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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, and would like some advice:

When I was much younger, my Dad and I built a fairly large layout (4 loops, a few sidings, turntable etc), but I 'grew out of it' I suppose. I have several locomotives : Hornby 'Mallard', 'Duchess of Sutherland' 'Flying Scotsman', 'Oliver Cromwell' and a few diesels. Also, Wrenn locomotives 'City of Stoke on Trent' as well as some smaller locos, and rolling stock.

My Father was/is also an enthusiast, and has a lot of three rail Hornby Dublo items including 'Duchess of Atholl' amd 'Sir Nigel Gresley' Locomotives.

I would like to build a single layout both for my Dad who is now too old really to build a layout for himself, and for my son who is now 1 year old (things tend to take a while in our household, so best to start now for when he is older!). I'm thinking of two 6'x4' boards maximum. These would have to be foldable or at least seperatable. If I could utilise the old Dublo three rail and my 1970's / 1980's stock, that would be a perfect solution and everyone would be happy (with the possible exception of my wife!).

My questions are as follows (please excuse any silly ones, or their apparently disjointed nature - I have been away from the hobby since about 1985!):

1) Can anyone point me in the direction of a nice layout plan for this size of board?

2) What are the best methods for joining track at the board joints?

3) My old controllers are the old dublo types that are very simple rheostats. What would be a more modern option such that I could control multiple locos on one track? I always found that I had problems with continuity and smooth operation of my old train set. Do modern electronic controllers offer smoother operation such as on start up or braking?

4) Bearing in mind most of my locos are 1970's or 1980's vintage, will I need to just overhaul them, or are there any motor upgrades that can be fitted? I've looked at modern driving wheels and they seem to be bright finished, whereas most of mine seem to be black. Presumably the bright finish is better in terms of conductivity, so can I convert the old wheels to more modern ones? Are there online guides to refurbishment of specific loco types?

5) The big one: Can my Dad's old Dublo 3 rail locos and rolling stock be upgraded to run on modern two rail?? If so, can anyone point me in the right direction?

6) I am hoping to re-use the Peco Streamline track from my old layout (or at least the best bits of it) for the new layout. Is this track any good? I believe it is stainless.

7) I'd like to motorise the points, turntable, signals etc. Is there one integrated control system for all these features or is it a case of using various dfferent control methods?

8) My old layout was on 'Sundealer board'. Is this still a good material to use? I always thought that track pins pulled out rather easily. Also, is it a good idea to use the foam underlay for the track?

I will call it a day at that, but I'm sure there will be plenty of other questions in the future. Answers to any or all of the questions above will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Regards,

Garth Nicholson,
Sheffield.
 

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QUOTE I'm new to this forum, and would like some advice:

First of all, welcome to the Forum and there's certainly some great advice to be had here. Here's my two pen'orth.

QUOTE 1) Can anyone point me in the direction of a nice layout plan for this size of board?

For a the 12' x 8' area you have indicated, there used to be (in the '70s) a Peco booklet called "Plans for larger layouts". I would also suggest buying a copy of the current issue (August) Hornby magazine. Each month Anthony New takes a theme and develops four or five plans based on that. There are usually a couple for an area about the size you suggest.

QUOTE 6) I am hoping to re-use the Peco Streamline track from my old layout (or at least the best bits of it) for the new layout. Is this track any good? I believe it is stainless.

So long as it is flat, it should be fine. For reference if you are buying more, it is almost certainly Code 100 (That's the height of the rail. Since the last time you were modelling, Peco have introduced a lower profile Code 75 rail), and it's Nickel Silver rather than stainless steel. It will almost certainly have oxidised in storage, so you will probably have to resort to some cleaning activity to get good contact between wheel and track.

QUOTE 8) My old layout was on 'Sundealer board'. Is this still a good material to use? I always thought that track pins pulled out rather easily. Also, is it a good idea to use the foam underlay for the track?

Sundeala board is still available. As you probably recall, it does need plenty of framing to provide a solid support. I use it in my loft but I find that the temperature and humidity variation make it expand and contract which is not good for the scenery and on occasions the track either. Unless you either seal it or have it in more constant conditions than I have, I'd give it a miss. As to alternatives, there are plenty and I am sure some of them will be appended to this thread shortly. If you're in a hurry, try the Forum "Search" facility at the top right of the page.

I am sure that others will be along shortly to answer your other questions. At least two of the answers will mention DCC. If you're curious to know more about that already, check out this DCC FAQ section in the DCC Forum.

