Rather than starting a new blog, I think I warned you that I would be doing model railroad layout updates here as a reference for fellow hobbyists. You are welcome to blow right on past if the hobby is too geeky for your taste.
I have completed Version 1.0 of the track plan for an 18" by 9-foot shelf-style switching layout in N-scale. I used the 3rd PlanIt CAD program to do the design. Click to enlarge:
The layout has a number of features I wanted
- Staging area (not shown, around a corner to the left)
- Interchange with 2 other railroads
- Small yard
- Lots of industry space
- Space for urban scenery
The layout is an imaginary short line switching urban tracks in the Phoenix area, interchanging with both the Union Pacific and BNSF, set in modern day or perhaps backdated to pre-merger ATSF. I have spent several weeks photographic rail lines and industries in the area and have a good idea of the look and feel I want. I am going to build it in two modules which split just right of the diagonal interchange line.
Because I am a masochist, I am using code 40 hand-laid track with hand made turnouts using Fast Tracks fixtures. While newer code 55 rail is a big improvement over older rail, it is still out of scale. I may make the diagonal main line crossing at the junction code 55 just to emphasize the difference between main and branch line -- also because I don't really like building crossovers by hand and Atlas has a nice code 55 45-degree crossover I can use.
I am not going to run the largest modern diesels or any long passenger equipment so I am going to try to get away with #5 turnouts, except on crossovers where I will use #8 if I can make them fit. I am still debating some issues like turnout control, so I will leave that for later chapters. Minimum radius can be big - 18" or more, except on the interchange track because it has to tuck behind the backdrop.
You will see I have already planned some mirrors into the design. That was something that always got visitor's attention on my old layout -- tracks or roads appearing to go on forever. This time I will use it for the interchange track as well as the yard (a la John Allen). I am also going to try to double the apparent length of my grain elevator with one. As always, the hard part is hiding the edges. The interchange track will be easy, and a highway overpass will likely work on the yard, but I have not yet figured out how to disguise the mirror at the elevator.
This weekend I hope to actually build the base of the modules, using 1-inch extruded foam insulation board glued to 1/4" Lauan plywood. Stay tuned, I hope to have it all in pictures.