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Dave Gould
post 10 Jan 2012, 13:45
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Hi

After a gap of more than 30 years, I have decided to return to my interest in N scale modelling. I’m starting again from scratch.

Just registered with the MRF, I’ve been reading numerous ‘newbie’ posts, gleaning valuable advice and comments from helpful Forum members.

I have space for a 72” x 30” board and wouldn’t want to run more than 3 locos, pulling smaller urban trains. My particular interest is in Era 4/5.

I think I have a handle (just) on DCC concept and point/switch options and have chosen to work with Peco Finescale Code 55. There are three areas I would appreciate advice on:

1. Choice of base board material
2. Recommended DCC controller/power
3. Layout design (fictitious county location) am I trying to squeeze a quart into a pint pot where the tightest curves have a radius of 9.5"

I'm don't know how I attach/insert a .bmp copy of the plan (devised using Anyrail demo software). Help here also appreciated.

Your thoughts on where I can improve on this would be most welcome and I promise not to sulk!
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Robert Stokes
post 10 Jan 2012, 14:53
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Welcome, and glad to see another person returning to this very satisfying hobby. I can answer the first two questions and hint at the third.

1. I would recommend 9mm plywood as a good baseboard material. It takes pins nicely which MDF won't, although most people on this site recommend glueing track to the baseboard. 9mm plywood is thick enough if braced every about every 400 mm. It pays to get your track plan finalised before fitting the bracing because if not, you will inevitably find that you want a point motor under the layout right where you have installed a cross-brace.

2. Many people on this site recommend the NCE Power Cab as a good all-round DCC controller. If the price of about £136 is off-putting you could start with a Bachmann E-Z controller bought off ebay for about £30. If you decide later to upgrade you could probably sell it for about the same price.

3. I am not an N-gauge modeller but I have read on this site several people who do work in that gauge suggest 12" radius should be what you aim for as a minimum, especially if you want to run large steam engines.

Good luck with the project.
Robert


--------------------
"Little Salkeld" is my late 1950's midland region layout with Settle and Carlisle flavour.
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LFDRR
post 10 Jan 2012, 16:05
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Hi and welcome to MRF

1. As Robert said, 9mm ply is seen as the best option, not only for the pin reason if you are going to use them (glueing is best) but MDF is also heavier and distorts with very little problem, I been there!

2. Not going to comment which is the best as it's horses for etc. Best get to a model railway shop or exhibition and give 'em a go. See what's going to fit your needs. You'll be asked all the questions like 'how far do you want to take DCC?' For example, just running trains or at the other end of the spectrum is full computer control.

3. Haven't seen your design yet but 9.5 inch is ok for shorter locos and some longer ones but some long ones 'complain' and do look a lot out of place.

Angie


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Club memberships: 'Modelling on a budget' & 'It's my railway so I'll add and run what I want'
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Dave Gould
post 10 Jan 2012, 16:23
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Many thanks for the prompt advice. I'm sure almost all my questions are already answered somewhere on the formum so please forgive any repetitions.

I'd appreciate comments on the layout plan but don't know how to upload a picture. Can you tell me how I do this, please?

Regards

Dave
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LFDRR
post 10 Jan 2012, 17:25
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take a look here

Angie


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Club memberships: 'Modelling on a budget' & 'It's my railway so I'll add and run what I want'
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Grahame
post 11 Jan 2012, 12:03
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Currently the 1st radius setrack is 9" but I'd recommend, for a whole host of reasons, to adopt the second radius (10.5") as your minimum - and even larger if possible in the scenic sections of the layout.

I'd also strongly suggest that you join the N Gauge Society; http://www.ngaugesociety.com/

And to obtain and read as many relevent books as possible; particularly those that show what is possible in N gauge. N gauge is very capable of providing a wow factor but all too often many layout builders fail to capitalise on it. Unfortunately there are not many reference books specifically about N gauge, particularly British 1:148 N gauge, but I'd suggest checking out;

* ‘N Gauge Modelling; An Introductory Guide’ by Howard Foy. 128 pages A5 paperback. Published by Engee. ISBN; 978 0 9560943 0 8
* ‘The Model Railway Manual’ by CJ Freezer. A4 hardback. Published by PSL.
* ‘The Model Railway Design Manual’ by CJ Freezer. A4 hardback. Published by PSL. Although a little dated in parts and non-scale/gauge specific, Freezer’s books contain a wealth of useful and helpful information about railway modelling and are available relatively cheaply.
* ‘Peco Setrack N Gauge Planbook’ by Peco. Cheap 48 pages booklet.
* and, oh yeah, my ‘N'spirations’ magazine/booklets and ‘N’spirations Yearbook’

G.
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RonLaden
post 11 Jan 2012, 13:28
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Hi Dave,

Welcome to MRF, you have certainly come to the right place for advice, the guys are great here for keeping you on track (excuse the pun).

I started out recently in N and am currently in the process of building my layout, its a steep learning curve but with all the help available it does make it easier than if you were on your own.

Re your questions, I think the favourite for baseboard material is ply but mine are MDF. Despite the bad press it often gets I have used it for years on numerous and varied jobs and have never had a problem with it but thats another story.

I have gone with the NCE powercab for my DCC, mainly because as a "starter set" it is pretty much accepted as been one of the best and it can be expanded and added to at a later date.

I have tried to stay with as large a radius as I can on my curves but Trevor has just kindly amended the storage area of the layout for me to create more space and I am now down to 10.5 inch but this is in the storage so should be ok.

