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Questions concering new N guage layout

N Guage Questions




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#1 andyrids

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Posted 13 May 2018 - 12:14

Hi, I have not built a model railway since I was a teen and after much reading there seems to be a myriad of choices now... I would greatly appreciate some advice please.

 

My available space is very limited a maximum of 160cm x 30com hence why I am looking at N gauge I have found a track plan I like from another guys layout (00 Gauge Plankwell Yard) my initial questions are as follows:

 

What track to use ? I was looking at the Peco code 55 becasue it has the required "Y" points (strange thing is the N gauge points are almost as long as the 00 gauge so it seems).

What control system ? be it DC or DCC they both look as if a lot of soldering is required especially concerning the points, in addition the smaller N gauge locos such as 03 & 08 do not have a slot for a chip to be installed and I don't think my eyesight to good enough to be able manually solder one up (there are no model shops where I am either to do this on my behalf).

For the track bed do I use cork then ballast it or is the foam underlay realistic enough to use ?

 

You could basically say I am a novice concerning all of this so no doubt I am going to have many more questions, thanks in advance guys.


Edited by andyrids, 13 May 2018 - 12:16 .




#2 ianLMS

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 09:26

Good morning Andyrids. I am suprised no-one has answered your call for assistance yet. It could be down the the fact that there is so much personal choice and so many options available now, its hard to recommend one. First things, is to get a few of the small Peco Railway Modeller Magazine hand-outs they publish - each one covering different topics, from DCC, to baseboards, wiring, scenery etc. There are also many cheap books around with helpful advice.

 

Choosing DC or DCC is down to what you want from the layout and tghe hobby - ie multiple train operations, working loco lights, sound, additional functions, using tablet/phone/PC to operate versus familiar knob type control, switches for isolated sections, one train in steam per sections etc,  

 

When I came back into the hobby a few years ago, I stuck with what i knew (DC - Gaugemaster controllers), but within 4 years I upgraded to DCC (Roco z21 Wi-fi, tablet and multimaus) once I got my head around it. So, my advice is stick with whats familiar, but plan in the potential to upgrade. Wiring can be as easy or as hard as you want it to be. Post a diagram of the layout, and many members will give you the locations of where to place your power, isolated track joiners etc.

 

Code 55 is good for N gauge - Code 80 can look at little bulky on N gauge layouts. The same comparison is Code 75 versus Code 100 for OO gauge. I would cork/ballast/paint the track, but many layouts use the foam underlay quite convincingly as well - cost/time/skill are factors in this decision.

 

Fitting DCC chips can be accomplished via the post. I believe there are two or three companies that will fit DCC chips if you post the model to them. Failing that, fit the chip in a trailing wagon and run the wires from the wagon to the loco!!

 

Good luck with the model and I recommend you visit a model show or shop if you get chance, and talk to the exhibitors/shop staff - they will be more than happy to offer advice. T


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#3 34theletterbetweenB&D

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 10:02

 I feel you need to take some time to look at the available product before starting. Particularly in view of this comment:

...the smaller N gauge locos such as 03 & 08 do not have a slot for a chip to be installed and I don't think my eyesight is good enough to be able to manually solder one up...

 Once upon a day I could work on N gauge locos competently enough. Just before turning 60 I made a rule of nothing smaller than HO, and I that's with years of experience behind me of regularly and successfully hardwiring my own and others locos with DCC decoders. N is now just that little bit too small to comfortably work on for me, and would suggest that you need to make the determination of what is possible before any decision. There are probably mail order service providers who will do the work for you, at a price as an alternative.

 

Does it have to be UK prototype? The layout space you have may make N gauge an inevitable choice, but there may be easier options with DCC installed available in continental and North American N gauge ranges (I don't know!) that would make life simpler.

 

Regarding the point lengths in N gauge, I think the comparison you may be making with OO is to set track points, which are exceedingly compact or way too small radius, depending on taste. Better proportioned points in RTR OO like Peco's streamline system are significantly longer.



