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Hello! Being a huge fan of the Harry Potter books and movies, my wife surprised me with the Hogwarts Express ready-to-run set (SKU: 2023170) for my 50th birthday and that has kindled my interest for trains and creating a layout.

I am requesting help with the following items:

  1. Which layout would be suitable for my requirements below?
  2. Is this something I should plan for as my first layout or go simpler? (I am not very familiar with all the power/electrical with FasTrack or the trains)

I have never done a layout and this is my first time even looking at options. I have also been reading up on electrical and creating a work bench and I do know that I am not all mechanically inclined. Hence my criteria for FasTrack since a lot of it is plug and play.

  1. Here are some criteria that I am looking for:
    1. A small-compact layout
    2. Ability to run 3 trains at a time on the layout
    3. Continuous run
    4. Lionel Fastrack only
    5. Future trains would be legacy or vision line and coal trains set/ boxcars - polar express high speed, BNSF coal set or boxcars or Union Pacific sets. These seems to require a minimum of 072.
    6. 072 curves or easements
    7. Reversing loop(s)
    8 Elevated and graduated trestles
    9. Tunnel(s)
    10. Plug n play accessories such as coal laying station, track laying crew, floodlight tower, FasTrack automatic crossing gates. I am currently not too interested in scenery (Maybe at a very later date)
    11. Extended truss bridge (if possible)
  2. I  am thinking in the 4x8 or 5x9 space. I don't believe this area would fulfill my requirements and would like to confirm my understanding.


I looked at this plan this plan initially from Ken - https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...15#77593417159111415 (5x12) but feel it would be too big for my space.

I have also looked at many different plans and to better use and understand the free version of SCARM, I tried to create some that I liked and would fit my criteria. Since I had the free version, I was limited to 100 tracks.

These are the plans I have worked on and are attached below as JPGs and the SCARM files (with 072 curves for the larger loops)

1. Lionel’s FasTrack layout options pdf (the 7’x10’) plan (OG- LionelFT10x7.png). New plan (LLo72-2D, green is elevation)

2. PhilInAustin’s plan (OG- PhilInAustin). New Plan is in two parts - Outside Loops (FirstLayout2Loops-2D, the inside loop would be graduated elevation - the 3D file), Inside Loops (FirstLayouto72o36Inside-2D). I merged these two files to show what it would overall look like (FirstLayoutTest)

3. Finally, I took that Inside Loop plan and closed out all the “open switches” (FirstLayout36Inside-2D)

4. Others I have liked but not worked on in SCARM are the plans by Ace (the 4x8 or the 5x9 with o72 curves/easements), SeattleSUP layout, layouts done by Moonman, sinclair, etc.

It would be great to get feedback on whether this plan or any other plan would meet my criteria? What I do know is that I will be only using Lionel O-gauge and FasTrack. I am willing to purchase tracks, trains, equipment as per layout needs.

Thanx in advance!

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Hmmm,..   lots great ideas but as others said space is an issue.   A few years ago I was planning a permanent layout but as the design progressed I encountered that problem, space.   While I might just squeeze it in I wanted to verify everything.  So before proceeding I started laying fastrack on the floor so I could get the visuals and see if everything operated as assumed.  It was rough on the knees (even on carpet) but as I worked out the kinks of the plan it proved the space I had would not be satisfactory.   It's been two years now and everything is still on the floor, the lady of the house is used to avoiding the tracks.  I've pulled everything up a few times making adjustments for things like fixing derailment locations by adding a ten inch straight track between switches ( I found a 5 inch didn't do the trick).  Added larger radius transitions into the loops and divided my yard so longer strings of cars could be stored.  Then again adjusted to accommodate an easier grade to a second level.   Buildings and structures sit on removable flats.

  The point is having a layout on paper can look great but might encounter problems after its built and the redesign then may not fit the benchwork.  For me I kind of enjoy the surprise of long trains appearing out from under my desk, then disappearing behind the TV console, only to pop out again beside the love seat, and as I said, I'm still just testing the design.   Perhaps I need to build a custom house,.. 

@BruceG posted:

First of all, kudos to your wife! Secondly, you've discovered the O-scale dilemma: it would take a lot of space to satisfy your various criteria. Rather than starting with such a long "wish list," what are 2 or 3 criteria that you could be happy with?

