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Christmas 2020 Layout : Fastrack (was RealTrax), RTR Polar Express, max. grade, min. radius, SCARM = HELP!

Quick background: I've never gone beyond running loops on carpet but have aspirations to eventually build a spare bedroom layout in the coming years. I thought that building a Christmas layout would be a good primer. Here are the basics:

  • Corner layout limited to 5'2" in width because of a decorative fireplace mantle;
  • Emphasis on action (simultaneous two train ops) and whimsy;
  • MTH RealTrax since I have a fair amount already (O-31 and O-42);
  • Polar Express LionChief RTR plus another RTR consist (short, light trains);
  • Two layer layout made from XPS foamboard and Great Stuff spray foam;
  • Trains can switch loops but will stay on their own loop/level 95% of the time;
  • 6" rise from lower to top level with 4" clearance at tunnel portals (from top of rails);
  • Artificial tree with "trunk" going through 2-3" hole in the top layer.

Last night I played with SCARM for the very first time and came up with what you see. I still haven't figured out how to do inclines so I had to rely on color coding:

  • All green is at floor level;
  • Pink (main upper loop) and purple (trolley loop) is at second level;
  • Light-to-dark of same color represents tunnel beneath second level;
  • Teal is the principle grade between levels;
  • Orange is for going down only (steep!) but allows for PolEx to run unattended using both loops (from bottom clockwise - lime green, teal, pink, orange, dark green, lime green, teal, etc.) while second train sits on floor level siding (lime green).
  • Track footprint is 55" wide by 59" deep with room corner in the upper right.

I welcome all thoughts and suggestions!Christmas 2020 v3




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  • Christmas 2020 v3: Christmas 2020 RealTrax Layout
Last edited by James in VA
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