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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I am planning to build a layout similar to the one below. I started laying out the track as shown in the attached photo while waiting for the 30 deg crossing to arrive. I was wondering what is a simple method to mark where the track will go on the plywood before putting down the cork roadbed? The track plan is 7 feet long and I am modifying it to 8 feet. I was thinking of locating the turnouts first and the drawing on the plywood by eyeballing where the track should go. I did a very preliminary attempt in the photo. Would it be a good idea to assemble the track and lightly tack it down to work out any potential issue before laying down the cork? I am not planning to use the sectional track shown in the layout. It was just convenient to use before cutting the flex track.

Also wanted to ask if I should figure out and/or purchase the buildings I want to use before laying the track in case their size affects the track location. Any advice will be appreciated!

Dave

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If it's a shelf layout, why isn't it on a shelf ?? You build the shelf, supports and all, onto the wall..
Then you introduce the trackage...Leave alone it looks too wide to be a shelfie, to boot..
 

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You definitely don't want to eyeball track placement. That can result in kinks and misalighnments that can be a real pain to fix. There are a dozen ways to lay out track, and they all work .

Do you have a scale drawing ro work from? Since that picture is from Model Railroad magazine, I can tell you that it is NOT a scale drawing. It's a "conceptual drawing" so curves, turnouts etc. may not be exactly accurate. It's intended to give you a sense of how the layout flows, not give you a plan to build from. I have confirmed this with Steven Otte, who manages and curates their database of track plans.

I see you have a steel ruler there, and that's a good start. What you want to do is lay out your track centerlines. Since you'll be guestimating, you might want to work in pencil (although you don't need to -- any corrections will be covered by the cork eventually. A trammel will help you lay out smooth curves (you can make one by taping a pencil to a small C- or Kwik-Grip clamp (I have ones that are 3" long), and using a yardstick with a hole in one end. Put a nail through the hole to mark the center of the circle, and apply the clamp so the pencil is at the desired radius.

Once you have your centerlines in (use the ruler to make sure all your joints will be aligned), split the cork roadbed in the center (it should come from the factory with a beveled cut through the center), glue down the cork by butting the unbeveled edge of one of the cork halves up against the centerline. Use the ruler to keep things in alignment. Use an adhesive (I use caulk) that will allow you some work time before it sets up, so you can wiggle things into position if your initial placement proves less than ideal. Then lay the other half of them cork. Let your adhesive cure. Lay your track in the same way, centering it over the joint in the cork. Tack it in place with pins, hot melt glue, or something else that's easy to remove.

Test everything before you permanently fasten the track down. Correct any kinks or bumps or be forever sorry.
 
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If you have a scale dimensional drawing transfer that drawing to the sub-roadbed full scale. If not, assemble the track into the layout as it will be built and then draw along both sides of the ties for the whole of the track. Remove the track and lay your roadbed.

If you are able to reproduce a scale drawing to full size as many in Europe do, lay that into position on the table and use a tracing wheel to transfer your plan to the surface of the wood or foam on the track centerline.
 
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If it's a shelf layout, why isn't it on a shelf ?? You build the shelf, supports and all, onto the wall..
Then you introduce the trackage...Leave alone it looks too wide to be a shelfie, to boot..
Very helpful to the OP, I'm sure.

The Model Railroad Secret Police are not going to come take his layout away if he doesn't build an actual shelf for it. A "shelf layout" is a style of layout, not a build specification.
 
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Not my intention CTV !! ..
If he makes the whole system whilst a table, hoisting it up and supporting it can be damaging to the trackage, the sagging during lifting, hammering and/or drilling/gluing in order to suspend it properly...As a table[d] project it can easily become weight-bound and need remain a table..
Better to have shelving/benchwork securely in place and build the RR from there...
That was my well intended intention....M
 

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Discussion Starter #7
You definitely don't want to eyeball track placement. That can result in kinks and misalighnments that can be a real pain to fix. There are a dozen ways to lay out track, and they all work .

Do you have a scale drawing ro work from? Since that picture is from Model Railroad magazine, I can tell you that it is NOT a scale drawing. It's a "conceptual drawing" so curves, turnouts etc. may not be exactly accurate. It's intended to give you a sense of how the layout flows, not give you a plan to build from. I have confirmed this with Steven Otte, who manages and curates their database of track plans.

I see you have a steel ruler there, and that's a good start. What you want to do is lay out your track centerlines. Since you'll be guestimating, you might want to work in pencil (although you don't need to -- any corrections will be covered by the cork eventually. A trammel will help you lay out smooth curves (you can make one by taping a pencil to a small C- or Kwik-Grip clamp (I have ones that are 3" long), and using a yardstick with a hole in one end. Put a nail through the hole to mark the center of the circle, and apply the clamp so the pencil is at the desired radius.

Once you have your centerlines in (use the ruler to make sure all your joints will be aligned), split the cork roadbed in the center (it should come from the factory with a beveled cut through the center), glue down the cork by butting the unbeveled edge of one of the cork halves up against the centerline. Use the ruler to keep things in alignment. Use an adhesive (I use caulk) that will allow you some work time before it sets up, so you can wiggle things into position if your initial placement proves less than ideal. Then lay the other half of them cork. Let your adhesive cure. Lay your track in the same way, centering it over the joint in the cork. Tack it in place with pins, hot melt glue, or something else that's easy to remove.