David
 

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Hello. DWB seems to have made a mistake about the size that you are proposing. Two boards of 6 x 4 ft will produce a layout of either 12 by 4 ft or more probably 8 by 6 ft. This second one is still a reasonable size and very similar to the popular size of garden shed. You will find lots of published layouts for that size, some in the Peco booklet with a title something like "Layouts for smaller sizes."

I would suggest that you have a central operating well. It has two big advantages. 1. Trains go round behind you and so seem to go somewhere instead of just circling in front of you which I always think is toy-like. 2. When going round relatively small radius curves, the coaches and wagons close up when viewed from the insde. Viewed from the outside they open up and the gap can look awful.

On control, I would suggest the Bachmann EZ digital controller. It is basic but also cheap, about £35. With a couple of loco decoder chips at about £10 each, you could get started and see what you think. Once you have tried the advantages of digital control there is no going back.

I wouldn't try to use too many of the old engines. I have some from 20 years ago and they are not a patch on ones bought this year both in appearance and running. You can buy ones called "weathered" which have nicely blackened wheels and operating rods except for the actual treads needed for electrical conductivity but you can hardly see this part.

Good luck with the project.
 

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Robert, David,

Thanks for the quick replies and advice.

I also mentally mis-calculated my board dimensions. In fact I've just been discusing with my Dad the fact that 12' x 8' might be rather large, when in fact we should have been discussing 6' x 8' which is a much better compromise!

David, yes, the track I have is the '100' type. I think somewhere I have a track plans book, but I think it is a 1980's Hornby one. I wil have to look for the Peco version. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the DCC FAQ's - I didn't even know what DCC was until tonight!

Robert, good points about the central well, neither of which I had considered before. I may have an issue here with access under boards for my Dad who is not too mobile any more. Unfortunately, like most things, my layout will have to be a compromise: I need to think about the practicalities of having both a very young and very old operator, having to dismantle the boards on a regular basis and also of course cost. You mentioned the rectangular board as being toy like, but, initially, I suppose it will be a toy. I would love to detail everything and make a perfect job of it (I am a scale modeller of aircraft and cars, and am a design engineer by trade), but I am wary of this turning into 'my' project when initially I am just trying to introduce and re-introduce the hobby to people.

I am disappointed about your comments on the locomotives, but I appreciate that modern design will always be better than the older items. Further to this point: how about old vs. modern rolling stock? I notice that some trucks run far more smoothly than others. The Wren ones I seem to remember were very good, but the Hornby ones were not so good. Presumably this was to do with the quality of wheels and bearings?

I am looking into the Bachmann control system, from what you say it seems like a perfect introduction to digital control.

Thanks again for your comments,

Garth.
 

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I'll put my hand up to getting the maths wrong


The "solid" nature of the board won't matter so much if you have access all round the edges. Just don't put too much track at a long stretch. You can disguise the fact that the design is solid in various ways. Have a read of Mikelhh's blog (link) to see what happens when you take a table tennis table and put a large board down the middle to divide it in two. It's worth a look just for the photos.

Modern rolling stock certainly runs better than the Hornby from the era you last saw it. I know what you mean about the Wrenn stuff. If you stick with code 100 rail you should be able to run anything. The worst I have found for code 75 is Lima. It is possible to convert older locomotives to DCC, you just need to watch the current consumption. The one thing you will hear and read over and over again is that if a loco doesn't run well on DC it isn't going to run well on DCC. However a good runner on DC will become a better runner on DCC.

David
 

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Hello Garth

Two things not covered by others.

Yes, you can change the wheels on the 3 rail loco's. Bear in mind that every wheel on every loco and wagon or coach that was 3 rail will have to be changed. It will not be a low cost project by any means and it will require good skills, epecially for the loco wheel changes. you will also have to add pickups to each loco and re-wire it of course.

Personally I would recommend that you Ebay them if they are in good condition - good condition 3 rail dublo gets good prices especially if still boxed. That would give you enough to buy new current loco's.

Re changing to DCC / more modern control.

Some Wrenn and dublo is reasonably easy but the larger loco's such as the Duchess are a real challenge unless your skills are good.

It needs brush holders changed from brass to plastic and involves reworking chassis to do it as the chassis and motor are one. It will probably also mean remagnetising motors or replacing magnets as the old ferrite magnets lose power over time and when removed form the loco.

Sorry, I like to be positive but as I have done all the things you will need to do and well and truly understand the pitfallls and potential problems, unless you are approaching this as a long term challenge that will need time, care and a lot of new skills learned, contrary to the advice given .....to ensure a frustration free project I'd re-think the approach: either redbuild using original gear and stay with 3 rail DC, or replace and start afresh with 2 rail DCC.

