In designing track plans for a hopeful future layout, I've found scale drawings to be important in making the design accurate. I've tried to make scale drawings with ruler, say 1/2 inch = 1 foot on blank white paper, but that doesn't seem right. Most track plans I've seen are drawn on graph paper with one or four boxes representing a square foot. What am I doing wrong?

All WM fans have true class! 

Original Post

I agree that using track planning software is probably the best way to go.  As a child I used to scratch out some track plans using pencil and paper before constructing my carpet layouts.  As an adult, I now use SCARM and couldn’t be happier with it.  Like  Nicks Trains said it’s free and easy to use.

The scale that you use depends on the size of the paper to fit the room and the layout on to it. Then you need a template for the curve radii that you plan to use to match that scale.

What is not turning out for you? The room should be a simple exercise of converting it to your scale.

Are you averse to using layout design software?

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Michael,

Go with track planning software.  Its easy to do slight variations to the plan without losing the original.  I must have hundreds of saved files for my current layout build, each one having a slight change to see what happens to the overall design.  If I didn't like the change to the plan then I would go back to the previous saved version to try something else.  If after doing many changes to get something I wanted but it didn't work out, I would go back many versions and start over from there.

My pencils, graph paper, track templates and erasers are in a drawer somewhere; haven't used them in years.

Ron

 

TCA, TTOS, NCT, LCCA, PRRT&HS

 

Volunteers don't get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!  Author Sherry Anderson

Years ago when I drew track plans on paper, I generally used a scale of 3/4" = 1 foot, so 1/16" = 1 inch for convenience. Now I use SCARM because it makes easy work of track and turnout geometry, its relatively fast fun and easy, and has great 3-D imaging to plan scenery. SCARM has extensive track libraries for different brands of track, and you can do custom-spec flex-track arrangements. It's free software, you can't beat that!

I am very old school (cuz' I'm old!, and my Dad was a mechanical engineer, too), and I like putting pencil to paper! I actually enjoy hand drawing and counting the little squares- using four squares equals one foot, one square equals three inches. So I do use graph paper. I tape pieces together to make it big enough. I add colored marker pens to emphasize certain things. 

"Baby, you've arrived."

I used RR-Tracks to draw my layout. Once you get the hang of it it's fun and easy. It's pc based so if you gave a Mac you must be willing to use a virtual Windows, or whatever it's called, platform. Never tried SCRAM but I did use pencil and graph paper with a CTT Track Template made of plastic that had scale outlines of the common Lionel track. That was fun too, taping enough sheets of paper together to represent your space, tracing, erasing, tracing dome more... 

Mike

Dennis posted:

I don't know if Scarm was around when I started designing my layout.  I used (use) RRTrack software.  It is excellent.

Dennis

I also use v5 of RR-Track because SCARM didn't come out until after I started back in the hobby. I then convert my designs to SCARM for the different 3D view. They both have their pros and cons, but SCARM is still free, so that's a bonus.

Carey,

I have attached what you should have downloaded from SCARM.  The SCARM author, Mixy, allows advertisements on his webpage to fund his efforts, and, often, those advertisers use somewhat deceptive practices or placements to get you to download their product.  Use what you see below.

Chuck

Columbus, OH Union Station
Columbus, OH Union Station

 

 

Attachments

PRR1950 posted:

Carey,

I have attached what you should have downloaded from SCARM.  The SCARM author, Mixy, allows advertisements on his webpage to fund his efforts, and, often, those advertisers use somewhat deceptive practices or placements to get you to download their product.  Use what you see below.

Chuck

wah... I did download your link, but when i tried to open it it said, "Safari can’t open the file “SCARM Setup v0.9.31.exe” because no available application can open it."

"Baby, you've arrived."

I agree with everyone in using a computer program, just like we do in real life for buildings, bridges, roads, and everything else. 

If you are curious about drawing scales. Lookup architectural scale online. This will explain the method and madness behind 3/4" = 1'-0" or whatever scale you want. This may help you if you print your drawings to scale and need to measure something if you didn't dimension. 

