MTH Realtrax 4x8 Layout Build Progress

Moonman posted:
Oakfan posted:

Thank you both for helping me with this. As you can see, I’m a total noobie. 

Can I ask you to explain what the “control rails” are meant to do? Does it have something to do with correcting the switch if it’s out of position as the train hits that rail? 

Yes. That's it exactly. 

You can forget to align it properly on a layout as the train is cruising around. Then, you notice the switch lantern has the wrong color facing you. As you stretch for the switch controller handle the train enters the switch and you hear the sound of the switch changing and the train passes through. Relief, panic subsides.

You'll experience it.

Yep. Once again, you are correct. I did experience it. I powered up the track last night and ran the engine only around the ovals. I got cute and manually rotated the switch to change directions on the reverse loop. I didn't get to the switch in time as it rounded the corner and when it hit the switch -"click"- the switch corrected itself and the train kept going. Nice!

I took a drill bit only slightly larger than the screw hole already there and enlarged it somewhat, then used plain old dry wall screws. See pictures. The thing about mounting the throws in such fashion is that about half of them are somewhat removed from the switches themselves, necessitating adding some extension wiring using shrink tubing. Took a while but was worth it! 

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Dr. Joseph V Russo

josephvrusso@outlook.com 

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Oakfan posted:

The remote Switches are not screwed down yet. I bought some #4 panhead screws but they are too big. How do other people fasten these to the control panel? 

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Gorgeous bench work, by the way. My compliments!

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Dr. Joseph V Russo

josephvrusso@outlook.com 

I took a drill bit only slightly larger than the screw hole already there and enlarged it somewhat, then used plain old dry wall screws. See pictures. The thing about mounting the throws in such fashion is that about half of them are somewhat removed from the switches themselves, necessitating adding some extension wiring using shrink tubing. Took a while but was worth it! 

Thanks for the tip. I didn’t even think about opening the holes. And as you can see in my previous picture, I’m running all the wires from the remote switches to the terminal blocks. Just behind the control panel. I will then run 18-5 thermostat wire from the block to each switch. 3 of the wires are for the switch operation and 2 are for running to my 14v auxiliary power. 

Thank you very much for the compliment on my layout. Everything is good so far (knock on wood).

Thanks for the tip. I didn’t even think about opening the holes. And as you can see in my previous picture, I’m running all the wires from the remote switches to the terminal blocks. Just behind the control panel. I will then run 18-5 thermostat wire from the block to each switch. 3 of the wires are for the switch operation and 2 are for running to my 14v auxiliary power. 

I had not thought of doing that! Good on you. And the thermostat wire is a good choice. I used CAT-5 Ethernet cable to keep the colors straight. 

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Dr. Joseph V Russo

josephvrusso@outlook.com 

Keeping the wiring neat and organized will help with troubleshooting later. And its not if it will happen but when. Just ask Dr. Joe.

The entire friggin month of February was spent troubleshooting a track signal problem. @RSJB18 is so right. Where before, nothing was labeled, now everything is neat and orderly. 

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Dr. Joseph V Russo

josephvrusso@outlook.com 

Oakfan posted:

@LaramieJoe I really like your layout’s table skirt. Are they custom made or did you use curtains or something like that?

Thank, Brad

I bought plain colored curtain panels (48" wide by 52" tall) from The Walmart and had them hemmed to 45 inches. I then stapled them every 5 inches horizontally. I created the pleats myself by gathering a little bit of curtain, then stapling. 

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Dr. Joseph V Russo

josephvrusso@outlook.com 

LaramieJoe posted:
Oakfan posted:

@LaramieJoe I really like your layout’s table skirt. Are they custom made or did you use curtains or something like that?

Thank, Brad

I bought plain colored curtain panels (48" wide by 52" tall) from The Walmart and had them hemmed to 45 inches. I then stapled them every 5 inches horizontally. I created the pleats myself by gathering a little bit of curtain, then stapling. 

That’s a good plan. I want to do curtains around my table when I’m done too. That will make my wife happy. ;-)

I use #4 sheet metal flathead Phillips in black oxide for tracks for RealTrax and FasTrack. You can get them from McMaster-Carr, MicroFasteners (out of stock now), sometimes Fastenal 

I don't fasten switches. I fasten the ends of the three adjoining tracks.

I like the method that you are using to extend the switch control wires. Good for trouble shooting and keeping the equipment in factory condition. It takes a little more time now, but, it is a lot easier when changes or maintenance is required.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

After messing with the elevated track and trying to figure out how to support it, I have decided to slightly change the layout. I really want mountains on the left and right. I like tunnels, bridges and trestles. I think I have figured out a way to have all of this on my small layout. 

I haven’t drawn it yet but there will be a trestle on the front straight section. 

The 2x4 siding if a future upgrade. I will put in the switch on the far right but just add a bumper for now.

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Nice drawings. Do you have CAD at work or what app did you use?

