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We all know the chicken or egg question, track plan first or benchwork plan first? I do not have the track plan finished but, like most of us, have ambitious dreams. I want to get the ball rolling and my plan is to maximize surface area. I thought I would get some experienced feedback before I send details to Mianne for a quotation. Here are my questions (please ignore the track sections and the Atlas turntable for now) :

1) Is there any reason not to add the fourth foot in width for the layout at the top of the open space in the middle?  Seems it can't hurt since the access is available from both outside and inside?

2) What about squared corners versus angled?  I tend to like the squared corners for floodlights etc but the angled corners look good.

3) Mianne Lift gate versus  lift out bridges. Pros or cons on this one?

4) Mianne transformer cart (36 x 12) versus the fixed shelf (48x 12). My preference is the shelf but is there an advantage to the cart I am missing?

Thanks in advance for insights on these earth shattering questions for inquiring minds. Once I get this order processed at Mianne, on to the layout work!

PS- added room layout too.

 

layout overview B

 

 train area with notes

 

 

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  • layout overview B
  • train area with notes
Last edited by hokie71
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I can honestly only comment about the corners.  Curves are where your equipment is most likely to leave the track if speed becomes excessive, whether accidentally or purposefully.  If you choose to angle the corners, please put up some type of fall barrier protection along the edge to prevent your equipment from hitting the floor.  Also, why remove good scenic opportunities just for better aesthetics.  Most modelers are looking for that little bit of space to insert a scene they have always wanted, but only recently could acquire.

Chuck

Here are my thoughts:

1) Yes, no problem making this section 4' wide.  I would like to see a plan of the whole room; maybe you would be better served by a different layout shape or benchwork configuration.  What is your desired minimum curve?

2) I recommend angled corners for additional clearance outside the layout, unless you're going to extend a siding off of the outside mainline.

3) Definitely some kind of lift bridge or gate, NOT a duck-under.  If you go with a custom drawbridge arrangement, it probably wouldn't be 3 ft deep, and it probably shouldn't have switches on it.

4) Why a cart or a shelf?  Unless you're going all-in for nostalgia, even conventional locos are probably better enjoyed with walkaround remote control vs. being anchored to transformer handles.

My $.02, thanks for sharing!

If I read between the lines, here's how I see the space. You said 15" clearance on top and left side, 24" on bottom and I assume the right side is open. Most folks can reach 30"-36", so you could probably add up to 24" to the bench work at the top of the aisle. Depending on how open the right side is, you could also add up to 24" to that side. If the room allows, you could even move the aisle and right side up to 24" to the right giving you even more surface area. I should point out that a 24" aisle can get tight if you have 2 or more people trying to move around, so you might want to increase it to 30"-36". I agree with Jan that knowing more about the whole room would be helpful.

Hokie 2020-09-21

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  • Hokie 2020-09-21

Thanks for the feedback and good points,  I should have posted the room arrangement.  It is now inserted into the original post.  The area to the right has a desk and two storage cabinets for trains.  The left side of the entry door is the general line I tried to keep the layout to the left of.

Chuck, I was thinking that very point on the corners, my old layout had the corners and I used them as you mention.

 Ted, I will check with Mianne on how much of a corner they will adjust. I tend to like the space per Chuck's comment. Right on the transformer cart / shelf.  I was thinking of where to put this stuff.  I guess it could go under. Desired min is 072 curves.  I am with you on no duck under- been there done that.

Jan, like the comment to Ted, I will check on the amount of clipping possible from Mianne. My old layout had 32 inch width in many places and I did appreciate access to both sides of that.  Maybe I am too conservative on the 36" and should push it against the wall.  It would give me another foot + as you note.  

Dave, Added the room layout.  You can see the main entry door to the room,  I was trying to keep to the left of that line.  I will explore making the interior 30"- did not have a space like that on the old layout.

 

Ok, here's a new rendition. It moves the layout to the left wall and widens the right side to 60" for a 30" reach from both sides. I widened the aisle to 30" and added 24" to the bench work at the top of the aisle. The standard Mianne lift is just under 30", so the aisle would be sized to accommodate that. I added a corner piece to the lower right to accommodate the entry door and another corner piece could be added to the upper right to make reaching the inside of that section a bit easier. Having seen the Mianne lift in action on Peter A's layout, it is worth the price, unless costs are a major limitation. Unlike a lift-out/up, it allows you to have a full-sized platform for track and landscaping vice just a floating bridge or a rather narrow platform to keep weight within reason. One advantage to an equipment cart vice a shelf is the cart can be rolled in/out for maintenance, cleaning, etc., though it doesn't have to be the Mianne cart. I also added an Atlas O-72 oval just to show relative sizing. I didn't add a turntable, but you can see the 60" width offers more options to configure whisker tracks, etc., than you'd have with a 36" width.