#4 Chris M

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 13:44

On such a small layout I wouldn’t worry too much about dcc or complexity of wiring. I would use code 55 and live frog points for better running at slow speed.
I expect you will be shunting so you need to consider options for uncoupling. I use the simplest and cheapest method of an electro magnet under the track and a bent staple on the rapids coupling. There are much more sophisticated and expensive options available which may suit you better.
Hope it all goes well.

#5 Karhedron

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 14:37

My available space is very limited a maximum of 160cm x 30com hence why I am looking at N gauge


Very sensible. I have a 120x30 N Gauge layout (although I do have a separate fiddle yard I can attach to that). That is enough room for a modest branchline or a compact urban layout. I would be interested to see a track plan if oyu have one.
 

What track to use ? I was looking at the Peco code 55 becasue it has the required "Y" points (strange thing is the N gauge points are almost as long as the 00 gauge so it seems)


I would definitely recommend code 55. All modern (and most vintage) N Gauge stock will run on it without problem. As well as looking better, it is stronger than code 80 track because about 30% of the rails are buried in the sleepers rather than being attached to them.

The length of the Y-point is 124mm which is not far off half the length of an equivalent 00 version. You can get much shorter set-track Y-points in both 00 and N gauge but these will give a tighter and more trainset-like appearance.
 

What control system ? be it DC or DCC they both look as if a lot of soldering is required especially concerning the points, in addition the smaller N gauge locos such as 03 & 08 do not have a slot for a chip to be installed and I don't think my eyesight to good enough to be able manually solder one up (there are no model shops where I am either to do this on my behalf).


N gauge does not require any more soldering than 00 gauge. If you are not confident, Peco sell pre-wired fishplates will are very handy. Some people recommend doing all sorts of drastic surgery to points to make them DCC-compatible but you can safely ignore this.

In DCC (as well as in DC) you want to avoid short-circuits as this will reset most DCC systems. Shorts can occur if wheels on the rolling stock are wide enough to bridge the gap between the positive and negative rails where they run close together on a point. Only very old wheelsets are wide enough to cause this problem. If you are running anything sold in the UK in the last 10 years, the wheelsets are fine enough to run through Peco points without modification.

One thing you might want to do is add frog polarity switching to your points so that you do not rely on the points to transmit electric current but this is exactly the same as 00 gauge.

If you want to go for DCC, it is worth looking at the locos that are available with DCC sockets before you get too into planning. If you need small locos (as it sounds like you might) then steam might be a better option. Several small tank engines such as the Dapol 5700 and 8750 and Farish 6400 pannier tanks are very compact but have 6-pin DCC sockets fitted. Some other small tank engines do too but I mostly model the GWR so I would have to look up specific examples. What period and area do you want to model?

What control system ? be it DC or DCC they both look as if a lot of soldering is For the track bed do I use cork then ballast it or is the foam underlay realistic enough to use ?


I would probably steer clear of foam. It does not look particularly realistic to me and it tends to deteriorate over time, turning into a dry powder. If you are planning to build a layout quickly and run it for a few years before moving on to a new project, it would probably be OK. If you are building to last the I would nto use foam.

You do not have to use cork either. My track is stuck directly to the baseboard with copydex and then ballasted. Cork is useful if you want to create the steep-shouldered ballast you tend to find on modern mainlines. If you are modelling older or smaller lines, it is overkill from a cosmetic point of view.

Here are a couple of shots of my own N gauge layout to give you an idea of what you can do in N gauge in a small space.

post-887-0-52448600-1499935549_thumb.jpg

post-887-0-89132300-1354281851_thumb.jpg

post-887-0-33483500-1354281911_thumb.jpg

Edited by Karhedron, 14 May 2018 - 14:43 .