Kind regards
Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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I've had some more thoughts about your situation.

Firstly, I would not worry about designing the layout for your son if he is only one year old now. It will be several years before he could be involved with it. I have a grandson of nearly three and I won't even show him my layout for another few years yet. He currently uses a train set made of wood running on wooden rails and the treatment that gets would ruin a proper model railway very quickly!

The idea of a solid board with a backscene down the middle is a good one that I had not even considered. It gets over my point number 1 but not number 2. Since you are going to have two boards anyway, then with a central well, they would each be a C shape. You could work out some way of attaching them together after you and/or dad had got in the middle. Also the total amount of space needed would be much smaller. If you think about a solid 8 by 6ft board with probably at least 18in around the edges then you are going to need a room 11 by 9ft with no other furniture in it.

Presumable these boards will need to be stored away, probably vertically, for space reasons. Have you thought about what they will rest on when in use? You could build in folding legs but it would be too easy to make them rather flimsy. Also, if robust, the boards are going to be quite heavy and this is something to keep in mind.

Does the layout have to be an oval one? Many people use L-shaped station to fiddle yard layouts that take up much less space although when I tried it I wasn't satisfied with that arrangement.

I hope that these thoughts don't put you off the idea. There is always a way round any problem. Cheers, Robert.
 

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Hi Garth & welcome to MRF & back to model railways.

I can only echo the advice given by DWB, Robert & Richard - they seem to have covered everything. I'm sure you will come up with more questions as you progress - please let us know how you get on.
 

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Hi Garth.

You haven't mentioned where you are going to put the layout. A good place might be the garage if you are lucky enough to have one. If in a garage you could arrange some kind of lifting device which would mean that you could store the layout by lifting the whole unit up to the ceiling when not in use which would leave plenty of room for car, Furniture etc underneath. You could of course use this system inside the house as well (spare room etc)

I recently saw an advert somewhere for such a device which uses pulleys and is tied up to a hook on the wall when not in use. However I can't remember where I saw it.

The main thing is have fun creating & operating it.

QUOTE (dr_g @ 15 Jul 2008, 19:28) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hello everyone,

I'm new to this forum, and would like some advice:

When I was much younger, my Dad and I built a fairly large layout (4 loops, a few sidings, turntable etc), but I 'grew out of it' I suppose. I have several locomotives : Hornby 'Mallard', 'Duchess of Sutherland' 'Flying Scotsman', 'Oliver Cromwell' and a few diesels. Also, Wrenn locomotives 'City of Stoke on Trent' as well as some smaller locos, and rolling stock.

My Father was/is also an enthusiast, and has a lot of three rail Hornby Dublo items including 'Duchess of Atholl' amd 'Sir Nigel Gresley' Locomotives.

I would like to build a single layout both for my Dad who is now too old really to build a layout for himself, and for my son who is now 1 year old (things tend to take a while in our household, so best to start now for when he is older!). I'm thinking of two 6'x4' boards maximum. These would have to be foldable or at least seperatable. If I could utilise the old Dublo three rail and my 1970's / 1980's stock, that would be a perfect solution and everyone would be happy (with the possible exception of my wife!).

My questions are as follows (please excuse any silly ones, or their apparently disjointed nature - I have been away from the hobby since about 1985!):

1) Can anyone point me in the direction of a nice layout plan for this size of board?

2) What are the best methods for joining track at the board joints?

3) My old controllers are the old dublo types that are very simple rheostats. What would be a more modern option such that I could control multiple locos on one track? I always found that I had problems with continuity and smooth operation of my old train set. Do modern electronic controllers offer smoother operation such as on start up or braking?

4) Bearing in mind most of my locos are 1970's or 1980's vintage, will I need to just overhaul them, or are there any motor upgrades that can be fitted? I've looked at modern driving wheels and they seem to be bright finished, whereas most of mine seem to be black. Presumably the bright finish is better in terms of conductivity, so can I convert the old wheels to more modern ones? Are there online guides to refurbishment of specific loco types?

5) The big one: Can my Dad's old Dublo 3 rail locos and rolling stock be upgraded to run on modern two rail?? If so, can anyone point me in the right direction?

6) I am hoping to re-use the Peco Streamline track from my old layout (or at least the best bits of it) for the new layout. Is this track any good? I believe it is stainless.

7) I'd like to motorise the points, turntable, signals etc. Is there one integrated control system for all these features or is it a case of using various dfferent control methods?

8) My old layout was on 'Sundealer board'. Is this still a good material to use? I always thought that track pins pulled out rather easily. Also, is it a good idea to use the foam underlay for the track?