Hokie 2020-09-21

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  • Hokie 2020-09-21

Jan, I did follow GRJ's adventures, I may need a few hundred more C clamps and Tom Tee .  Seriously, that overhang is a good idea to moderate the 45 degree clips. 

I plan to call Mianne tomorrow and use Dave's plan view, along with several questions raised here to see if we can nail this down.  This exercise has produced a lot more surface than I thought I would get.  A decent switchyard and the round table appear to be feasible per Stangtrains plans in OG railroadingrun 299.  Plus I have space for boxes (sorry, I do save them) and other stuff. 

stangtrain picture 

Many thanks to all for the comments and I will let you know what feedback I receive.

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Hokie,

I would have been happy with the Mianne liftgate, but the cost was prohibitive for me.  That said, I do not blame time for the price he charges.  It is a complex, heavy duty structure.  I have read here on the Forum some folks don't like Tim's tethered controller, in that it still can't be used on both sides of the liftgate without modification, which some Forum members have done.  Personally, I am no carpenter or mechanic, and my skills have deteriorated witht he aging process.  I now have a very basic lift out unit that is quite awkward since one track is almost 7 inches higher than the other.  I will have to put in 2 lift up bridges.  I have one sitting on the layout table and am still contemplating.  I have my Z4000 on a shelf under the layout and the TIU and terminal blocks are on a vertical board beside it.  I use handheld remotes.

Update,

Again thanks for all of the thoughts, I used Dave's last plan as a base and talked with Tim at Mianne today. Here are the details in the forthcoming quote: 1) Tim is able to do a 24 inch wide lift gate so the center will be a 24 inch opening. Fortunately, my metabolism is such that I can deal with this (we think). I took the 6 inches out of the overall width which is now 120.  2) I went with the 45 degree clip  on each of the right side corners.  I agree with the comments on clipping corners but want to see how this impacts things overall.  3) Tim thought the 3 and 5 foot widths on Dave's plan  were very feasible, even for the  40 inch height platform.

Mark, your comments motivated me  to go with the shelf idea and the lift.  Tim says he sells 10 to 1 shelves versus carts for transformers, etc.  

Thanks again to all, I should have the proposal from Mianne in a few days.

 

Last edited by hokie71

That sounds great. The 24” aisle and lift will be fine as long as you don’t have multiple operators trying to pass each other. And don’t forget, you don’t have to follow the bench work exactly, you can alway overhang and round the corners. Some folks overhang Mianne bench work so the tops of the legs don’t show along the edges. Others add an edging so the plywood edges don’t show. It’s all a matter of how you want things to look. Now it’s on to developing a track plan, so good luck.

You're getting good advice from OGR Forum-ites and helpful suggestions from Mianne; all to the good!

If you haven't already decided, I suggest adding a fascia board (1xt3 inches) around selected sections of the perimeter as a mounting board for control buttons near each operating accessory - a great feature for kid visitors who never seem to tire of pushing buttons.  Like many other hobbyists, I used that method on my layout.

Although I installed TMCC, I opted NOT to apply that system to operate switches and accessories. My 81-year old brain would be overloaded if challenged to remember all the ID codes to Lionel SC-2 devices! I have MANY operating accessories, so placing the control buttons (Lionel #90 preferred) on the fascia works for me -- and for my great-grandsons.

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394
mottlermike10@gmail.com

 

Jay, I think you misunderstood my comment. Mianne bench work dimensions are measured from the center of one leg to the center of the next leg, so when you lay a standard 4x8 sheet of plywood on top of a 4x8 section of bench work, the tops of the legs don’t get covered. This makes it difficult to add a decorative facia to cover the plywood layers and rails for a more professional look. Some add a 1/2” or 3/4” edging strip to fill that gap, others overhang the plywood then add a 3” or 4” facia, a curtain or some other covering. You can’t recess the legs like you could with traditional 1x or 2x framing. Then you could recess the legs 6” or so to avoid bumping them as you walk around the layout. Technically you could do that with Mianne by adding a 6” extension around the perimeter, but that adds quite a bit to the cost.

