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W C Greene
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I have been building train layouts, narrow gauge in particular, for many years and it has never occured to me that I need a track plan before I lay any rail! Lately, I have seen a great many threads (not just here on FR) that start out with track plans showing locations of proposed scenic and structural elements and even wiring diagrams (not needed in my world)...sometimes wonderful artistic sketches of what it will look like when "finished". And then...nothing! Maybe some modelers get their satisfaction planning and the execution of the plans is way down the list. It could be that changing circumstances force "well laid plans" to disappear. Of course the wife or "significant other" nixes the plan when they discover the living room will be filled with tracks and junk. Whatever it is, I may be immune to the malady. Is it really important to have a design or designs as a guide before ties are cut?

Oh yes, I have an "idea" in mind for whatever space I am thinking of wasting on a layout but track designing is something that I never seem to get done. I have "painted myself into a corner" before with some grand thought that won't translate into real rail and spikes but mostly things just seem to work out better for me if I just start laying track and see what happens! Am I alone in this? Do I need counciling? Does it really matter?

OK then...am I wrong for doing things this way or are there others out there who, like me, just jump in and hope the water is deep enough?

                               Woodie-planning ain't my thing 

mwiz64
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Some people like to draw. Some people like to build. Some people, like me, get divorced and no longer have a place to do much of either.... I'm thinking about just building a small diorama just for something to do. I wont sketch much beyond the building templates.

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I'm with you Woodie, dive in with just an overall theme, start laying track, see where it goes to and the rest just seems "to happen". Of course, I end up having to add extensions, change the layout of buildings and scenery and often upset the rivet counters and purists but that's all part of the appeal. Something unexpected round every corner, some of it works, some of it doesn't but it's all fun. I think that in this controlled life we're expected to live in, a little bit more of the unknown doesn't do any harm.


Doug

George W
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I don't think either method is wrong, but I'm a beginer so what do I know.

For me at least a sketch helps me see if what's in my head will look like something in the real world, maybe even a loose mock up.

But even as a beginer I know 50 feet of track isn't going to fit in a two foot space, so if I had the option, I'd likely start building first and sketch an idea or two as I went.

Lee B
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I did an amazing amout of planning on my layout before I finally started sawing lumber and getting nails.
I could never come up with a track plan which suited me, which of course prevented me from going much of anywhere. Then, a pal of mine took notes on what I had in mind, and in two hours made more progress than i had in two years:

The problem was, he was thinking of HO sctructures and clearnaces. Once I built the benchwork and laid it on the ground, I realized we'd made a horrible mistake. One aisle was incredibly tight. I'd built it in sections so I didn't realize it until it was too late. My wife had an idea to cut one end out of the 'U' shaped section in the middle and rotate that a few degrees. It worked okay:

The problem then was the track plan we'd had went out the window for the center section. So, with the track plan as a guide, we proceeded until I got what I still feel was a good balance between the original dream and the reality:

Still lacking scenery, but this is almost a complete shot of the layout overall:

My point is that without the original track plan, I really doubt I'd have gotten a good balance.
The biggest problem I had with going with a open table, I didn't built in any potential for a creek to cross with any bridges. If I had any regrets for the build, that's the biggest one.
But without the flexibility during the track laying, I doubt I'd have a plan that suits me as much as this one now does...

W C Greene
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I'm not knocking track planners, it is a much needed skill that I don't have! I will relate one story. A good friend has been planning his dream layout for several years, he has CAD drawings of the track plan, benchwork, even the stud locations within the room he intends to use. Years it has been. I do feel sorry for him since he is getting older and that "dream" may be just that. A dream on paper and computer bytes.
And I did use a "plan" of sorts for my new layout. Duane Ericson (author of the Silver City NG book) sent me some drawings of what the track plan at the smelter seemed to be and I was able to get an idea of what the real thing could have been. I drew the track plan in full size on the flat styrofoam sheets and then laid ties & rail pretty much on the lines. But this seems to be the exception to what I have done for so long.
Oh well, back to "work"...