Good luck with your layout Dave and keep reading all you can, any questions that pop up I,m sure the guys here will help you with.

cheers
Ron

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Chinahand
post 11 Jan 2012, 15:19
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Hi Dave and welcome to the MRF from another N Gauger.

I think most of your initial questions have already been answered so I will not bore you with repetition except to recommend plwood for board tops.

To insert an image into a post you need to have an account with the likes of Photobucket. Upload your photos in jpg format to Photobucket and then click on the http address for the photo you want to copy into your post. Towards the top of the posting area you will see a row of small button icons. The 4th from the right is for inserting pictures. Left click on that button and a new small screen will appear. Right click onto the bar to paste the http address of your picture into the space then left click OK. That's it.

The alternative is to join the Plus+ Forum which allows you to keep photo albums within the MRF server. It only costs Euros 15 per annum from memory and all fees go towards the upkeep of the MRF.

Finally, try to keep your picture sizes down to no larger than 800 x 600 pixels as larger ones take up a lot of bandwidth and slow the thread loading time down.

Good luck with your layout and feel free to ask for advice if you need it.


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Trevor



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Dave Gould
post 11 Jan 2012, 16:00
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Hi

Many thanks for the helpful replies. I'll attempt to upload my layout idea over the next couple of days and look forward to your thoughts and advice. I've already done some research at Wickes regarding the base board materials.

I spent a while last evening going through the back pages on the Forum, especially the very useful dialogue between Ron and Trevor. What a mine of information!

I joined the NGS yesterday too, and along with the suggested reading I hope to avoid asking too many questions already answered here and in the various books.

Thanks again

Regards

Dave

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MinZaPint
post 11 Jan 2012, 17:48
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The NGS is well worth it and when you get the handbook you'll find a wealth of information.
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Dave Gould
post 11 Jan 2012, 21:08
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Having had excellent support right from the start I decided to join as a Plus + member.

Here’s my stab at a layout - hope you can see it OK. I’ve used AnyRail demo version which I found quite useful. As mentioned in my first post, I do wonder though if I am being far too ambitious with the amount of track. The tightest radius is 9.5”, on the west inner loop.

I did look at CJF’s plans but found them rather too built-up visually for my liking and tight on all the turns

I hope to have quite a scenic layout, with a small country station, running shortish (3 coach) passenger and freight era 4/5 trains with as much fun, shunting and movement as possible in a busy little depot or yard.

I’d also like to have some different levels but I’ve not been able to come up with anything viable within the restricted board size. Perhaps devising cuttings may be the solution?

I can’t see me wanting to run more than 2 trains at the same time. The hope was to have a couple of GWR locos , tanks are my particular favourite, but none seem to be available with DCC or convertible. Budget means I will (have to) start with the Bachmann E-Z option as the controller.

Comments and advice very welcome. If I need to start again, no problem. I’d rather get it right!

Regards

Dave



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fourwheelsteer
post 11 Jan 2012, 22:37
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Hi Dave,

Another N gauge newbie here, like you I'm going for late steam/early diesel on a former GWR line. Nice plan, just watch out how you wire it up as you've got some loops of track that turn back on themselves. If you're going DCC there are modules designed for use in those circumstances.

As for locos, I'm told that just about any N-gauge locomotive can be adapted for DCC operation but the choice of chip might be limited to what fits in the space and need soldering in rather than plugging in to a socket. I'm sticking with DC as I only plan to have one engine in 'steam' at a time on my little layout.

For my layout I'm going for track all on one level with the idea of having some embankments to try and disguise the 'track on a board' effect.

Looking forward to watching your progress,


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John.
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Chinahand
post 12 Jan 2012, 03:41
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Hi again Dave,

That's a great looking little plan you've come up with. I'm not sure which turntable you are planning to use (Peco ?) but I would try to straighten out the second exit on the left as the tight 'S' bend could cause problems.

If you want to avoid the 'Flat Earth' look you could use open plan baseboards with the track raised up on supports ('L' Girder system) so that you can model both valleys and hills even though the track itself remains level.

There are some really small DCC loco chips now and I have yet to come across an N Gauge loco that can't be 'chipped'. My particular favourite is the CTelektroniks DCX74Z which is really tiny and can be fixed to the underside of the cab roof where it can hardly be seen. If you're not confident of fitting it yourself I can recommend Jeremy at Digitrains who has always done an excellent job for me.

Looking forward to seeing your layout come to life.


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Regards,
Trevor



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LFDRR
post 12 Jan 2012, 05:12
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I agree with putting decoders in any loco.

This has got to be one of the smallest locos available and with virtually no space.

Yet it get's decoded smile.gif

I've got my plymouth to do yet but would like to get some track down first......

Angie


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Club memberships: 'Modelling on a budget' & 'It's my railway so I'll add and run what I want'
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Dave Gould
post 12 Jan 2012, 07:30
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Hi everyone

Thanks for the comments on the proposed layout and I'm pleased you think it looks OK. I will approach the wiring with care and no doubt shout for help at some point. Trevor kindly noted the 'wobble' on the track leading into the Peco turntable. Operator error the cause for that one, so I'll fix that! The idea of how to create different levels was really helpful. Thanks also for the info re chipping smaller locos.

I've read somewhere that to reduce noise, the baseboard is covered with the material used below laminated wood flooring. Has anyone any comments or experience with this idea? Suggestions regarding ballasting also appreciated. Many years ago I had used the Peco foam but it wasn't that realistic

I will probably start the build later this Spring (once all the house decorating is done) and will certainly be in touch as that progresses. Meanwhile I will be logging on regularly and reading some if not all of the suggested books.

Regards

Dave
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