 5490FC58-B831-4ED7-9E6F-2F55599C0896

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Hokie I've been thinking about big-picture considerations related to your train room.  A very important question that only you can answer is, will you be content with one or two trains running around ovals? 

Do your existing locos require O72?  Do you prefer the wide radius for the sake of appearance?  Using O72 curves on a 10 x 13 layout leaves only about 6' for your straightaways.  It will be difficult to camouflage the fact that it's an oval layout, if that matters to you.  I would be really tempted to banish the computer desk and train storage to another room.  Maybe even re-hang the 30" door at lower right so that it doesn't open into the room.  In other words, use the entire room if possible, instead of just a 10 x 13 island.

Everyone runs their trains differently.  Case history:  My own layout area is about the same size as yours, and I had originally planned to do an "open doughnut" like you.  But I was afraid that after it was built I would get bored with it, and for all the money spent, it wouldn't see much use.  I really wanted operational variety.  The more I messed with my plans, the more I realized that 11 x 18 is plenty for "traditional" O gauge, but with hi-rail equipment and O72 curves, you're pretty much limited to a basic oval.  It was a tough decision, but I'm probably dropping back to O42 or even O36 curves and I've drawn several exciting plans that fit the space.

Before you buy or build ANY benchwork, I encourage you to get a copy of John Armstrong's "Track Planning for Realistic Operation."  Look especially at chapter 6, Pike Locations and Shapes.  Mr. Armstrong uses a technique called "squares" to determine what track arrangements will fit in a given area.  He also has a figure titled "An alphabet of walk-in pike shapes" that illustrate the more convoluted layouts that can be built if you're willing to step back to sharper curves.

There is no one "right answer."  Most people are content just to see their trains moving closer to eye level, which a basic oval allows you to do.  But no matter your preference, it's much easier to change the design BEFORE you order the wood for benchwork!  My $.02.

Last edited by Ted S

Ted, these points are a good $0.02  Funny you should mention the Armstrong book, I started plowing through it a few days ago. I will jump to chapter 6 tonight.  I am with you on operational variety and have liked over the years  the idea of a turn table and a switch yard of some sort.  I saved these two track plans from Stan Gitler's articles over the years - see below. I also have a few from ken 0-gauge too.

Truthfully, I have a scale MTH J that requires 054 curves and nothing else needs the 072 in my fleet.  You raise a good critique about the large curves  and the real estate they require.  If far enough along, please share your plans when ready- I would love to see what you have in mind.

 

Stan%20Gitler%20track%20diagram-dimensions%2012x17

2020-09-13 10-00

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  • 2020-09-13 10-00

I agree that larger curves will make your trains LOOK better / more realistic, especially when viewed from outside the oval. 

But... a well-engineered loco like the MTH Docksider, MTH Premier USRA 0-6-0, Legacy B6b, LionChief Plus Pacific, etc., will run exactly the same on O31 as it does on O72.  Low gearing and speed control allow them to overcome any drag encountered when entering the curve, without slowing down.  So there is no operational benefit-- using wider curves just limits your designs to variations on a basic oval.

If I were you, I would display that big 'J' on your mantle, and use the whole room to build an interesting layout with minimum size curves as required by the rest of your fleet. 

Here's a "walk-in" design that was inspired by fellow Forumite Andre Ming.  Note the sky boards, peninsulas, meandering aisles, etc.  This uses O36 curves and it takes up all of an 11 x 18 room.  A shoji or pocket door entry to the room is on the far right.  A hinged drawbridge (not visible behind the middle wall) would carry three straight tracks across the entryway.

Do you want your train to go around in circles, or do you want it to really go somewhere?  Wide curves make the trains look better, but which is more realistic overall?  Of course there is no "right" answer because it depends on personal preference.

KCS lines snip

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  • KCS lines snip: KCS lines rendered in 11 x 18.  Adapted from a design by Andre Ming.  Drawn in SCARM.
Last edited by Ted S
@PRR1950 posted:

I can honestly only comment about the corners.  Curves are where your equipment is most likely to leave the track if speed becomes excessive, whether accidentally or purposefully.  If you choose to angle the corners, please put up some type of fall barrier protection along the edge to prevent your equipment from hitting the floor.  Also, why remove good scenic opportunities just for better aesthetics.  Most modelers are looking for that little bit of space to insert a scene they have always wanted, but only recently could acquire.

Chuck

Good info above regarding the corners.

Assuming that you are physically able to crawl under and stand up, the corners could be set up with lift-out access panels covered with scenery.   But those corners look challenging to me.

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