Thanx Bruce! She is an amazing woman and wholly behind my new hobby.

Looking at the ultimate wish list closer, here are the three (ok 4) items with the main given that my layout will only have FasTrack
1. A small-compact layout
2. Ability to run 3 trains continuously at a time on the layout
3. Reversing loop(s) to prevent/reduce boredom
4. Elevated and/or graduated trestles

Thanx again!

@Pappu posted:

@Mike0289 - O48 and O36 curves would be mean as I consider buying more trains/engine, I would have to go with the smaller engines and build on that until I get enough place for some O72 curves. Also, the image your posted does not show up. Could you repost, please?

@Pappu my intention wasn't to be mean, just realistic. In your initial post, you said you were "thinking in the 4x8 or 5x9 space" and asked for feedback. 048 is the maximum diameter Fastrack curve you can physically fit in that space.

With a 5x9 space constraint, maybe your home layout needs be more of a twice around single line layout with some industry switching, while you find a local club (or some friends) with a larger layout where you can run your big iron and long trains. Or find/create some more space for a bigger home layout

I'll re-upload the image. (Edit: Done)

Last edited by Mike0289
@DCtransit posted:

ive been eyeing the D264 lionel dealer layout, 5x9, 2 train operation although im considering adding some passing loops, add turnouts for a reversing loop, maybe addding an elevated o27

Thanx @DCtransit! Yes, that seems like a great plan. I believe I saw some updates to that done by Ken (@Ken-Oscale) and trying to see if I can find that plan for SCARM.
Does the current D264 allow a 2 train run? If so, running an elevated loop would give it a 3 train operation.

@Mike0289 posted:

@Pappu my intention wasn't to be mean, just realistic. In your initial post, you said you were "thinking in the 4x8 or 5x9 space" and asked for feedback. 048 is the maximum diameter Fastrack curve you can physically fit in that space.

With a 5x9 space constraint, maybe your home layout needs be more of a twice around single line layout with some industry switching, while you find a local club (or some friends) with a larger layout where you can run your big iron and long trains. Or find/create some more space for a bigger home layout

I'll re-upload the image. (Edit: Done)

Sorry @Mike0289 - that was a typo by me! It should have read as “O48 & O36 curves would mean that….” Ignore the “be”

Great layout!

Last edited by Pappu
@Mike in NC posted:

Hmmm,..   lots great ideas but as others said space is an issue.   A few years ago I was planning a permanent layout but as the design progressed I encountered that problem, space.   While I might just squeeze it in I wanted to verify everything.  So before proceeding I started laying fastrack on the floor so I could get the visuals and see if everything operated as assumed.  It was rough on the knees (even on carpet) but as I worked out the kinks of the plan it proved the space I had would not be satisfactory.   It's been two years now and everything is still on the floor, the lady of the house is used to avoiding the tracks.  I've pulled everything up a few times making adjustments for things like fixing derailment locations by adding a ten inch straight track between switches ( I found a 5 inch didn't do the trick).  Added larger radius transitions into the loops and divided my yard so longer strings of cars could be stored.  Then again adjusted to accommodate an easier grade to a second level.   Buildings and structures sit on removable flats.

  The point is having a layout on paper can look great but might encounter problems after its built and the redesign then may not fit the benchwork.  For me I kind of enjoy the surprise of long trains appearing out from under my desk, then disappearing behind the TV console, only to pop out again beside the love seat, and as I said, I'm still just testing the design.   Perhaps I need to build a custom house,..

Custom house… hmmmm - like that idea!
Good points and my initial plan is to be on the floor until everything works before even considering a table/shelf.

@Pappu posted:

Thanx @DCtransit! Yes, that seems like a great plan. I believe I saw some updates to that done by Ken (@Ken-Oscale) and trying to see if I can find that plan for SCARM.
Does the current D264 allow a 2 train run? If so, running an elevated loop would give it a 3 train operation.

