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Topic: My First N Gauge Track Plan  (Read 506 times)

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Offline nicbowker

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My First N Gauge Track Plan
« on: January 08, 2019, 11:11:27 am »
Hi All,

I thought i'd share my first attempt at N Gauge. I will preface all this with the usual statements that will probably make you all scream but here goes:

1) I've never built in N Gauge before
2) The last time I built an OO guage was back in my childhood (lets just say 30+ years ago!)
3) I'm a full time Mechanical Design Engineer with too much time and a full 3D Cad pacakge on my hands.
4) I've a limited space area to fit things in (1.5m x 0.8m).

So with that in mind and having watched endless Youtube videos and popped to the local model shop to pick their brains i've come up with the "Twin Peaks" layout attached. I wanted something that was going to challenge me in both the design and build as well as being interesting to look at and gets in as much elevation as possible (a long held dream of mine).

1) The Anyrail file is attached along with a seven page pdf and a rendering of the mountain section which will hopefully help explain it all better. Eseentially it's a three layer figure of 8.
2) I plan to run DC and one train only.
3) 4% gradient is on the downslope.
4) I'm using Peco 80 track, with a belt and braces option of putting 8 power repeaters (those prewired fishplates) in along the length.
5) I've used 3.6mm ply as the track bed with a view to putting Woodland Scenics foam trackbed on top of that.
6) The "Mountain" is made from eight formers placed on cardinal points (N/Ne/S/Se and so on) that I can then fill in between using chcien wire/plaster/papermache.
7) The hill is to be made from sticking Jablite foam insualtion blocks together and then carving it to shape.
8) There's a cable car that links the hill station to the mountain top - ideally that's a working model.
9) The model is to be "portable" and power input panel on the side using DC jacks like these: https://tinyurl.com/yamh9noo

Challenges yet to be sorted out
1) Best way to build the "lake" in the middle - epoxy?
2) The mutliple bridge sections - i've used Metcalfe models kits before and like those, but is it better to build your own out of plywood etc?
3) How to make the cable car run - i.e travel between stations, stop for a while and then return...and repeat.

I'd welcome any thoughts or pointers or "dear god why are you doing that!" comments

Offline Future-Digital

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2019, 07:08:52 pm »
Hello,

Please, what did you use to render your JPG?

Thank you.

Bill

Offline nicbowker

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 07:35:37 pm »
Hi,

I did the 3D model in Solidworks, and then for the render I used Solidworks Visualize. Hope that helps!

Nic

Offline Tom Springer

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2019, 09:19:29 pm »
Nic,

What is the clearance between the top and middle tracks where the 3 tracks cross over each other?  AnyRail clearance (height difference) is from top of lower rail to top of upper rail.  The thickness of your baseboard and roadbed need to be factored in and subtracted out to see if your tallest cars on the mid-level track will clear.  My easiest way to find this out is to imagine putting a tunnel portal of a known height (the outside dimension) on the middle level at the over-crossing point, and seeing if the known height of that tunnel portal will fit into this space underneath the over-crossing baseboard; if the tunnel portal fits, then cars should have no issues clearing.

Offline Future-Digital

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2019, 09:51:51 pm »
Thanks for the info about SolidWorks.  BUT, I don't think I will be rushing into it, as SolidWorks Standard is $3995 ANNUALLY.

Bill
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 09:54:01 pm by Future-Digital »

Offline nicbowker

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2019, 10:22:30 am »
Thanks for the info about SolidWorks.  BUT, I don't think I will be rushing into it, as SolidWorks Standard is $3995 ANNUALLY.

Bill

Hi Bill,

Indeed - it's not cheap, but i'm lucky enough to have access to it through my work. Trying to make a virtual train run around the track and put a virtual camera on the front of the train at the moment. It's not going well!

Nic
« Last Edit: January 09, 2019, 10:29:48 am by nicbowker »

Offline nicbowker

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2019, 10:29:28 am »
Nic,

What is the clearance between the top and middle tracks where the 3 tracks cross over each other?  AnyRail clearance (height difference) is from top of lower rail to top of upper rail.  The thickness of your baseboard and roadbed need to be factored in and subtracted out to see if your tallest cars on the mid-level track will clear.  My easiest way to find this out is to imagine putting a tunnel portal of a known height (the outside dimension) on the middle level at the over-crossing point, and seeing if the known height of that tunnel portal will fit into this space underneath the over-crossing baseboard; if the tunnel portal fits, then cars should have no issues clearing.

HI Tom,

Thanks for the reply.

Clearances and understanding them was half the reason I took the decision to draw it up in CAD as i just couldn't get my head around what Anyrail was telling me. According to my model, the clearance is 46.87mm (nothing like accuracy is there?!) which i'm hoping is ok? (diagram attached)

I'd based this assumption on the Metcalfe Single Tunnel Kit clearance diagram where the top of the entrance was 40mm, that and (for starters) i'll be running a Kato 10-500-2 train/carriage set which seems to have a max height from wheels to top of 26mm.

Nic

Offline Tom Springer

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2019, 11:23:36 am »
Nic,

If you have actual measurements of the N-scale items you plan to use and have verified everything, then things are good.

