Starting your layout

This post is dedicated to starting your layout… it’s a step so many don’t take, which is a great shame, because once your on way…

“Alastair,

Good morning sir, I would like to take the time to say that I really enjoy seeing all if the emails and I learn new things every time I receive them. I am fairly new to the hobby (I started in 2011) and I am currently working on my second layout attempted my first one ended up beige down due to space needed, it is a 4 x 6 layout in my spare room in the basement. Here are some pics, hope you enjoy.

Joe”


“Learning from experience: My wife wanted an HO layout, so I built, in the basement, an 8 x 16 foot table for her trains. ( I do n-gauge) I put fluorescent lights overhead. In time, the fluorescent lights needed replacements, etc., and I found I could not service them without clambering over the layout table. That precluded installing scenery and additional trackage. The solution was to install LED lighting. LEDs last “forever”, so there is no need to climb up on the table.

Erik”


“Info re soldering- actually most irons today come with electroplated tips and not solid copper. Filing them will destroy them. If your tip gets dirty (usually baked on carbon from flux), get a block of salammoniac (flux salt) and break some up and rubs your iron tip in it when hot- then do same with a bit of solder.

Mike”


“Hi Al,

I Promised I would send in the initial photos of my attic layout. So here they are for what they are worth.

I have always wanted to construct a layout ever since I was a boy.

Unfortunately I never ever got round to it. Life took over: growing up, career, marriage, kids.

My career definitely took over, and I was seldom at home, I do not know how my wife put up with it…

Now I have retired I have decided to put the effort in to achieve my childhood dream, a full blown attic layout.

I commenced over 18 months ago, and I must admit, not full time. I probably would have been further on if I had.

I have been learning as I go, and also making many mistakes as I go…

The site you manage is invaluable to me. I have learned a lot from it, and still have a lot to learn. Some of the postings of other layouts are fantastic and are a great source of inspiration.

Maybe one day I can reach these dizzy heights???

My layout runs the length of the attic, down both sides, meeting at each end. It is 25 feet in length by 2 feet wide, the end sections are6 and a half feet by 3 feet.

It is situated between the roof trusses at waist height, and the baseboard is made of chipboard interlocking flooring I had left over when I floored the attic. I used some 2 by 2 strapping underneath the boards for extra middle support.

I covered the baseboard in compressed fibre board underlay, the type used for flooring.

It is still in its very early stages. I have three main lines laid and powered. They do a complete circuit of the layout, one is for freight, the other two are passenger. Eventually I will have a mainline station, a country station and a freight yard. Just dreams at the moment…

One problem I do have, is the slope of the roof will make it difficult to have a backdrop. I have racked my brains but cannot come up with a solution. Maybe some of the users can offer some suggestions?

It is DCC apart from the raised section that will run around the outer edges. This is going to be DC as I have acquired an old Triang ‘ Princess Elizabeth’ train set ( the same type as was given as a Christmas present as a boy in 1958…) sadly that went missing over the years. I bought this one on Ebay and I was in seventh heaven when it arrived.

It appears to have a serial number on the box which could indicate the date of manufacture ‘R1X100953’ to me that could indicate 10th of September 1953? I wonder if some of your users could verify that, although it is probably wishful thinking on my part….

I did think about converting it to DCC, but I was advised against it. Thankfully I took that advice. I will keep it in its original state. The only thing I have replaced is the magnet.

Keep up the good work Al. It is invaluable to me.

Regards

Eddie”


“Dear Alistair,

I have a couple more tricks that may interest you. My first is a money saver. Contractors fitted a new updated alarm system in the offices where I was working. The old wire was the same thickness as telephone wire but it is multicore strands and not just a single metal core. It is therefore much more flexible and for very fine work you can separate the strands and use them individually. It is a bit fiddly but it works. The contractors were throwing all the old wire in a skip and I got permission to ‘help myself. I have miles of it, all different colours and it cost me nothing. If any modellers have a friend who works for an alarm company, there is no harm in asking.

My 2nd idea is Using R/C micro helicopters as part of your layout. I have built a Heliport using a Superquick cardboard bus station converted as a plane hanger. I made a cardboard landing pad and wired in tiny 1.44mm LEDS around the landing circle and the ‘H’ in the middle for landings and take offs after dark. It adds another dimension to a layout and looks brilliant in the dark. I bought my helis through Aliexpress from China and even found mini 4 rotor hover fighter aircraft. At 66 years old I am just a big kid. They are cheap as chips usually with free postage from there. They add really good fun and my Grandson (7 years old) is a better pilot than me – Bugger!!!

Regards

Doug”


“Alastair

I guess I would say that best model railroad tip would be to run bus wires. Years ago we would put the track together hook up the transformer and hoped for the best. Often we were disappointed because of poor electrical contact. I have found that running bus wires under the layout and dropping down feeder wires every few feet makes electrical contact more reliable,and trains run much better without hesitation.

Keep up this great site

Dickie”


And lastly, some of you will remember Roger from yesterdays’s post – he’s been featured before – he made this amazing traction engine from a kit.

That’s all this time, folks. Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you feel like making a start on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here

19 responses to “Starting your layout”

  1. Perry says:

    Hi Eddie,
    Depending on how wide your aisle is I would move the layout to the inside on the roof supports, then you could attach the back drops to the supports. Perry in New Orleans

  2. David Hannan says:

    25ft loft layout – Wow! Really like the idea and look of the raised section. Please keep sending in photos of your progress. Well done.