Chris 

Chris

TCA, LCCA

 

 

I did get it to work on my MAC.  But I'm sticking with paper and pencil.  The computer is just too cumbersome to make track diagrams with.  

Dan Padova

 

"In the course of my life I have had to eat my words, and I must confess it was a wholesome diet"..........Winston Churchill

                                                                                                                                        

Dan Padova posted:

I did get it to work on my MAC.  But I'm sticking with paper and pencil.  The computer is just too cumbersome to make track diagrams with.  

I used to think it was too cumbersome to set up the mouse driver on a 286 computer. What would I need a mouse for?

Carey,

Safari is a browser and should not have been trying to open the SCARM program.  If you downloaded the SCARM program on to an Apple product, as Dave noted above, it will not work unless you first obtain a Windows emulator program.

On the other hand, if you downloaded it to a Windows operated machine, simply find the download file on your drive and double click on it.  SCARM will then install.

Chuck

Columbus, OH Union Station
Columbus, OH Union Station

 

 

Dan Padova posted:

I did get it to work on my MAC.  But I'm sticking with paper and pencil.  The computer is just too cumbersome to make track diagrams with.  

Dan,

I've been using RR-Track for over a decade and find it an invaluable resource for many things, not just making things fit on my layout design but also in providing my thoughts on layout questions here on the forum.  I'm sure SCARM is just as good.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was great to use RRT to see how doing a change affects the overall design.  When I decided to go to larger curves, it was a great tool to see what curve size I could actually fit in the space, something I could not do with pencil and paper even with my nice compass set.

I will say that when I helped a friend do a preliminary design, I put the room dimensions into RRT, printed out the room diagram and sat down with him using a pencil to see what design would possibly fit in the room and meet his wants.  Once we had a rough idea, I spent only about an hour in RRT coming up with a couple of rough plans for him to think about.  It was quick and easy  He later put it into SCARM because it was free.

Below is an example of what I think is an great advantage of a computer program.  In another topic the question was how big a storage yard could be had in a 4' X 20' space using Fast Track.  Another forum member had already come up with a good idea for 8 tracks, so I looked at how to get 9 tracks.  It took me about 15 minutes to come up with the top plan; most of the time was spent trying to determine what filler tracks were needed (a lot).  (NOTE: I also used the Fast Track Lengths Chart which is a must when using FT.)

The lower diagram took me less than 5 minutes to make the change to the center track because most of it was cut and paste. That is the nice thing about using software.

4X20 staging area

Here is a RRT plan for my original 1st stage.  There are many curved switches and the 180 degree turn of the yard made things really tight.  This took many small changes in track curvature and lengths to make it fit.  RRT allowed me to make sure I had the required clearance between tracks and to ensure there were no kinks in the track.  Not sure I could have done this with pencil and paper.

23Jul14 Stage 1

As I mentioned above, my drafting tools and graph paper are put away for good.

Ron

 

TCA, TTOS, NCT, LCCA, PRRT&HS

 

Volunteers don't get paid, not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!  Author Sherry Anderson

Attachments

Photos (2)
DoubleDAZ posted:
Dennis posted:

I don't know if Scarm was around when I started designing my layout.  I used (use) RRTrack software.  It is excellent.

Dennis

I also use v5 of RR-Track because SCARM didn't come out until after I started back in the hobby. I then convert my designs to SCARM for the different 3D view. They both have their pros and cons, but SCARM is still free, so that's a bonus.

Dave,

I know RR Track isn't free and it's been so long since I used it so I don't remember if I paid for the upgrade from v4 to v5 but I'm 99% sure their updates are free but it does have 3D capabilities as well as tilt, angled and 360 views. Both are great programs and I'll resurrect the pc it's on if and when I design another layout.