In your first thread entry, you said the plywood was 3.6mm, which is about 1/8in; I've not seen much use of that small plywood thickness for layouts, so I started wondering about the numbers.  The NMRA recommends 42mm clearance for pre-1969 prototype cars and 44mm for cars built after that, so at 46.87 you should be ok, assuming that any change of roadbed gets factored in, and that you don't have to worry about the effects of humidity changes over the course of a year.  I presume the other crossover points on the left side are also ok.

With clockwise running and no way to reverse direction, you'll back into the Mainline Station area, I presume.  Out of curiosity, what is the length of the train that you can get in front of the platform?

Have you looked at the Woodland Scenics offerings for building water elements?

If your bridges under the tracks are really that long, you probably have to build the bridges using basswood.  If that's what you want to do, you might check out the Campbell Scale Models wood bridge kit products, and if one look like what you want, you could extend that bridge by making additional sections and bents out of matching basswood lumber strips.

Lots of opportunities for making items "from scratch", which would add 'character' to your layout.

Offline nicbowker

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2019, 12:04:07 pm »
Hi Tom,

The other track crossings have a clearance of 50.00mm and 42.71mm - the latter is quite close, but this is all absed on the assumption of a steady gradient, so if needs be one assumed i could up the gradient a bit before that are and then flatten after to gain a few more mm of height.

Thanks for the heads up about Campbell - they look very nice - not sure about how i get them over from the US to the UK, but worth an investigate!

In front of the main "lowland station" the max train length would be 300mm - obviously longer onthe "outer" circuit. Up at the "Wayside station" the length drops to nearer 220mm. This was one fo the reasons for opting for the Kato train pack - i'd always envisaged a smaller length carriage but was really suprised to find that no-one seems to make them. My original plan had been to use the Dapol Terrier engine and one small carriage, but the latter is just too hard to find.

With the water feature, do i have to put an effective layer of (say) 10mm foam across the whole board, so that I can then "dig out" the lake and re-fil in with teh Woodland Scenics of Epoxy resin? Is that the best way? I'll admit that the lake section is giving me the biggest headache at the moment, and i'm aware io've got to work that out before a can install any support struts etc.

Offline Tom Springer

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2019, 09:27:13 pm »
Nic,

You shouldn't have problems getting things from the US to your side of the pond; I get things from your side shipped over here easily.  And we don't have a VAT, either.

One suggestion about the creation of your lake: experiment making one as a small diorama; that will let you get familiar with the aspects and subtleties - sides, sloping, color, shading, width and depth aspects, even vegetation around and within the lake.  It would be a lot simpler that way instead of having to work around/overcome the layout surrounding the lake area.

Search on YouTube using "Model Railroad water" and you'll find a lot of videos on making lakes and waterways.  Most are good, just check the number of subscribers each creator has to see which creator is really good at what they provide.  Caution, however, because once you start looking you'll lose track of time and possibly get addicted to searching for more videos.

When you are ready to build the lake on the layout, consider doing it as a separate part, cutting out the lake area so it could be "dropped into place", even set down below the base level (recessed downward).  You then can take it out if you need to work on it later.

And you don't need foam for the lake bed itself; maybe using a piece of plaster cloth for the lake bed so you get a non-uniform bottom surface; put down something small to lay the plaster cloth on top of to form an uneven surface - think of a texture somewhat like a wet paper towel laying on top of a few marbles of different sizes to form the lake bed with the various 'points' coming upward to simulate the uneven lake bed.  You may even want a rock or two rising up through the lake's surface to add character to the lake's effect.  And maybe you might even find some figures (people) to be enjoying your lake; TomyTec makes people sunbathing and Busch makes sailboats and rafts.  A sunbather on a raft in the middle of the lake?  People fishing?  Making a diorama for the lake are can allow one to try all sorts of things before moving everything to the layout.

Again, check YouTube for ideas; there's a huge knowledge pool of videos out there; almost every question one might have about layout construction and aspects is discussed many times over - different opinions, different views and different techniques make for a wealth of information to sort though.  In model railroad, like other things, it's the journey, not the destination, that makes for the fun of the hobby.  After all, is any layout ever really finished?

Offline nicbowker

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 11:34:02 am »
Tom,

That's great advice - thank you.

I tried out the Kato engine/carriage on a roughly laid out section of track just briefly last night and it went up the 3.4% slope just fine, which was a great relief.

Looking forward to getting a few hours to myself here and there to make it all - but like you say...it's the journey to get there that's the most interesting part of all this - i've really enjoyed doing the 3D cad and rendering - drew up the train yesterday and "animated" it round the track a small amount (not the most exciting video clip in the world ever, but was an achievement!)

Nic

Offline Tom Springer

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Re: My First N Gauge Track Plan
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 10:37:16 pm »
Nic,

You may become our de-facto CAD expert if David decides to do 3D user objects in STL format, as he mentioned he was looking at in another thread.  I can't imagine most users would want to learn the complexities of the various CAD packages in order to make 3D structures.  At the time of my retirement, I "spoke" 13 computer languages, and, being retired from development, I decided awhile back I didn't want to learn all the nuances with the different CAD systems (nor do I want to spend any $$ for them), so I just stuck with TinkerCad and reverted back to my younger days playing with "building blocks"; worked so far for all my 3D designs, somewhere around 100 or so.

If AnyRail users are going to have to make STL files, they'll need some guidance.  Do we now know someone who is the CAD master we can look to for advice/help/guidance?