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#6 daftbovine

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 15:26

Peco produce a very useful ‘bookazine’ called ‘Your guide to N gauge railway modelling’ it covers almost all of the aspects a beginner would have queries about and has step by step diagrams and lots of photographs. The sections on track and DCC are invaluable and it even includes track plans.

Track foam underlay is covered but there is also a section on using conventional n gauge ballast.

Scenery is not covered in great detail but there are other books for that. It is available in both paper and digital form. The paper version can be ordered from Peco but your local model shop may very well have a copy.

Another great source of information is YouTube. It’s especially good for scenery videos.

#7 Kris

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Posted 14 May 2018 - 16:38

As others have said code 55 is the way to go. The track is much stronger, as the rest of the rail is buried in the sleepers.



#8 andyrids

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 10:28

Wow guys ! thank you so much for all the responses and advice I was not expecting so much input in such a short space of time, I am not complaining haha

ianLMS: I shall attach a diagram of the track plan that is based on the Peco 55 the grey areas at either end represent fiddle yards there is not enough room in them for any points so I might build a traverse plate if that is the correct word / terminology.... lights would be nice but not essential, sound is not important to me either so DCC might well be overkill as far as I am concerned maybe... especially since I my main job is a programmer and I also get plenty of tablets, laptops and cell phones to repair as a sideline so maybe going DCC would make this seem more like work than a hobby haha.
 

34theletterbetweenB&D: It does not have to be British prototype but I like the class 20 and 08's I always wanted to have a class 20 when I was kid but never got my mits on one so the choice is a bit of a childhood dream for want of a better way to put it... I shall look into your suggestions though.... as for point length yes I was comparing it to the Hornby 00 track (since that is what I was used to) as I can still visualise it's size but yeah you are correct upon reflection the radius on set track is unrealistic.  

 

Chris M: Yes shunting is going to be the focus and I have been reading about the magnetic uncoupling systems which brings another question with Graham Farish rolling stock and loco's would I have to change the couplers in order to use that method ? ... live frog points I think it shall be then though I am not sure if the Peco Y points or "Wye" as I have seen therm called are actually live frog or not ?

 

Karhedron: Thanks for the pictures a very nice little layout ! it's made me curious to see a track plan if I may ?... frog polarity switching might well have to be incorporated then judging by what I have read... I don't actually have any loco's or rolling stock so it would all be new.... the Copydex and ballast idea seems to be a good option then in my case especially since you mentioned foam has the tendency to break down and in that case it certainly will in no time in this atmosphere then (I am a white British guy who lives in the Philippines, near the sea)

 

daftbovine: Thanks I shall try and obtain a copy of that book then, unfortunately I have never seen a model shop in this country before and if I asked where one is I am sure the results would vary from escorts to Chinese made kids toys haha.

 

Kris: Thanks yeah code 55 seems to be the definite agreed way forward then !

 

Sorry if I have missed anything out in my responses or got my replies mixed up in any way I am sure if you have read this far you will know what relates to who etc...

 

So ok I am now thinking then:

Peco code 55 track, Y points with live frog if they are available if not then I am confident enough to be able to do the solder work on them myself failing that just hold one of the local kids hostage until he does it haha

No cork or foam stuff use copydex or the local equivalent and ballast.

DCC is probably over the top for what I need so I think I will be going with DC then it's going to need a lot of extra pole switches etc for isolation areas but I don't mind that.

 

Again thank you so much for all your advice and help so far guys it is appreciated !

 

Untitled4.jpg


Edited by andyrids, 15 May 2018 - 10:32 .


#9 ianLMS

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 14:50

Looks a very nice, compact layout with plenty of shunting scope!! Wiring for DCC or DC should not be too difficult and as mentioned, the use of the pre-wired track joiners might help in this instance. http://www.hattons.c...tockDetail.aspx

 

http://www.brian-lambert.co.uk/ is the website I used to get a good understanding of all things electrical from the very basic to the more complicated work. 