Mike

Mike, I just like to see the "different" 3D view in SCARM at times along with the one in RRT. And SCARM lets you enter negative heights for objects so you can keep your base at 0 and legs at -40 or whatever. I also prefer the green terrain following in SCARM compared to the hit&miss white "shower" used in RRT to show elevations, etc. I tend to do everything in RRT and then use SCARM as I get closer to the final design. Now when Mixy releases his new simulation, that might be a game-changer. I'm getting better at SCARM, but tracks still don't join like they do in RRT. I just converted my design to SCARM and have 8 places where the tracks don't join even though they do in RRT and the allowed variance (.05") is used in both programs.

ezmike posted:

I used RR-Tracks to draw my layout. Once you get the hang of it it's fun and easy. It's pc based so if you gave a Mac you must be willing to use a virtual Windows, or whatever it's called, platform. Never tried SCRAM but I did use pencil and graph paper with a CTT Track Template made of plastic that had scale outlines of the common Lionel track. That was fun too, taping enough sheets of paper together to represent your space, tracing, erasing, tracing dome more... 

Mike

Mike, I use rrTrack v5 on my Mac. I run Parallels as the virtual platform. No problems at all.

Ed

 

"One TODAY is worth two TOMORROWS"

                             - Ben Franklin

Don Baird posted:

I've tried SCARM and cant get the hang of it.  Besides, my layout is not square,  I thought I'd do better if I went back to Paper and pencil and then saw the mention ofs the CTT template.  Would love to get my hands on one.

What are your specific issues? Height, connections, alignment, grouping, layers? Getting the hang of different capabilities and tricks is a wide variation of things. Youll roll well a bit, then stumble, mostly because there is a lot it can do, different ways to do it, and tricks for doing more, faster.

The old school 3" to a square is what Id choose, if it fit on my graphpaper. Then 6" per square if not.y

Any  software Ive used is more accurate then a template by far.

Might as well free hand it.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





Just some info for those of us who still like to use paper, pencil and ruler to engineer their track plans:  I use unlined 8 1/2 X 11 paper and 1/2 in. / ft..  and line out the overall room first.  Then the boundary of the layout.  These I do in ink so's not to rub them out when using an eraser.  Everything else is in pencil.  What's critical here is drawing curves.  Since I design plans using Lionel tubular, I use their O gauge curves.

This now is the "It's Okay if you Laugh" part:  I use jar lids and caps of an exact scale size to get the curves and it serves me well.  An example is an old mayonnaise jar lid that yields a 3-inch diameter (72-in. scale) circle.  Of course, my plans are drawn to represent what would be the center line of the track or switch.  I know it's primitive but I enjoy drawing plans this way. 

     Hoppy

 

HOPPY posted:

... This now is the "It's Okay if you Laugh" part:  I use jar lids and caps of an exact scale size to get the curves and it serves me well.  An example is an old mayonnaise jar lid that yields a 3-inch diameter (72-in. scale) circle.  Of course, my plans are drawn to represent what would be the center line of the track or switch.  I know it's primitive but I enjoy drawing plans this way. 

     Hoppy 

Oh yeah, sounds familiar. I had various jar lids to draw out different track radii. Years ago !

Now, I couldn't be happier with SCARM. I've used it to draw up some of the old sectional track plans from hobby books and magazines and it's often comical to find out how much they fudged the fits. Multi-level track plans might have impractical scenery in an artist's sketch and SCARM 3-D views would reveal the shortcomings.

Armstrong HO plan 1957-19A-aArmstrong HO plan 1957-19A-bArmstrong HO plan 1957-19A-c

Attachments

Photos (3)

Mike,

here are some points when designing a model RR that I have posted in recent weeks on other posts when designing a model RR. I think they might help. Along with using SCARM.. etc.. these points might help. Good luck with your design. 

Dear Sir,

Having built a few layouts.. to the one I now have in my own barn.. I would consider these valuable lessons.

-No duck unders..  Having those suck. Especially for those with back, leg, hip issues.. if you feel you need a duck under.. then built the walkway area with a lift out bridge or something similar. because ducking under sucks! 

-reach.. only make the benchwork as far as you can reach.. if it's outta reach, that is where your issues will be. If you can get to the tables from both sides, then your reach to center from each side is your width.

-height.. I would have made mine Chest height.. It isn't.. and I contemplate raising the layout every day.

