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IDEAS SOUGHT FOR 'KIDS' LAYOUT
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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 01:37 am
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W C Greene
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The Texas Outlaws On30 group are thinking about a layout that could be operated by kids at local shows. The "brain trust" is at work, but I thought I would toss this one out here since there are many track planning whizbangs on this site and ideas flow freely.

This layout should be able to fit into a pickup, etc...maybe 4 by 8 or maybe a little larger.Scale would be...? I thought about LIONEL, but other thoughts please. The layout should have some sort of interesting operation and maybe 3 kids could run at a time. Again, maybe HO with DCC. Money may not be a concern, the Outlaws have a "banker" with some dinero. Something with 2 or 3 non-connected loops but with some type of operation involved...maybe something like a TIMESAVER that could involve a time limit to solve. Above all, it should adhere to the KISS principle and be kid friendly. Height should be maybe 36" above the floor but could be adjustable. There is already a TIMESAVER that is brought to the shows and kids just love it, this layout could be that but more... I know some of the Outlaws would love an On30 layout, but I think that it would be too "esoteric" and the fiddly On30 locos wouldn't last as long as needed, my experience with an On30 display layout at the hobby shop showed that! IDEAS NEEDED...Maybe one guy will have the plan, maybe it will take several ideas lumped together. I leave this up to you fellows, see what you can come up with. Is there a prize? YES, there is a prize...the prize is the satisfaction of helping out new model railroaders and you can't put a price on that!

                      Please leave suggestions/comments in the box below.

                                Woodie



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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 05:07 am
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Paladin
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Kids love tunnels, Maybe loco #1 goes in and #2 comes out, That would need  two separate tracks 

On a board of approx. 8 x 4. Anything larger than On30 is going to be a squeeeeeze.

Don



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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 02:35 pm
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Huw Griffiths
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I'm guessing that your 8' by 4' idea might have something to do with commercially available sizes of plywood, or other building materials. I wonder how easy this would be to manhandle in and out of the truck (and various buildings). Although size is likely to be an issue for handling, the weight also sounds a bit scary (unless the baseboard is made of foam).

The size issue also brings to mind another question - is the space constraint only about transport - or is it also about how much space there'd be to set up and run the finished layout?

This might sound like a stupid question (it probably is), but I wonder if kids of different ages might look for different things in a layout. If space in the building isn't a problem, my thoughts might be to go for 2 different layouts - for different ages - but with minimal (or removable) scenery, to allow the boards to be stacked for transit.

 
For younger children, you might well be looking at something like an oval (possibly one inside another) with a station, a passing loop and a siding - and don't forget the tunnel. Trains would be as simplified and robust as possible - in other words, something like Th*m*s or Bachmann Junior.

A number of UK clubs set up layouts like this, on their open days, specifically to interest nippers.

Talking of Th*m*s, I gather that the trains on Rev. Awdry's original layouts didn't have faces (by the way, these articles were previously available as PDFs, which I saved to my computer a few years back):

http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/rm-1959-12.htm

http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/rm-1968-01.htm

http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/rm-1961-07.htm

 
Moving on to older children, they might soon get bored of Th*m*s - and a "roundy-roundy" might drive some of them round the bend. Some sort of switching puzzle might be a better bet - a timesaver - an inglenook - possibly even something that throws the rulebook straight out of the window.

With this age group, my gut feeling would be to go for something that would appeal to inquisitive adults - something that makes them think, but includes as many "toys" as possible. It would probably need to look vaguely credible (no faces!) - but don't expect it to win any prizes for attention to fine details.

When I was a teenager (30 years ago - ouch!!), I was fascinated by switching - turntables - and traversers - some things never change.

 
I don't know if you've checked out Carl Arendt's website:

http://www.carendt.com/

Apart from him sometimes drawing attention to initiatives (like people building small switching puzzles, to go on trays above beds in children's hospitals), he's also been known to run layout design competitions. Most of these would not be of interest, but there are occasional gems.


A few years back, one of his competitions (http://www.carendt.com/contest/vote/index.html) threw up this entry - which must rank as the best "rabbit warren" design I've seen:

http://www.carendt.com/contest/vote/V30.html

It deserved to win - and did - but, to make it work, it actually needs to be built on a bigger board (8' by 4' would be ideal) to ease the curves and gradients.

Other good entries in the same competition were these switching layouts:

http://www.carendt.com/contest/vote/V22.html

http://www.carendt.com/contest/vote/V07.html

There were other entries in the same competition - including one decidedly dodgy concept, based around demotored HO Bachmann Brill tramcars (they're a lot smaller and narrower than mainline stock - which would have needed more space between the storage roads).

 
Turning now to rolling stock - and scale - I'd definitely go for stuff based on HO mechs. OK, you could possibly go for Bachmann On30, straight out of the box, but I think it might be too expensive (and perhaps too fragile). Fleischmann used to offer a "Magic Train" range of vaguely Oe stock, which would have done the job but probably wouldn't have come cheap.

In some recent issues of Narrow Gauge Down Under and Continental Modeller, Jay Kershaw outlined a method of building simplified stock from plastikard, using paper punches to do cutouts. I'm not sure about this - as these models would still take ages to build.

