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Pen and paper track planning
 Moderated by: Herb Kephart
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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 06:34 pm
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MI Railroader
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Alright, so this may seem a little silly, but since I have been modelling I have been able to work things out on a computer screen to see what will or (most of the time) won't work. As of this Friday I have a job interview that could land me in a spot that I won't be able to bring the computer, and I would still like to be able to doodle (somewhat accurately). I See people using French curves, protractor, and compass occasionally but the question is, how? How do you set the to say 1/48 scale to plan on a sheet of paper? I ask because as I've said before I've never done it...and it kind of boggles my mind...halp....



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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 07:35 pm
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Lee B
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The guy who sketched out my original track plan used a plastic template that was made for HO scale. I've never seen one for sale and he says he's had it for a very long time. It has curves in various diameters.
I've seen them for Lionel and G scale, but they show individual sections of track.



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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 10:30 pm
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pipopak
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I have a set of paper track templates that I got eons ago in a NMRA Bulletin. I used to set them on a sheet of paper, make a copy and then check with a proper set of drawing tools and plastic templates. It is a hobby by itself (Jose, from the Dark Ages).



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 Posted: Wed Apr 1st, 2015 10:30 pm
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jtrain
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MI,

You don't need all that fancy stuff. Here is what I use:

--0.5mm lead mechanical pencil

--12 ruler that goes at least to 1/16th's of an inch, 1/32nd's are better.

--A compass (the thing that draws circles)

--a couple of squares (actually triangles)

That's all you need, no french curves, no complicated stuff. Now, to draw in scale, I just use the ruler and go with fractions of an inch. When 1 inch on paper represents 1 foot of real layout space, that's a 1:12th scale plan.

3/4ths of an inch for a real foot is 1:16th scale

1/2 inch for a real foot is 1:24th scale

1/4 inch for a real foot is 1:48th scale

etc...

The ones I outlined above are the scales you'll most often be drawing in, although I've put out some garden railroad plans on one sheet of copy paper that were one inch represented 12 feet or 1:144 scale. I doubt you'll need to use a scale that small though for an indoor layout, unless you're building a layout for a pole shed.

Another piece of advice I give is to use the largest scale you can that will fit the layout on one sheet of paper. This is because the smaller the scale the plan is, the more inherently inaccurate it will be compared to your real life space. Being a 1/32 of an inch off is usually no big deal on the train layout, but being 1/32 of an inch off on the track plan can be disastrous, depending on the scale you use.

Also, when you're working with plans that involve flex track, I tend to mark spots along the plan where the track must go, and fill in freehand with the pencil. Continuous curves in one radius will look toy-like in all except the largest curves, so the more freedom you allow in your plan for smooth and flowing track, the better it'll look in real life.

Hope that helps.

--James:java:



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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2015 09:35 am
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MI Railroader
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so with that being said that made another question pop up, that is what about say switch geometry? or curves? If my thinking is correct say an 18in curve would be roughly 5/16"? so is that what you would set your compass to to draw that in?



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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2015 10:18 am
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Herb Kephart
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I was going to write something last night about this, but it was getting late, and God knows, I need my beauty sleep.

Then James did a better job than I would likely have done.

Thank you James!

The only thing that I can think to add is that you can get (at least you used to be able to) a ''legal'' size pad with light blue 1/4'' grid superimposed on it that I prefer to use. Ask for ''Quadrille"" paper.

I have drawn hundreds of layouts using this--some just dreams, some got built. I have always made a drawing, before I started hacking and splitting wood for benchwork.

It requires a visionary like Mr Greene to just start laying track. I take my hat off to that astute gentleman.

That is, if I can find my hat ( on head, but doesn't realize it)

Herb



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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2015 10:39 am
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pipopak
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Another method I have used is to print the features I like from several different layout plans (all in the same scale) and then start merrily cutting and pasting until the end result looks like something I like and looks buildable. Now in this newfangled computer era is cut and paste in an editor program. Saves tress, you know.  Jose.



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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2015 05:53 pm
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jtrain
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MI,

I'm not quite sure exactly what you were asking, but I'll do my best.

If you're refering to scale, an 18 inch radius curve will be 5/16 inches drawn on your track plan if it's to a scale of 1:57.6 where 1 inch on paper represents 57.6 inches on the layout.

If you go with the scales I outlined in my previous posts, an 18 inch radius curve would be:

1 and 1/2 inches drawn to 1/12th scale

1 and 1/8 inches drawn to 1/16th scale

3/4ths inch drawn to 1/24th scale

3/8ths inch drawn to 1/48th scale

As for turnouts, typically you'll use #4, #5, #6, #8 turnouts, maybe a #10 if you have the space. This simply means the diverging route moves outward 1 unit for every 10 units of travel down the track like this image:



In real life, turnouts are simply straight routes that diverge with a very gentle curve for a transition. On a layout, since the space is so tight, many turnouts are built to a particular radius. For HO scale, that radius is usually 18, 22, 24, or 28 inches.

Again, you don't need to make this too complicated, I generally draw the turnouts to be an average size. In fact, I often don't even measure the turnouts when I draw them, mostly because it's near impossible to draw the turnouts accurate enough without screwing up the rest of the track plan. Besides, you'll often need to cut and adjust the turnouts on the layout anyway, so accurately drawn turnout plans can be thrown out the window.

I recommend MI that you go check out a few track planning books at your local hobby shop. One of the few things Kalmbach Publishing does really well is explain complicated tasks in simple terms.

And thanks Herb for the nice comments, I highly doubt I'm explaining this good enough, but a man can only try.

Just remember, track plans are a guide, not the hard rules. You'll always have to adjust your plans to fit the actual project so don't dwell on the track plan too much.

--James:java:



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James W.

See progress on the Western Logging Railroad:

http://westernloggingrr.blogspot.com/

Other Blogs:

http://apartmentrailroad.blogspot.com

The workbench blog of projects on going in my life.

http://rapidcityrr.blogspot.com

A blog
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 Posted: Thu Apr 2nd, 2015 11:34 pm
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MI Railroader
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you hit the nail on the head with what i was asking actually, im sorry that was so garbled i started officiating yesterday and was extremely tired when i wrote it. but thank you everyone for the input!



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