-electrical... do that before scenery.. at least the bus wires.. get them run under the layout. 

-height of scenery works better to the eye then depth of scenery.. 

-make all benchwork modular. So if you don't like something or want a change, taking out the old and inserting a new piece is easier...  Plus you can work on the new piece while the old one is still in place and you can still run trains. 

-For O-Scale, use 3/4" plywood sub road bed.. For the areas where sometimes where risers get a little wide, the plywood being a little thicker, won't sag. because 1/2" will. Don't use flake board.. that stuff sucks for model RR. If you get flake board and use water against it for scenery, the flake board seems to expand and never contract. 

-Wide isles.. A must, you can do it with the room you have.. 30x50.. Trust me, it is worth the effort to have these.. I have two spots where the isles gets close, but they ope right up to wide ares.. I also didn't make those areas points of interests.. make your points of interests where the isles are wide. so people can gather easier without hitting benchwork.. 

-If your thinking of having a turn table.. One where the tracks are coming out all around it, that becomes an area of interest and people gather around it.. I did mine where the mainline went behind the house and people can see into the roundhouse.. and also get right up to the table to see the loco's turn.. This turntable idea came to me this past spring and I changed the whole yard and turn table area into another part of the layout in another area of the room to accommodate this. It works out great now.. 

-Also, with your yard, well, before i forget, have a staging yard.. one hidden under mountains or there of.. then your yard itself won't be cramped with cars as mine was till I did this.. (I am also ridding cars of later dates because my model RR is set around 1977. So this purge is setting up nicely as I now have room for the cars that fit the timeline.) Also, keep switches within easy arm length.. repair is easer etc..  I did redesign the yard as stated above, and am going to again because of the railcar purge etc.. Plus, the yard is smaller and more manageable. well, the whole layout is..

Also, keep this in mind when you design.. 1) model the places as scenes you love as a kid, adult.. just don't put track down for the sake of putting track down.. you will get bored with it. I learned this on the first layout here in the barn.. I thought I had all the room and when the layout was up.. it sucked.. so a friend came over and told me it sucked and gave me this advice.. number 1 again, model scenes you love, figure out the top five scenes you love and design them into the layout, then the next five and so one. you find that the layout fills out nicely and you will want to work on it all the time.. Mine is (3) years old now and it is awesome to me! I'm not biased or anything! HA! But I can't wait to work on it when i have the time.. Or add to it or whatever.. I am always designing for the better.. I love running it, showing it, etc.. with these changes too, I have to write into this mag to show my updates as the model RR was published in O-Gauge at about two year ago.. 

Anyhow, designing and building is fun! Good luck!   I hope this points help?

Dan

 

 
ezmike posted:

I used RR-Tracks to draw my layout. Once you get the hang of it it's fun and easy. It's pc based so if you gave a Mac you must be willing to use a virtual Windows, or whatever it's called, platform. Never tried SCRAM but I did use pencil and graph paper with a CTT Track Template made of plastic that had scale outlines of the common Lionel track. That was fun too, taping enough sheets of paper together to represent your space, tracing, erasing, tracing dome more... 

Mike

I'v used RR Track for over a decade.  I've never tried SCRAM simply because I have RR Track and had it long before SCRAM was available.  Either way I also have a MAC.  I use VMware Fusion on my MAC to run Windows 7 where both my RR Track software and my MTH loader software run.

Now the disclosure, I work for VMware.  I get their software for free.  There are others out there (Parallels, Virtual PC) but I have no experience with anything other VMware Fusion.

Tony

Screen shot of my MAC running Windows 7 in Fusion and MTH loader.

fusion

Attachments

Photos (1)

I tried RR Track v5.    Never did get the hang of it.  Couldn't get two pcs. of track together let alone a basement size layout. Went back to pencil and paper and all is right with the world. Layout up and running, with scenery in 3 months.  Did I make changes ? yes. Did I make additions ? yes. Am I sill making it different? yes. But only because I want to,  Like what as already been suggested its built modular.

