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