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Almostretired
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I am in the track planning stage, I have 3/4 of a 8' by 15' room available.


I am leaning towards a simple U-shape.  Not my theme, 
but I like some of the aspects of the U-shaped track plans posted by Thundermesa Studio.  

Mainly because the plans look like they would fit my room. 
The plans call for 2-3 foot wide sections, at the most.

However, some plans show tunnels on the perimeter, 
some of them lengthy. 


I plan on L-girder construction, 
with tracks on risers and plywood strips, and an average height of 4 feet or more.


If I plan accordingly, the long tunnel could be at the lowest track elevation.  
In my imagination, I could crawl under there to re-cover a derailing.  
I hasten to add that I have an active imagination. 


So, does anyone successfully access a tunnel from under the layout ? 
Or does everyone use lift-offs ?


corv8
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Almostretired wrote:
So, does anyone successfully access a tunnel from under the layout ? 
Or does everyone use lift-offs ?


Have both.  

A short 90° mainline tunnel in a corner of the layout, 
with a lift off village on top. 

I seldom have to lift it as its short enough, 
that I may reach stalled trains from one of the ends, 
and there was never any derailment.

And, I have a wide turning loop under the layout.  It is only used occasionally. 
In the beginning, I had once a derailment, 
and one of the brand new Empire Builder coaches dropped over the edge to the floor.  

So I would suggest some sort of fence, maybe only a few millimeters, 
so it does still allow access to the track.

What trains will you operate ?

Almostretired
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Gerold, thanks for the reply. 

It's encouraging to know it can be done,
and your guard fence is taken under advisement. 


In short, my locos will be small and trains also short.
I am doing this all on the cheap as I can. 

As far as trains right now,
I snagged a Bachmann Hawthorn Village 2-6-0 passenger coach set
in bright red and McDonald's logos, 3 years back for $38

I'm practicing with Badger primers and inexpensive craft paints,
trying to hide the history of the loco. 

Before re-painting the coaches,  I intend to shorten them,
after I watched a youtube of someone who did a nice job of it,
it was the guy who posted the U shaped track plans. 


As for freight cars, all be on the shorter side of things,
averaging around 20 scale feet. 

I want a logging and mining inspired layout,
as those cars and structures are of greatest interest to me.

I am currently trying to model an 18' boxcar. 
However, scale-looking inexpensive arch bar trucks have me stymied,
but last night I think I may have found a possible solution.


2foot6
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Hi Mark

I have four tunnels on my layout, three of them are accessible
by going under the layout and reaching in to solve an issue.

It's been so long ago that I had a problem,
I don't remember when it was, years ago. 


The other tunnel is about six feet long and is straight track,
it's accessible at one end as far as my arm can reach.

The rest is reachable by stepping on a ladder and reaching over the scenery,
and accessing the problem by reaching into a void created by the scenery.
(VERY RISKY)


Good luck with your planning, it's an important part of creating the layout,
to what you think is the right design, as you build, it will change as you go.

For me that was an important part of the building.

Go as you have planned, and make the changes as the need arises,
sometimes the scene just doesn't look right, or it won't work....

IT'S ALL PART OF THE FUN  :2t:

........Peter


Almostretired
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Thanks for the reply, Peter.

I have contemplated not covering a tunnel next to the wall completely, 
as not bringing scenery tight right up against a painted wall backdrop, 
would help with perspective, especially in mountainous terrain I think.....?

At this point, the track plans look like they would be 3 feet deep at most, 
(a bit more in a corner), 
but I think that's reachable with care, as I am taller than average.

And yes, I do plan on making changes as I go along, 
for me the process of modeling is more appealing, 
than operating trains on a finished layout. 

It may sound strange, but basically I want a layout 
for somewhere to put the scratch built structures and rolling stock 
I find the greatest enjoyment in when engaged in this hobby.

2foot6
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Not bringing scenery tight right up against a painted wall backdrop 
would help with perspective, especially in mountainous terrain.


That is what I did with my long tunnel, 
and it works very well for a number reasons. 

I have also found out that sometimes you can get an arm through
the tunnel entrance to retrieve rolling stock on the shorter tunnels.