    Dirty Dave

  3. Mike Pettruzzelli says:

    I like Perry’s idea…Move layout to front side of studs…..Mike

  4. Eddie says:

    Hi Perry,

    Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately the aisle is not wide enough to try your suggestion. Hopefully I shall find a solution at some point.
    If and when I do I shall ask Al to post it.

  5. Jan Boen says:

    @Eddie,

    Don’t hesitate to convert even your old kit to DCC.
    If it runs fine as is there should be little problems converting it.
    You’ll be amazed what your 60 year old train can do.
    Keeping it as is is only useful if you’re collecting and hope the value goes up.
    I converted Märklin loco’s from the mid 1950’s and they run like a charm.

    Cheers,

    Jan
    (Belgium)

  6. Eddie says:

    Hi Jan,

    Thanks for your comment.
    i found a guy on the internet who would convert it for me, but another person i spoke to advised against it. So i took his advice.
    I am not a collector, so the current value does not mean vey much to me. It does run well despite its age.
    You have me thinking again….
    Cheers,

    Eddie

  7. Eddie says:

    Hi Dirty Dave,

    You can rest assured I will keep Al up to date on my progress, or lack of.
    I have been working on my first tunnel today, still a bit to do, but the trains pass through ok.

    cheers,

    Eddie

  8. Perry says:

    Hi Eddie,
    Put a short wall at the back of the layout, and paint the over head as sky.

  9. Ian Gordon-Jones says:

    Eddie
    It was a great nostalgic reminder for me to see the boxed Princess Elizabeth
    Railway set. It was my first train when I was eight years old. I am nearing 70 now.
    Look forward to seeing it running.
    Regards
    Ian

  10. Richard Standing says:

    That ‘Princess’ is older than 1958 – my father’s one dates from 1956 and is a better defined model (the coaches are slightly longer too).

    Be careful about leaving it in the loft, as early versions of the Princess and coaches (including that one) were made of a cheaper plastic that warps easily in extremes of heat. I think the 1956 version was about the first one they got right.

  11. KERRY HELTON says:

    Looking nice. conquering the space problem. good luck. thanks for sharing.

  12. Jim Orner says:

    Eddie here is a thought similar to that of Perry, run a line down the inside of the studs toward the aisle and have it loop around the other side and run behind the studs, this would allow you to have scenery or backdrop on the side which is outside of the studs and you can have a yard configuration going up the other side which would lie behind the roof trussing studs. just a thought

  13. Lindsay McIsaac says:

    Hi, I have to agree with Eddie and Jan, unless you are collecting them it really is worthwhile converting to DCC. I have done about half of my 1950s Hornby Dublo locos, you have to disassemble the motor completely – rebore (so you can insulate it from the loco body) the hole for the rear brush if you replace the magnet you may find the motor is very noisy, to quieten it down a bit put some shims of cardboard or similar between the pole pieces and the actual magnet, the limit on how many may be the physical space in the loco body, ie. the N2 0-6-2 has very little space. Try it, it really is worthwhile. If any body wants some photos showing details of the conversion ask Al for my email address. (probably asking for trouble here)

  14. Neil Glenn says:

    If you have mountains in your layout, try painting them somewhat hazy, especially toward the mountaintops, but keep these at less a height than you might think. If possible, have a small gap (more is better!) between 3-dimensional hills and the higher (but not much, remember!), ‘more distant’ mountains. This will give SOME illusion of distance.

  15. Eddie says:

    Ian,

    It was my first set also. I was overjoyed when I found it on Ebay.
    It does run well, but I need to set up some DC controlled track to give it a good run.
    I will be 67 in July and it brought a lump to my throat when I saw the box.

    Regards

    Eddie

  16. Dave Fairfull says:

    Eddie;
    You didn’t say what Rail Road you were modeling but how about mountains then you could throw a few snow sheds in ?
    Dave F

  17. JIm Ford says:

    Hi!
    I got a Rovex Princess box set for Christmas c.1950.
    There were vertical stud contacts behind the drivers before the trailing bogey. The power was supplied from the battery box. I later got a power box. Thus the long gone box would be slightly different from above photos.

    Sadly, I later sold the loco at a shop near the Crystal Palace site and bought a 2-6-4 LMS tank. The track and coaches are still in my loft where the ridge board is 2″ lower than my height and the trusses give little scope for layout construction!

    Jim ’74’ from Papa Whiskey (Paddock Wood)

  18. Gene Schaeffer says:

    Re: Soldering iron tips. If you keep a moistened sponge handy and wipe the tip just before you use it and coat it with solder when you cool it down, you will never have to aggressively clean it. The exception would be the high (relatively) wattage soldering guns. These are very handy for 1 or 2 soldered joints but are usually solid, unplated copper and are a pain to keep clean. Still, wiping on a moist sponge (when hot) will extend their life without filing as often.

  19. Tim Morlok says:

    Eddie, nice start. If you could move your raised roadbed foreword a couple of inches, you should have room for a 4″ to 6″ vertical backdrop. I would then go with a light blue sky on the sloped ceiling. Also to gain extra width in some locations, you could extend the base board in between some of the trusses. You would gain about 4″ for scenery on the aisle side of you tracks.
    Tim

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *