Tom’s N gauge takes shape

“Here’s a few of our S & L garden RR in Keller, Texas 15 miles northwest of the DFW airport.


And this in from Tom:

“Very early stages of a small N gauge layout.

Having to down size from a large N gauge layout with it’s realistic sweeping curves and long straights I decided, not being a lover of end to end layouts, the best compromise was to make a very comprehensive continuous circuit with an elevated section and a large yard area for shunting operations and steam/diesel loco servicing.

With the space available and to avoid a wiring nightmare with DC it was only possible with DCC and full computer control.
The 6ft X 3ft base board is constructed of 6mm exterior grade plywood including the legs, to keep the weight to a minimum and give some portability.

The elevated circuit will traverse a valley between 2 hill areas with a viaduct, to a height of 12cms, to allow under board fitting of cobalt point motors. With the restricted space a spiral is used under the larger right side hill giving a reasonable gradient of 1 in 36.

The hill area will have a level top for a farm and rural landscape harking back to my childhood days.

The track, ( laid todate 15 metres) is Peco 80 streamline mainly flexible, laid on Track Bed. I find this easier to lay than code 55 used previously and find the points are more robust, which will total 26. I have found the recently available Peco ready wired rail joiners making the job of wiring the large number of drop wires to N track, an easier task, especially for us of advanced years.

The elevated circuit is accessed from the inner main line and requires reverse loops and auto reverse to enable the train to return on the spiral forward and join the main line again in the same direction as leaving. This makes for some very interesting action in the fiddle yard and under the two hills.

The steam servicing yard area is accessed by a turntable, again because of the small space and to leave an area for goods, coal and weighbridge facilities.

The Diesels will have a single shed behind the carriage sidings adjacent to the station.

DCC control is by NCE( I consider the best), with DCC Concepts Cobalt

Point motors with decoders.

A monitoring panel for all points and track installed in front of the back scenery will be mounted behind the back panel having LED indication and manual override only.

All points installed behind the back scenery will have override pushbuttons and indicator LEDs mounted in the track.

This still involves a large wiring job, having used todate over 20 metres of 6 core signal cable to the monitoring panel.

Still requiring the bus, track position, signals, building lighting, etc wiring to be installed. Who says DCC makes wiring simple, just 2 wires to the track is all that is required. They forget the frog switching, the reverse polarity modules, the drop wiring, the extra power areas, the track and point isolations, etc. all very necessary outside a simple circuit with a few sidings.

As the photos show it is very much in the early stages and will certainly provide an interesting task to landscape.
Most people will probably think it is too much in such a small space, but I am enjoying the logic,electronic and planning challenge and is certainly keeping my aging brain active.


And lastly, it looks like Dave has been on the sherry again:

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Please keep ’em coming.

Just hit reply to any of my emails and send in your videos, pics and tips.



25 Responses to Tom’s N gauge takes shape

  1. That Dave’s a genius and I always enjoy his movies.



    Dave G

  2. Re the Dave’s latest video… So, where is the model Astin or DB9? :) Fun video, and that’s what the hobby is about. Keep up the good work!
    – the other Dave

  3. Dave G, you are right that Dave is a genius!! I can’t even work my wife’s movie camera.
    Keep them coming Tom and Dave

  4. great stuff ,keep it coming

  5. Love the garden train ive seriously thought of selling my ho trains and buying a garden train but everything is so exspensive. i wish i could put my ho outside

  6. Nice garden railroad…its about time us G Scale guys were represented…Keep up the great work!

  7. Dave is starting to be a real moviemaker… Great intro for a movie Dave. Now the action in the rest hihihi


  8. Dave’s deffo on the sherry; or anything stronger; marvelous piece of work.

  9. Looking at the helix to nowhere; does John McLain drive your trains ? It’s a great N gauge system.

  10. loved the movie, video but where is the popcorn and drinks or the pastel colored Jordan almonds. I wish someone would make a Z scale sized camera I could put on a flat car to either “push or pull around my layout”. By the term affordable I mean something in the $50-$100 range with all components to allow recoding and simplified instructions for idiots like me to understand the workings and hook ups. Oh well I guess there I go being a “Daydream Believer”. I have a qiuestion, “Why do they always sing the song “Take me out to the ballgame” in the 7th inning when you are already there ??

  11. Tom, great job. I agree with you about using curves.

    Speaking of curves (the layout), Dave is at it again. Another great video.

  12. I believe that there is o e made small enough to use on your layout. Hot Wheels has one in one of their cars for viewing the layout from a front bumper view. I am not sure of the cost, but mine was cheap.

    Good luck,

  13. neat

  14. What a hoot! I was expecting to see the Thunderbirds puppets emerge from a secret underground location and zoom into the sky! Good one Dave!

    And being a N guy right now, (ho next), i was grateful to see the layout and control panel. Thanks for sharing Tom!

    Well done fellahs!


  15. Hi Tom,

    The best thing about this hobby is that nomatter what you build, wether it’s a huge club layout, or a 1′ x 12′ straight fiddle yard. It all comes down to one thing, “do you like it and does it give you enjoyment” if the answer is “yes,” then who cares what others may say, or thing. I’m damm sure I wouldn’t, So go for it and Enjoy it while your able to.

    Steve, (Downunder)

  16. Tom, would like to see your layout design because I don’t think you need the reverse loop with helix off the mainline.

  17. Hey Tom – quite a serious undertaking in N scale. Very nice track plan, but as you said, may become too congested. The wiring and control systems can really become a challenge; had many, many hours myself designing circuitry on my N scale SV&GS in standard DC, which is only 8′ x 5′ and which has appeared here on Al’s website several times in the past.

    Best of luck with your ambitious ‘small’ project.

  18. Francis
    Thank you for your kind assistance.
    Believe I will need 2 reverse loops one on each level.
    The Train from the inner main line will run up the Helix in a forward direction to the elevated circuit.
    To return to the lower level in a forward direction will need to use a reverse loop on this level. When reaching the lower level will be approaching the main line in the wrong direction for it’s normal running so will need to use a lower reverse loop to achieve this. With the small space to access this loop it will initially have to reverse in an adjacent siding which will have auto reverse function and macro point control and then approach forwards to the loop.
    If you can suggest a simpler method I would be very grateful but the space available really makes this very difficult, mainly the access track area requirement of the reverse loops .As I said most people think it is too ambitious on such a small layout.


  20. Dave, You done it again with your movie making. You have made a GREAT Preview clip. Better then I could have done. And your train videos clips was worked in on cue with the music. An A1 job.


  21. Dave is becoming as accomplished at video making as he is at train building– no small deal, there. Bravo!!! I think I will give up the tele and just hang around the computer waiting for more Dave-produced entertainment!!!!

  22. Dave is certainly the undisputed ‘king of the model railways’.
    My ‘wish list’ would be a DVD of Dave’s many programmes. I have wireless broadband and a You Tube clip can take up to 3 times as long to view with all the stops and starts.

    Max D (Australia)

  23. Was the copyright date wrong or was the Bond movie made in 2013?. Anyways as always it’s great stuff.
    That N guage makes my proposed OO look like child’s play (even though I’m 67). I was interested in his remark about controller preference – I thought DCC was the only option. I am starting up with my old Zero One for cost reasons.

  24. Tom your layout is looking good, thanks for sharing.
    Dave you never cease to amaze me with you mini movies.

  25. Another smashing good video by Dave.
    Had not intended the Pun on one of Bond’s early villains… But…

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