............Peter.

Almostretired
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Thank you, good to know.




Michael M
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I had a tunnel about 4' long with several switches no less !


The top part of the mountain over it was removable.  

I knew I would have to be able to access it on occasions...

And I was right.


Almostretired
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Thanks for the reply, Michael.

Especially the part about the switches, 
as one of the track plans I do really like, 
does have a switch under the mountain. 

As I used to sometimes warn my HS students, 
when I heard of some of their sketchier plans:
"That sounds like a train wreck looking for its crossing..."

I suppose switches in tunnels are likely not at all prototypical, 
(rivet counters: feel free to chime in) 
but I think a model tunnel with a switch in it is truly a: 
"Train wreck looking for its schedule..."

That stated, the prototype for my model railroad, 
exists solely in some alternate past reality in my head,
where prototypical accuracy is a passing suggestion relegated to a moot point... 
A large part of what attracted me to On30...

I will have to store some of the flotsam and jettison, 
of 39+ years and counting of living in this old house, under the layout, 
so if something falls past the tiny fences I will put on this part of the track, 
it wont fall too far. 

Turning this basement room into a "train room" is actually a good exercise, 
as lots of "stuff" is going to recycling and charity...

Steven B
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So, my experience with tunnels is,
before you enclose it, make sure the track is bullet proof.

No switches, that is your train wreck. 
Just leave one open the wrong way, and you'll see.

No reversing curves, without a straight,
twice as long than your longest car or locomotive, between the curves,
to keep couplers from offsetting and pulling them off the track.
 
Always use a easement to go into curves,
especially the reversing ones in a tunnel.

Make sure all of your cars and locomotives are to a set of standards,
and weighted following the NMRA recommended practices,
and all couplers are to a set height using a coupler height gauge. 

I have been building to On3 standards on my On30. 
Makes it tougher and have to modify Bachmann stuff pretty drastically. 

Also be sure to check your wheel gauges, locomotives and cars. 
All of them should be to the NMRA standards gauge.
 
Maintenance is the key. 
If the stuff is maintained, you'll reduce the chance of disaster.

Can't wait to see what you are doing !


Almostretired
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Hadn't thought about the leaving a switch open scenario...

I know there are electrical light indicators for that,
and probably even track power wiring safeguards,
but that's a level of complexity I am looking to avoid.

I am starting with A Bachmann heritage set, but several couplers were damaged.
In looking at replacing them I read bad things about the Bachmann E-Z Mate couplers,
so I switched to Kadee #148s since I need couplers for scratchbuilt cars anyways.

As for trucks, I have gone thru multiple scenarios.
Other than their bright red color, I liked the Bachmann archbar freight trucks,
that came under the tender to my 2-6-0 McBurger steamer. 
That was until I priced them starting at $18 the pair.
How and what I settled on I guess I should discuss in the other thread,
I started asking about vendor experience with San Juan Car company.

Basically, I settled on Tichy HO archbar trucks, but using Kadee On30 24" wheel sets,
a very reasonably priced solution for my needs, at least. buying in multiples, of course,
I can assemble reasonable looking archbar freight trucks for less than $8 a pair.

I have some different gauges of sheet copper (denser than steel) to fashion weights
to hide under my cars, also looking at hollow center sills for stashing birdshot.
If I let shot run back and forth loose, I could get some realistic jumping
when the train takes up slack, or slows.... just kidding about that last part.


Steven B
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Hahahahaha. 

Nothing like slack running out on freight cars. 
Fortunately for your Conductor, they are "small trains" ! 
There is nothing like the uncushioned bang, bang, bang, bang...
bang, uh ! Dang ! in a caboose.
Hold tight.

It's not just an open switch, if it doesn't throw all the way,
or something hangs up the points...  yikes ! 
Switches require maintenance.  If you're going to have one in a tunnel,
make it accessible to see it.  Just my experience here.

To me it sounds like the Tichy option is a good one if you like the look. 
I am trying to go with the McCloud (I don't think that is how they spell it) trucks. 
They make a "Carter" style that suits my rivet counting recovery. 