Edited by ianLMS, 15 May 2018 - 14:54 .


#10 Joseph_Pestell

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 16:52

In terms of the length of trains that you can run, you may find it better just to have a fiddleyard at one end. That could be a sector plate, leading to further hidden sidings, or a simple cassette.

 

Either would give you enough space to have some scenic area in front, giving much more to look at.

 

160 x 30 is not all that generous, but quite enough to build a satisfying layout in N. If you stick with your existing plan, you might want to extend some of the sidings "off-scene" as well to give more operational possibilities.

 

And take a look at some of the 00 layout threads on here. Many of them are roughly equivalent size (10'6 x 2') and manage to pack a lot in.

 

Also, even if you don't want to model US prototype, look up "Box Street". There the through line runs through the back of the layout leaving the full frontage available for shunting moves.


Edited by Joseph_Pestell, 15 May 2018 - 16:54 .


#11 Chris M

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 17:40

You haven’t got a run round facility. Might this be useful?

#12 DavidCBroad

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Posted 15 May 2018 - 23:40

The plan isn't great. The stub left of the 3 way point is only long enough for an engine and one wagon, its ok for a shunting puzzle maybe, but the sidings can only be shunted by trains going right to left and these look to be limited to an engine two wagons and a van.  There are a lot more interesting ways to use 5X 1 in N or 10X 2 in 00.

 

I would just have one FY and 

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#13 Izzy

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 07:56

I find that track designs in one scale don’t really easily convert to another whether it’s say, 7mm going down, or N going up. Partly it’s because it’s all done in the same scale real world at 1:1 so always looks different, but also as a result of fixed sizes, our hands etc, needing the same space to operate things.

Generally with any layout I find you need a balance of about the same length of track in the off-scene fiddle areas as you do the visible parts, otherwise it might look pretty, but the limitations on what you can actually do when you ‘play’ with it become very limiting if not unworkable. One downside of using a smaller scale is that things often look smaller/tighter/cramped compared to a larger one and this is most noticeable with smaller curved track and points in N, so what may look good in say 4mm might not in N.

In the space you have, a visible area of about 100cm/40” and a fiddle of 60cm/20” ( a sector plate will probably be easiest to make in my opinion) would be my suggestion, and coupled with a run round loop and/or a shunter to marshall the trains brought in by another loco.

Izzy

#14 andyrids

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:32

Thanks ianLMS a very useful resource that !

 

I looked up Box Street an interesting layout I might have a mess about with the plan I have and see what it's like "flipped over" and adjust the curves slightly so the branch line is at the back... hmm

 

The main reason for the fiddle yards at either end is I like the idea of there being a through line rather than just a terminus if that's the correct terminology, I know it takes up precious space but I am not interested in running longish trains. I suppose I could always evict my daughter from her bedroom and use that room, she can go and sleep on the couch haha 

 

I thought about a run round but the only place to put one would be on the through line then you would have a loco vanishing partly into the fiddle yard,I wouldn't like that aspect... The idea of having the sidings go into the fiddle yard I thought about that one also initially but nope for the same sort of reason I just mentioned.

 

The red area DavidCBroad marked up I worked out I can get 2x wagons and a class 20 in there or 3x wagons and an 08 to me that is adequate since it's a shunting layout, if I find that is a bit tight then I could move the whole plan down to the right so I can make that head shunt a bit longer if need be...

The operational idea is as follows:
1. A train into that siding from the left hand FY.
2. The shunter will then come to the rear and pick up a couple of wagons and distribute them to areas 3, after that the original loco from area 1 can go back to the fiddle yard to either wait or bring a couple more wagons along... eventually the new train can be resembled back in area 1 waiting to be picked up.
Probably not exactly realistic operational tactics as far as having one loco stuck at the end of a siding whilst a shunter does its job I know, that does not concern me, however I am pretty sure I have seen it happen before come to think.

