at the far end of the yard to allow an engine to uncouple and run around the trailing cars to help alleviate that problem.

I still have some worries about the grades this plan might have. I don't model N scale, so I don't know the exact height needed to cross one N scale track over another, but its probably about 2 inches. If you wanted a grade no steeper than 2.5%, then you'd need 80 inches of track climbing from the lowest level to the highest level. Sounds like you plan to run short trains, so maybe you can go to a higher grade like 4%, but that's still 50 inches of track needed for the climb. When you go to steep grades, you also need to ease into and out of the climb so that you don't have a "kink" that can cause uncoupling problems and "bottoming out" of cars and locomotives. I don't have any experience with grades over 2.5%, so there may be other issues I'm not aware of.

If this were my layout, I would remove the new yard you added and instead make the front (bottom) side long spur an actual passing track and add another one immediate beside it to have a couple of storage tracks. That would reduce complexity, reduce cost, and still give you some storage trackage. You'd loose the operability of the yard, but since you have it partitioned off, it appears you aren't really making it a focal point of your layout anyway.

Just some of my opinions. I don't mean to throw cold water on your plans, but just want to make you aware of what you may be getting yourself into.
 

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You have an S curve at the bottom left that I would try to avoid.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I have a few comments on your new track plan.
Mark, thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate the insight of more experienced people, its the best way to learn. You have valid points and I shall go process everything and get back to you with an update. Thank you for your time and effort in replying.
 
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