I will call it a day at that, but I'm sure there will be plenty of other questions in the future. Answers to any or all of the questions above will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Regards,

Garth Nicholson,
Sheffield.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Tony, Brian, Robert, Richard, David,

Many thanks for the continued advice. After never really thinking about the relative merits of solid, open, L-shaped etc., boards, you guys have certainly given me food for thought!

I will address a few points:

Space is not really an issue. I was lucky enough to be able to build a house with fairly large rooms, two of which are used only occasionally. My garage is not really suitable since I have two cars in it along with a lathe and all my tools etc. Also, the ceiling is partially obstructed with garage door tracks. I have seen the pulley methods - I think they were outlined in a Hornby book of layouts. I have a fairly large office above my garage in which I built an 'n' shaped bench around two walls and one end. This obviously forms a raised 'horseshoe' onto which I could place my boards and still be left with a gap in the middle if necessary. Also, I thought of using a pair of trestle tables if the layout was free standing in a downstairs room.

Having said that space itself is not a problem, the issue of permanancy certainly is. My wife is a bit skeptical about the whole thing and having a room devoted to a model train is definitely out. Having it demonstrably and quickly removable would go a long way to making everyone happy! The layout will almost certainly have to be split on a regular basis. One question which hasn't been answerd yet was regarding joining of boards and track at the split lines. I've seen the metal locating dowels for sale which align boards, but how do you make perfect connections with the track ends? Do you simply rely on the track being fixed firmly and the boards being perfectly aligned on assembly, or is there another trick? If I end up going for a 'well' type board then I would definitely need a hinged section for access to the middle, this would need a very robust method of alignment and connectivity. We often went to the railway exhibition at Sheffield City Hall, and this year we went to the one at Birkdale school. I should have asked someone there, but the idea has only really started to crystallise recently! I initially had a vague vision of two boards forming a rectangle. Around the periphery would be a raised edge about 3" tall. When the boards are folded this raised edge would keep the tracks - and anything else permanently attached to the board - from contacting. The boards could then be stored under a bed, or even against a garage wall.

My Dad won't sell his old locos I don't think, and mine also have sentimental value. I think it will be a case of refurbishing each one, seeing how it runs and take things from there. From what has been said regarding 3 rail conversion, it may be best to have a seperate simple layout just using this system. I appreciate the advice from someone who has done 3-rail to 2-rail conversions and a) I think it may be best to keep the old locos original and
the time involved sounds like it should be much better spent on other issues.

I also take the point about me son being far too young to play with the layout, but it might be nice for him to look at the trains and I'm certain his grandad would enjoy just spending time with him and sharing his old hobby even if the youngster wouldn't really understand it all! I thought it would be a way of the three of use taking part in something, and it may someday even spark my sons interest in modelling and engineering in general.

Thanks again for the advice,

Garth.
 

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QUOTE (dr_g @ 16 Jul 2008, 12:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My Dad won't sell his old locos I don't think, and mine also have sentimental value. I think it will be a case of refurbishing each one, seeing how it runs and take things from there. From what has been said regarding 3 rail conversion, it may be best to have a seperate simple layout just using this system. I appreciate the advice from someone who has done 3-rail to 2-rail conversions and a) I think it may be best to keep the old locos original and
the time involved sounds like it should be much better spent on other issues.
Hi Garth,
From what you say it may be better to keep the 3-rail locomotives as they are & have a dedicated section for them to run - that's what I would do if in your position.
 

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QUOTE (dr_g @ 16 Jul 2008, 20:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>My Dad won't sell his old locos I don't think, and mine also have sentimental value. I think it will be a case of refurbishing each one, seeing how it runs and take things from there. From what has been said regarding 3 rail conversion, it may be best to have a seperate simple layout just using this system. I appreciate the advice from someone who has done 3-rail to 2-rail conversions and a) I think it may be best to keep the old locos original and
the time involved sounds like it should be much better spent on other issues.

I also take the point about me son being far too young to play with the layout, but it might be nice for him to look at the trains and I'm certain his grandad would enjoy just spending time with him and sharing his old hobby even if the youngster wouldn't really understand it all! I thought it would be a way of the three of use taking part in something, and it may someday even spark my sons interest in modelling and engineering in general.

Thanks again for the advice,

Garth.

***Hi again.

I think a separate 3 rail layout is a great idea as its really nice stuff - There's a lot of pleasure in seeing it healthy, happy and running well - it was my own introduction to railway modelling too and while I'm now very much a fine-scale modeller I still can't help smiling constantly when I visit a friend who has a huge dublo 3 rail layout that runs like magic and brings back lots of happy memories...