Woodie

Lee B
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W C Greene wrote:
I will relate one story. A good friend has been planning his dream layout for several years, he has CAD drawings of the track plan, benchwork, even the stud locations within the room he intends to use. Years it has been. I do feel sorry for him since he is getting older and that "dream" may be just that. A dream on paper and computer bytes. I'll do you one better; I met a guy when I was 14, who had a track plan for his dream layout and he's been tweaking it ever since on paper, only willing to start the build until it's "exactly" what he has in mind.
Did I mention that I'm 45 years old now? :sad:
That's right, it's been over 30 years and it's never progressed beyond paper.
Now, I took a crazy amount of time myself between dedicating myself to a On30 layout and cutting lumber. But I was never able to get a track plan I liked on my own. Once I had one, I was cutting lumber within a few months. My layout consisted of a track plan, stacks of lumber and boxes of rolling stock at the end of July of last year, and you see how far I've gotten as the photo in my last post here was taken last week. I'm only lacking scenery and the skirts now. The guy who created the first track plan and helped me with all the track and wiring reminded me recently that I've gotten further in 6 months than many people get in that many years (or more).
Like you, I have no idea how someone can have a plan they like and not proceed with the build. It'd kill me to get that part figured out and then do nothing with it.
:sad:

Salada
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W C Greene wrote:
OK then...am I wrong for doing things this way or are there others out there who, like me, just jump in and hope the water is deep enough?

                               Woodie-planning ain't my thing 


I am currently hand laying switches for a model railroad that doesn't even exist yet, let alone have one of those fangled 'track plan' things. They will fit in, somewhere, probably, hopefully.
I also think there is an argument to be made for planning the topography first, then thinking up something to fit - exactly like the real thing.
You ain't alone Mr Greene !.

Regards,                           Michael

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Whatever floats your boat, but keep in mind that whatever you do some "expert" will find fualt... Jose.

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Woodie, I often find myself in that club of people with big dreams, a good sketching hand, but terrible work ethic. Thankfully I broke the vicious cycle with a little N scale layout. Now I just need to update my thread.

I will say that I find conceptual drawings to be more helpful rather than true track-plans. I do a lot of "track planning" on Microsoft Paint, but it's rarely to scale or even proportional to itself. Drawing it out helps me visualize what might work, and what probably won't work. However, a track plan is hardly set in stone, Lee's story is a perfect example of that. I found out the hard way last summer that when you go in with an air-tight plan, you end up suffocating the dream, hence why my C&S project fell apart.

In other words, don't be like this: :brill: when planning a project, be like this: :mex: (if you know what I mean ;) )

If it works for music, painting, sculpture, and pottery, it's good enough for model railroading.

--James:java:

Last edited on Wed Apr 1st, 2015 04:49 pm by jtrain

Si.
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" I also think there is an argument to be made for planning the topography first,

then thinking up something to fit - exactly like the real thing."



Not a bad way of approaching things Michael.



:bg:



Si.

Michael M
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For my current layout, 35n2 outside, I've never even thought about putting a track plan on paper.  I do use Atlas track pieces to see what will, or will not, fit on a particular section.  I kinda sorta have an idea on how the layout will look, but I'm building one section at a time so things may change down the road.


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Like so many who have responded to this thread, I too have only a general idea of what will go where. Once I start building, changes may be needed or extensions added to the benchwork. My track layout is determined by laying turnouts and sectional track on the layout.

When designing my HO scale urban layout, I fused over the layout plan down to the last inch. I'm thinking that it depends on just what type of layout you are intending to build. By there very nature, urban settings are much more crowded than rural settings so require more precise planing.

My little Gn15 trains will go around a 6" radius curve as opposed to HO standard gauge needing at least 18" radius curves. This fact makes a huge difference in what will fit.

Larry G

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After a couple of years thinking about this subject, I'd like to add onto my original post:

It seems to me that there are two things which determine a layout's success:

Having a vision for what the railroad should be, and creating a flexible plan.

Without a vision, the builder will most likely end up with a chaotic layout, if one is built at all.  Without an adaptable plan, the builder will have to start anew with every change that occurs to the layout.

