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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I'm making a return to the hobby after several years away - the remnants of my last aborted layout exist only in my signature.

I've wanted to return for some time, but haven't been settled in one place so having a layout would have been difficult. I'm a music teacher and have to set a room aside in the house as a music room - so I've finally decided that it can double as a layout room.


I built a layout previously that I christened 'Aslanvale' because it lived in a wardrobe when not in use, and I'm returning to this concept. There's a double wardrobe in the music room that will accommodate a 90x175cm baseboard, and because there's no bed in the room it will go in and out quite easily.

I was modelling in OO last time because I love sound locos, but I would have been very, very limited in my space available so have moved back to N gauge. It's fantastic to see DCC sound starting to make real progress in N.

My rules:

Solid baseboard with no joins - I always seem to have major issues when I use multiple baseboards for a modular layout and N just doesn't have the tolerance.
Weight - I need to keep the layout manoeuvrable and manageable, so the baseboard will be as light as possible - quite possibly using foam.
DCC - I can't ever see myself returning to DC if I'm honest.
Prototype practice - erm, or lack of it. I'm building this layout to run some trains, enjoy some sound locos and build some nice scenery. I like bridges and have always wanted to construct a model river. Aslanvale will be in the UK, but other than that very little will be off limits.

I started by looking at some SeTrack plans to keep things simple - plus these plans are often designed for little space. However, I had real concerns over using insulfrog points with DCC and these were confirmed with a post on this forum. Last time I was in N, I built the whole thing in code 55 flexitrack with livefrog points and tortoise point motors. I worked very well, but I had constant issues with track moving (particularly on curves) when it was coming in and out of the wardrobe. I want the simplicity of SeTrack with more reliable running - so I've settled on Kato Unitrack. I know that some have concerns over how realistic it looks, but I've seen some fantastic layouts that use it very well. Cost is an issues, but if I'm going to do something I may as well do it properly. If I was going to use slow-action point motors again anyway, the costs pretty much balance out.

Having decided on Kato, I started looking at what others have done and found this demo layout:





I have to say, this plan massively appeals to me and I'm pretty sure it's near identical in size to my board. I know it's not intended for UK practice - but I think it will make a nice start. It has the scenic elements I'm after, a decent run, doesn't look too much like a trainset and some operating potential in a small space.

I jumped on RailModeller Pro (which certainly didn't used to be £29.99 and used to be a lot more user friendly!) and knocked this up after much trial and error (bear in mind I didn't know the actual layout size!)



I'd welcome thoughts on the plan and concept - it's nice to be back here in any shape or form!

Dan
 

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Hi Dan,
The pictures of the Kato original do look lovely to me but I'm a Continental (European) modeller! Welcome back by the way!
I'm assuming that you just want to run trains? In which case, you're sure to find that this will give pleasure AND you do have capacity for shunting too.
In some ways the layout plan does remind me of my old N gauge layout that I built when I was 18 and living in my own accommodation, a bedsit!
This was 8'x2', yours is approximately 8'x3'.
I will say that a single board of this size is going to be quite unwieldy, perhaps the best way would be to take a standard interior door, one of the older types made of thin plywood and "egg cartons? These should be available for very reasonable prices secondhand (sometimes free!) and are 6'6"x2'6".
I know you lose a little length and a small amount of width but an old door would be very suitable for your situation in that it's not too heavy, well made and rigid and easier to maneuver. Obviously, you do need to remove any remaining door furniture and make good any holes first.
Your own plan looks very similar to the Kato one but I'm afraid I can't look at it for long, my eyes goes funny with all those extraneous lines! I prefer Anyrail 5 myself, I find that much easier to handle and to view.
Cheers,
John.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for replying John.

I've not looked at Anyrail - I used Railmodeller previously but I've been much less impressed with it this time around.

I haven't considered a door, I'll look into this although I'm considering a 100% foam construction with no actual board at all. It's not quite as chunky as you suggest however, the layout is less than 6ft by 3ft.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Did I say British outline? Whoops...

I started looking around the internet and realised that while sound is just starting to appear in the British ready-to-run market, it's quite established in US outline.

