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A New Hope

Started by webmartians, February 10, 2020, 08:21:30 pm

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February 10, 2020, 08:21:30 pm Last Edit: February 10, 2020, 08:44:43 pm by webmartians
After a good, year's worth of other duties, I'm restarting my efforts. Attached are an .ANY file for "A New Hope" (apologies to Star Wars) and some views.

The layout is composed of Märklin products but there exist Rokuhan counterparts:
8 Märklin 8500 Straight 11cm for 88cm
 1 8503 Straight 5½cm
 2 8506 Straight 10.86cm for 21.7cm
26 8510 Curve radius 14½cm, angle 45° for 296cm
 2 8520 Curve radius 19½cm, angle 45° for 30.6cm
 3 8521 Curve radius 19½cm, angle 30° for 30.6cm
 2 8529 Curved circuit radius 19½cm, angle 30° for 20.4cm
 2 8530 Curve radius 22cm, angle 45° for 104cm
11 8531 Curve radius 22cm, angle 30° for 127cm
 1 8539 Curved circuit radius 22cm, angle 30° for 11½cm
 1 8562 Left turnout 11cm (remote) for 22.1cm
 1 8563 Right turnout 11cm (remote) for 22.1cm
 3 8568 Left curved turnout 30° (remote) for 68.8cm
 2 8569 Right curved turnout 30° (remote) for 45.8cm
 1 8587 Straight uncoupler 5½cm
 3 8588 Straight separator 5½cm for 15.9cm
 6 8589 Straight circuit 5½cm for 33cm
 2 8591 Curve radius 49cm, angle 13° for 22.2cm
 4 8592 Straight extendable 10cm-12cm for 40cm
 3 8991 Buffer/Bumper 1½cm
Total track length: 10.1m

There are two, reversing loops, each folded for further entertainment (hoping for a form of "thimblerig" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game): one loop descends, the other climbs. A double siding connects the loops. One train is pulled by a DB 66 electric locomotive; the other is a polishing, rail car. Operation is entirely automatic, managed by a computer (probably an Arduino).

Off of the layout is a minimal, switching yard, where new trains may be assembled. The switcher is a Swiss livery DB 89, rounding out the traction power sources: Diesel, electric, and steam. Operation appears to be manual even though it is fly-by-wire/governed by the computer.

Control of locomotives is entirely by block and polarity; DCC is not planned. Detection is sometimes by current (isolated section of track to detect a locomotive) or by optical interruption (any rolling stock, not just locomotive).

Details by section will be in subsequent posts.

What I ask for in the posts are reviews of feasibility (Are the spurs long enough? Is there enough "run out" in the switching yard? Can trains truly reverse direction ... and then (re)reverse?) and then advice on how to build the beastie. In particular, I'd like to hear from anybody who has generated .STL or .STP files and then has gotten finished product from a 3D printing engine or service.

That IS my picture! All others are imposters ... or stunt doubles.

Tom Springer

The easiest question to answer is the reverse loop one.  Yes, they should work as shown, meaning they would reverse trains, but wiring might be a consideration with those 8589 items to throw the loop polarity; consider the case when your locomotive passes through the 8589 unit heading to the turnout and into the rose-colored loop; how is that turnout supposed to be thrown - to which leg?  Describe the scenario as to how you think all this works and then we can see if it does what you want.  Focus on what happens (a) approaching the loop through the 8589 unit, (b) which leg is taken, and then (c) what happens when the locomotive comes to the other leg of the turnout - polarity, how the turnout is thrown again, etc.

As for the sidings and yard questions, that what TrainPlayer will tell you; take the layout over to TP, make up some trains as you think you want them and then move them around and check track lengths, clearances, etc.

On the 3D printing of your layout's base, with all the 3D printing I've done, I don't know how you could get this done except in 100x100mm pieces that 'snapped' together, like a puzzle; which would take a lot of 3D design work and a lot of money (probably) to get everything printed.  You might be better off tracing your track configuration on paper, lay that on thin styrofoam, then cutting it out as the roadbed base and making your own risers to elevate it.  Probably a much smaller effort and cost than trying to get everything 3D printed.
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)

Tom Springer

February 11, 2020, 12:59:18 am #2 Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 02:02:16 am by Tom Springer
(Withdrawn in favor of the comments by BadBanana)
Tom Springer

(Unintentional Pyromaniac)


@webmartians - nice layout.  I have not used the 8589 detector switches.  I think they are used with the 8947 reversing switch, but I haven't used those either.  You could also use off-the shel latching double-pole change-over relays which may be cheaper.