Yes it does allow for 2 train operator. I would try to adjust the elevated risers so you can tie in a reversing loop on that inner loop (or try to convert the elevated section to a reversing loop)

As far as a 3rd elevated loop, in theory you could stack it on top of the outer circular loop, but it may be too much and not look right. (I have been dying to get my hands on the vintage  Marx's elevated trestles that allows you to stack trains and run them one on top of another. Too expensive and might have to make my own

consider Atlas track

Solid advice.  Mahesh, I started with a relatively large Fastrack layout (14x20, five separate loops).  I used Homosote and foam based on recommendations on the forum. And it was still unbelievably loud. Rail sounds were irrelevant because they were completely drowned out by the noise from the track. I ripped it all out and am selling it off. I replaced it with Atlas and the difference in noise level is night and day.

That’s my experience.  Others on this forum have built fantastic layouts with Fastrack. YMMV.

Best of luck with your new endeavor. Layout design and construction are my favorite parts of the whole process.

Solid advice.  Mahesh, I started with a relatively large Fastrack layout (14x20, five separate loops).  I used Homosote and foam based on recommendations on the forum. And it was still unbelievably loud. Rail sounds were irrelevant because they were completely drowned out by the noise from the track. I ripped it all out and am selling it off. I replaced it with Atlas and the difference in noise level is night and day.

That’s my experience.  Others on this forum have built fantastic layouts with Fastrack. YMMV.

Best of luck with your new endeavor. Layout design and construction are my favorite parts of the whole process.

Thanx @Rider Sandman; this is helpful. At this time, I will continue down the FasTrack path and see where it leads me. Appreciate the wishes too.

I used Homosote and foam based on recommendations on the forum. And it was still unbelievably loud. Rail sounds were irrelevant because they were completely drowned out by the noise from the track. I ripped it all out and am selling it off. I replaced it with Atlas and the difference in noise level is night and day.

My understanding is that the noise from FasTrack is not from the roadbed, but rather from the hollow rails themselves.  That according to someone in a YouTube video I once saw.   Thus the layout base makes little difference.

John

Last edited by Craftech

My somewhat temporary layout started with Fastrack on 3/4" plywood, but I ended up adding indoor/outdoor carpet in between, and that reduced the track noise quite a lot. Speed of trains is also a large factor with any track system - I have no trouble at all with Fastrack noise when I'm running trains at slower, more prototypical speeds. Once I get trains up to Legacy speed step 3 or greater, track noise becomes more apparent, but it's definitely not drowning out Railsounds and my locos do not have their volume maxed.

@Craftech posted:

My understanding is that the noise from FasTrack is not from the roadbed, but rather from the hollow rails themselves.  That according to someone in a YouTube video I once saw.   Thus the layout base makes little difference.

John

Lots of discussion on the forum about Fastrack noise levels and fixes for the same. You could spend hours reading it all and still walk away with no definitive answers. Tubular is also hollow, but very quiet in comparison. Forum users have studied (with decibel meters) fixes including filling the roadbed with foam and cork to various results. I’ve heard everything from hollow rails to the acoustic resonance within the roadbed to non-carpeted floors as causing the issue. All I can confirm is when I had trains running on my large Fastrack loops sitting on homosote and/or foam it was deafening, even a modest speeds.  The same track layout in Atlas is whisper quiet with the exception of the clickty clack across rail joints.

To again be fair, many forum users have fantastic Fastrack layouts. The product does have its advantages.

@Mike0289 posted:

My somewhat temporary layout started with Fastrack on 3/4" plywood, but I ended up adding indoor/outdoor carpet in between, and that reduced the track noise quite a lot. Speed of trains is also a large factor with any track system - I have no trouble at all with Fastrack noise when I'm running trains at slower, more prototypical speeds. Once I get trains up to Legacy speed step 3 or greater, track noise becomes more apparent, but it's definitely not drowning out Railsounds and my locos do not have their volume maxed.

I think the size of the layout is also a factor. Mine was fairly large with 5-8 trains running at any given time. Rail sounds were drowned out and conversations at normal voice levels were impossible. After the track switch, rail sounds are clear and normal voice levels are useable. My experience is consistent with many other forum users, although certainly not all.

I don’t want to hijack the thread, so I’ll leave it at that. I only raised the issue because I wish I knew what I do now when I was at the OP’s current stage of designing a layout.

I think the size of the layout is also a factor. Mine was fairly large with 5-8 trains running at any given time. Rail sounds were drowned out and conversations at normal voice levels were impossible. After the track switch, rail sounds are clear and normal voice levels are useable. My experience is consistent with many other forum users, although certainly not all.