Untitled5.jpg



#15 ianLMS

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 08:57

I think as long as you are happy with the plan, and it works for you, go for it. Another great resource for plans is http://www.freetrackplans.com/. Although designed for OO gauge, they will easily scale down to N. A great looking 10 x 2 layout (in OO gauge) is Sheffield Park http://www.freetrackplans.com/1014-Sheffield-Park.php shows a lot can be fitted into a small space!

 

I can't recommend Brain Lamberts site enough. Without the guidance on his site, I would have still been trying to fathom out the wiring. Following his guidance, you should be able to work out where the power feeds need to be and what isolation switches you need for the sections, unless you go down the DCC route.

 

Good luck and looking forward to seeing how the layout progresses!

 

Ian



#16 bluedepot

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 09:13

good luck with your layout!

join the n gauge forum too if you'd like to...

Tim
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#17 Karhedron

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 10:55

May I suggest having a look at this thread?

http://www.rmweb.co....0161-dairy-box/

It is about a 00 plan but similar in scope to yours. The plan is for sidings serving a dairy but any small industry would be suitable. A china clay dries is another popular option to fit into this sort of size.

I agree that a fiddle yard at just one end might be better as you will struggle to fit much in between 2 in such a small space. The other option is to make a Piano-Line layout with the fiddle area behind the operating area rather than adjacent to it.

http://www.rmweb.co....tune-the-piano/

#18 andyrids

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 14:04

The Sheffield Park one I like that I have been to the Bluebell railway a couple of times when I was kid a fascinating place... yes the Brain Lamberts site covers a lot of future questions I would have had.

 

Dairy Box is interesting and so are the Piano Line track plans having the fiddle yard in that sort of location would make more sense in my situation the only downside being it would have to be at the front since the layout is going to be fixed to the wall like a shelf at the bottom of the bed to be exact, my house is very small both bedrooms are only 10x10 I did consider suspending a slightly larger layout from the ceiling on pulleys but the ceiling itself is suspended one so I doubt it would take the weight over a long period of time without having to add in some timber supports... 

So I am kind of stuck with the small space I have though making the right hand FY detachable is an option ! that way I can utilise that area scenically and for extended track and only attach the FY when it's in operation... I am going to fire up AnyRail and experiment a bit...

Thanks for all the help and suggestions so far guys.



#19 andyrids

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 15:27

Here we go guys what do you think of this then ?
I have taken on board most of the suggestions, the section that was a siding where the new run around loop is still serves it's intended purpose but adds a lot more to the operating potential (yeah yeah I know you told me so) the right FY will be made to look like a tunnel entrance the left hand FY there will be a road bridge in front of it that should do the trick...

 

I dismissed my previous thought of a detachable FY in order to increase the length due to the fact the only place I would have to store it is under the bed and my 4 crazy cats would end up using it as a spare bed or something in fact I am now wondering how I am going to keep them off the actual layout they are going to have great fun destroying this no doubt...

 

Untitled6.jpg



#20 Joseph_Pestell

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Posted 16 May 2018 - 15:53

Here we go guys what do you think of this then ?
I have taken on board most of the suggestions, the section that was a siding where the new run around loop is still serves it's intended purpose but adds a lot more to the operating potential (yeah yeah I know you told me so) the right FY will be made to look like a tunnel entrance the left hand FY there will be a road bridge in front of it that should do the trick...

 

I dismissed my previous thought of a detachable FY in order to increase the length due to the fact the only place I would have to store it is under the bed and my 4 crazy cats would end up using it as a spare bed or something in fact I am now wondering how I am going to keep them off the actual layout they are going to have great fun destroying this no doubt...

 

attachicon.gifUntitled6.jpg

 

Yes, that looks a lot more interesting.

 

Depending upon what height you want the layout, I would not worry too much about the fiddleyards being at the rear. You are only reaching over 300mm of layout and the yards can be hidden behind buildngs rather than a backscene. If you ever exhibit the layout, you can put it on longer legs.