I would make only a couple of suggestions...  I would consider reducing the gradients.  I am sure you've tested with your intended locos, but combined with the tight radius on the 8510 curves, some locos will struggle with much of a load on gradients aproaching 3%.  In my current plans for my own Z-gauge layout I have limited myself to 1.5% unless it's downhill only.  I would also encourage you to put a very short straight (8504 or 8503) where the track suddently changes from a left curve to a right on both tracks in the center of the layout.  This will help the locos negotiate the curves, and it will also help the look of the train as wagons or carriages transition from one curve to the next by lessening the extent by which adjacent units may get out of line as they change direction.   


Hi Web,

Just ideas and a bit about getting started in 3D. 3D is a lot of fun and worth pursuing.

I use Shapeways to print Z scale things for myself. I don't make any money from my designs. Lately, I've focused on the Rokuhan Shorty. Take a look at Stony Smith and Walter Smith. I'm a duffer compared to their stuff. There are many more designers.

First, I would consider vacuum forming instead of 3D printing. There are 3 steps  vacuum forming. However, your design is not a good candidate. If you know someone with a CNC router, they will have the software to create the mold. There are videos and books that explain how to build your own vacuum former.

Second, AnyRail will export a 3D surface of your layout in one of many file formats. The curved surfaces are approximated with tiny triangles, called a mesh. There are many free mesh viewers. I use MESHLAB because it is free and can translate from one mesh file format to another.

Third, Looking at just the ground, I see a lot of places where the upper level tracks are not supported. I've attached a much simpler layout that has a chance of being a blow molded base. Take a look at the NOCH product line. I get a lot of ideas from here and you might be able to sell your blow molded bases. Especially if they connected to a NOCH design.

MP 525.25 on the Prosser Subdivision of the North Kansas Division of the MOPAC Railroad.


February 14, 2020, 12:43:07 am #5 Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 12:48:28 am by webmartians Reason: Thank yous and Inability to write not too good Inglish
So ... what to do when the old TV FALLS on the coffee table that was to hold the new layout... Luckily, nobody was injured; neither was the new TV (the old TV and table are "crumbs"). However, I'm afraid that A New Hope is currently "hopeless."

Maybe the next layout should be named "Phoenix."

...and, Tom, Bad, and Chaz, thank you for your responses. Now that the sweeping and vacuuming are done, I'll relax by reading your replies.
That IS my picture! All others are imposters ... or stunt doubles.


Quote from: webmartians on February 14, 2020, 12:43:07 amSo ... what to do when the old TV FALLS on the coffee table that was to hold the new layout...
Ouch!  I know what I would do - I'd need to get a new TV to ensure peace and quiet in the household, since that would then allow me to get back to working on the railway.  On the other hand, the next plans that you draw up will benefit from the experience of doing the first, and will often be better, even if larger and more expensive to build...


Hi Web,

I like a lot of your ideas, so please don't give up. My only advice is to have an idea about how you are going to build your dynasty...at the same time that you are designing.

To that end, here are some commercially available construction concepts, however, it's also fun to build your own.

Here are some Woodland Scenic products. They are wide enough for 2 Z scale tracks.
Foam Inclines/Declines

This NOCH product is perfect for a 195/220mm double track helix.
195/220 Helix

This NOCH product will require some flex track.
Elevated Trains
MP 525.25 on the Prosser Subdivision of the North Kansas Division of the MOPAC Railroad.


New TV (nice LG OLED); repairs to the hutch ... still looking for a new coffee table...

I'll be back!
That IS my picture! All others are imposters ... or stunt doubles.


I was going to just remove this post and start a new one (the new design is that different) but the responses from "All-y'all" are too valuable. So, it's NOT remove but start a new thread: KatPootSpoorWeg (Cat's Paw Railroad).
That IS my picture! All others are imposters ... or stunt doubles.