My personal taste is not to hide the train that much.

I think you will miss the play value of the sidings. You will tire of the running only. But, then you will have something to do - build another or change this one.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

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Moonman posted:

Nice drawings. Do you have CAD at work or what app did you use?

My personal taste is not to hide the train that much.

I think you will miss the play value of the sidings. You will tire of the running only. But, then you will have something to do - build another or change this one.

I have Autodesk Inventor. At first, I started playing around with the table design to get material cut sheets. Then I decided to draw the track.

Although I like the sidings in the middle, they get in the way of the mountains and supports. I spent a day trying to get it right but I didn’t like how it was turning out. 

229A5A7B-1300-450C-ACEC-D5C2273696C1

Do you think the future 2’x4’ siding table will satisfy the play value? It provides 3 longer sidings than the middle. I was thinking of maybe only having 2 there and add a sawmill or something.

I’m learning it’s a compromise when I have a small space. Yes, a good portion of the track is covered. I’m trying to figure a way to minimize that and still have a mountain logging, mining feel. I’m learning it’s not easy. But I’m having fun so far.

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Oakfan posted:
Moonman posted:

Nice drawings. Do you have CAD at work or what app did you use?

My personal taste is not to hide the train that much.

I think you will miss the play value of the sidings. You will tire of the running only. But, then you will have something to do - build another or change this one.

I have Autodesk Inventor. At first, I started playing around with the table design to get material cut sheets. Then I decided to draw the track.

Although I like the sidings in the middle, they get in the way of the mountains and supports. I spent a day trying to get it right but I didn’t like how it was turning out. 

229A5A7B-1300-450C-ACEC-D5C2273696C1

Do you think the future 2’x4’ siding table will satisfy the play value? It provides 3 longer sidings than the middle. I was thinking of maybe only having 2 there and add a sawmill or something.

I’m learning it’s a compromise when I have a small space. Yes, a good portion of the track is covered. I’m trying to figure a way to minimize that and still have a mountain logging, mining feel. I’m learning it’s not easy. But I’m having fun so far.

In the photo above, the sub-roadbed should be shaped at the curved end also. I know that you were only mocking it up. A good support is a 1" x 1" block

3 1/2" wide on top of a 1" wooden dowel for a support. You really don't need that many when using the shaped sub-roadbed. You won't be running any 30lb scale sized steamers up there. 

making a short tunnel in the corner where the grade starts with a mountain shape on top will visually provide the look of something larger without having to hide the trains. Under the grade to the loop could be filled in as terrain to add to the mountain feel.

Yes, when the yard extension is added, it will provide something for the train to do. The two sidings in the center sort of need a building with them as a destination customer. This helps with any layout. The center sidings also required having the train traveling in the proper direction to back in. Adds to challenge of dropping off or picking up a car or two.

You'll be ok with the new version. You have to decide by doing it and satisfying your eye as to what results work for you. The right way is your way on your layout. 

Mock-ups and software 3D's only help decide.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Oakfan posted:
Moonman posted:

Nice drawings. Do you have CAD at work or what app did you use?

My personal taste is not to hide the train that much.

I think you will miss the play value of the sidings. You will tire of the running only. But, then you will have something to do - build another or change this one.

I have Autodesk Inventor. At first, I started playing around with the table design to get material cut sheets. Then I decided to draw the track.

Although I like the sidings in the middle, they get in the way of the mountains and supports. I spent a day trying to get it right but I didn’t like how it was turning out. 

229A5A7B-1300-450C-ACEC-D5C2273696C1

Do you think the future 2’x4’ siding table will satisfy the play value? It provides 3 longer sidings than the middle. I was thinking of maybe only having 2 there and add a sawmill or something.

I’m learning it’s a compromise when I have a small space. Yes, a good portion of the track is covered. I’m trying to figure a way to minimize that and still have a mountain logging, mining feel. I’m learning it’s not easy. But I’m having fun so far.

Late to the party, sorry if this has already been covered.

Questioning the use of hardboard on the upper level, especially the pegboard.  Given the distance between supports, I'm concerned that it will sag over time, on its own and especially under the weight of trains. 

Aside from that, I think the plan is good given the amount of space.

MOONMAN, Thanks for the great feed back, Carl. I was trying to use my mock-up to give me an idea for the footprint of the mountains. I don’t really like it as it is now. I’m going to reduce it down some. I like your idea about a tunnel at the start of the incline. I’ll see what I can do with that. I made the straight sections 4” wide since the track is 3” wide. Should I go down to 3-1/2” wide? I’m going to use the plywood for the bridges until I can build the truss and trestle sections, so they will have to be removable.

MALLARD4468, good eye. I’m just using that for mock-up. I had a bunch of scrap pegboard so I figured why not. I’m glad I did because if I had started cutting up my new plywood, it would now be scrap. 

TM TERRY, I appreciate the feedback. After more consideration, I think I’m going to scale back a bit on my mountains.

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