Don't underestimate your son - they really enjoy the trains and are remarkably respectful of them if started young - and quick on the uptake too. I can imagine that allocating him his "own" from among the 3 rail loco's and teaching him young will be a wonderful intro to the hobby and very enjoyable for you and your father too! Anything that 3 generations of a family can share with a smile is precious indeed!

If you need any specific help along the way please don't hesitate to ask.

kind regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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QUOTE baseboard joins...

Try this topic for connecting rails across baseboard joins.. Connectiing across joins Note that the original topic wasn't actually called that


When you are deciding on a size for the boards you are going to be man handling, try it out with a bare board first. I suspect that 4' x 2' is the most a single individual can manage. Don't forget that there will be railway attached to one side with scenery and stuff extending at least 5 inches from the surface.

David
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
QUOTE (Robert Stokes @ 16 Jul 2008, 16:28) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>TWO spare rooms! Now you really have got me envious. Cheers, Robert.

Robert,

Please don't be envious! They aren't really spare rooms as such, one is the dining room and another is what we laughingly call the music room (there is an old piano and a wind-up gramophone in there). The layout of the house was such that there was one extra downstairs room that we didnt really need, but we had to call it something. Neither room is used much.

Regards,

Garth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
QUOTE (dwb @ 16 Jul 2008, 16:58) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Try this topic for connecting rails across baseboard joins.. Connectiing across joins Note that the original topic wasn't actually called that


When you are deciding on a size for the boards you are going to be man handling, try it out with a bare board first. I suspect that 4' x 2' is the most a single individual can manage. Don't forget that there will be railway attached to one side with scenery and stuff extending at least 5 inches from the surface.

David

David,

I looked at the thread you gave, and I like the idea of the bridging track with sliding fishplates. I got the impression from the thread that most people prefer the copper sleeper method and rely purely on precise alignment. I wonder why this is? Perhaps because blending in a bridging track to its surroundings and ballast etc might be difficult?

Talking of ballast: What is the view on the foam type track underlay? I guess it gives a quiet running system, but I always thought it might lead to instability and it always looked a bit strange to my eyes, perhaps it was the square edges. Maybe the modern stuff is more realistic?

Thanks,

Garth.
 

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QUOTE (dr_g @ 16 Jul 2008, 19:29) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Talking of ballast: What is the view on the foam type track underlay? I guess it gives a quiet running system, but I always thought it might lead to instability and it always looked a bit strange to my eyes, perhaps it was the square edges. Maybe the modern stuff is more realistic?

Thanks,

Garth.
I've always found that it tends to crumble into dust evenually if exposed to the air. It can result in very quiet running, but then so can the use of cork underlay & suitable adhesives.
 

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Hi Garth,

Welcome to the forum. Noticed your point about the coper sleepers, I think they are popular beacause you can get the very end of the rail supported. If you use a sliding fishplate the rail ends can only be held firmly up to the point the fishplate slides, and as you say it is harder to disguise the joint if looks are important to you. I have compromised as my joints are obscured by bridges so I have used a half length fishplate so it doesnt have to slide back far, I have also created electrical connections across the joint with a fly lead and small 2 pin inline plug an socket.

John
RJR
 

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I have never had a portable / dismantle - able layout so I have never had the joys of repeated realignment. A long time ago, the club I was in had a layout with baseboard joins. The problem was you had to be careful not to catch the exposed rails or they would rip out. I think they ended up using 3 inch removable spans.

I can see your attraction to sliding fishplates as it would definitely line the rails up but I would not rely on them to carry the power because to do that reliably they need to be quite tight. That in turn means they would be difficult to move. One slip with the pliers or whatever and you've probably lifted one rail or other from the sleeper base.

Given that you have a lathe in the garage, I'm guessing you have the skills needed to solve the problems which I think can be summarised as:
1) Repeatable track alignment
2) Rail security during assembly, disassembly, transport and storage.

The power side can be dealt with by using connectors (and that subject has been "done" here too


David
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Gentlemen,

Once again thank you for your time and suggestions, I have a much better idea of where to go from here: I think I need to draw some track layouts and study the plans book.

I will not attempt to convert any 3-rail items to 2-rail, but I like the idea of perhaps having an independant loop or two of 3 rail on the same board as the more modern items.

By the way, the majority of track I have is Peco Stramline 100 'flexitrack' I think its called. I will stick to the 100 series and see how I go.

Regarding the old Dublo 3 rail - what is the best way of removing corrosion from the track, and preventing it from returning? Is there any way of having it plated?

Cheers,

Garth.
 
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