Clem 

BXCXDan posted:

Mike,

here are some points when designing a model RR that I have posted in recent weeks on other posts when designing a model RR. I think they might help. Along with using SCARM.. etc.. these points might help. Good luck with your design. 

Dear Sir,

Having built a few layouts.. to the one I now have in my own barn.. I would consider these valuable lessons.

-No duck unders..  Having those suck. Especially for those with back, leg, hip issues.. if you feel you need a duck under.. then built the walkway area with a lift out bridge or something similar. because ducking under sucks! 

-reach.. only make the benchwork as far as you can reach.. if it's outta reach, that is where your issues will be. If you can get to the tables from both sides, then your reach to center from each side is your width.

-height.. I would have made mine Chest height.. It isn't.. and I contemplate raising the layout every day.

-electrical... do that before scenery.. at least the bus wires.. get them run under the layout. 

-height of scenery works better to the eye then depth of scenery.. 

-make all benchwork modular. So if you don't like something or want a change, taking out the old and inserting a new piece is easier...  Plus you can work on the new piece while the old one is still in place and you can still run trains. 

-For O-Scale, use 3/4" plywood sub road bed.. For the areas where sometimes where risers get a little wide, the plywood being a little thicker, won't sag. because 1/2" will. Don't use flake board.. that stuff sucks for model RR. If you get flake board and use water against it for scenery, the flake board seems to expand and never contract. 

-Wide isles.. A must, you can do it with the room you have.. 30x50.. Trust me, it is worth the effort to have these.. I have two spots where the isles gets close, but they ope right up to wide ares.. I also didn't make those areas points of interests.. make your points of interests where the isles are wide. so people can gather easier without hitting benchwork.. 

-If your thinking of having a turn table.. One where the tracks are coming out all around it, that becomes an area of interest and people gather around it.. I did mine where the mainline went behind the house and people can see into the roundhouse.. and also get right up to the table to see the loco's turn.. This turntable idea came to me this past spring and I changed the whole yard and turn table area into another part of the layout in another area of the room to accommodate this. It works out great now.. 

-Also, with your yard, well, before i forget, have a staging yard.. one hidden under mountains or there of.. then your yard itself won't be cramped with cars as mine was till I did this.. (I am also ridding cars of later dates because my model RR is set around 1977. So this purge is setting up nicely as I now have room for the cars that fit the timeline.) Also, keep switches within easy arm length.. repair is easer etc..  I did redesign the yard as stated above, and am going to again because of the railcar purge etc.. Plus, the yard is smaller and more manageable. well, the whole layout is..

Also, keep this in mind when you design.. 1) model the places as scenes you love as a kid, adult.. just don't put track down for the sake of putting track down.. you will get bored with it. I learned this on the first layout here in the barn.. I thought I had all the room and when the layout was up.. it sucked.. so a friend came over and told me it sucked and gave me this advice.. number 1 again, model scenes you love, figure out the top five scenes you love and design them into the layout, then the next five and so one. you find that the layout fills out nicely and you will want to work on it all the time.. Mine is (3) years old now and it is awesome to me! I'm not biased or anything! HA! But I can't wait to work on it when i have the time.. Or add to it or whatever.. I am always designing for the better.. I love running it, showing it, etc.. with these changes too, I have to write into this mag to show my updates as the model RR was published in O-Gauge at about two year ago.. 

Anyhow, designing and building is fun! Good luck!   I hope this points help?

Dan

 

 

Very helpful, thanks so much! Yes, I'm considering Sand Patch layout set in the 1970's-90's. Also considering a 90's Santa Fe layout as well set in Illinois and Missouri. I need help deciding! Lol...

All WM fans have true class! 

Phoebe Snow Route posted:

.  As a child I used to scratch out some track plans using pencil and paper

this is exactly the way i do it today, when contemplating any changes . sometimes i will use graph paper...good way to use any civil engineering skills you might have.....its always been part of the fun and interest of building a layout for me.

    Jim

Add Reply

Post
The Track Planning and Layout Design Forum is sponsored by

AN OGR FORUM CHARTER SPONSOR
OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
330-757-3020

www.ogaugerr.com
×
×
×
×
×