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Complete newbie

5424 Views 19 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Bear 1923
Hi All, new member and a new beginner to the hobby, I'm just starting out on their journey of railway modelling. I've just signed up to this website.

A bit about me; Hi I'm Andy I'm 35, married two kids (3 & 8 both boys) and hope the modelling becomes a family past time. We live in Leicester in the Midlands in the UK.

Here goes... I'm in the process of converting the loft, currently only 1/2 boarded so need to; Finish boarding, insulate the roof, section off the sides, where owing to the pitch of the roof I can't stand up in, down the extreme sides, but will use for storage and use curtains or netting to hide the sides. I also need to face the gable ends as currently just brick which will rub dust off the walls esp end nearest the hatch, getting in/out of the loft and will also allow me to insulate the ends too. I need to put a banister and railings around the hatch, with a gate so no one can fall down the hole when open. Install better lighting and electric plug sockets and finally put carpet down over the boards to give it the finishing touches and make it a bit more comfortable. If needs be will have portable heater on to keep it warm too.

As there is a two protruding joists running either side horizontal down the side of the loft at an angle and the pitch of the roof the length/horizontal of the baseboard is going to be restricted to 12ft this still allows full access down the sides on the outside of the board approx. 2ft. gap either side.
Owing to a lower vertical beam that I have to duck under to cross the middle of the loft the baseboard width/virtical will be 8ft this again allows access to the back of the board with again about a 2ft gap.

Overall this means a "board" area of 12ft X 8ft - First question, do I have a full board or do I make a cut out/step-in, giving an n shape - the cut out would be 2ft wide by 4ft meaning either sides of the n would be 5ft wide and at it's narrowest point 4ft deep?

The second question is do I go for a point to point or do I do a fig 8 loop/roundy/roundy.- What is the best free track design program to download?

Once loft and layout sorted I also need to decide analogue or DCC - I have got some old bits including locos, rolling stock and some track along with various buildings, switches etc from a relatives old set. I understand you can't run analogue and dcc at the same time and I am leaning towards going dcc and starting with a starter set with the single loop and dc loco and buy additional track, but also think to start off with could use what I have and would just need to buy new track... Also the manual operation of points and complicated wiring appeals. As be hoping kids want "play" with it I want to be able to run 3 trains rogether on different areas if possible so we can each control one train?

Sorry for such a long first post and look forward to making new friends
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Hi Andy
You have it all to do, but welcome to the forum, hope you enjoy and participate.

Sorry you have managed to confuse me about your loft, I assume they are Pink trusses and you fit the boards in the truss area, anyway lets settle some issues

The figure of 8 idea means gradients, you HAVE to in OO climb a minimum of 80mm (Hornby bridges) to clear and that means a gradient both up and down and that causes all sorts of issues so a climb of 1 in 33 means a length of 2.6 metres for the gradient and the transitional curves so you need about 2.9 metres or about 10 feet. so your railway will be dominated by these, it is simpler to build a round on the flat, if no gradient then you have cross over on the flat and thats a pain. A simple round is better but you can with flexi track have some gentle curves.

Better build a higher level at the back if you wish, what I have done with a 4 track main line on the lower level, a two track upper level and a twin track uppy downy so I get a lot of running.

Next what track, best go all new code 75 electrofrog Peco with Streamline points - unless you have old Wrenn wagons as I do.
This gets expensive so start simply and leave room for expansion.
As to your old stuff depends upon how old and whether its worth bothering with, locos less than 10 years old are pretty good, older not so much.
Old track what is it? if code 100 Hornby/Peco standard stuff then OK for sidings and the like. - tell us what it is?
What are your locos
What is your budget

Thats the worst of it, if you are in a hurry then its not cheap, take your time, work out what you want to do and lay decent track as the primary job, you have a spare amount of space so start modestly but really work out what you want so its cheaper later. I did not and am stuck with code 100 insulfrog, I have switched out the standard train set points (Set track) but have few electrofrog points, it all works very well however.