Wheels for them ?  Well I am having a problem with that though. 
They are spendy, but I saw a fix that I have not tried yet, building new axles. 
It comes down to a matter of time.
 
So just be cautious with the long inaccessible tunnels. 
They will be your achilles heel.
 
Fewer moving parts are the key.


Almostretired
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I've ruled out a switch in the tunnel,
not that stuck on that particular plan anyways.

Steven, I don't know if this next info will help with your truck building,
but it's a result of my own axle/frame research.

The San Juan truck kits I like are fitted for #37131-4 NSWL WHEELSETS.
Those NWSL axles are cylindrical, not pin-pointed,
which means the SJ frames are drilled for a cylindrical bearing, not a point,
not a problem, but it seems to eliminate pointy axle substitutions into SJ frames.

A bigger problem for me is that those NWSL wheelsets are, grab your socks:
$25 for a set of 4 axles.  Could these be the "spendy" wheelsets you speak of ?
There are rivet counters and there are bean counters, and I am definitely the latter.
No way can I invest $25 per car into just NWSL wheelsets.

My possible solution, is that Tichy sells their Nylon cone bearings separately if you want.
Tichy's frames are in a different plastic so you get little white nylon cone bearings
to pop into a cylindrical hole in the frame casting.
My plan if San Juan ever tells me what's up with my questions,
is to insert the Tichy nylon bearings into the SJ truck, and run Kadee 24" pointy axles.


48 bearings for $3.50 :

https://www.tichytraingroup.com/Shop/tabid/91/c/trucks/p/3059-bearings/Default.aspx

If interested, I can measure a bearing from my kits.


Some may ask why don't I just order a kit from San Juan, and see ?

Well, I really don't want to reward poor communication, actually it's not poor, it's zero,
and I also don't want my credit card to disappear into a unresponsive company either.


Steven B
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Yup those be the spendy ones. 

I might have bought some years ago, when I was rich and famous,
maybe, now I am poor and notorious, can't do it.  

I like the Kadee sets, axle length is the only problem that I can see. 
They are made on HO length axles.
I use On3 Trucks, they are just a tad wider and don't fit. 
All my trucks need 24" wheels to be "correct".

I like the bearings. 
I wonder if they take out the distance ?

The McCloud trucks need bearings because they are styrene,
and the axles grind out the styrene "bearing" and the truck fails.  
I had gotten some before but do not recall where. 

Soon I'll have to just bite the bullet and figure this stuff out. 
I am just having too much fun with the 1/4 doll houses right now. 
And a layout is going to take some real construction.  

San Juan bought the Grandt Line products.
Those are not "old", they're the new ones. 

Makes me wonder, why they don't answer ?


Nice Guy Eddie
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I think sometimes what can happen is,

IF other manufactures products, are mentioned in an inquiry,

another company, may well not feel able to advise on use etc.


So perhaps they just don't answer some complex inquiries,

involving different frames, wheels, & bearings etc.


They could be better at answering, just on their stuff ?

L:

Eddie.


Almostretired
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That makes complete sense, Eddie.

Even though I wouldn't agree with it,
I could understand their protective stance.


However, I didn't let San Juan in on my scheme,
I just asked about their dimensions,
and other questions specific to their own products,
and I specified their product numbers in my inquiry.

I did ask through their website "contact us" portal,
rather than direct email, but if they don't monitor that,
how should I feel about my eventual purchase being monitored ?


Still a little leery about the 2 different websites,
both have trucks, some overlap, but some are unique to the website.

I have read about the people who bought these small companies,
and are trying to keep them going, but for the life of me,
cant find current reviews of the vendor, even Google reviews came up empty.
So with the silent treatment, I just have to assume they are still struggling.

Plenty of San Juan stuff on eBay and other online sellers, but in typical
bait/switch style, are offering reasonable prices but charge crazy shipping.
One vendor asks $18 to ship a pair of model RR trucks !


A related aside: when I traveled a bit to visit a brick and mortar hobby store.
I happened to mention I was re-entering the hobby,
and looking through old Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazettes,
and was frustrated to find so many of those advertisers had gone silent.

He told me that everything changes in very quick cycles nowadays,
my magazines are outdated, as far as advertisers,
often in less than 2 years.



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