As a result, as I'm planning on using Kato track and building a plan that doesn't really fit with British outline anyway, I have decided to start with some American stock.

N Gauge American trains - some superb service, these arrived the day after purchase very well packaged...





Shame I have no track to run them on yet - that should be here in the next few days, it's on order from Traintrax and I've also ordered a Gaugemaster Prodigy (The NCE Powercab seems extremely hard to get hold at present...)

I think I'm going to need to new layout name - any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So the wardrobe has been cleared:



I need to get some tool racks up, but that shelf is very useful.

With lightness in mind - I've built the baseboard's frame:



I'm pleased with how it's turned out. It's very light and quite easy to slot into the wardrobe on its end. I might cut some holes in the frame to further help with the weight and aid with the wiring. I have the top ready to go, unfortunately SWMBO is using the music room for its intended purpose right now! It's somewhat deeper than previous baseboard frames I've made as last time I found that everything underneath was quite vulnerable.



My track and DCC system have arrived but have been swooped on to go under the tree. I can't wait to get cracking on Christmas day!

I need a new name - something wardrobe/Narnia inspired I feel again, how about Lewis Valley?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh well, I'm enjoying documenting the process even if nobody's reading


Baseboard is now finished - 6mm ply on softwood frame glued and screwed.



Handles and castors added in various places to aid with getting the layout smoothly in and out of the wardrobe:





All in all, I'm pleased with the result. Stores away quite neatly.



All set for Christmas day to get some track laid!
 

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Hi Vulcan'
That Ply on the edges well !
Its always worth the wait - but A LIFT - your turn next !
Also so so neat !
Smile x
PS Are You Free !
 

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So Christmas day arrived (Happy Christmas everyone)...



I am amazed by this stuff. It's so easy to work with and so reliable! Yes, it was expensive, but for the reliable running I'm willing to pay.

I did get some running down on Christmas itself, but photobucket isn't wanting to host videos at present.

Anyway, onwards...



I decided to get the dull stuff out of the way, so plumbed in my Prodigy DCC system and a 12V DC power supply before running a bus for each round the whole board.



I've also prepared a little point control panel.



Finally for this update I've had a minor trackplan alteration. I hadn't realised that you can't create a standard crossing in Unitrack with a regular pair of points without extending the track spacing, and the single crossovers all use concrete sleeper track which would stand out, so the crossing at the bottom is now a double crossover. This should be reasonably at home in the US setting and will add a little more operational potential anyway. I've also discovered that the track spacing on the Kato double shed is created using a slightly odd combination of track work, so I've had to 'kick-out' the shed, but if anything this improves the look of the area and gives more space around the yard and station.



Plan has now been printed out 1:1 and laid out ready to get the inclines sorted and some track laid permanently.

 

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Why is'nt it easy !!
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Its amazing how much you can fit in an average space in N gauge
like the plan.
 

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Very tidy work !I agree with Anthony you can do so much more with N gauge unfortunately for me I struggle with oo gauge. Hope you have a happy new year look forward to seeing more! Cheers Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
QUOTE (Robert Stokes @ 31 Dec 2016, 11:53) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Your woodwork, indeed all of what you have done so far looks very good - professional standard.

Good luck with the project.

Robert

P.S. You probably didn't get any early responses because you hadn't got to the interesting stage.

Thank you for the compliment Robert - I think I may be missing off the rough edge pictures


You're right, I wasn't taking it personally, just observing really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
QUOTE (Anthony566 @ 31 Dec 2016, 02:12) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Its amazing how much you can fit in an average space in N gauge
like the plan.

Thanks Anthony - yes, I'm still amazed at how little room this is actually taking up.

QUOTE (PAPPA.B @ 31 Dec 2016, 11:35) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Very tidy work !I agree with Anthony you can do so much more with N gauge unfortunately for me I struggle with oo gauge. Hope you have a happy new year look forward to seeing more! Cheers Jim

Cheers Jim, happy new year to you too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Oh, and this arrived this morning...



The last Kato loco I bought was a Eurostar 7 or 8 years ago. I was just about to say how well Kato present everything, then I noticed the stuck on label for the anniversary set - poor.

 
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