I don’t want to hijack the thread, so I’ll leave it at that. I only raised the issue because I wish I knew what I do now when I was at the OP’s current stage of designing a layout.

Good point, and I agree we don't want to hijack the thread for yet another "Fastrack noise" discussion I have at most 3 trains running on my layout at any point, which is significantly less than 8

With the suggestions from @BruceG (2-3 items I would be happy with) & and @DCtransit (look at D-264 layout), I found the D264 post by @Ken-Oscale (thanx Ken!!) and converted it into SCARM and used only FasTrack as opposed FasTrack and Atlas, that Ken used.

Here is the post with the the AnyRail file - https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...41#81114579258652641

Here are the three (ok 4) items that I narrowed down and it seems like this plan meets those needs:
1. A small-compact layout (5x9)
2. Ability to run 3 trains continuously at a time on the layout (Can run two trains and if I add a trolley rail on the left side of the elevated loop it should give me the 3 "trains" until I have the space to increase)
3. Reversing loop(s) to prevent/reduce boredom (Cyan track)
4. Elevated and/or graduated trestles (Cyan track)

Please look over the layout and I would welcome any feedback folks might have on this - changes, suggestions, etc. Note: I am using the free version of SCARM (100 tracks) and I have reached that limit so you will not see the "trolley track" and the bumper on the 30" cyan track

Some questions that I would like answered from the experts here are:

1. The cyan track has a long gradual 2.7% elevation before it ends at 4.72". Would there be any issues with this? With regards to train height or anything else?

2. The same track passes through a tunnel as it gradually increases the slope. Any concerns with that?

3. Would like to confirm that this plan will run 2 trains? (that is what I understand from running through the track)

4. I would like to put some simple accessories like mainline crossing gates or the "automatic gateman" that will require power. The tracks that I have put in the layout do not have any power tracks. I would like some help in knowing what tracks I would require to update in the plan to handle accessories

5. Any other wiring or electrical I should be looking for in the layout?

6. Is it at all possible to reduce this down to a 4x8? Just curious.

Finally, here are the JPGs, the SCARM file and the parts list.



5x9LayoutD264-2D5x9LayoutD264-3DTerrainv1

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Images (6)
  • 5x9LayoutD264-Parts
  • 5x9LayoutD264-2D
  • 5x9LayoutD264-3DTerrainv1
  • 5x9LayoutD264-3DTerrainv2
  • 5x9LayoutD264-3Dv1
  • 5x9LayoutD264-3Dv2
Files (1)
@Pappu posted:

With the suggestions from @BruceG (2-3 items I would be happy with) & and @DCtransit (look at D-264 layout), I found the D264 post by @Ken-Oscale (thanx Ken!!) and converted it into SCARM and used only FasTrack as opposed FasTrack and Atlas, that Ken used.

Here is the post with the the AnyRail file - https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...41#81114579258652641

Here are the three (ok 4) items that I narrowed down and it seems like this plan meets those needs:
1. A small-compact layout (5x9)
2. Ability to run 3 trains continuously at a time on the layout (Can run two trains and if I add a trolley rail on the left side of the elevated loop it should give me the 3 "trains" until I have the space to increase)
3. Reversing loop(s) to prevent/reduce boredom (Cyan track)
4. Elevated and/or graduated trestles (Cyan track)

Please look over the layout and I would welcome any feedback folks might have on this - changes, suggestions, etc. Note: I am using the free version of SCARM (100 tracks) and I have reached that limit so you will not see the "trolley track" and the bumper on the 30" cyan track

Some questions that I would like answered from the experts here are:

1. The cyan track has a long gradual 2.7% elevation before it ends at 4.72". Would there be any issues with this? With regards to train height or anything else?

2. The same track passes through a tunnel as it gradually increases the slope. Any concerns with that?

3. Would like to confirm that this plan will run 2 trains? (that is what I understand from running through the track)

4. I would like to put some simple accessories like mainline crossing gates or the "automatic gateman" that will require power. The tracks that I have put in the layout do not have any power tracks. I would like some help in knowing what tracks I would require to update in the plan to handle accessories

5. Any other wiring or electrical I should be looking for in the layout?

6. Is it at all possible to reduce this down to a 4x8? Just curious.

Finally, here are the JPGs, the SCARM file and the parts list.