Test everything before you permanently fasten the track down. Correct any kinks or bumps or be forever sorry.
Thank you for the help and I don't have a scale drawing to work off of. The way to make a trammel sounds good and wanted to ask about using the ruler to keep the joints aligned. Sorry for the basic questions - but if you have time to explain more about this it will be appreciated. I am thinking if I get the locations of the turnouts in good locations, the flex track should be easy to line up with the turnouts keeping in mind not to make too sharp of bends in the turnouts.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
If you have a scale dimensional drawing transfer that drawing to the sub-roadbed full scale. If not, assemble the track into the layout as it will be built and then draw along both sides of the ties for the whole of the track. Remove the track and lay your roadbed.

If you are able to reproduce a scale drawing to full size as many in Europe do, lay that into position on the table and use a tracing wheel to transfer your plan to the surface of the wood or foam on the track centerline.
Thank you for the helpful information. I don't have a scale drawing to work off so assembling the track as you suggested sounds good. I don't have a good idea yet on how to lay the flex track in the curved positions - maybe lightly nail it down to hold the curves and then draw the lines as you mentioned?
 

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Thank you for the helpful information. I don't have a scale drawing to work off so assembling the track as you suggested sounds good. I don't have a good idea yet on how to lay the flex track in the curved positions - maybe lightly nail it down to hold the curves and then draw the lines as you mentioned?
That works. Tack down one end of the flex track and gently curve it to where you want it. In this case, a curve template of the appropriate radius will ensure that your track is lined up and is wider than the minimum radius that you set. Or, as I suggested, use a trammel. Every curve is some fraction of a circle.
 
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That is what I would do. Overlap the track if you have to at the ends, secure it with a track nail temporarily, but I wouldn't cut it until you are actually attaching it to the other piece of track and are fastening it down permanently.

My last Atlas layout almost 40 years ago was done this way to mark the roadbed as per Atlas, but that railroad was built using sectional track and I wasn't having to fight with flextrack to get it to stay in position. I'm all in favor of using flex track for curves because they can be so graceful without kinks and such, but to temporarily lay this track, it will have to be secured to get a good, accurate line on both sides of it for the roadbed path.

Micro Engineering track would be easier to position and hold while you draw the margins for the roadbed, but you will need a curve template to ensure your curves are absolutely smooth without pulling your hair out.
 
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That works. Tack down one end of the flex track and gently curve it to where you want it. In this case, a curve template of the appropriate radius will ensure that your track is lined up and is wider than the minimum radius that you set. Or, as I suggested, use a trammel. Every curve is some fraction of a circle.
Thanks again and will make up a curved template. Is an 18" radius good for a layout of this type or should I go for a larger radius?
 

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I would use the largest, gentlest radius that will fit with the general layout of the trackplan. It's hard to say what you should use exactly without a plan on paper.
 
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Does anyone have thoughts if I should figure out the buldings I want to use and their footprint size before laying track? It seems to make more sense to lay the track in the best location and then find buildings to fit vs the other way around.
 

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I wouldn't permanently fix down the track until you have the building you want or at least the dimensions of them. An inch or 2 could be the difference of a building not fitting.
 

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The critical part of that layout is the five switches and crossover that are all interconnected. I'd start with the triangle with crossover and two switches, get the track right, tack it down temporarily, fit the other three switches and track between and once all that tests well fix it permanently. The rest can be fudged as needed.
As far as buildings go, if you plan on using prebuilt scenery buy the buildings now, otherwise I'd build to fit the track.

But,,, it's your layout and have fun.
 

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Very helpful to the OP, I'm sure.

The Model Railroad Secret Police are not going to come take his layout away if he doesn't build an actual shelf for it. A "shelf layout" is a style of layout, not a build specification.
The current trends seem to be toward hybrids for almost anything. He can call his layout a "shable" :unsure:
 

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Thanks again and will make up a curved template. Is an 18" radius good for a layout of this type or should I go for a larger radius?
The plan specs (just under the title) call for a 24" min radius (as designed). As someone else posted, the larger, the better.
 
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Discussion Starter #18
The critical part of that layout is the five switches and crossover that are all interconnected. I'd start with the triangle with crossover and two switches, get the track right, tack it down temporarily, fit the other three switches and track between and once all that tests well fix it permanently. The rest can be fudged as needed.
As far as buildings go, if you plan on using prebuilt scenery buy the buildings now, otherwise I'd build to fit the track.

But,,, it's your layout and have fun.
Thanks to everyone for the additional replies. I appreciated the advice on laying out the switches/tack and sounds like a good plan. I want to go with prebuilt buildings so will start looking to purchase them before laying the track. Does anyone know of good sources for prebulit buildings?
 

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Prebuilt buildings are really going to limit you. There are tens of thousands of structures kits out there, and only a couple dozen prebuilt buildings (probably less in N scale). Unless you don't care what buildings you have, and just want whatever to fill space, seriously consider getting some kits that really fill the functions and purpose of your railroad. You might even want to step up to the challenge of modifying some of those kits (a process called "kitbashing") to make something really unique and exactly right for your layout.

Pre-built kits (often called "Built-Ups") are available at hobby shops and on-line retailers.
 
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I've built three "shelf" layouts over the years, along the lines of shunting puzzles. With all of them I should have taken more care in track-laying. My view is that you need to be absolutely anal about getting it right, and even then you will still make mistakes. At least I did. Re buildings, I'm a big fan of the Clever Models card range - they are endlessly customisable. I even went to the trouble of cutting their Quonset hut in half when building it, so I could fit both halves in the two spaces I had available. So if you do get it wrong in terms of not allowing enough space for a building, just view it as an opportunity to get a little creative. :)
 
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