For this reason, I'd be inclined to go for entry level HO - preferably cheap, robust and not too detailed. I'm not even too sure about DCC - unless you want lights or sounds.

 
Anyway, these are my thoughts - for what they're worth (probably not much).

Whatever you do, I hope you're all able to pull this project off - and I hope it's a success.

 
All the best,

Huw.

Last edited on Mon Dec 27th, 2010 03:39 pm by Huw Griffiths

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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 02:36 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Woodie

I think that Don is right about the tunnels.

Even though Lionel will keep on going longer, I don't think that you will be able to get two loops on a 4x8--after all an O27 circle is 54" diameter.

HO with diesels (probably the train engine most have seen) might be the best choice to get all of what you want in the space that you mention--and HO diesels might be longer lasting drive- wise? I don't know---


Herbus  :old dude:



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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 02:49 pm
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Sullivan
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Woodie,

I'd go for the HO concept for the kids. I've got a couple books that have some simple plans and I'll scan them for you if you like.

Also, please remember that I have a small collection of engines and cars (new in the box, never or lightly run) and would be pleased to donate an engine(s) and a few cars (with cabeese) to the cause - my way of giving back.

Even though I don't care for some of the Outlaws I think this is a commendable effort.

Let me know (call or write).



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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 02:59 pm
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Huw Griffiths
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Herb Kephart wrote: HO with diesels (probably the train engine most have seen) might be the best choice to get all of what you want in the space that you mention--and HO diesels might be longer lasting drive- wise? I don't know---

I think you're right.

If I were doing something like this, I'd use a short, single truck diesel - probably the Class 08 shunter that's recently appeared in another thread on this site.

I don't know if this loco has any direct equivalents in the USA, but I'd certainly go for something short and robust. The same goes for wagons or carriages.

Another potential weak link might be couplings - I personally like Kadees, but I wonder how they'd stand up to being "hammered". In the UK, I'd probably be looking at loops - similar to the Bemo design - as they're very simple (and easy to disconnect). I don't know what's widely available in the USA.

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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 04:38 pm
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Run Down And Poor Lumber Company
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Woodie,

Everybody hooked on HO or LIONEL why not introduce these kids to "G" scale. A nice little switching Logging layout with a Sawmill on one end and a lake on the other end with little logging cars passing through a tunnel through the woods to get to the lake. Since "Money" is no object they could use little LGB Porters with little flat cars to switch in a little yard next to the mill. The Outlaws club could also teach these kids how to make scenery and their own Pine trees for this layout.

If you don't want to get that detail, Model Railroader associate editor Jim Kelly put out a (out of print) book FUN WITH ELECTRIC TRAINS book with a nice little switching  "G" scale layout build on 2 doors that can be folded up carried in a mini van or pickup truck.

Let me know what you think. !!!!

Ronnie D.:cb:



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I also Build and sell "On30 Logging and Detail Parts on Ebay.
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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 09:25 pm
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W C Greene
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Ahhh great! Ideas flow! Keep it up.

Herb-LIONEL curves are for diameter! O27 is 27" diameter. O31 is 31" diameter. And O42 is... therefore, all 3 could fit on a 4 by 8 but that's just round & round.

Some kind of switching puzzle would get them hooked. The teens who are already into the Outlaws know about things narrow gauge, the group is looking to get more kids into model RR in general.

I believe they want at least 2 kids to be able to operate at once...they may be biting off more than they can possibly gnaw on.

My idea of older Lionel still stands, but from an operational standpoint it is problematic. I have been around "display" and "exhibit" layouts where there is constant running and it seems that HO and On30 always don't last. Somebody needs to keep fixing the locos until they are fried. Older Lionel stuff runs forever...I have watched as an old 4-4-2 with hay and dirt dobber homes in the cab run after being in a barn for 40 years. I would advise the guys to use something similar,

The Outlaws will get a link to all this so they can see what others think. Thanks for the help so far, keep on thinking!

                       Woodie



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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 11:18 pm
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Run Down And Poor Lumber Company
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Woodie,

Like everything in TEXAS !!! GO BIG !!! LIONEL or "G" scale they are easier to work on with little hands. Also little kids like to see rods moving back and forth. Plus you don't need a whole lot of detail scenery in large scale.

Ronnie D.:old dude:



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I also Build and sell "On30 Logging and Detail Parts on Ebay.
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 Posted: Mon Dec 27th, 2010 11:19 pm
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darrylhuffman
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Woodie,

I have traveled all over the country and worked at conventions big and small.

There was one layout for kids in San Diego that was above all others in my opinion.

The layout consisted of a 4 foot by 16 foot island which was fully scenicked with the usual buildings and scenery, but it had no track on it.

Instead, there was a two foot wide sectional track that surrounded the 4 by 16 center aisle.

On the two foot section is where the operating trains were.  4 laps of 3 for kids to run at their own speed and one operated by a member of the club.  4 circles of track.

Interspersed between the circles were a few buildings, a static yard of rolling stock and a few other scenes.

It looked nice, one club member could run a train doing a little switching, but the main action were the three trains racing around at full speed in the control of the kids.

 



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