Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The layout (room) Plan:

As I progressed plans I used advice from colleagues and professionals. One area I wanted to avoid was "hidden" track.
I had almost moved away from any hidden staging. I wanted it to be accessible and manageable. I debated the staging for my plan with experts in the Layout Design Special Interest Group. We compromised on some semi hidden staging at the front of the layout. Well, the consultants were so good they made me feel I designed it.
My diorama also gave me a chance to solve a long issue I had been tackling over the brand of track to use. I will not say I have the best solutions but I was struggling with Peco track, which was proven, solid and worked, but not all that DCC friendly. I had used Peco previously and liked the solid nature of it. Atlas Code 55 was beautiful, and more DCC friendly. Making turnouts with “Fast Tracks” to provide visually great track and more accurate dimensions, was also a consideration.
My diorama was built with Atlas as I had previously used Peco Electrofrog switches and code 55 track. I used DPDT (double pole double throw) slide switches to move the switch and provide power to the frog and future signals to show direction of the switch. Everything worked well and the Atlas  code 55 looks great.  One switch failed but was repaired easily.
For my new layout I emotionally decided on Peco track and swithches. I am not saying this is the best, but emotionally I know it will last a long time, and I can put up with a little less realistic appearance for the sake of strong operations. I just wish Peco were more DCC friendly – more on that later.

The final house plans included a room 6.5 x 5.6 meters, fully tiled, and lined. It could  easily be a home theatre room . It is the only room in the house air conditioned (in case it is needed). The builder also had to provide an exhaust hole for the painting table. 
The room also has two 20 amp circuits and 5 x 4 outlet power boards. All of these are controlled by 2 master switches at the door so I can turn off all power when leaving the room, in case a soldering iron or similar is left on.

I set about creating my list of "Druthers" - a list of "needs" I wanted to incorporate into the layout. here is my list developed over many months:

  •         Room is 6.5 x 5.6 meters – no windows – one standard door.
  •         Bench height will be 120cm (48 inches) and rise to 130 cm.
  • ·      Minimal legs – around the wall, with island. Use braces off wall if required for stability.
  • ·      N Scale
  • ·      Theme is “Mountains to desert”  - USA West Coast.
  • ·      Modern layout – current day – long freight and passenger.
  • ·      Single track but long passing sidings to improve operations.
  • ·      Less than 2% grades.
  • ·      Maximum radius curves and switches.
  • ·      1.2 meter (4 foot) aisles at minimum.
  • ·      Wireless walk around but use current wired DCC throttles
  • ·      RGB lighting to give day / night / dusk scenes.
  • ·      Shadow box design. Valence with lighting behind.
  • ·      Spline roadbed in mountain sections.
  • ·      Manual switch throws – maybe DPDT slide switches as throws.
  • ·      Servo’s for any turnouts out of reach.
  • ·      Concrete Code 55 track for mainline.
  • ·      Box frame construction. L Girder on peninsular for strength.
  • ·      Minimal hidden track
  • ·      Install backdrop first and paint sky and perhaps mountains / desert before scenery.
  • ·      20-24 inch minimum radius
  • ·      Engine and loco service facility ( in lieu of turntable?)
  • ·      6 x 4 point power outlets. Separately fused and door master switch.
  • ·      Work bench under layout on castors so is hidden most of the time.
  •     Install "curtains" of black material below fascia when completed to focus on shadow box.
  • ·      Spray booth and outside exhaust built into room.
  • ·      Signalling?  Powered frogs???

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