Work out too how wide a curve you can arrange, avoid R1 (371mm) then R2 (438mm) this is the set track point radius, R3 505mm and then R4 571 mm so then at every 67mm but pre set curves come only as R4 max and for tighter bends it is best to go R3/R4 but I also use say R4 then make R5 from flexi.

You have to consider the scene, are you going for rural, branches, main lines, docks, factories,
Period when - GWR in 1948, BR 1959, blue is bland 1986, modern latest stuff, so then you build you railway to suit, once this is sorted you:-
Plan - make your plans
As you build test test test

So take pics and post on here, we will help as we have done all this and more ourselves, and made the usual mistakes, & my advice is;

IF IN DOUBT ASK ! (then consider what suits we as we have more ideas than we have members)
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Just noticed - do you actually mean O gauge at 1 in 43?
Hi Andy, I put a Reply on your post on the Section for Guests . Hope you Read it . Babs
Hi Kristopher,
Thanks for the informative reply sorry for the confusion but yes the loft has pitch roof so towards the edges the roof is lower giving a clear central loft area with the joists/trusts on the loft floor that the loft boards rest on but it's only boarded 1/2 way.

Good idea about the higher level at the back - where do you get the measurements from? Is it just from experience or is there a track design program I've seen some plans/drawings of layout but doesn't give the actual detail.

I'm not sure what locos I have I think there is a mixture some +10 yrs some -10 yrs, same with the coaches and rolling stock I think it be a case of once got loft sorted , and some track down test them. The track is standard Hornby from what I can tell there are a few points a double level crossing but some of it looks suspect and some covered in paint when it was previously laid so not too fused starting from new on the track. What is the difference between 100 & 75? Is it just 100 isolated whereas 75 is live? If so wouldn't the track type depend on whether going dcc or analogue?

Yes I have starting thinking about curves having read about overhang etc and the inner being too small for larger locos/with/out coaches. Those measurements are they for 1/2 or full curve? As when I arranged the curves with the track I have to make a loop the width was just over 3ft/915mm.

The scene is going to be a mixture of rural (heading out of one town, along the raising back and crossing over the dock and into next town/village) and urban with main & branch lines with dock and factories on industrial estate. With another coastal line maybe....

Not sure of the period again this may have to be a bit of a mixture sure the kids would like the modern looking fast trains with bells and whistles, especially ones that tilt and go fast! I'd prefer modelling something older with cotton/flour/saw mills, powered by water wheels and wind mills as well as industrial revolution, canal boats still around but trains start to compete for busy business, transporting coal and raw materials, to/from the mills. Towns are more like today's villages and more countryside then modern.
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Thanks Babs - That's why I was awaiting to get approved to be able to post on main part and wasn't sure if the regulars frequent the guest area, I guess they do...

re scale not sure what is the standard is it oo gauge ie one up from n gauge as much as I would prefer the finer detail I'm not that neat and for the little ones want make it a bit easier...
Hi Andy I hope the pics were useful. I am not a great modeler especialy when it come to detail. I can just about manage to put Faller & Vollmer kits together. I am learnimg as i go along. I have now managed to install DCC Decoders in some of my Engines. All i would say is slowly and just do what you feel & Like. The main thing is to enjoy what ever you do. Babs
Yeah that' my plan has to be enjoyable slow and steady not even got the loft sorted yet, are you just starting out too then Babs?
Hi Andy, The Loft Layout In Ho Is certainly at the Beginning, I have been Collecting for many Years Mainly N Gauge and I have A Layout Which is one of the Noch ( German Blown plastic Layout 5ft x 4ft ) and it semi Portable. My Ho Collection more or less started when I was Living & Working in Germany. I also used to go to Switzerland often and i saw How Nice & Quirky Swiss trains were and I have never looked back as they say. I did not have the Time for a Loft Conversion Untill i retired and also did not know about some of the more modern Materials available Untill a friend came to the House. The Conversion was around £25000 But it was not designed as a livable room only for Heavy storage Special Joists were installed in the Floor And the W Patern Joists were strengthened and then the W Part was removed 2 Windows were also Installed and the Loft does not require any Heating Because of using the Cellotex It only took 10 days to do With Planning of course. Thank God for Building Control. Enjoy the Hobby Babs
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wow that's dedication I hope my joists are sufficient with the weight spread I can't see it being an issue again it's not going to be used as a livible room it's an occasional play den would say man cave. I'm planning on spending less then £200 on the conversion - it won't have windows carpet/rug/lights off ebay/freecycle if not got any kicking around and loft boards £60. Maybe a better pull down ladder with side guards/hand rail or fabricate something to the existing.