 

You will see lots of photos on RMWeb of cats sitting on layouts. Not a good idea! Suggest you create a solid cover for the layout.



#21 andyrids

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Posted 17 May 2018 - 13:14

Yes I wasn't planning on using a back scene anyway in those areas just one along... erm the back :-)

That's a good idea a solid lid would keep my furry demolition experts out.



#22 andyrids

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 14:10

I might be jumping the gun a bit here or maybe not... The plan with the two fiddle yards is to build / use a traverser (spelling?) I have read many articles about them and the construction techniques all seem to be along the the same lines (no pun intended) I am thinking that is all a bit over the top for my requirements since the layout will never be at any show and the only audience I may have would be the cats or he odd curious local person thinking I have lost my marbles... add to the fact I live in a quite remote part of a 3rd world country so the availability of anything other than very basic materials is almost none existent, as for a brass bolt I don't recall ever seeing one in the whole 8 years I have lived here... so improvisation is the order of the day. 

Anyway traverser construction my requirements would be only 2 tracks on it so allow me to try and describe my idea and see what you guys think:

Layout baseboard 3/4 ply (as it's the easiest to obtain here).

Make a rectangular cut out in the baseboard for where the traverser is going to be and keep the cut out piece.

Attach say 1/4 ply to the underside of the cut out.

Cut down the 3/4 ply piece to the width required for two tracks, that piece should in theory then be able to slide back and forth on top of the 1/4 ply inside the hole it was cut from.

Line up and fix the two tracks to the 3/4 ply traverser.
Alignment method for the traverser tracks to the incoming track won't be by using the "brass bolt" method instead I was thinking just drill a hole in the traverser through to the 1/4 ply and drop a dowel in ? since I have two tracks that would mean two holes into the 1/4 at the correct positions for each track... pull the dowel out to move the traverser and drop it into the next hole to align the other track.

Wiring: a permanent feed to both tracks but with an isolating switch on each (basically just a break in the live) so when a loco is about to enter the traverser throw the switch to power the relevant track, stop the loco throw the switch again to power the track off.

 

For my needs I don't see why that would not work ? sliding the traverser is going to be a bit clunky I expect that and I may need to attach some thin plastic to the ends of the traverser in order to close the gap up a bit made by the saw cuts...

You're thoughts and input are appreciated guys, thanks.   



#23 The Johnster

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Posted 21 May 2018 - 14:57

Here we go guys what do you think of this then ?
I have taken on board most of the suggestions, the section that was a siding where the new run around loop is still serves it's intended purpose but adds a lot more to the operating potential (yeah yeah I know you told me so) the right FY will be made to look like a tunnel entrance the left hand FY there will be a road bridge in front of it that should do the trick...

 

I dismissed my previous thought of a detachable FY in order to increase the length due to the fact the only place I would have to store it is under the bed and my 4 crazy cats would end up using it as a spare bed or something in fact I am now wondering how I am going to keep them off the actual layout they are going to have great fun destroying this no doubt...

 

attachicon.gifUntitled6.jpg

 

The loop could easily be extended to meet the road that accesses the small fiddle yard just to the right of it's turnout, 3rd square from left middle row.  Then you could bring the turnout at the other end of it to the left a little and have room for a longer headshunt.



#24 andyrids

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 02:39

The loop could easily be extended to meet the road that accesses the small fiddle yard just to the right of it's turnout, 3rd square from left middle row.  Then you could bring the turnout at the other end of it to the left a little and have room for a longer headshunt.

Yeah I was experimenting with something along those lines but wasn't quite happy with the result.



#25 andyrids

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 02:45

Another question concerning controllers that I had not thought about before now is where I am the supply is roughly 10v less than it is in the UK so will say a Gaugemaster one actually work here ?

I know for a fact UK hair clippers do not but laptop power packs do, also a UK model Toshiba TV works...  














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