There are numerous plans out there that are well suited for adaptability, and plenty that aren't.  The true challenge of finding a plan for a model railroad is not in creating a railroad that suits your needs now, but one that will suit future needs.  And, of course, your needs are driven by your vision.  And that was precisely my problem, my vision kept changing.  I'd love to model every railroad on every continent, that's how much I love railroads.  But such a layout would be very chaotic and ultimately impossible.

That's what I've spent the last couple of years working on, finding a vision.  I have that now, so the planning can begin.

Thanks!

--James

Last edited on Fri Oct 6th, 2017 09:28 pm by jtrain

Michael M
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James,

Part of that vision would be the purpose of the railroad.  The reason why the thing was built in the first place. 

I opted for a narrow gauge mining railroad railroad (35n2) located in the southwest.  Instead of hauling gold or silver ore the line hauls borax like the 20 Mule Team.  I also found that the line could haul salt from some surface mines. 

So now I have a two-foot narrow gauge line running through the desert hauling borax in ore cars and some bulk salt in modified box cars.  This helps me to define what locomotives and rolling stock I'll need.

Instead of deciding on a 'plan' I'm building the layout in sections and just letting the layout sort of flow on its own.  And since I building outside space really isn't an issue.

It's slowly coming together, and should provide plenty to do along with a lot of fun over many years.

W C Greene
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One bit of "advice" I remember from years back is to decide where you want the railroad to run then imagine (on paper?) what the topography would be and design the track plan to fit the area. Just what really happens. Cuts & fills, canyons, mountains, rivers & creeks, and such may determine what you plan. Now if you opted to build the Southern Pacific narrow gauge then you might have it a bit easier. A fellow once remarked that to model that one, all you need is a few buckets of sand and some flex track to be half-buried in it.
The idea is to think about where you want this railroad to run and imagine the scenery first then the track plan. That works for me...but then I'm crazeee!

Woodie

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Woodie - you ain't crayzee or 'alone' - see my 8th Post above. Or maybe there's just 2 of us ?

Regards,   Michael

Michael M
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You can add me to that list of crazeee.

I sometimes step back and look at what I'm building and wonder what have I gotten myself into.

Si.
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Looks good to me Michael ! :)





Now ... WHERE'S THE TRACKPLAN ? ! ;)



:moose::moose::moose::moose::moose:



Si.

W C Greene
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" Track plan? We don't need no stinkin' track plan!"

Troublemaker

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Maybe here?

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Helmut :  So that's where Si got his latest track design idea. 

So the 'crazy gang' are now three, 2 Michaels & a Woodie !

Regards,    Michael

Si.
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" So that's where Si got his latest track design idea "


Drawn on my lunch break, in the bakery shop ! ;)






:java::Crazy:



Si.


:pop:

Michael M
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Si,

So does this mean that you just might start work on a layout?

I'm sure you would like to have something to run your locos and rolling stock on.


A word of caution if building a layout out in the great outdoors: If you drop something on the ground it's lost forever (ask me how I know).

Si.
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Hi Michael :wave:



Those 10" curves in the drawing ^ ...

... would be just about OK for my Porter & 4-wheeler cars etc. :cool:



But of course, no good at all, for my Shay, Mogul, railtruck & 16' 8-wheeler type cars. :f:



Essentially I have TWO distinct classifications of locos/stock.



I'm sure you already know this, but ...

... your PECO switches, are the traditional later Tri-ang/Hornby/PECO setrack geometry.

The switches are 17.24" radius, or 438mm.

This is called the '2nd Radius'.



My Shay WON'T run on a Tri-ang/Hornby '1st Radius' curve, the shafts 'pop out'.

Your Shay SHOULD be OK on your '2nd Radius' switches.

BUT, make sure the radius in the corner of your 'L'-shaped canyon section ...

... is at least the same as that of the switches 17.24"



Less than that & your Shay is gonna be a problem ! :f:



Just thought I'd mention that, in case it might help !! :old dude:



:moose:



Si.

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Si,

Not to worry about the curve at Titus Canyon as I went with a 22" radius.  I figured that a 22" radius minimum on the main line would handle just about anything.  Even though I've been sticking with short locos for now I would like to be able to run some 2-6-2, 2-8-0, or maybe even a 2-6-6-2.


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