The whole thing is new to me so be looking to start collecting but need the loft before can set anything up and track to use them on..
Andy, I would put in at least one window as you will not be able to use it for most of the summer months, my layout in the loft which is O scale
only gets use for mid September to mid April as it gets far to hot, and you can't let the heat out unless you have a window, in the period I use it
I use a 2kw fan heater and that keeps it at 60 with about use every 20mins.

Best of luck with your project, and do join the Gauge 0 Guild, have a look at the GOG forum, but wait till Monday as its being upgraded.


mike g
Given your knowledge levels do your self a favour and buy

1. Peco catalog
2. Peco setrack plans book (not so much that you build one but so you get an idea of what is possible and settrack has its limitations)

Once studied you will know a lot more.
Mike good idea but I don't want go to that expense, at least yet anyway will see how often and when get's used tbf we have a camper van and spend a lot of time out doors esp in summer time. Also hopefully with the loft hatch open it will stop it being too stuffy and can have fans to cool down so hopefully be usable in all but the hottest days.

Thanks Kristopher anyone know if anything similar can be downloaded in pdf - seems odd spending money on a catalog these days in order to learn about their products. Likewise with the track designing any free firmware?
I've looked at but doesn't give a lot of in depth info

Thanks again
Trust me, its not just a catalogue but a mine of information I would not recommend them else, best few quid you can spend and it'll help you to buy what you need not just what you think you might need, that said it is your railway, you are the fat controller and it is your choice.
Hello Andy,

Welcome to the forum.

Good luck.

Thanks Jeff, have a feeling I might need it along with all your help...
How about a nice big fan in the end wall and a shutter for winter? As for catalogues etc, yea i would grab anything with track plans and similar info and have a good look. Old magazines can often be found for nothing or a nominal sum and perusal of these will give you the idea. If you avoid R1 and R2 you will also avoid all kinds of problems, trust us. Similarly avoid setrack points as bigger stock does not like to go round them. Studying the subject and planning is half the fun in model railways,
Good luck
Save money and avoid disappointment - read a whole lot first. If you don't like reading - look at lots of pictures at least. You can save yourself a whole load of bother and disappointment by doing this. Why start from nothing to invent a wheel when dozens have not only done it but written about it already?

Next? Did you say that you plan to build an island in the centre? You can get a more useful result if you go round the outside - it gives you more working length - you need length not width with railway things.

Floor loading? You need to think carefully about this in a modern house - getting it checked out now could save an awful lot of cost later (and ceiling plaster).

Developing their interest in railways is also a good way of getting the boys further into reading.

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Hi all, been awhile with one thing or another. Quick update, I've added in a suspended floor in the loft, on joist hangers and re done the insulation. I just need to cut the tongues off the shipboard flooring and relay - cutting the tongues off in case I want to lift a board later, it'll save me from having to lift all the boards.
I already have some off carpet which I will lay down. I will also look to plaster up the gable ends and possibly cover the underside of the roof and install electrics.
I have next week off so hopefully can progress then be on to make the baseboard
Carpet... If you're making models and/or have small bits in the loft - do not install deep carpet! Unless you really like scrabbling around searching for parts that pinged away...
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