Pappu,

I'm not a track design guru so will leave it to the many others here who are so qualified to comment.

But reading through this thread will add this: I'm a big fan of the Lionel Dealer Display Layouts from the 50's and actually have built the D-105 which is a 5x9 two level layout. I see you are considering the D-264 5x9 which is a great layout. These Displays were designed to include lots of action in small spaces and indeed have plenty of operating accessories, buildings, lights, and other trackside signals.  The track plans and wiring schematics are all easily available so if you decide  to go that route you've basically got a "cookbook" for the design.

One caveat: These Displays used classic Lionel tubular track and I note that you're going with FasTrak. Should not be a problem as I know several have done modern versions of the Display Layouts using FasTrak. Just a matter of doing some conversions.

@Craftech posted:

My understanding is that the noise from FasTrack is not from the roadbed, but rather from the hollow rails themselves.  That according to someone in a YouTube video I once saw.   Thus the layout base makes little difference.

John

Baloney, I used1/2" pink foam ( not considered noise deadener) and the noise reduction was dramatic. The addition of scenery cut the noise even further.

Homasoate ,an actual noise deadener would work even better. Bottom Line, put something soft between the benchwork top and the track.

Keep in mind, metal wheels on metal rail will always make some noise. The prototype is far from silent as well.

Last edited by RickO
@johnstrains posted:

Pappu,

I'm not a track design guru so will leave it to the many others here who are so qualified to comment.

But reading through this thread will add this: I'm a big fan of the Lionel Dealer Display Layouts from the 50's and actually have built the D-105 which is a 5x9 two level layout. I see you are considering the D-264 5x9 which is a great layout. These Displays were designed to include lots of action in small spaces and indeed have plenty of operating accessories, buildings, lights, and other trackside signals.  The track plans and wiring schematics are all easily available so if you decide  to go that route you've basically got a "cookbook" for the design.

One caveat: These Displays used classic Lionel tubular track and I note that you're going with FasTrak. Should not be a problem as I know several have done modern versions of the Display Layouts using FasTrak. Just a matter of doing some conversions.

Thanx @johnstrains! Will do a search for the electrical schematics on the site and see if I can find it.

One q- when I do add another train set/engine, what would I need to consider electrically that would require changes to the tracks?

Last edited by Pappu
@Pappu posted:

Thanx @johnstrains! Will do search for the electrical schematics on the site and see if I can find it.

One q- when I do add another train set/engine, what would I need to consider electrically that would require changes to the tracks?

I'll send you an email (using the email posted in your Profile) with the track plans and wiring schematic for building the D-264 layout. Note these are the original build sheets form Lionel from the 50's so they are dated but fairly easy to follow. They also have information about number of track pieces and accessories.

Fair warning: If you build with FasTrak and some more modern touches you will need to make some mods along the way. But this should give you the basics.

@johnstrains posted:

I'll send you an email (using the email posted in your Profile) with the track plans and wiring schematic for building the D-264 layout. Note these are the original build sheets form Lionel from the 50's so they are dated but fairly easy to follow. They also have information about number of track pieces and accessories.

Fair warning: If you build with FasTrak and some more modern touches you will need to make some mods along the way. But this should give you the basics.

Thanx John!!

Long time since I have updated here. Still in the planning/design phase and have been working with Carl (Moonman) on some ideas. In the meantime, I have been playing with my Harry Potter ready-to-run set on the oval and just watching it run. It is so relaxing just watching and occasionally reversing the train over this simple oval.

Here are two plans (in SCARM) that have come up and would love some additional feedback or anything that I could change or update - like easements or two busy or anything else. It fits on a 5x9 (ping pong table) size that will be folded when not in use. Once I get into actually getting the Fastrack and other items, it will be planned out on the floor/carpet and run for a many months before I even get a table.

I have included the JPGs and the actual SCARM files. The tracks in yellow are what I already have; part of the ready-to-run set.

Plan 1 with elevation (based off of Lionel's 10'x7' Fastrack plan and D264). The tracks in orange are options for a bump-and-go trolley and would like to know which would be a better option.

5x9FTLayout2T-Trolley-Connected

Plan 2 (no elevated tracks)

5x9FT-2TLoops-Cross Over

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Last edited by Pappu

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